As many of you know, I worked for Vodafone for nearly 7 years. I left shortly before the “entirely legal and justified tax avoidance” scandal came to light.
I didn’t know anything about the tax issues while I was working there – other than the fact I had some colleagues working in Luxembourg – otherwise (I like to think) I may have raised the matter internally. Not that the accountants would have listened to me…
Since leaving Vodafone, I haven’t felt able to criticise it too harshly. Partly because many of my friends still work there, partly because I still do business with Vodafone, but – mostly – because I felt like a hypocrite.
As is normal in large, publicly traded companies, employees were awarded shares. Every year part of my remuneration was in the form of shares or share options. When I was made redundant from Vodafone, many of those shares vested.
However, for rather boring tax reasons, I wasn’t able to sell all of them to help fund my new business. So I hung on to them. Until this week.
Two days ago, I sold every last share I had in Vodafone.
I don’t know if you’ve ever sold shares before – but it’s incredibly stressful. The easy way to do it is to set a sell price. So you say “If the shares hit X, sell”. Then you sit back, relax, and wait for your target to be hit.
That’s not what I did. I did it the scary way.
You say how many shares you want to sell, hit a big scary button, then you get given an offer for your shares. You then have 15 seconds to accept the offer!
That 15 seconds passes really fucking quickly. Is that enough? What if I get more next time? What if I get less? It’s like a giant slot machine of doom. You hit “spin” again. In that 15 seconds you’ve lost £37.50. You hit spin again. You’re now up £50 – all in the blink of an eye. So you spin again – it must be on an upward streak, right? Wrong! Down a tenner – all in the space of a minute.
It’s enough to drive you insane. But that’s not the worst part.
Eventually, you hit sell. It’s an elating feeling. All those years of hard work. All that patience. All the times you silently said to yourself “one day… one day”. Now suddenly realised as cold, hard cash. No more waiting. No more worrying. No more little nest egg.
The next day I did the stupidest thing imaginable. I checked the Vodafone share price.
Fool! It was up. Only a single point. But it was up. Had I waited a day, would I be richer? If I’d had the courage to wait just five more minutes? Would I be happier?
What if they went up the next day? And the day after that? Far from being a canny investor, was I just a schmuck? Every time I saw the share price would I silently curse myself for being an idiot? Oh no!
The next day, the Vodafone share price was down nearly 4%! I’d done it! I’d beaten the stock market! I was one of the masters of the universe! I was a share trading genius. Time to pack up my job and become a trader.
Or not. That single minute of panic was enough for me. I don’t think the highs of the occasional win would offset the inevitable, terrifying losses. It wasn’t pleasant gambling with my own money; I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I lost someone else’s hard earned cash.
So, on the one hand, it’s good to know I’m not an utter psychopath. On the other hand, I’ll never become one of the 1%.
I am indebted to Interactive Investor for making my share dealing as cheap and hassle-free as possible.
What am I going to do with my money? Go on a massive blow-out bender? Piss it up the wall? Stash it in the Cayman Islands?
Nah! I’m going solar powered! And that, dear friends, is a tale for tomorrow’s blog…