Woodford investors boil with anger and regret – here are their stories

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Investor anger: Our readers express their unhappiness at the way the fund has been managed and promoted, and at the fees they have continued to pay while the fund was suspended


The closure of Neil Woodford’s Equity Income Fund has prompted dozens of frustrated – and in some cases angry – responses from This is Money readers who invested their savings and are now sitting on big losses.

They express unhappiness at the way the fund has been managed and promoted, and at the fees they have continued to pay while the fund was suspended. 

Here’s a selection of the comments we received, along with statements from Neil Woodford and investing platform Hargreaves Lansdown.   

Investor anger: Our readers express their unhappiness at the way the fund has been managed and promoted, and at the fees they have continued to pay while the fund was suspended

I was carried away by Woodford’s reputation 

I invested £46,000 in this fund in 2014 which was a pension lump sum and inheritance. 

I have a reasonable company pension and small private pension so do not rely heavily on this money, but was planning to use it for the odd holiday and use it as a back up for emergencies. 

This is now worth £34,000 but I would be very surprised if I received as much as this back. I am aware I put too many eggs in one basket and this will not be a mistake I make again. 

I was carried away by Woodford’s reputation and again will not make the same mistake of trusting a fund manager’s past performance entirely. 

I’m very angry with Woodford as other investors are and now see him for just another money grabbing manager who only has his own interests at heart. But I’m sure he will continue to prosper under another guise. 

Hargreaves kept recommending it

What does Neil Woodford say? 

This is Money contacted Neil Woodford to give him a chance to respond to reader criticism. 

He didn’t want to add anything further to the public statement issued. 

In response to Link’s move to close the fund, Neil Woodford said: ‘This was Link’s decision and one I cannot accept, nor believe is in the long-term interests of LF Woodford Equity Income Fund investors.’

I invested around £27,000 in my pension. I have already lost about £7,000. 

I invested it through Hargreaves Lansdown and like most people read the updates provided by Hargreaves. 

Whilst I accepted the risk and knew the consequences Hargreaves kept recommending it. 

When billions had been taken out and I was so close to pulling my money there was an update by the head of research at Hargreaves saying he will come good and that Woodford has been through this before. 

Stupidly I believed him and stuck with it. 

My son has lost out and I am devastated

I was an investor in Woodford-managed funds from Perpetual days (even before Invesco bought them out) so had benefited from the growth in his income funds. 

When he started his own fund I not only invested but encouraged my son, a junior doctor, to put his Lifetime Isa into the Equity Income fund. 

I feel absolutely devastated that he will lose so much hard-earned money at an age when he is saving for a house deposit. 

This was my recommendation, based on sound evidence from years of investing. I still cannot believe that Neil Woodford could jeopardise the savings of so many small investors – and continue to charge them.

The whole experience has made me very bitter about Neil Woodford who has been personally taking vast sums of money from his business. 

Many, many small investors have been sacrificed while he accumulated more wealth. It’s disgraceful that the Financial Conduct Authority can’t sanction him in some way to return/refund charges.

‘I’m glad he’s been sacked but it should have happened sooner’ 

Richard Batchelor has little confidence he will get much of his £2,000 investment back and has accused fund manager Neil Woodford of being ‘arrogant and unsympathetic’, writes the Daily Mail here.

The former printing company owner, 66, and his wife Kitrina, 67, had about £300,000 in a personal retirement plan, and about £2,000 of this was invested in Equity Income in 2010, on the recommendation of his then-financial adviser.

Mr Batchelor, who lives in Ferndown, Dorset, welcomed the news Mr Woodford had been sacked as fund manager. The father-of-two said: ‘Neil Woodford has been very arrogant and unsympathetic throughout this whole process. I am glad he has been sacked but it should have happened a lot sooner.

Richard and Kitrina Batchelor from Ferndown in Dorset

Richard and Kitrina Batchelor from Ferndown in Dorset

‘He’s lost all credibility. I would never again put money into anything which has even been associated with Neil Woodford.’

Gabriel Herbert, a financial services worker, had around £18,000 invested in Equity Income, but withdrew £8,000 on the advice of colleagues shortly before it was suspended in June.

Miss Herbert, 64, from London, said: ‘This was a fund where ordinary people invested money. I invested as soon as it opened, mainly because Hargreaves Lansdown was promoting it so much and hailing Woodford as a star investor. It should have been suspended and wound up before it lost as much money as it did.’ 

FCA should exclude new funds from Best Buy lists

My decision to invest in the Woodford Equity Income fund was based on the very positive marketing campaign conducted by Hargreaves Lansdown which highlighted his excellent track record at Invesco Perpetual and the fact that the fund was immediately included in the Wealth 150 of favourite funds published by Hargreaves. 

Currently the Woodford Equity Income fund represents 6 per cent of the total amount of money I have invested in my Sipp so I have been protected to some extent by the wide diversification of my portfolio. 

What does Hargreaves Lansdown say? 

‘We have apologised to clients for the distress, uncertainty and inconvenience caused by the gating of the fund,’ said a spokesman yesterday.

‘We share their deep frustration at what has happened. We have waived our fees while it has been closed and will continue to do so during the winding up.

‘We have communicated with clients and will continue to do so as more information becomes available.’

However the current valuation of my investment in the fund is showing a 27 per cent loss whereas all my other fund investments are in positive territory. 

Overall I am quite satisfied with the service provided by Hargreaves but feel that their longstanding loyalty and commitment to Neil Woodford clouded their vision as to the implications of the continuing poor performance of his fund and the high percentage of illiquid assets it contained. 

The fund should have been removed from the Wealth 150 list much earlier on which would have prompted me to look more closely at its performance in comparison with its peers.

 The refusal of Neil Woodford to waive fees also rankles and I certainly would not consider investing in any future financial venture he has involvement in. 

With the benefit of hindsight I would suggest that in future the FCA should take steps to ensure that newly launched investment funds be excluded from ‘Best Buy’ lists until they have achieved a three to five year track record to allow comparison with the performance of similar funds in the same sector. 

I do not expect to see much of my investment returned when the fund is finally wound up so have basically written it off.

Disgraceful debacle all round 

Both my wife and I invested in Woodford Equity Income having read the glowing reports of Hargreaves Lansdown. 

They maintained the Wealth 50 status of this fund until the last possible minute and therefore we had no real inkling of the trouble this fund was in. 

I feel really guilty for not looking after my late husband’s money…he worked for 50 years to save for it 

For an income fund the stocks chosen were largely inappropriate consisting, as they did, of illiquid stocks. 

To add insult to injury, management charges have been taken since the fund closure and whilst the fund continued to lose money. 

We feel very bitter about this whole sorry affair and feel it should be properly investigated by the financial authorities (who are not themselves without blame in this). 

Hargreaves Lansdown’s reputation has suffered badly and rightly so. 

This is money we can ill afford in our retirement. Neil Woodford is clearly very rich and I doubt he will be much affected financially. Disgraceful debacle all round.

Woodford lacked foresight to handle the downturn 

I put about £20,000 in this fund in 2014. 

As for Woodford I believe that his overall abilities were over assessed. He merely rode on a good wave but lacked the foresight to handle the eventual downturn due to to his over confidence combined with a total loss of intellectual capacity in the risks he was taking. 

Perhaps in future we could use the term it’s a ‘Woodford’ as this seems an ideal word to describe any risky investments.

If Brexit goes well fund might still return a profit

Any final value will be determined by the prices of the underlying holdings at the ‘winding up’ point, which appears to be at the mercy of the administrators.

Since this is not supposed to be until January 2020, is there maybe a grain of hope that last week’s enthusiasm for a Brexit deal, motivating the Equity Income Fund into a surge, means that some thought will go into the timing of the sale of the top holdings, mostly house builders and banks?

The refusal of Neil Woodford to waive fees rankles 

Surely they see that a deal could have a repeat effect on those same holdings? 

A last ditch opportunity for the fund to maybe even return a profit by January of next year if Brexit goes well for the UK.

Selling them off quickly means we will lose all chance of that. 

The timing of the sale of assets is obviously at the discretion of the administrators but it would be a settling thought for those (like myself) who have been trapped in this disaster for a long time, that they be mindful of what happened last week.

Investment is funding my mother’s care home – what if money is still frozen when it runs out?

I invested £10,000 for my mother in the equity income fund as part of a balanced portfolio of £90,000, split across cash, premium bonds, corporate bonds and equities.

It was providing an income of 3 per cent and a little growth that kept up with inflation. Not exciting but it was in an Isa and therefore a nice tax-free boost to her pension each month of £200.

She knew there are risks in anything other than cash. Now she has recently moved to a care home, self-funded paying £4,500 a month. We calculate she can fund this for another 14 months before we seek council support.

The worry is what is the Woodford investment worth and when will we get the cash back to fund her care. What will the council do if she has a fund but it is still frozen when we get to the £23,250 threshold.

I bailed out with 8% return – so sorry for investors who didn’t get out sooner

I Invested £15,000 in the Woodford Equity Income Fund via an Isa back in 2014. To be honest I had little time to understand its offering, but for year or so it performed okay.

Having time on my hands I looked more closely into what they were investing in. 

I contacted Woodford to ask why there were no big hitters in the portfolio. 

I was informed that we know what we’re doing leave it to us implying you know nothing.

I bailed out immediately making approximately 8 per cent on my £15,000 investment. Thank goodness I did. 

So sorry for the investors that did not get out sooner.

We are gutted over £6,000 loss to our retirement savings 

My husband and I invested £31,000 three years ago. The fund has gone down by a lot and we are looking to make a loss of £6,000.

We are absolutely gutted. We took Woodford at face value and believed that from going by historic data he could be trusted to grow our money.

This is money we have put aside for our retirement to top up our pension when we retire in five years time. We were hoping it would grow by 5 per cent each year. 

It doesn’t leave many years for us to make up our shortfall and add more capital to our retirement fund.

The worst part is that the shameless man has continued to charge a management fee monthly despite the funds being frozen since June.

Neil Woodford, hope you have some sort of conscience and it pricks you when you are trying to sleep at night.

Investors response: This is Money readers who face losses after investing in the Woodford fund told us their stories

Investors response: This is Money readers who face losses after investing in the Woodford fund told us their stories

My late husband invested, and I feel really guilty for not looking after his money better 

My investment was opened by my late husband and I inherited the shares when he passed away. 

I am really angry as this was made up of his pension pot and I relied on Woodford to help me to make the correct decision on how it was invested.

I wished now I had cashed it in and pulled out before this ugly situation had happened. 

I feel really guilty for not looking after my late husband’s money, who worked for 50 years to save for it.

I dread to think how much has been wasted away in a matter of months which took years to build up. Woodford should hang his head in shame and I don’t know how he sleeps at night.

I will just have to wait and see how much is paid back but I bet it’s no where near the £15,000 my beautiful husband invested.

Will Woodford disappear to a private island to live tax free now? 

This news will take a large chunk of cash out of my life savings, I invested in this fund due to Hargreaves Lansdown telling me almost daily how great it would be.

This man has gotten incredibly rich messing out with normal people savings, now we are set to lose it all. 

He will disappear to a private island to live tax free with the hundreds of millions he has made from his mistakes and failures.

 

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