He took on the political establishment and won. Now he has turned his eye to your finances.
Nigel Farage is the unexpected face of a new email newsletter called Fortune & Freedom. It is produced by Southbank Investment Research, a regulated firm that produces unregulated content, with publications such as the Fleet Street Letter, Gold Stocks Fortune and Crypto Assets Extreme.
Mr Farage, who worked in the City as a commodities trader in the 1980s and 1990s, will share his views about economically significant topics such as the American election. He will be joined by a selection of industry old hands, dropouts and misfits who claim to have insider knowledge but say they are unbound by City rules and regulations.
The idea is to give the man on the street more control over his own finances and reduce his dependence on costly advisers or managers. The content is free, but the business makes money from targeted advertisements.
Mr Farage says the finance industry is out for its own interests. But what is in it for him? We put Britain’s most vocal Brexit campaigner, and his latest crusade, under the spotlight.
Is this a passion project or a way to boost your pension?
It is a passion. It was economics that got me into politics. The day we joined the exchange rate mechanism [which linked the value of the pound to European currencies] was the day I started my political career. At the moment the newsletter is free and the research is free. I’ve done a lot of stuff for free over the years, but we will see how it goes and how popular it is. I am paid a small amount for writing articles.
Who are you working with and should we trust them?
I was first approached by [Southbank Investment Research] in 2001. I was introduced by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father, Lord Rees-Mogg, a former editor of The Times. At that point he was writing for the Fleet Street Letter, the penny share tipping newsletter that has been going since before the Second World War. I had lunch with Lord Rees-Mogg and we talked about all sorts of macroeconomic stuff and he said I should write for them. I couldn’t, as I was embarking on my political career.
[At Southbank] they are now a collection of different guys and brands that all contribute. From the industry’s point of view they would be considered mavericks. Every time we see – whether in politics or in finance – the mentality of the herd, they all follow each other and they are nearly always wrong. These people counter that. It fits well with me.
I’ve always followed the markets. The first thing that gave me a big audience in politics was talking in the EU parliament in 2008 about Greek bond spreads in the run-up to the financial crisis. And I’ve always been a champion for the little guy. Brexit was about the little guy.
We have this mystique about finance – that it is all too difficult for us “peasants” and we have to pay someone else to handle our money. But years of regulation haven’t protected us from the financial crisis, from Woodford, from fees that eat into your returns.
I paid money into a private pension and left someone to look after it. Now, 20 years later, I am looking at what I get back and I’m thinking, “Why did I bother?” There are millions of people aged 40 upwards in this position who feel let down by the industry. So I want to demystify markets with high-quality research and I want to inspire people to take back control of their own money.
Don’t you have a big EU MEP pension?
Half of my pension is a UK pension, the same as a British MP. The rest, well, will I ever get it from the EU? They’ve refused me membership of the ex-MEPs’ club. I had full medical insurance but they never covered the bills for my neck surgery after I was in a plane crash in 2013. They’ve fined me tens of thousands over the years. So I’ll get 10 years’ worth of pension, the same as a British MP, but will I get the rest? Let’s see.
Will you follow the advice you promote to readers?
I won’t be giving advice and I am not regulated to do so. What I am trying to do is encourage people to make their own financial decisions.
I have lightened my investments in the stock market quite considerably over the course of the past few weeks. I am now looking at other areas, including alternative investments. I’m interested in gold and increasingly even in cryptocurrencies. I am cautious of the stock market. At some point the real effects of the crisis will hit.
There is no question we are approaching negative interest rates. The pandemic has made us all realise rainy days do happen. In a world of negative rates alternative investments will become more important.
What else can we expect?
We want to do more on tax. Inheritance tax, for example. I’m pretty much alone in British politics to have advocated its complete abolition. The very wealthy don’t end up paying it in any case. But if your parents who live in a house in Dulwich that has gone up in price over the years die in a car crash, suddenly the family is hit with a bloody great big tax bill on top of the tragedy.
Taking advantage of reliefs is human nature. Show me anyone wilfully paying more tax than they have to.
What if you tell people to invest and it all goes wrong?
I’m not telling anyone what to do. I’m saying have a look at this, at that.
We’ve got presidential elections coming up. We have a pandemic. We are going back into lockdown. For the moment we’re just asking what the potential threats to markets might be.