All private investors that at some time consciously took an investment on the stock markets did so as the start of an investment journey. For many that journey would have ended fairly quickly having suffered a series of poor investment decisions and for others, a little success probably kindled a spark of enthusiasm to go a little further on that investment journey. This three-part series is a story of my own journey starting back in 1989 to the present time, 2016.
Part 1: Early Steps on My Investment Journey
During the 1980’s a relatively new phenomena were being brought to the eyes of the great British public: the privatisation of various services that were state owned assets via a listing on the stock market: industries such as gas, electricity, water, transportation & telephony went through the process of privatisation. Of course, there were massive arguments for and against the process but it was a snowball that was gathering pace and momentum during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
For many ordinary members of the public, it was really the first time they had been actively encouraged to own shares in a company. The "tell Sid" advertising campaign prompted many thousands of people to buy shares in British Gas. The “have you told Sid” promotion to raise public awareness of the privatisation of gas in the UK was absolutely inescapable and for many people the first real time they had directly owned part of a business; being a shareowner.
Like so many, privatisation was my first exposure to the world of share ownership and indeed the great publicity campaign that the accompanied the ongoing process. I had joined Anglian Water at the time of the formation of the water companies in 1974; that in itself was a grand place for a relatively young chap to be. The company was incredibly supportive I worked through part-time study to complete my professional qualifications in science and become a Graduate of The Royal Society of Chemistry. What I did not realise at the time was that this lad who joined the very large analytical laboratory service of this new business at the very first run of the career ladder would be fortunate enough to eventually spend twenty years managing one of the largest analytical services in East Anglia: you just never know how things will turn out! It was Anglian Water that introduced me to the racy world of the stock market as the company went through the privatisation process.
Lots of publicity work took place within each of the companies heading down the road to the stock market and my own company was no exception with political figures involved in high profile publicity events. Just to name drop a touch, well why not, I gave tours of our scientific process to the very charming Lord Hesketh of motor racing fame and also Michael Howard a man destined to become a leader of the Conservative party; I have to say I took to one of these individuals much more easily that the other.
As was common with all businesses about to be privatised, employees were offered preferential terms to take part in the privatisation issue and quite honestly it was a no brainier. The company was duly floated, nice phrase for a water company, on the stock market and the flotation price of £2-40 closing its first day’s trading, in 1989, some 15% up: I had become a shareholder, I was excited and my investment journey had begun. In those early days, I had not the slightest idea that the stock market would play such a large role in my future. Following the listing of the various energy, water company’s etc people who worked within the newly floated businesses were regularly offered share-save schemes. These basically allowed staff to buy shares in the business at a previously discounted rate and via monthly contributions from their salary over periods of 3, 5 and 7 years. To me, it sounded just too good to be true and I filled my boots as they say over the years building us a considerable holding in the business: I had become a fully fledged investor.
There was no stopping me now from investing within my comfort zone and I took part in lots of other privatisations going on the time and became what is now known as a stag, buying shares in these newly privatised industries and with the exception of my own business, selling them relatively quickly and making some easy money. I decided I really liked this privatisation stuff, well at least in term of making me a wealthier chap. What I did not know at the time was that although it was fine making a very nice fast buck in staging, the real money and wealth would come to those with patience who took the very generous dividends and reinvested them the purchase of additional stock.
My investment journey had begun and I felt quite pleased with myself: my lovely shares were rapidly increasing in value and paying very handsome dividends. Yes, I really liked this investment lark; what could possibly go wrong?
Welcome to my Blog Page - I hope you find my whittling on to be of some interest. I am a private investor who is happy to share thoughts on the market and individual stocks. Please remember that I am definitely not offering tips or investment advice.