The chairman is defensive when he feels his funds have been insulted
'Hello and how are the dogs?' I cheerily greeted the chairman of the insignificantly sized investment company SmallBlue Planet as I walked into The Hardship Fund for a pint of Compensation. He waited as I finished a brief discussion with Dan the barman about exactly how essential my need for a drink actually was before replying.
'How many times do I have to tell you?' he began irritably. 'SmallBlue Planet doesn't have any dogs. We have funds that are positioned to capture future upside, funds that are waiting for the market to fully realise the potential of their holdings and funds that are differently placed within the economic cycle.
'We also have funds on whose portfolios we are performing radical surgery to make them even more suitable for our investors' needs and a few where we have made some key hirings in order to revamp the management teams. Oh blast ' that reminds me ' I must get round to telling some of our boys their jobs are now suffering from significant overlap but not even to think about looking to chase de payoff.
'What I'm saying is that while we may have a few funds that are not quite scaling the heights as we would wish ' and I think you'll agree that happens to the very best of groups ' SmallBlue Planet does not have, has never had and, while there is breath in my body, never will have any dog funds.'
'Just as it should be,' I said 'But I think you misunderstand me. I was merely asking after the health of Mrs Chairman's two pet poodles, Howard and Tiney. For it is only this week that the health and general wellbeing of our four-legged friends has finally assumed its rightful prominence in my list of priorities. And for this I am once again indebted to the good, good people at More Than, who, if memory serves, were also responsible for our last conversation on this topic when they launched their fearless crusade to get pets of all ages insured ' not just the younger, healthy ones.
'That time I believe it was just a case of dressing up a few resting Shakespearean actors as 'old age pets' and having them picket outside a vets' conference. But now they've taken a more in-depth and altogether more intellectual approach in their quest to ensure no UK dog or cat goes uncovered ' preferably by their own insurance, I would guess.
'I refer, of course, to their use of a 'survey' ' a public relations tool so cunning and effective it is a mystery to me it isn't used more often than the 47 times a week it currently notches up. Anyway, in this instance, the very finest scientific, actuarial, veterinary and market research minds were locked in a room until they came up with the revelation that the German Shepherd is the unluckiest breed of dog.
'Sadly, we are not furnished with any particular instances of the poor creature's tendency to do itself mischief but if we play the survey's odds we can hypothesise there was a fair amount of toy-swallowing, toilet-swimming and catflappery ' the most common unlucky incidents across the whole canine range.
'We were, however, given a short catalogue of dog misfortune that ended with the cheery reassurance that every one of the cases were now happy and well following veterinary treatment ' although how that worked for the dog we're told was squashed by a steamroller I have absolutely no idea. Some sort of bicycle pump, I suppose.
'All in all, quite an extraordinary piece of research and one that has far-reaching consequences, not the least of which is that, in my opinion, it could very well herald the re-emergence of the silly season among the pages of Her Majesty's financial press. You will of course recall our conversations in recent years that have bemoaned the fact that the practice of printing ridiculous stories to fill pages during the long and newsless summer months had been shrinking by the year to be now almost non-existent. For such a survey to appear on my desk ' and so early in the year too ' can only bode well for the revival of this most beloved of institutions.
'Anyway, that's what brought Mrs Chairman's little pride and joys to mind and encouraged me to enquire after their health. So, as I said, how are the dogs?'
'Oh,' said the chairman. 'They're very well. Thank you for asking.'
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