The chairman's new bond strategy gets scuppered by Fidelity
You will no doubt be relieved to discover that it takes more than a formal FSA probe and having one of the industry watchdog's 'enforcers' camped out in his office to knock the chairman of the insignificantly sized investment company SmallBlue Planet off his stride.
Still, no matter how nonchalant one tries to look, it can still be hugely disconcerting working under the constant gaze of an actuary who likes to dress as the Terminator and so the chairman had switched operations to a nearby pub, The Slater's Return.
It was here we were discussing SmallBlue Planet's next public relations wheeze, on which a crack team of 37 PR types had been working round the clock for 10 straight days. It turns out they had formulated a strategy that would play on the extraordinary coincidence that not only is a new James Bond film soon to premiere but there is also a sort of investment called ' and I'm not making this up ' a bond.
While the chairman is not a natural film buff, he is a huge fan of Ursula Andress and so once his PRs had unearthed this priceless piece of information there was no way he was going to let it go. ' ¦ and so we're going to show how bonds performed in each of the years a Bond film came out and then see who was the most successful 'Bond Girl' in both senses of the word,' he concluded with a flourish.
Deciding my lack of reaction to this news meant I required further explanation, he added: 'It's a play on words, you see. You know ' Bond Girl and bond ¦ er¦ that isn't a girl.'
'Truly a PR masterstroke,' I replied. 'But I fear I must burst your balloon because this morning I received a press release along similar lines from, of all people, Fidelity. Apparently Roger Moore is the best-performing James Bond because the average annual return on bonds during his tenure as 007 was 12.3%.'
'You're joking,' said the chairman. 'Believe me,' I said. 'I couldn't make this sort of thing up.' 'Well I don't mind telling you this comes as a bit of a blow,' he sighed. 'We really needed a bit of good news ' especially after the latest setback from the powers that be.' 'Not the FSA again, surely?' I asked. 'No ' Department of Education and Skills,' replied the chairman. 'I hardly dare ask,' I said. 'Why?'
'Well, you know our SmallBlue Alpha fund,' he continued. 'It seems that after all that recent A-level nonsense, Estelle Morris isn't taking any chances and wants it re-marked. My friendly enforcer made some joke about how if it were downgraded to a Delta fund it would have to be managed by Chuck Norris ' I think he watches rather too many action movies.'
'Indeed,' I said. 'But I'm sorry you've had two pieces of bad news on the same day.' 'Oh, I suppose it could be worse,' said the chairman.
'At least I know I don't have to resign any time soon.' 'You mean you haven't had an aerial photograph of your home appear in any of the papers?' I said.
'Exactly,' replied the chairman. 'It does rather seem to be the signal to fall on your sword these days. Still, it's awfully decent of your mob to give us a hint like that.'
'Oh, we journalists are all heart,' I said. 'Mind you, I must admit I've half been expecting to see a picture or two of your place knocking about in the papers. After all SmallBlue has been pretty involved in all this split-cappery and there aren't too many private residences you can make out while cruising to the Continent at 10,000 feet. Can you explain it?'
'Not really,' shrugged the chairman. 'Unless it has something to do with my letting every City editor know I have a hotline to the local RAF base and play golf with the Air Commo-wotsit chappie in charge. Oh ' and that I picked a rather interesting bit of ground-to-air missile kit on a recent shopping expedition to a former Soviet republic.'
'I doubt that will have had anything to do with it,' I replied. 'Looks like you're safe for the time being then.' 'It would appear so,' said the chairman. 'Not, of course, that I can conceive of any possible scenario ' short of being named in Edwina Currie's next memoirs ' that would force me to resign in any case.'
All-day event on 24 April
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