The chairman sets out his stall for a job application
'So talk me through the thinking behind your 'All investors are a bit thick' interview,' I said to the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet as we sat enjoying a liquid lunch in the Davies Whine Bar that's opened up near the group's offices.
The chairman contemplated his glass of Moroccan wine ' a bruising little number called Quadbike Prang ' for some time but seemed in no hurry to answer my question. I tried again: 'I said talk me through ¦' 'I heard you the first time,' replied the chairman. 'I just thought I'd follow the advice of one of my public relations people and pause a little while before answering any questions from journalists.'
'Pity they didn't pass on that gem last week,' I said. 'But perhaps we could dispense with the experiment for the time being as it could drag out the conversation and I haven't got all day. OK ' so I have got all day but could we stop anyway? Things could become very tedious.
'But you didn't really say all those things about investors, did you? Or, if you did, you're going for the 'I was misquoted' defence. I mean, I realise it's standard industry practice to have a basic contempt for those punters ' not professional of course ' who pile into tech, trackers, bonds, property or whatever at their peak and refuse to touch anything remotely undervalued. But isn't the trick not to say so out loud ' and especially not to national newspapers?
'Even if you do call your customers' intelligence into question, isn't it better not to do so just as the Isa season, such as it may or may not be, swings into gear? Particularly one that could have some bearing on whether SmallBluePlanet is even in existence this time next year?
'Last of all, surely you've been around long enough to know that when you're in a hole, you stop digging ' and yet you go on and on and on about investors' intellectual failings and their capacity for making decisions based on greed. What was your grand finale? 'Private investors have the morals of a weasel and the brains of an OK! reader. There are more intelligent creatures lying on their backs at the bottom of ponds and it is in fact my belief that the vast majority of investors have no more right to invest in a SmallBlue Planet fund than a sock puppet.' I think what I'm trying to say is ' doh.'
The chairman shrugged. 'Why are you getting so animated?' he said. 'Truth is, things are so bad at the moment, my being rude to investors is not going to affect Isa sales in any adverse way ' indeed my views seem to have struck a chord with various intermediaries and we might even see our figures go up this month. But that's really just an unexpected side-benefit. What I was really doing was setting out my stall for a job application ' you know, if things really don't go so well for SmallBlue over the next six months.'
'A job application?' I almost shouted ' this had come as something of a shock. 'You've never applied for a job in your life.' 'Never had to,' smiled the chairman. 'That's kind of my point,' I said. 'What sort of job could possibly make you want to ¦ well ¦ it almost seems like you're throwing in the towel with SmallBlue.'
'Oh I wouldn't say that,' said the chairman. 'But in this day and age, one has to be realistic. No job is for life ' not even chairman of an insignificantly sized investment company ' and so it pays to have a contingency plan. And I must admit this ad rather caught my eye ' here, have a look.'
I took the single sheet of newspaper and began to read what the chairman had circled in red pen. 'Government organisation seeks go-getter (good sense of humour, non-smoker preferred) for fun and games with the financial services industry. Likes consultation, nannies and 'cheap'. Dislikes conclusions, financial advisers and 'commission'. Seeks similar. Total inability to understand it's quite difficult to save when you don't have any money and a knack for concocting bizarre consultation papers on a daily basis a bonus. Please apply to Howard, PO Box ¦'
I put the paper down. 'I've already drafted my application,' said the chairman. 'What do you think?' It was with some trepidation that I reached out for the letter ¦
Developed by industry-wide group
Joined in 2002
'Educate clients' children'
Raised £15m earlier this week
From 8pm Friday 19 October