Pensions? Nope. Kwasi Kwarteng showed us that it just takes one moment of political madness and all your golf-filled retirement plans in the sunshine will have to be changed to include cardboard boxes and soup kitchens and rambling incoherently at passers-by
Who said that? Jeremy Clarkson
Where? The Times
Who to? The mass affluent UK investor base.
Why? Because Jeremy Clarkson, for all his “white rose parsimoniousness” , considers the financial services industry, cannot be trusted with his savings.
He knows that as he canters “towards the diseased uplands of forgetfulness and pain in a retirement home full of drool, inconti-chairs and bad-tempered old ladies“, that he’d be feeling pretty contented.
But he’s not, he looks at the tall buildings and the big atriums of those who manage his money and concludes
The world is barely functioning right now. Everything is Jenga-precarious, and it feels like it’ll take only one Mexican to default on his mortgage to bring the whole thing crashing down. So I have to admit, through gritted Yorkshire teeth, that actually the best thing you can do with your savings is spend them on something that will make you happy.
This is the true voice of disaffected middle-England, holder of England’s wealth. And his voice is not influential because Clarkson knows “diddly squat” about money, but quite a lot about how people who don’t work in financial services think about those who do.
Those of us who think that the public has bought the argument that last year’s financial catastrophy is expunged from public consciousness don’t reckon on most people now having online site of their pension savings and a fair understanding that what happened last September has real-time consequences for the capacity of pension schemes to pay pensions.
What has set Clarkson off has been the latest banking problems.
There was a time — between 1472 and 2008 — when you could put your money in the bank knowing that it was perfectly safe. But not any more.
Clarkson’s is the voice of the immoral majority, of the British middle class who see their houses, pensions, ISAs and pay all falling in value as markets fall and taxes bite.
This immoral majority has got used to low low mortgage payments , steadily increasing pension and ISA balances and take home that bought holidays in Barbados not Benidorm.
Many financial advisers will regard Clarkson’s advice to spend down their wealth as morally bankrupt (as well as being unregulated advice). But if you accept that the immoral majority no longer buy into “greed is good” yuppy economics and would happily exchange Clarkson for the spivs they imagine are spending their money, then you can understand why Clarkson’s column, like Clarkson’s Farm is so influential.
I don’t think there is much that the “industry” can do about Clarkson. But they would do well to remember that the sullen silence of the immoral menaces our complacent world of award ceremonies , big atriums and tall buildings.