Banking collapse wiped out my fortune

Over a pint with relatives the other night in the Anglesea Arms in Hammersmith (incidently the best pub in London), I discovered that the Leaviss family fortune was wiped out by a banking collapse. Whilst the size of the supposed fortune has doubtless grown with the telling over the years (from “miniscule” to “tiny”), some googling shows that the bank holding Great Grandpa Leaviss’s savings did indeed go under, back in 1920. Farrow’s, a bank with 75 branches went bust, and its directors ended up in prison. The bank’s founder, Thomas Farrow, set up the institution as “the foe of money lenders”, offering high interest rates on current accounts (high for the time, albeit only 0.5%) and “permitting his customers, however small their accounts, to borrow freely”. At least we’ve learned since then not to allow poor credits to borrow freely haven’t we? Oh. Anyway, playing the Mervyn King role in this banking failure, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Commons that the government “had known for some time of the bank’s difficulties, but did not see that it could usefully or prudently intervene”. Thanks a bunch. Where was the Alistair Darling of the age when Great Grandpa Leaviss needed him?

The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

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