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Peter Cruddas: The Tory peer and City boy plans to launch an attack on the investment industry

·3-min read
 (Matt Writtle)
(Matt Writtle)

Peter Cruddas is an unlikely Tory peer, in many ways.

Born on the wrong side of Hackney, he left school without qualifications and headed to the City.

Though he credits the Boy Scouts rather than the Square Mile with teaching him the discipline and confidence that have left him, depending on what sort of year he has had, as one of the very richest men in the City.

The 67-year-old joined the House of Lords on February 2, a controversial appointment given that he failed the vetting process to become a peer, something Boris Johnson ignored.

Soon after, he gave the Conservative Party £500,000.

There is no connection between these two things. You’d be a conspiracist to suggest it.

Why does Hackney lad want to sit in the stuffy Lords anyway?

“I love politics” says the co-founder of Vote Leave. “I want to do my bit for Queen and country.”

Today the CMC Markets founder is celebrating this latest dividend payment after a record year – another £55 million into the Crudas personal bank, before tax, he would insist on pointing out.

And he’s not sitting still. He thinks CMC, which still makes most money from spread betting and CFDs, can attack the retail stockbroking and fund market presently dominated by the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell.

The profit margins at both companies are huge, as customers can’t help notice.

In Australia, CMC is already regarded as a stockbroker rather than a spread better. Stockbroking client numbers leapt in the year to March by more than 50,000 to 232,053.

Is CMC the right brand for broking in the UK? Cruddas isn’t sure, but doesn’t want to be seen to be hiding anything.

“The key to it will be great technology. We will disrupt the market, I can promise you we will have the best tech in the industry,” he told the Standard.

“We are going to break into that market, it is massively open to attack. We are really good at technology.”

When? “When we talk this time next year, you will see something.”

HL and AJ Bell may not be quaking in their boots just yet, but it seems well past time that they came under pressure from a serious rival willing to undercut them.

Lockdown has seen an extraordinary rush to share investing by people with time, and some spare cash, on their hands.

This is a blip, no?

CMC thinks not. The statement to the City says: “The Group believes that existing active client levels are likely to be sustainable as the characteristics of clients onboarded during the year are comparable to our current high value client base, with longevity and trading activity at similar levels to prior cohorts.”

Cruddas says: “If you look at our growth, it is not just Covid volatility, We had Tesla, Trump, record number of IPOs. We had the GameStop thing, the stars aligned. What we take comfort from is that we have signed up a lot of new clients, but as to their characteristics, they look a lot like the old clients.”

He adds: “We are not seeing a lot of the millennials that want to trade GameStop and crypto.”

“This is not a churn and burn business,” he says. “The life cycle of our client is four years, it used to be 90 days.”

A life peerage? Proper clients?

Respectability surely beckons…

Cruddas, of course, was once co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, resigning after it was alleged he offered access to Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne for cash donations of between £100,000 and £250,000.

If Cruddas feels like dishing the dirt on all that, he isn’t saying so yet.

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