Review of MoneyWeek

 Investing, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Review of MoneyWeek
Jan 142012

MoneyWeekMoneyWeek is packaged as the financial sister of The Week and is published by Agora Press and claims itself to be Britain’s best selling financial magazine which it probably is. Is it as it proposes to be, an independent and informative tool for investors and savers and an unbiased reporter of economic and financial news? It depends on how you read it

I read it most weeks and usually feel suitably depressed afterwards but a little more informed each time. It’s aimed at reasonably intelligent, reasonably wealthy and reasonably well financially educated people so it suits me well. Its not as high brow as the Financial Times or the Economist which I occasionally dip into, and like The Week is designed to get the information over to you as quickly and as easily as possible and it succeeds in doing so.

Having been a reader now for over a year I’m starting to see which are the essential parts of it and which are a bit suspect or not worth spending time on. You could just read the first page, which is usually written by the excellent Merryn Somerset Webb , Editor-in-Chief  or occasionally by John Stepek, Editor, then turn straight to the back page and read Bill Bonner’s entertaining and rather dark musing’s on his regular last word page. It’s worth mentioning that Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Press.

The stuff in between is a mixture of market commentary, educational articles and tipsters. The latter I particularly dislike, it’s a pity that MoneyWeek feels it needs to host and promote some of these as I suspect like most tipsters they are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

If you subscribe to MoneyWeek you’ll also get a plethora of email newsletters and invitation to join various tipsters newsletters. Now theres some good stuff here but you need to filter out the hideous tipster adverts and those awful invitations to join exclusive clubs and offers that are once in a lifetime opportunities (don’t worry you’ll get plenty of opportunities to join their once in a lifetime deals!) Don’t be tempted to join paid-for newsletters promising trading systems that work, none do consistently, investing unfortunately is about avoiding losing money and getting lucky, but thats another article or more likely a book!

The very best email newsletter is by John Stepek and I always look forward to reading his daily email. If you read nothing else John will make your subscription to MoneyWeek worthwhile. John’s strength is in explaining exactly whats going on in the world of economics and politics in a precise, simple to understand and illuminating way. He cuts straight to the meat and his advice always seems sound and reasoned.

It’s also worth subscribing to Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning despite the tipster’s adverts. He’s a good read and will direct you to places unbeknown to you and of great interest if like me you are tired of UK politics and yearn for some radical ideas to shake things up. However my advice to Bill would be to make it a bi-weekly as sometimes it can get a bit repetitive (I suspect he does it to please his advertisers), but hats off to him for managing to produce what he does

The other sections I look at are the ‘best of the financial columns’ similar format to The Weeks best articles section, the best blogs, sometimes the cover stories are interesting and the profiles of big players especially if they are of the maverick kind.

The question as to whether MoneyWeek is useful to an investor depends on which parts you read, I’ve outlined the parts I think you will useful to understand how things work in the economy and how the politicians screw it up. The magazine is both an independent view sadly interspersed with the usual snake oil merchants with axes to grind and fees to make, and as long as you understand which is which its a publication I would highly recommend is part of an investors regular research and education. Its not going to be the be and end all, since I’ve been reading it theres been a section called the core portfolio, MoneyWeek’s core recommendations and every week its been Gold, Japan and Defensives (Blue chip dividend paying staple goods kind of thing….) If I’d gone with that last year I’d likely be about flat, possibly up a bit depending on how lucky I was. In other words not bad. I do note though that in the weeks when it looks like those recommendations have had a bad run the core recommendations seem to disappear  , then re-appear a few weeks later when things look rosy again! You could of course save yourself some money and just read the website , some articles are not available but the best usually are. Hmmm thinking about it I might just do that now….

 Posted by at 2:44 pm

4 alternative investments for savers

 Investing  Comments Off on 4 alternative investments for savers
Dec 052011

Alternative investments for saversSavers and investors are having a rough time at the moment with interest rates being at historically low rates and inflation creeping up to over 5%. (Though we should of course be thankful that we are fortunate enough to be savers rather than borrowers)

I’ve spent far too long on the internet looking at moneysupermarket thinking somehow I’m going to suddenly find a bank or building society that will pay over the odds. It ain’t going to happen.

However I have found 4 very interesting sites that may help the saver and help borrowers and businesses too. Thats because none of them are banks and all of them offer an alternative to using the banksters. Ive started investing with all of them and I will be giving my views and updates on how they are performing in future posts.

Market Invoice

My favourite at the moment as I think it offers the best risk to reward at the moment. It basically allows you buy a businesses’ invoices thus advancing them cash and  charging a fee (typically 1.5% per 30 days). It’s very much like factoring except that businesses can offer single invoices and theres a lot less hassle involved.

Pros: Annualised returns 15%+

 Cons: Its very new and only folks with £50k + are currently accepted.


Probably the best known, Zopa brings ordinary borrowers and savers together in an online peer to peer marketplace. Borrowers are classified according to a risk score and lenders make informed choices about what returns they want from lending to different classes of borrower. Risk is minimised by dividing up your loaned amount into lots of small loans so you could be lending to a hundred people, the idea being that you are less likely to get get significantly hurt by the inevitable few that default on their loans

Pros: Slick website with complete transparency of information about default risk, start with very small amounts

 Cons: Lower rates (6-9% p.a.) although still potentially much higher than the traditional bank.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is like very much like Zopa except that its for lending to businesses. Theres a wealth of information about the companies you can lend to or you can set up automatic lending (like Zopa) based on interest rate criteria you choose

Pros: Slick and transparent website, one feels more in control of risk than on Zopa

Cons: Theres not much filtering of businesses and the rates reflect that theres probably too many investors and not enough companies on board yet


Thin cats is like funding circle but is much smaller with fewer opportunities however the filtering of companies is stricter hopefully meaning the likelihood of default is less plus the rates are quite a bit higher. This site feels a bit more ‘grown up’ than Funding Circle and would perhaps suit larger investments.

Pros: Greater due diligence, higher rates being achieved

Cons: Less opportunities and the site is not as slick as the competition

Anyway all the above have the potential for being business heroes in the brave new world of post financial crisis we all live in so I hope they will all thrive and provide us all with the liquidity and income that the banks (and governments) have so cruelly denied us.

Review of Market Invoice

 Investing  Comments Off on Review of Market Invoice
Dec 022011

Market Invoice is a marketplace for investors to lend money to established small and medium sized businesses. The lending is done by  buying unpaid invoices from businesses. This gives the business in question immediate access to funds and provides them with the cash flow they need to run their business. Banks are not lending even to great businesses and they are not paying investors a great return either so Market Invoice has spotted a niche thats come about since the credit crunch. I like this a lot because its proper capitalism at work. An industry thats blown up gets replaced by new operators coming into the arena.

Market Invoice checks out the companies selling invoices for you and rejects any that don’t pass their credit-worthyness tests. They also only accept invoices that are payable by blue chip companies. They make sure the debtor is happy with the invoice and all the information they have about the invoice and the companies in question is made available online to the auction bidders.

Anyway, I thought I would give it a try. Before I did I popped into see them and I met co-founders Anil Stocker and partner and director Ilya Kondrashov two young and very smart guys. My main question to them was how were they going ensure that the world of commerce became aware of them as I could see that investors with cash looking for a home would be an easy target. They agreed that getting a balance between investors and sellers of invoices would be key to their growth.

Since our meeting back in the beginning of November 2011 I have seen how they are utilising several business and social platforms for example by inviting along Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna  to one of their events. I reckon these guys will soon be very well known indeed. I certainly wish I had thought of the idea.

Anyway my experience so far is that every time a new auction came up before I had any time to consider the facts the auction would be over in a matter of minutes. This happened several times and they were pretty hefty invoices at that. Obviously there are some big hitters on the site. Anyway I finally got a look in yesterday and am partly funding an invoice with another investor. To be honest that was what I was looking for , its always nice to be in the same boat as someone else!  So lets see how it goes , I’ll be earning 1.5% a month which is a pretty tasty return but that shouldnt be for more than 60 days if all goes to plan.

Update on 21st Dec 2011.

Bought a number of invoices mostly fractions of invoices, all auctions over within minutes so you have to be quick. First 2 invoices have been paid back early which is nice but means I need to turn the money over faster to get the return. One bit of the website thats not very slick (yet) is the updating of the payment of invoices is not live.




 Posted by at 12:21 pm

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