Struggling B&B owners who lost tens of thousands of pounds investing in Neil Woodford’s failed fund have said living just a three-minute stroll from the disgraced stock picker’s multi-million pound Salcombe home adds “insult to injury”, as hundreds of thousands of investors wait for their money to be returned.
Mr Woodford reportedly bought the luxury Devon property, which overlooks Salcombe bay, for more than £6m in 2017, when he was still being lauded as one of Britain’s most successful investors.
Renovations on the property were started before a string of failed investments forced the manager to suspend his flagship Equity Income fund in June 2019. It had fallen in value from £10bn at its peak to just £3.7bn and Mr Woodford ultimately close his business. Close to £450m is yet to be handed back to investors with nearly half invested in hard-to-sell unlisted assets.
Fred Hiscock, 71, and his partner, Pauline, 67, are among those still waiting. They invested around £50,000 collectively in the fund before it went under, but following the fund’s chronic decline in value only expect to receive a few thousand pounds.
Mr Hiscock, a resident of Salcombe for around 20 years who drives a local shuttle bus service for elderly residents in the town, said every time he walked past the “Woodford mansion” it added insult to injury.
“No one ever seems to live there,” he said. “But every time you go past it a new bit of luxury has been added.” He said this included a hot tub and a “giant cactus which must have cost a fortune”.
His partner Pauline runs a B&B business in the popular seaside resort, but is struggling financially as coronavirus has damaged the normal summer tourist trade.
“I just hope the wreckless gambler is brought to task, as it is guys like us – normal people – who get the shaft,” Mr Hiscock added.
Mr Woodford was unavailable for comment, but is understood to be unhappy with the pace with which fund administrators Link Fund Solutions are winding down the fund.
Link’s efforts to wind down the portfolio and return the money to savers have come under criticism following continuous and substantial falls in the value of the fund. It has struggled to sell some assets at their full price, due to the worsening economic environment caused by coronavirus, with buyers demanding large discounts.
Link has declined to comment on the criticisms.