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Black Monday Memories: John Spiers on being the 'last man standing'

Black Monday Memories: John Spiers on being the 'last man standing'

In a special series, leading City figures give us their recollections of Black Monday, 30 years on from the great crash of 1987. This is what EQ Investors CEO John Spiers learnt from the experience.

In October 1987, I was just into the second year of the business that became Bestinvest.

I remember well walking to the tube on the Friday after the storm and seeing all the damaged trees in Kensington. That day nothing major happened because the UK market was closed.

After the weekend on Black Monday though it was a different story. The UK market fell by what seemed a catastrophic 10%. I went home, put on the TV and saw that Wall Street had fallen by more than 20%. Over the next few weeks, the FTSE fell by more than 35% from its previous peak. This wasn’t good for the prospects of my fledgling business.

For me, the big lesson is not to worry about matters that you cannot affect. Some of my competitors seemed to be spending most of their time speculating whether the market would fall by another 20% or even 50%. I knew that I couldn’t make those forecasts with any accuracy, so I just focused on making my business as sharp as possible, so that at least I would be the last man standing.

Fortunately, our activity was very seasonal, geared towards the last couple of months of the tax year and by then the storms had passed and we had a record year. Unbelievably, Black Monday is now barely noticeable on the long term charts.

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