Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blogger Interview - Charlie Weston

What is the best business/investment decision you ever made?
As a poorly paid PAYE worker I do not have a lot of investments, but I did make some profits on techie shares during the technology bubble in 2000.
Unlike most people, I actually made a few bob on the Eircom flotation. I sold soon after the IPO when the shares had risen by 25pc from their initial offer price.

What kind of car do you drive?
A very boring 2005 Ford Focus. I take the train to work and use a bike.

What is the worst financial advice that you ever received?
I have, over the years, been advised to put money into Anglo Irish Bank, to invest in overseas property, and to take out an Equitable Life policy. Thankfully, I ignored most of this daft advice

Do you own property abroad?No.

How does the economic slowdown effect you?
My pension, which is a defined benefit one, has a funding hole in it the size of a large crater. I and my colleagues are paying more into the scheme, while my employer, Independent Newspapers, has increased its contributions. A funding proposal has been agreed with the Pensions Board, but the scheme is still way behind target.
As a newspaper employee the downturn will affect advertising, so I expect my employer to seek staff-related cost cuts. This will mean more work for less money. Real incomes are set to drop for everyone next year because of the global downturn which has resulted from the credit crisis.

Do you contribute to a pension plan?
I contribute 9.6pc of my salary to a defined benefit scheme and €100 a month in AVCs (additional voluntary contributions). I am 44 and so expect to be increasing my AVC contributions in the years ahead.

What's your favourite film of all time?
'Cool Hand Luke' starring recently deceased Paul Newman - one of the greatest actors of our time.

Have you ever won money?
No. I have had Prize Bonds since I was born, and have been given more as presents over the years, but have never won.

Do you own your own home?
Yes. I have LTV tracker mortgage with National Irish Bank - ECB plus 50 basis points.

Do you invest directly in the stock market, through funds or both?I have an Exchange Traded Fund, which I contribute to monthly, based on the Irish Market. The fund is losing buckets of money at the moment.

What is your preferred method/system of saving (Deposits, Funds,Shares, Property)?
I save monthly in a regular saver deposit account.

What financial product/s do you consider to be bad value for money?
Payment protection insurance policies are bad value, as are the renewal premiums offered by motor insurers. Why is it that if you accept the renewal offer you will end up paying up to €300 more for motor insurance than you can get by scouring the market? Tracker bonds are also poor value, as the guarantee acts as a drag on the performance of the fund.

Do you trust your bank?
I have my mortgage with a Danish bank, my current account with an Irish bank and a lump sum savings account with a Dutch bank. No, I do not trust any of them. Irish banks have yet to come clean about the valuations of the land/properties used as security for the property-related lending they splurged on in recent years.

Charlie Weston is Personal Finance Editor with The Irish Independent

No comments: