Sunday’s Money pages

The Sunday Times reports that the curse of Woodford is back as a protégé of former star fund manager Neil Woodford, Mark Barnett, one of Britain’s best-known fund managers, steps down after 24 years at Invesco having been dismissed from several funds.

Barnett held about £170m in unquoted assets in three of his four Invesco funds — High Income, Income and UK Strategic Income.

Retiring in your thirties or forties is a pipe dream for most people — but an extreme saving movement, known as Financial Independence, Retire Early, has been gathering momentum. Fire started in the US but has a fan base in the UK, particularly among millennials who want to free themselves from conventional systems for work and retirement.

Some of Britain’s most successful fund managers have gone on a buying spree in the wake of the coronavirus market plunge as they seek to reposition their investments for new trends. Veteran manager Richard Buxton, head of UK equities at Merian Global Investors, takes a long-term view and keeps trading to a minimum. However, since the coronavirus crisis hit he has made a number of moves in his £1.8bn UK Alpha fund.

The Sunday Telegraph leads with the news that property demand has returned to pre-lockdown levels, after the Government reopened the housing market on Wednesday with stringent rules on social distancing. Inquiries about listings doubled the day following the announcement, according to property portal Rightmove.

Now might just be the opportunity of a lifetime to invest for the first time, but watch out for costly mistakes. This week, shares in easyJet cost about £5 each. In early February, the price was nearly triple that at closer to £15.

They also warn that faith in insurers could all but collapse as tens of thousands of people have been stuck in the middle while insurance firms and travel operators shirk responsibility to compensate people for cancelled trips during the pandemic.

The Mail on Sunday reveals that Marks & Spencer has put its spring stock into hibernation and reports on the retailer’s last-ditch scheme to mothball clothes (I love that sub-editor) as the prospects of  a discount war loom.

In recent months, a steady trickle of NatWest customers have had their accounts closed. By way of comparison, complaints from customers of other banks on the same issue have been few and far between. A Facebook group – ‘NatWest closed down my account’ – has been formed to enable those affected to air their grievances.

Following on, Jeff Prestridge suggests that rising account closures is a deeply worrying trend. In trying to catch the money launderers and fraudsters, the banks are trawling their nets far and wide.

Just thinking – “How come Miss Universe is only won by people from Earth?” (Ross Noble)

Hope you’re all coping; I’m amazed how high my threshold of boredom is and have discovered I’m capable of spending hours at a time watching the newly fledged goldfinches, blue tits and house and tree sparrows discovering their feeder and bird bath. It’s amazing to watch, and they have no fear.

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