But Money Marketing probably did provide the cohesive glue which the financial services industry needed at a time of immense change.
The industry moved from being virtually unregulated to one of the most tightly supervised in less than a decade – and the paper provided a focal point for news, debate and important industry initiatives such as Camifa, IFA Promotion, Nfifa and the growth of the networks.
I was lucky enough to be editor during much of the turmoil, taking over from Roger Anderson in 1988 as the 1980s’ housing bubble burst and personal pensions took off.
Money Marketing’s success had spawned a slew of imitators and the national newspapers massively expanded their personal finance coverage, putting us at the centre of a fast-expanding specialist media sector.
Then, as now, the best and most ambitious young financial reporters sought to join us. Reporting on the stormy landscape facing our readers was seen as one of the biggest challenges in business journalism. We were helped by IFAs and product providers who shared our view that, fundamentally, most IFAs want to do the right thing for their clients – and were outraged when regulators or rogue companies did otherwise.
More than once, readers told me that without our constant weekly reminder that they were not alone they might have surrendered their independence. We helped to give IFAs the confidence to carryon.
Of course, the constant demands from Fimbra and the PIA and the temptation from life office tied-agent deals of a decade ago have their echoes today.
Many have commented on the feeling that the industry has come full circle. As the only person to have been with the paper for the whole period – from reporter to publishing director – I must admit to some sense of deja vu.
However, I do not believe most advisers want to go back to the days when high-pressure sales tactics were the norm and Trevor Deaves was a hero. The shift to professionalism, prompted in part I hope by Money Marketing’s constant vigilance, is now enshrined in the industry’s culture.
Less exciting for journalists, perhaps, but better for the industry as a whole.