Keith Popplewell – Yorick’s sorry tale.


Alas poor Keith .. I knew him…

When I joined Eagle Star in 1995, Keith was the  star turn, an exceptional speaker, a mine of technical information and a bon viveur, Keith was a sales director’s dream.

And like any showman, he was crying inside, I saw the vulnerability then, and loved him for it.

I am sad to hear that Keith’s business failed and that he failed his clients in a sorry way. I don’t know how pensions best practice translated into transferring life savings into Store Pods. Something went very wrong.

The 8% guaranteed return offered by Store First (through Capital Oak) is – in retrospect – the classic pension fraud. It was marketed by Keith’s Liverpool sales team at his Pension Office.  If you listen to the BBC article on Store First – you can hear how Keith Popplewell became part of a scam.

Now Keith has been publicly humiliated and can no longer practice as a financial adviser. For those scammed the punishment will cannot be harsh enough. (pace Angie Brooks).

The FCA’s judgement against Keith comes in a week when those who have invested in the Capita Oak schemes he promoted, get tax-demands from HMRC for pension liberation. Whatever sorrow I have for Keith, is tempered by my sympathy for the victims of the investments he signed-off.

I lost touch with Keith in around 2005. I would like to give him the comfort that the Keith Popplewell I remember – was quite splendid.

Keith of course is not the only casualty of the time. John Quarrell and his wife Sue have similarly fallen from their public pedestal. They too, vulnerable and generous to a fault.

Though the Freedom SIPP was not itself  fraudulent, it too became a pension nightmare. Some freedom – little pension.

Are John and Keith similarly the product of their own celebrity?

Alas poor Yorick

Hamlet takes up the skull….

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?

Many will read of Keith and of others and take some miserable delight that they are not like him. Though Hamlet understands that Yorick’s skull is no different than the others dug up in the graveyard – no different from how he’ll soon present his head. The mournful tone is not just for Yorick, it’s an elegy for us all.

But Yorick’s skull is different to Hamlet, it reminds him, as Keith reminds me, of a life that was once well led.


Keith’s linked in profile, sits – derelict – it reads like an epitaph

I was voted financial services personality of the year 1999 to 2001 before becoming semi-retired.

And a  reminder of happier times

Activities and Societies: Publisher of school magazine School Brass Band and concert choir School 1st XI Football

The vanity of human wishes

After putting down the skull, Hamlet’s thoughts turn to the vanity of fame. Hamlet’s tragedy is that he never sees a point to living sufficient to keep him out of harm’s way.

He dies a pointless death.

I don’t know what Keith is doing now, hopefully he finds some comfort from semi-retirement, he has a wife (cited in the case), he has kids and I  imagine he is still bringing happiness to those close to him, (for all the bad advice he has given).

Like thousands of others, Keith brought something to my job back in the nineties and no-one has done the same since. Sitting with him at the bar in the early hours, I remember his humanity, not his technical wizardry.

So – here is to you Keith Popplewell!  While I hate what became of your career, I cherish what I remember of you. Like Hamlet, I cherish the memory and mourn what has become of you.

Let’s hope that Keith can sit back and retire, let’s hope he find a little more point to life than Hamlet.

store first

Further reading

This article from Money Marketing in 2001, gives a flavour of the affection in which Keith was held.

If you want to find out about Store First investments and the damage it and its sales team did; listen here

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Keith Popplewell – Yorick’s sorry tale.

  1. Peter Taylor says:

    Henry. I too knew and respected Keith for his personality and profound technical knowledge. However my sympathy for his plight has been tempered a bit by his new ‘career’ working for his wife’s claims management company.

    The liquidator sold the client list of The Pensions Office to her company and I understand they are now representing many of his former clients to pursue claims for compensation.

    These claims will of course fall on the FSCS and will be paid via a levy on the rest of us. And of course Keith and Susan will benefit to the tune of 20% to 30% of any successful claims. So I am sure we will all have an opportunity to remember Keith when the levy bills drop through the letterbox. As will his erstwhile and unfortunate clients when the tax bills arrive

    ”’Tis a funny old world, eh!

  2. henry tapper says:

    Peter, the conflict is only too apparent and I’m sure is raising concern at FSCS and elsewhere.

  3. Unfortunately I’m not at all sure that sufficient concern is being raised at the FSCS or elsewhere for that matter.

    Having worked within the inner sanctum of the Popplewell circus for a number of years, (this is not a part of my career that I’m particularly proud of), I can assure you that the authorities were warned a number of years ago about his behaviour and that his status had fallen far short of that of a ‘fit and proper person’.

    Like many people who become involved with Popplewell, the relationship ended badly. Myself and a number of other ex-employees had to resort to litigation to obtain what he owed us.

    This may be a bitter pill for a generation of advisers and others who jumped on the Popplewell bandwagon to swallow, but the King never really had any new clothes.

    If we ever get a chance to meet up Henry, there are more than a few tales I could tell you about this one!.

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