Column: Nigel Farage′s foray into finance | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 30.10.2020
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Column: Nigel Farage's foray into finance

Having helped engineer Britain's Brexit departure from the European Union, Nigel Farage has now taken to dishing out financial advice. I signed up to his newsletter to find out more.

What's a man to do when his life's work has been achieved? That's the question Brexit architect Nigel Farage has been facing since Britain left the European Union.

The answer is to start a newsletter. One that — how did you guess? — helps people take back control. No, not of borders, or fishing rights or anything like that. This time, it's taking back control of their finances.  

I discovered Farage's Fortune and Freedom newsletter via a Facebook ad. I had all but forgotten he existed, only to have him pop up offering "The truth about your money — behind the headlines, jargon and spin." How could I resist?

The small print on the website describes the newsletter as an "unregulated product published by Southbank Investment Research Limited." To produce it, Farage has teamed up with a man called Nickolai Hubble, whose profile on the Southbank Investment Research website mentions not only not that he "stubbornly" refuses to identify with any nationality (opposites attract?) but also that he can spin a plate while playing the bagpipes on a trapeze bar. 

DW's Kate Ferguson

DW's Kate Ferguson

Keep it simple

The newsletter emails arrive in my inbox every weekday morning. They feature familiar assaults on political correctness, groupthink and cancel culture, which the authors consider to be connected to a financial establishment that leaves the regular man on the street (it is always a man, not a woman) short.

The familiar Faragian formula for dismantling establishments is on full display. There are three components: make people feel they are not in control, identify the villain, offer a compelling and seemingly simple solution.

To achieve the first goal, Farage offers an anecdote about his disappointment at discovering the poor rate of return on his pension.

"I imagined people up and down the country thinking the same thing: 'Christ, what the hell happened?'" he writes.

I don't know what pension Nigel Farage is referring to here but there is certainly no mention of the €6,253 ($7,340) he can expect to get from the EU every month when he turns 63.

Watch video 26:06

Brexit: Freedom or Folly?

His rather flimsy credentials as a financial advisor rest on his experience as a metals trader in London in the 1980s and 90s — he had a varying level of success — and perhaps even more so on his instinct to go against the grain. Or at least, to appear to be doing so.

By identifying powerful, impenetrable villains — politicians, the media and now the financial establishment — Farage manages to capitalize on a legitimate sense that the world has become too complicated and that too much power rests in the hands of too few.

Helping the already powerful

Some of his solutions don't seem that outlandish. He advises people to invest in gold (immune from the machinations of the monetary system), to hoard a decent amount of cash and to make sure their money isn't all tied up in the same financial institution.

But this seemingly common-sense approach comes from a man who has made a career out of scapegoating. Feeling hard done by? Blame the EU. Sick of your small paycheck? Too many immigrants. 

Farage himself is hardly a bastion of financial prudence either. It was only a few years ago that he described himself as "skint" claiming that a career in politics meant spending more than you earn. With a few years to go before that EU pension kicks in, you'd be forgiven for believing that Farage may not be dishing out financial advice out of the goodness of his heart. 

Over the past few weeks, his Twitter feed has been dominated by posts praising US President Donald Trump and mocking his opponent Joe Biden. In the midst of a pandemic, he traveled to a rally in Arizona to endorse the incumbent. If this isn't a peak pro-establishment move, I don't know what is. Who, if not Trump, has benefited from a corrupt, opaque and self-serving financial system?

Farage has built his success on claiming to swim against the tide. But when you look at those he has aligned himself with, among them the immensely powerful rightwing media mogul Rupert Murdoch, you realize that he no longer represents an opposition to the status quo. He and his populist cronies have made it.  

Whether in politics or now finance, Nigel Farage and his friends are the establishment. With all the ills that go with it.

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