The antics of the banking industry has motivated the chairman to take on new challenges. He decides to go for gold…in the race to the bar.
“Do you remember how five chats ago we said we were struggling to think what new banking scandals would genuinely surprise us?” asked the chairman of the implausibly sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a couple of pints of Spooky Movie Premise at The Sons And Daughters Of St James’s Place. “I’m afraid so,” I nodded.
“We concluded revelations banks were involved with organised crime, international terrorism and an alien race hell-bent on world domination all now seemed pretty plausible – and, since the news came a week later HSBC could face potentially eye-watering fines after allegations it may have inadvertently allowed itself to be used to launder money, I have been anxiously scanning the skies for flying saucers.
“The whole episode makes me feel both extremely prescient and deeply nervous of making jokes about that sort of thing ever again.” “Me too,” nodded the chairman gravely. “Although may I just place it on the record I would now not be surprised if photographs emerged of the whole board of a major bank in compromising positions with a range of farmyard animals?”
“Bad chairman,” I admonished. “Moving swiftly on, I felt there was one aspect of the Olympics we did not get to cover in last week’s chat and that was the degree to which members of Her Majesty’s financial services industry have managed to crowbar references to it into their press releases.” “Slow news week, eh?” the chairman sympathised.
“Like the proverbial asthmatic ant carrying heavy shopping,” I nodded. “Anyway, the first Olympics reference I noticed came as far back as January last year. The fine, fine people of Crashpadder.com were talking about the Royal Wedding but in passing alluded to “military-scale preparations”, which with soldiers being drafted in after G4S tripped up on its hire-athon seems almost as prescient as us.
“A year later, something called the London Olympics Barometer identified massive ticket demand, a likely sporting legacy – whatever that might mean – and about one in two people believing the Games will make them feel happier. I’d love to tell you how the Barometer has fluctuated since but that was the last I saw of it – though presumably people cheered up a bit after Lord Wiggo of Kilburn’s gold.
“Speaking of gold, FE Analytics managed to construct an entire Olympic-themed press release around precious metal and commodity funds, which was quite inventive – although it did make me feel Morningstar OBSR had missed a trick, having changed all its fund ratings from letters to gold, silver and bronze.
“I suppose the company could still have something in the pipeline but then it might look as if it had revamped its entire ratings process with the Olympics in mind. Moving on, I was a little confused by Santander Insurance’s assertion that the Olympics was inspiring Brits to get on their bikes – coming as it did as assorted Brits were spanking the Tour de France.
“Similarly implausible was British Airways’ claim it was making the dreams of the kid who stars in its ad come true with tickets to the closing ceremony. I just think if you made a list of all the attending, competing and other possible Olympics-related dreams of 10-year-old boys, then going to a closing ceremony would have to be fairly near the bottom.
“What else? Obviously there have been the usual exciting press articles along the lines of ‘Who will take gold for UK plc during the Olympics?’ – again whatever that might mean – while I think we all knew we could rely on our dear friends at the AIC to chip in with an ‘Investment company Olympic Games’. Come to think of it, that might be lower down any kid’s dream list than the closing ceremony.
“However, my very favourite offering came courtesy of Axa Wealth’s Mike Morrison, the hardest-working man in pensions showbiz, who issued a positively Churchillian call to arms for Her Majesty’s financial services industry to ‘recapture its pioneering zeal’, observing: ‘Change is all around so the finishing line never actually finishes – there will always be games to win. If we all continue to aim to be stronger, higher and faster … hey, where are you going?” “To get drunker,” said the chairman.
PULL QUOTE “I would now not be surprised if photographs emerged of the whole board of a major bank in compromising positions with a range of farmyard animals”
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