The chairman weighs up a new poster ad campaign for Isas
'No, no, no, no, no,' whined the chairman of the insignificantly sized investment company SmallBlue Planet ' although he did stop just short of stamping his foot. 'I won't do it, I'm a grown man and you can't make me do it.' He looked at me suspiciously before adding: 'You can't make me do it, can you?'
'No, I can't make you do it,' I said wearily. 'It's just traditional that's all. Around this time of year, you and the rest of Her Majesty's financial services industry infest every advertising hoarding around the country with giant Isa ads and then I get to be rude about them. Now, how can I complete my side of the deal if most of your lot refuse to do theirs?'
'I can see why that would be a problem,' conceded the chairman. 'But, speaking at least for SmallBlue Planet, we don't really see the point. As far as we can tell it's all about income and, at the moment, we just don't seem to have a presence there. For some reason, investors and advisers aren't exactly piling into our Daily Income, Even Higher Income and Yet Another Corporate Bond funds.'
'Perhaps that's because you only launched them last week,' I suggested. 'But it's not just SmallBlue's absence from the poster scene, it's the fact that so few of your competitors are playing the game ' and most of those who are aren't playing it very well.
'If we accept the proposition that men are from Mars, women are from Venus and, allegedly, Isas are from Jupiter, then it would appear that most of the current batch of posters are from Uranus.' The chairman winced. 'Been planning to use that line long?' he asked.
'Months,' I said. 'But that's not the point. Just look at the meagre fare on offer. Fidelity has stuck with its 'why choose us?' approach that they seem to have been using for ever.
And while I'm all in favour of the if-it- ain't-broke-don't-fix-it school of procrastination, that only works if the thing really isn't broken.
'As for New Star's 'Aggressively seeking anyone' and 'Gartmore, Get more, Get out more' and its respective compositions entitled 'Psychedelic plughole' and 'Small bird with smaller fish,' I'm not sure they were ever fixed in the first place.
'What else? Charcol is still persevering with their little red balls while Britannic have their sweeties. Bearing in mind the competition, you've got to be pretty confident to ask the question: 'There are over 100 income funds ' which is the most tempting?' It really begs the answer 'sorry but it isn't yours.'
'In a similar vein, I can't help but feel JP Morgan Fleming is tempting fate by saying their funds will leave punters steaming/overwhelmed/disappointed or whatever. Come to think of it, I also came across a flyer from them the other day, which pointed out that 'perception is not always reality.' I'd hate to sound cynical but doesn't that translate into 'we're not as bad as you think we are ' honest'?
'Still, all of these pale into insignificance when compared with the cutting edge production values and time warp targeting of Invesco. I don't suppose it's completely bad business sense to aim for 40-year-old affluent men with talk of Abbey Road first editions and Mohammed Ali's boxing gloves.
'But am I the only one who can't shake off the feeling that Invesco has taken a leaf out of Henderson's book and press-ganged their own employees as models? And if that is the case, what does owning Gary Sobers' bat say about Invesco salaries ' or shouldn't I ask at this particular time? 'Mind you, I suppose at least they get some points for trying. Which, as I said, is more than can be said for most of you lot ' and particularly SmallBlue. Don't you realise there are people out there relying on you? Don't you realise I'm relying on you? Have you no pity, man? You've got a few weeks left ' you can still make a difference.
'What more can I do to persuade you?'
'You could let go of my trouser leg,' said the chairman. 'The suit's Savile Row, old boy. But look, since you're obviously so cut up about this, I'll have a word with our ad agency.
'Let's see if we can't rustle up a little something by this time next week.'
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