A big insurance company’s competition for advisers to describe their most career-defining moment sets the Scam chairman musing on the golden future that lies behind him.

“So what would you view as your career-defining moment?” I asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a bottle or two of Château Schooling Latter at The Schooling Larter Would Have Been A Different And More Intriguing Matter Altogether.

“Now there’s a question,” sighed the chairman, puffing out his cheeks. “But since it involves my favourite subject – that is to say, me – I’ll try and answer it. It’s a tricky one though because there have been so many key points in my life – the trail-blazing companies, the pioneering products, the landmark battles with the regulator of the day …”

“The 48-hour lunches that ended in a different city – and sometimes country – from where they started?” I added helpfully. “Proud of those as I may be, I fear we may have to exclude them on practical grounds,” the chairman replied. “After all, if one is planning to reminisce, it helps to be able to remember what one is planning to reminisce about.”

“Fair point,” I conceded. “So what comes out top then? The day you shook hands with Jamie Macleod?” “Obviously that would come close,” nodded the chairman. “But I think it would have to be something from my formative years. Indeed, it would probably be the very first moment in my career – when my father asked me to join the family business.”

“You mean, when you were eight and he asked you to pin flyers for his nascent investment company on to the backs of commuters in Liverpool Street station?” I asked. “Well, I liked the way I said it better,” replied the chairman. “But I suppose it comes to the same thing.

“But what provoked this little meander down memory lane?” “A forthcoming advertising campaign from Aviva,” I said.

“Apparently it’s all based around significant moments from an adviser’s career.” “You mean like their first client complaint, their first visit from the FSA and their first fine from the freshly invigorated enforcement department?”

“I suspect Aviva was hoping to be a bit more upbeat than that,” I replied. “Oh, of course,” said the chairman. “You mean an adviser’s best freebie or most far-flung and sun-soaked conference.” “More achieving a qualification or coming up with a killer solution to a client’s problem,” I suggested. “Really,” frowned the chairman. “Doesn’t seem terribly true-to-life.”

“The briefest glance at any of Scam’s media campaigns might indicate advertising and reality aren’t always to be found in the same postcode.” I replied. “I suppose I could be wrong but I think not, seeing as how the Aviva campaign was created following, and I quote, ‘qualitative research of a range of intermediary online forums’.”

“What does that mean exactly?” asked the chairman. “No idea,” I shrugged. “But I’m sure it doesn’t mean the creative team just had a bit of a rummage around a couple of IFA websites – just as I’m sure those online forums won’t have been discussing which investment company offers the best tour of urban nightlife when it sponsors a conference.

“Nor, I’m willing to bet, are such matters likely – unfortunately – to feature among the entries to the competition the good, good people at Aviva are running at the same time as their ad campaign. For the chance to win a camcorder, they’re asking advisers to share their own career-defining moment through the medium of text, picture or even video.”

“Good grief,” said the chairman. “Can you imagine what the winning entry will be like?” “I’m trying not to,” I said.

“Although I dare say it will probably involve solving a client’s problem. After all, the clever part of the adviser campaign is that it builds on the group’s current consumer advertising activity exploring the, er, ‘moments that matter’ in everyday life, such as retirement and the birth of a child.”

“How heart-warming,” grimaced the chairman. “More importantly, which investment company does offer the best tour of urban nightlife when it sponsors a conference?” “If I answered that question,” I replied, “I have a feeling it might lead to a very real career-defining moment.”