The chairman's latest plan could appear a little barking
'And that's how small dogs win fights,' concluded the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet at the end of his presentation to an awe-struck audience at a high-profile event to mark a new direction for the group.
OK, technically it was more like a few beers down The Reluctant Commuter with SmallBlue's managing director and me. And it wasn't so much awe as polite attention ' or at least the polite appearance of polite attention. But the chairman was definitely making a presentation, it was definitely on a new direction for SmallBlue and he had definitely said something about small dogs winning fights.
'I'm sorry,' I said. 'I must have missed something. Where did the small dogs come in?'
'It's an analogy,' said the chairman patiently. 'It means that if SmallBlue Planet is ever to make the transition from insignificantly-sized investment company to not insignificantly-sized investment company, we are going to have to follow the example of small dogs who win fights by playing dirty and biting their opponents on the ¦'
'I think what the chairman means,' interrupted the MD, 'is small dogs move quickly and take little bites at the heels of their larger opponents, thereby wearing them down.'
'I think you'll find that's exactly what the chairman said,' the chairman said. 'But ignoring your difficulty with grasping a rather simple analogy, the plain fact is that SmallBlue Planet is planning a radical change of direction by ¦'
'¦ by posting positive returns on your funds?' I suggested ' you know it had to be done.
'That's not funny,' said the chairman. 'No ' by taking a more active investment approach that combines some great new managers with our patented Chairman's Really Intelligent & Safe Investment System.'
'Nice acronym.' I said.
'We thought so,' replied the chairman. 'Anyway, we're totally confident the days of SmallBlue being known principally for its global emerging markets expertise on the back of Jose-Fredo da Bigbadwolff and his team are over. From today we become a major player in the UK, in Europe and ¦ and ¦ and in all those other areas where we need to be major players.'
'I notice your brave new world involves no UK equity income signing,' I said. 'Surely that's a key area to cover?'
'Well, yes, you'd think so,' said the MD. 'But our research indicates a SmallBlue offensive into that area would not be helpful.'
'Because you believe that despite the inevitable flood of retail cash into UK equity income this Isa season, it wouldn't be responsible to encourage investment into an area that may have had its best run for the time being.'
'Good grief, no,' said the chairman. 'Just too many big dogs in that particular kennel.'
'"We do have one other initiative we're quite pleased about,' said the MD quickly.
'We do?' said the chairman. 'I mean we do. And perhaps you'd like to fill in our esteemed guest from the press.'
'Of course,' said the MD. 'You see, we've been watching with increasing unease the assorted financial services disasters that seem to be queuing up to undermine consumer confidence at the moment and we know it's only a matter of time before the regulators step in in their usual subtle way. So we're going to beat them to it with our own customised, all-purpose, no-nonsense risk warning. We figure that since nobody seems to take a blind bit of notice about the warnings on cigarette packets ¦'
'Oh, they do in parts of Africa, I believe,' I said. 'I read somewhere there were riots in certain areas when shops started selling packets of fags that warned they were harmful to smokers' health. The rioters demanded the old warning-free packets, although some of the men were apparently willing to risk those that read 'Smoking can harm your unborn child'.'
'Be that as it may,' continued the MD. 'We have decided that since the great majority of people seem not to take a blind bit of notice of the warnings on cigarette packets, we would do something similar with our fund advertising.'
'And that would be?'
'Glad you asked,' replied the MD. 'It would run 'Do not invest unless you can afford to lose all your money'. What do you think?'
'I'm mightily impressed,' I said. 'Although some of your canine competitors might think you are barking.'
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