Suddenly everyone’s talking about Gina Miller. Who is the woman behind the High Court appeal that ended in today’s historic ruling that the Government must seek Parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50? As it happens, I’m well placed to answer that question, having known and worked with Gina for several years.
It was in 2011 that I first made contact with Gina while researching an online documentary I was making called Passive Investing: The Evidence. She and her husband Alan, a former fund manager, have for many years been staunch advocates of index funds. They also ran the True and Fair Campaign, which highlighted the lack of transparency in the UK investing industry, particularly around fees and charges.
Alan featured in that documentary, and both of them in the follow-up film, How to Win the Loser’s Game. My company Regis Media has also produced several videos for their investing business and for True and Fair, and I’ve got to know Gina well.
Not surprisingly for someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, it’s fair to say that Gina polarises opinion. She has, over the years, encountered some pretty unpleasant abuse, some of it sexist and racist.
She told me once that she once won a special prize for personal integrity at an industry awards night, and there was complete silence in the room, without even a ripple of applause, as she went up to collect it.
For me, Gina is a heroine. Yes, she’s very wealthy and has enjoyed a very successful career, but she understands better than almost anyone else I know that success in business comes with considerable responsibility — first to the consumer, but also to wider society.
Over the years, Gina and Alan have spent a great deal of time, at their own personal expense, lobbying on behalf of ordinary investors, both in London and in Brussels. In the fund industry lobby, they’ve been up against a formidable opponent, and they’ve lost many battles along the way. But they never gave up, and thanks to the Millers and others like them, the balance of power is slowly tipping away from the industry and towards the consumer.
I don’t want to make a political point. You might not agree with Gina on Parliamentary sovereignty or Britain’s place in Europe, or indeed on anything else. But you have to admire her sheer courage and perseverance in the face of adversity. She has been an inspiration to me and I’m sure she will be to others.
Congratulations, Gina, on your latest success. I’m proud to count you as a friend.
This is one of the videos we’ve produced for the True and Fair Campaign — this one’s from 2012 — in which Gina sets out the problems with the asset management industry: