The chairman discusses his latest “groundbreaking” initiative …
“Where on earth have you been?” asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we settled down at The Fani Titi for a long overdue pint or two of God Bless You Investec. “I have been sitting here for something like six weeks to tell you about Scam’s latest groundbreaking initiative.”
“Do you actually have a job any more?” I checked, before quickly adding: “Usual three guesses? OK – have you worked out how to market a fund with the one character the FCA has left you after its new social-media-friendly upsy-downsy clause, ‘The value of your investment may go down as well as up but frankly, if you buy a fund on the back of a Tweet, it’s no more than you deserve’?”
“Nope,” said the chairman, “although our product development boffins are working on a ‘pleady-face’ emoticon.”
“Then will you be banning all your employees from using public transport?” I asked, “just to be sure Scam does not get any bad publicity should one of them try to break the new UK record for fare-dodging?”
“Wrong again, but not a bad idea,” nodded the chairman. “Last guess?”
“Hmmm,” I hmmmed. “Have you hired a new head of multi-asset to spearhead a drive into the sector?”
“Look, if you’re not going to take this seriously, then there’s no point in playing,” the chairman huffed. “OK, OK,” I said. “One last try. You said you have been sitting here six weeks and you used the word ‘groundbreaking’, which means you have almost certainly nicked the idea from another firm … I know – it’s some sort of sports psychology-related appointment, along the lines of Schroders hiring that cycling coach with a view to helping fund manager performance, isn’t it?”
“You know, you can be very hurtful sometimes,” sniffed the chairman. “And, anyway, our sport is far better.”
“Really?” I said. “How so?”
“Well, cycling struck me as much more appropriate for passive investing,” the chairman replied. “You know – eyes firmly on the back wheel of the pacemaker and not paying any attention to what is going on around you or whether you are going uphill or downhill?”
“Disturbingly, that does make some sort of sense,” I admitted.
“So what sport did you go for?” “Well, once every other fund group in the country had also instigated its own groundbreaking initiative, there was not an awful lot of choice left …”
“So?” I prompted.
“Darts,” said the chairman. “But how brilliantly appropriate is that? Focus, accuracy, concentration.”
“Ability to hold one’s drink,” I added.
“The only flaw I can see is most of Scam’s managers get their stock ideas from throwing darts at the FT. So does not training them to be better at it rather defeat the object?” “Ah,” said the chairman. “I’ve made a terrible mistake.”