How City veterans invested their way through the war and inflation of the 1970s

Duncan Gwyther of the wealth manager Quilter Cheviot, who started his investment career in 1976, said investing in assets that tracked the performance of oil was one of the few ways to make sizable returns five decades ago.

“In 1974 oil prices rose by more than three times their previous three-year average,” he said. “At home, it meant that we had blackouts and had to light candles.” 

Michel Perera of the wealth manager Canaccord Genuity, who worked at an investment bank during the 1970s, agreed that investing in oil was one of the few ways to get strong returns and remained so today.

“The energy sector was very strong, with the natural gas giant ExxonMobil at the top,” he said. “The other so-called ‘Seven Sisters’ were also in demand: these were the largest Western oil companies of the day, which would later evolve into the likes of BP and Shell.” 

Taking inspiration from then, DIY investors today have also turned to the giant oil companies for returns that can beat inflation. At Hargreaves Lansdown, Britain’s largest broker, BP and Shell have both ranked in the top 10 most popular buys in recent weeks. They have returned 15pc and 30pc since the start of the year alone, far outpacing the 7pc rate of inflation in March.

But Dan Boardman-Weston of BRI Wealth Management advised DIY investors to focus on infrastructure and commercial property as defensive assets during periods of high inflation and econ­omic uncertainty.

“We like the LXi Reit and M&G Global Listed Infrastructure funds,” he said. “LXi has a diversified portfolio of properties let to high-quality tenants on long leases with a very high degree of inflation protection. It has returned 32pc in the past three years. M&G Global Listed Infrastructure invests in stocks that are relatively immune from the economic cycle and can provide attractive levels of income. The fund yields 2pc and has returned 45pc in the past three years.” 

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