NEWSLETTER: Searching for the fund equivalent of knitting

Is it just me or is everyone suddenly growing their own vegetables? I mention this because the current vogue for allotments and tomato plants in the window seems to me to represent a fundamental change of direction in our society.

It is the same change of direction recently identified by columnist Harvey Jones writing for lovemoney.com, “the new everyday money site” from the well-known investor web site The Motley Fool...

“Who needs organic tuna lips, hand-raised olives and pan-seared basil shavings on rye bread when you can lunch on a 75p jam sarnie instead, courtesy of Marks & Spencer?” asked Jones.

Who indeed.

The  Motley Fool itself provides as interesting a barometer of changing fashions in our recession-hit times as does the global upsurge in home vegetable growing. Having previously been at the fast end of the investment advice spectrum, pullulating as it did with ‘buy this stock and retire at 25’ type stories, The Fool, as it sometimes styles itself, is now focusing on softer, less ambition projects through lovemoney.com.

Recent stories have included how to ‘Have a hay fever-free summer for less’ and ‘10 wacky ways to make money this summer!’ The ‘wacky ways’ included becoming a courier and taking part in clinical trials. It’s all a bit of climbdown from turning a million on a dream stock, but difficult times, dear reader, difficult times.

Now, I took to wondering: is our industry ready for this?

What is the fund equivalent of a jam sandwich?

What is the fund equivalent of knitting? For I am reliably informed by Harvey Jones that knitting, like growing vegetables, is now cool.

“Frugal is fun,” he enthuses. “Many have discovered the joys of simpler, creative pleasures, beyond shopping and spending.”

What do we have to offer those people? Are ETFs perhaps the fund equivalent of a jam sandwich or hand-knitted socks? Is that why their inflows have been so strong, while global assets under management for the 400 leading international asset managers plunged by 21.8% in 2008, according to today’s IPE 400 Asset Managers study?

It’s worth a thought. As lovemoney.com’s Jones sagely opines, “Recessions are rubbish, but they also have a point.”

Fiona Rintoul, editorial director
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