1977 to 1991

Formation Noble Warren Investments Jarretts Bond Management

Jarretts Bond Management Ltd

The Jarretts Rationale

In the late ’70s and ’80s UK Inflation was at record highs, and there were not many investments producing real returns i.e. a return more than the devaluation caused by inflation. For example, if one “invested” in a UK Building Society or Bank Deposit Account with a one year return of 8%, but inflation was at 15% for the year in question, the result was a guaranteed loss of 7% – not to mention any tax that may have been levied on the “profit”

An example of a national economy doing well at this time was Japan: another international growth area was the resurgent USA technology sector. Significant real growth could also be achieved in natural resources (oil) and other commodities, and some of the Unit Trust funds available provided opportunities for investment in those sectors, with a good chance of achieving “real” returns.

The new Unit Linked Insurance market gave policyholders the chance to link their funds to these higher performing economies and sectors via specific Unit Trusts, and this could be achieved not only with Single Premium Investment Bonds (minimum investment at the time of £250) but also for savings plans with premiums of only £10 per month.

When one added in other benefits – namely the Life Assurance Premium Tax Relief at 17.5 % and the taxfree status on the returns after 10 years – the 10 year Savings plans that we sold at Merchant Investors, and then through NWI, offered an attractive investment product to customers.

The customer could choose his own funds, and independently switch his investment as the premiums paid increased the value of his holdings. If the customer was not confident of managing his own money, or did not have the time to do so, and the sum involved was large enough, he could appoint a professional fund manager. However, “professional fund management” was not available for relatively small sums of money – for example amounts of less than £100,000 – and I recognised an opportunity to offer customers a management service for their unit linked portfolios. 

And so I formed Jarretts Bond Management Ltd (JBM) which started trading in 1978.

Company Formation 1978

The company started with five individuals – John Elderton (formerly at Merchant Investors) and working at the time with my brother, myself, Peter Coast and Alistair Binning. I have no idea what happened to Peter and Alistair in later life – I can only find a record of John, (see LinkedIn profile above) who I remember as a friendly and charming individual, and who describes himself now as a Financial Planning Professional: he appears to have had a successful  career in the same industry.

Peter and Alistair were also pleasant positive personalities, and at the time we each had a common  goal which was to provide a professional management service to our personal clients who had invested in Single Premium Investment Bonds and/or Unit Trusts.

Unfortnately, as with many projects involving independent thinking characters and entrepeneurs, the “partnership” did not last, and within six months or so, I was the sole director and controller of JBM, operating out of 50 Maddox Street. 

How Business Was Done

In my opinion, JBM offered an essential fund management service to customers. There was no “selling” at JBM: it was purely there as an optional extra – mainly for unit-linked clients of NWI – and if customers were happy to either manage their own plans or contracts, or stick with the initial fund chosen at the beginning of the contract, then this was fine.

However, in my opinion, it would have been verging on irresponsible for me not to have offered some form of ongoing management advice,  and this opinion was shared by many of NWIs customers. It was important for them to have the choice, and since fund valuations were transparent with daily unit prices published in the Financial Times and elsewhere, they could easily monitor the value of their unit holdings.

Professional Qualifications In brief, there were no professional qualifications available for this type of fund management. In 1978 JBM was not buying or selling stocks or Unit Trusts, which would have required the appropriate licence to operate as a stockbroker: it was not responsible for choosing the underlying securities or shareholdings within the various funds. At the beginning, and as the CEO of JBM, my task was to identify promising sectors available for our customers, and switch their holdings accordingly, and hope that the “professionals” actually running the funds or Unit Trusts did their job in choosing the right mix of underlying securities or shares in that sector. This was the route taken by Hargreaves Lansdown as a good example.

After some years, and with the experience gained in fund management, JBM successfully applied to become a Licensed Dealer in Securities, which gave me the ability to deal directly through registered stockbrokers and financial institutions.

Fees The annual management fee was the greater of £25 or 1% of the value of the “portfolio” – so unit-linked customers would normally have unit holdings to a minimum of £2500. Where savings plans were involved, for most customers it would take some years before the funds would reach a value of £2500, so most of the early JBM customers had single premium investment Bonds or a holding of Unit Trusts. JBM also later developed a fee based upon profit sharing, where an annual return or fund growth greater that an agreed amount would result in a larger fee if successful, or a nil fee where unsuccessful.

How Jarretts Developed

Initially, my time was mostly spent managing NWI, but by the early ’80s more and more time was devoted to following the financial press, monitoring investment trends globally, and reading journals like the Financial Times – which I would in any case monitor daily for the unit prices published which were linked to our modestly sized customer portfolios. It seemed to me that Fund Management should have been a logical business, and not one that required any great skill – there were plenty of underperforming Unit Trusts in all sectors, and no way of knowing which would do consistently well.

I started to study the stock markets, and examine how business was really done in the financial institutions that control the process. I began to understand what other instruments were available to stockbrokers and dealers – not only the sale and purchase of quoted company shares but also financial derivatives and traded options for just about anything – commodities, currency futures etc. I also began to understand how much money was being made by the intermediaries who made the decisons as to buying and selling.

Jarretts Own Funds

After some years, in approx 1985, I decided that I could do the job of managing unit linked funds better than most of the professionals I had contact with over the preceding 7 years, and with the help of Skandia Life, who performed the adminstrative and legal functions necessary, I set up three new Jarretts Single Premium Investment Bond Funds – Conservative, Realistic and Speculative. The Jarretts funds were valued by the Insurance Company and the prices were published weekly along with their other unit prices for other funds. I managed the funds as a Licensed Dealer, buying and selling through Stockbrokers and Unit Trust Managers. The holdings for each fund consisted of authorised stocks or Unit Trusts or other quoted funds: the Conservative Fund was primarily invested in the Property Sector and Fixed Interest securities, the Realistic Fund had more of an international flavour and the Speculative Fund was designed to profit from Special Situations, and the new trading instruments and derivatives available.

There was no “hard sell” with the Jarretts Funds – NWI clients could choose between no management service, a fixed annual fee of 1% for non Jarretts funds or an investment into the appropiate Jarretts Fund with no management fee: we obtained dealing commissions in the same way as other fund managers, which more than compensated for the absence of a management fee.

Our funds under management were modest – no more than a £1 million or so – and the Jarretts funds performed better than average over the remaining five or six years that we were allowed to trade. 

JBM Personalities

There were two individuals who were important to me as regards JBM, and for entirely different reasons.

Peter Jeffries

Peter was a Canadian in his ’50s or ’60s at the time I met him in about 1985, and he was running a fund called the Growth Strategies Fund, from a small London office, which appeared to be doing extremely well. Peter was very knowledgable about the Securities Market, and produced a weekly newsletter which I found very interesting.

In his newsletter, he described how one could make money with derivatives even when the price of an underlying security fell – his favourite vehicle was traded options. He also described at some length how he made his investment analysis – he was basically a chartist who used methods such as the Gann theories  to make his buying and selling decisions.

He was also an exponent of the major USA stocks that were driving the technical revolution of the time. I invested a modest amount of money from our Jarretts Speculative Fund into his venture, but – as my second wife Michele will confirm – I had my doubts about his integrity, and after a few months, I sold the holding at a profit, much to Peter’s annoyance. As it turned out, his fund was closed by the authorities some months later, and it transpired that client’s money had not been invested and the fund pricing was artificial to say the least. Stealing client’s money is a crime under any circumstances, even for a fund manager……

Richard Furber, Dean Witter Reynolds

As a Fund Manager, I had become very interested in the new investment vehicles available, and needed to find a Broker who could provide an international service. The obvious choice was an American company as the USA was both a market leader in trading derivatives and methods, and also could provide access to some of the most interesting growth stocks of the time, which were in the high tech industry.

Richard Furber was the management contact or Account Executive I worked with at Dean Witter Reynolds and for the next five years or so we developed both a business relationship and a friendship. Richard had a splendid house in the Surrey Stockbroker Belt and was married to Meg, an extremely nice girl and they had one daughter. Michele and I were often guests at their house which boasted a pool and a tennis court. In a previous life, Richard had been a seriously good tennis player, and was on the American College circuit, and was a member of the Queen’s Club. His appearance was very similar to the well known actor Ben Stiller .

When Jarretts was put out of business, we lost touch, but I note that he went on to do exceedingly well in his personal career at Dean Witter until 1998. He has kept a low public profile subsequently.

So What Went Wrong?

Unfortunately, because I was linked to Noble Warren Investments Ltd, when that company became a victim of the Regulator, it was inevitable that JBM would also fall foul of the “system”, and so it turned out. 

Jarretts Bond Management lost its License to Deal in Securities and was closed down within a matter of weeks in 1991. Another baby thrown out with the bathwater, and customers left without management advice for their investments, that I am sure they had appreciated.

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Noble Warren Investments Ltd

How Business Was Done

Choosing the Name.

I could have named my new company as Noble Warren Insurance Brokers, but this would have indicated some coverage of General Insurance products such as motor insurance or household insurance. I saw our growth area in the new unit-linked market, where the new “savings plans” and Single Premium Investment Bonds could offer real returns over inflation.   


One of the first things I did was to register NWI as a member of the IBRC – Insurance Brokers Registration Council – set up to regulate Brokers via the new Insurance Brokers Regulation Act 1977 . It was important to me that the company was respected in the Industry, and offered a professional service to its customers.


The next thing was to open Agency agreements with the leading providers of UK Insurance products, so that NWI could offer customers a full range of products that were suited to their particular needs – this was also known as Financial Planning. These products included but were not limited to Term Assurance, Health Insurance, Endowment Policies, Savings Plans, Single Premium Investment Bonds, Unit Trusts and Pension schemes. We would also offer assistance with mortgages through connections with Building Societies, particularly those applications that were not straightforward owing to the personal circumstances of the customer – e.g. the self-employed.

Not every Insurance Company had their own sales forces (direct sales): many ot the more established companies – for example Scottish Widows and Standard Life – relied upon selling their products through direct advertising, or business from independent Insurance Brokers. Each Insurance Company had a team of highly trained and professional in-house representatives, who would be responsible for new business connections and new Agencies in their area.

In the first year of trading, I set up multiple agencies with most of the leading and established Insurance Companies of the era – covering the complete range of Life Insurance products. As a guide, Term Assurance (pure life cover) and Private Health Insurance was a matter of “cheapest rates”, but With Profits Endowment Policies could be rated historically as the companies paying out the largest returns to policyholders over the chosen qualifying period – from 10 years to 25 years.
The unit-linked Insurance Industry – with Members such as Merchant Investors – was a new addition to, and a new concept in, the UK Insurance Market, and returns over a period would very much depend upon the underlying choice of fund (or Unit Trust). So the available range of funds would be critical, and this gave rise to another opportunity – the need for some Fund Management advice to be available should customers so choose.

Some of the Insurance Companies and Unit Trust Groups that NWI had agencies with included:

Where I have remembered the main character or principal contact at these various companies, I have included their names above. As can be seen by the links provided, many of these companies have since been acquired or merged with larger financial institutions.

Many of the above companies offered unit-linked products (plans linked to an underlying Unit Trust portfolio). A good example was NEL Brittannia, which was a joint venture company between the more conventional Insurer – National Employers Life – and the Unit Trust Group, Brittannia Arrow. Merchant Banks like Hambros and Hill Samuel were also involved in the new Unit-Linked industry.

Commission and Cashflow Considerations

Indemnity At Merchant Investors, and as a “direct salesman”, I had been used to the payment of Indemnity Commission – commission paid in advance on any successful sale. At NWI, this was not something I could (or wished to) offer to members of my team for all insurance products. Where the Insurance Company concerned offered indemnity terms, I accepted them, but it was not the most important criteria for us as an independent insurance broker. If the company was a unit-linked company, the number of funds available and the ability for our customers to switch between the funds was a more important requirement. Where premiums were paid annually, or for Single Premium products, commission was in any case paid within a few weeks.

Sales Team Commission Members of NWI received 80% of any “initial” commssions payable for any product: for monthly premiums, and where indemnity was not available, this was normally paid to NWI over the first 2 years of the life of the policy. Renewal commissions – which typically were 2 to 2.5% of the premium paid over the life of any policy – were kept by NWI and were later redirected to Warren Noble Investments Ltd, a company formed for this specific purpose.  

Client Account NWI had a client account, as do solicitors, for example. For Single Premium Insurance Bonds and, later, Unit Trust Investments, where there was an initial charge levied by the provider of between 3.5 and 5%, (normally known as the “spread”) the Client Account enabled us to pass on the net amount to the Provider concerned, allowing us to pay our consultant immediately.

Sales Training and Professionalism

Personal – ACII.  After only two or three years personal experience selling Merchant Investor Unit Linked products, I was well aware that there were large gaps in my own knowledge about insurance generally, and that if I was to run a successful insurance brokerage, I would need to correct that. There was an Industry organisation known as the Life Insurance Association (LIA): I did become a Fellow member (FLIA) but at the time the Association catered mainly for those involved in direct selling, and there were no recognised industry qualifications. The most professional Insurance qualification available was as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII). The ACII course was comprehensive, dealing with a large number of areas, including Risk, General Insurance and Contract Law, and I found it challenging and informative. I achieved ACII status in approx 1980

Consultant Sales Training I only accepted new members into NWI if they appeared to me to be ethical, had had some years experience in the Insurance Industry, and had received basic training. I was not in a postiton to – and neither did I want to – provide training courses. My consultants had the choice of working from the offices where they had a desk and telephone available, and use of the Boardroom for client meetings – or from home. I did not expect our consultants to qualify for an ACII as I had done, but I encouraged them to become members of the LIA, and I organised in-house advanced training on insurance investment and mortgage products. The best source of this training was from the Agency Inspectors or representatives from the Insurance Companies with whom NWI had agencies, and they were more than willing, as it gave them an opportunity to meet the team, and explain why their particular insurance products should be considered.

Product Suitability Because I wanted to protect NWI’s reputation, and because I knew how important it was to maintain the trust of the customer, I would monitor the majority of new business applications – particularly if the premiums seemed higher than the ordinary. If I had any doubts, I would speak with the consultant concerned, and make sure that the reasons given for the application to proceed were valid. It was better in my opinion to arrange a lower cost insurance product for a customer, which they could comfortably afford, rather than risk an early cancellation and the loss of that customer for good – and possibly a complaint. As a result, I do not remember ever receiving a complaint from a customer in the time that NWI was trading.

How NWI Obtained New Business and New Customers. The method of street canvassing we used at Merchant Investors had been outstandingly successful, but by the time I formed NWI, it was no longer a valid method, probably because of complaints received by the “authorities”: whether this was as a result of professional jealousy, or saturation of the area canvassed in the City of London, or just plain poor technique was a matter of conjecture. However, in my case I had accumulated some 200-300 customers who were loyal and happy to regard me as their financial advisor: my other NWI consultants had also accumulated a solid customer base, and for the most part, business was done by maintaining contact with each customer, reviewing his or her changing financial planning needs on a regular basis, and asking for referrals – i.e. friends or colleagues who may have also been interested in our service. “Cold Calling” was not permitted.
NWI did also run from time to time a small advertising progamme, in some magazines and journals, but this was only for special products. One campaign I remember in particular was in 1990 when Interest Rates were at record highs, and a popular product produced by some of the more innovative companies was the One Year Guaranteed Income Bond: for example, Liberty Life produced such a product, guaranteeing a return of 19.1 per cent.

UK Regulation – IFA In 1988 the UK Government enacted legislation to distinguish between financial advisers working independently for their clients, and those who were in reality representing one Insurance Company. Rather naively as it turned out, I welcomed the new regime, as I had long thought that clients would be better served by an independent firm – or Insurance Broker – and this was one of the main reasons why I had formed NWI . The new required “status” of Independent Financial Advisor did not seem to me to be a problem because most of the requirements – such as “fact finds” for new clients – were already in place and part of the NWI culture.

NWI Personalities and Key Members

When NWI started in 1977, we had very few consultants: the team grew slowly over a number of years. However, there were three personalities who were either special to me, or were influential.

Peter Clarke Dec’d: Peter came with me from Merchant Investors: he was at the time in his ’50s, “old school” and ex-army, overweight and with a moustache, and smoked incessantly, In fact I think it was his bad influence that led to me smoking cigars in the office, even first thing in the morning. He was a “lovable rogue” and very partial to alcohol and the good life, which was unfortunate for his long suffering and faithful wife, Pam: but he was charming and always positive no matter what his financial circumstances were – and they were often dire. I helped him as much as I could, and he was a good friend.

Simon Brewer: I was researching the internet to see if I could track down Simon, but true to form, the only reference I could find was a report on his society wedding in 2011 to a very tall girl called Rebecca Steels. I would never describe Simon as a friend, more as a colleague, but his involvement at NWI was important as he did bring in a lot of business. A few years younger than myself and educated at Eton, he was permanently based in London’s Fulham (where else, my dear?). I was always aware that he did not consider me as a social equal, but NWI was useful to him as an acceptable way of making a living by persuading his rich friends to make investments: in this regard, he reminded me of Rai Hamilton, formerly at Merchant Investors.  Having said that, I was invited to tea at Claridges on one occasion to meet his mother – a charming lady. Like Peter Clarke, Simon was a bad influence on me, and we often disappeared together to Morton’s or one of the other clubs or local winebars: in fact, it was because of these excursions from the office that I invested in one of the first commercially available mobile phones (it was a Panasonic and cost £1700 and was extremely heavy) so that I could keep a check on unit prices and Julia – my PA – could call me with any important message, 

Julia: My Personal Assistant and married to Chris, one of our consultants, and to my lasting regret, I cannot remember her surname. She ran the Maddox Street office and had responsibility for most of the administration, which she carried out brilliantly. Most importantly she “had my back” – I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her long-term professionalism and loyalty.

Hargreaves Lansdowne is a company whose progress I have monitored for many years, and with some envy.

The two entrepeneurs were based in Bristol and their business started modestly from a bedroom a few years after NWI in 1981. They followed the same rationale as I did, with the same objective of providing “information to clients on unit trusts and tax planning matters”

They avoided the problems NWI faced in 1991 and have become hugely successful, with a quotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2007. They obviously “did it right”, and almost certainly had better advice and business funding than I did. All credit to them, but it does show what was possible and what could have been achieved without the draconian intervention of the Financial Regulators.

So What Went Wrong?

The short answer is that some 30 years on, I still do not know for sure.

We were closed down following the appropriate notice and an unsuccessful Tribunal Hearing with the Securities and Investment Board (SIB), who from 1985 had taken over Regulatory duties for Financial Services in the UK.


Some weeks or months before this “bombshell” we had had what I had thought was a routine visit or inspection at the 50 Maddox Street offices, with a team of five or six individuals representing the SIB: I was totally confident that NWI would come through without a problem. After all, in my opinion and as can be seen from the previous description of how NWI operated, together with the fact that we had no customer complaints and that NWI provided an independent and professional service to our clients as required by the new “regime”, this should have been enough to have guaranteed our survival.
The inspection took two or three days and seemed to go well – although Julia (my PA and in charge of office administration) did mention that the SIB were somewhat arrogant and heavy-handed, and were not too familiar with insurance products, particularly in the unit-linked sector. Apparently the leader of the SIB “team” was employed by a Buiding Society only six months previously.
As a direct result of this visit, and much to my surprise and shock, the SIB sent correspondence indicating that NWI would not be granted continuing status as an IFA (Independent Financial Advisor)

SIB Tribunal Hearing

My only appeal process was via a Tribunal Hearing, which I duly applied for: we were the first company to appear before such a Tribunal, which was conducted as a quasi Court Hearing with members of the SIB hierarchy sitting in judgement. As I recall, there were no independent adjudicators and no further right of Appeal.

We were represented by Christopher Monckton after Simon Brewer’s specific recommendation to me. After both sides had produced whatever evidence they had, we lost the Appeal, and as far as I was concerned the “baby was thrown out with the bathwater“.

The Mistakes I Made

My first mistake was that I should not have been so confident in our passing the SIB inspection, and should have paid more attention to the paperwork and procedures that these regulatory bodies or bureaucrats are so fond of inflicting. Our loss at the Tribunal was apparently down to some failures in this area, rather than anything more serious such as misleading customers.

The second mistake that I made was in not appreciating that since our Tribunal Hearing was the first public occasion to judge the effectiveness or otherwise of the new SIB regime, they were not going to want to lose.

The third and major mistake I made was in appointing Christopher Monckton: I now know his background was in journalism, and he was a “political advisor” to the Conservative Party. He was not a lawyer and had no previous experience in similar matters. I should not have trusted Simon Bewer’s judgement and should have appointed “proper counsel”. Our defence was shambolic and pretty much non-existent – for example, we could have produced many customers as character witnesses, or produced written evidence. We could have called many of the Insurance Companies with whom we had agencies to provide confirmation of our independence and professionalism. None of this was done, but I am sure he appreciated the £10,000 up front fee.

Final Word
I do often wonder if NWI had been unfairly targeted, or competitors were jealous, or perhaps I had been too vocal in the local industry Press. We were a small company doing a professional job, with financial planning for our customers: we were not a Barlow Clowes or a Norton Warburg. However, the damage was done, the business destroyed, our staff laid off, our customers were left without advisers, and I was deprived of my livelihood. So much for Regulators.

Note: The SIB became the FSA (Financial Services Authority) in 2001, until approx 2012 when closed down by the UK Government due to its total failure in preventing the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis.  

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50 Maddox Street London Offices

50 Maddox Street

Choosing our Offices

After some searching, I  found a suitable Headquarters for my new Insurance Brokerage. This was at 50 Maddox Street and was a commercial property owned by the Corporation of London: it was a good address in London’s West End within easy reach of the Central Line and Jubilee Line underground stations of Oxford Circus and Bond Street respectively.  The rent was reasonably low and the property in reasonable condition.

I started with the top floor of the building, which was essentially a house in the period style with 5 floors and a basement, each floor consisting of one large room overlooking the street and one other smaller room at the back – which had no view as such! There was no lift – a slight drawback – and stairs connected the first and subsequent floors via a secure front door, with an intercom system for each floor. When I  started, there were other tenants on the first three floors, and the ground floor (with street frontage) and basement was occupied by an upmarket Hair Stylist called Carvers: I see that the business name with owner Vivienne Baum remains to this day, but Carvers 2020 has a different clientele.

The small room on the top floor became my personal office, and the larger room was “open plan” for my small team at the time and a waiting room area for customers. As the business grew, I gradually took over all the upper floors, with our admin staff and Reception Area and Boardroom on the first floor, and the second and third floors available for the expanding sales team. We used a Panasonic telephone system to interconnect between floors and make outside calls.

Close by were Hanover Square Berkeley Square and Grosvenor Square,  pleasant places to have a walk or relax, and Bond Street and Oxford Street were five minutes on foot. Directly opposite our offices was an Italian Restaurant (unimaginatively) called the “57” but it was an excellent place to have lunch – particularly the menu item known as stuffed chicken with garlic butter , which meant that “after lunch” meetings could be hazardous for other attendees!

At full strength, Noble Warren Investments Ltd had a staff on P.A.Y.E. of three girls – one of whom was also my PA – and a sales team of 20 to 30 sales “commission only” consultants.

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