And news that one of the predator banks is encouraging (or at least enabling) its customers to gamble away their life savings on the stock market, means the need for impartial financial counselling is greater than ever.
Take solar panels first. Energy minister Greg Barker said recently that anyone approaching retirement should consider investing some of their savings in fitting solar panels to their homes – not just on the grounds they’ll be helping to save the planet but also because they provide a better return than a pension.
Superficially, very superficially, he has a point. The sale of excess power generated by panels to energy suppliers should mean households can turn a profit on the cost of the installation over time.
Installation costs have fallen to the point that the typical rate of return is between five per cent and eight per cent a year, the government claims.
Mr Barker’s assertion that panels beat pensions is based on a comparison with annuities, which currently yield some 3.5 per cent a year.
But at least, bad as it might be, income from an annuity is usually guaranteed whereas any return from solar panels is contingent upon a government subsidy which could be reduced or switched off at any time.
For the record: solar panels may have merit as a renewable source of energy and as a means of cutting your electricity bills, but they are no substitute for a properly financed pension in your old age.
Let us look now at how one unfortunate couple lost their £180,000 nest egg through being lured into gambling on the stock market.
It was reported that the couple, despite never having traded in shares before, were given access to thousands of pounds of borrowed money with which to speculate via the Barclays Stockbrokers Market Master account.
These novices plunged into a falling market and attempted to claw back their losses with the credit line offered by the account. They lost everything.
This witless gambling on shares using money you do not have is what turned the Wall Street Crash of 1929 into the social catastrophe that contributed mightily to the Great Depression of the early 1930s.
If only bankers and their political masters (or should that be political puppets?) were to study the economic and financial history of the past 100 hundred years we might have some semblance of an ethical market without these traps for the gullible and unwary.
But instead, stockbrokers are busily attempting to lure savers with only small amounts of money put by for their old age and no concept at all of how stock markets work into this rich man’s game.
Have nothing whatsoever to do with such get rich quick schemes. Only those who promote them do that.
Instead, come to The Whitehall Partnership for sound advice on how to turn your savings into a comfortable and secure retirement.
We promise we won’t try to sell you solar panels or persuade you to gamble on the stock market, but we can guarantee you peace of mind.
Call us today on 0845 43 49 and arrange a free initial meeting at a time and place of your own choosing.