The Financial Advisor

In money on September 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I may no longer have any finances, but I do still have a financial advisor.

Usually we don’t actually have much to do with each other. The odd email. The occasional phone call asking for money for a new kitchen or to get the car mended. A Christmas card (yes, really!). To them I’m just a child who’s left home and gone to university. But due to a recent personnel reshuffle, a ‘get to know you’ meeting was scheduled.

My financial advisor is based in a huge regency house a few doors along from the Handel House Museum or Jo Malone, depending on your cultural compass. He has art all over the walls. Big, self-consciously colourful art. Art by people like Sir Terry Frost. Art picked out specifically to go with the interior designer’s vision of using big colourful canvases to make a bold modern statement in a very traditional historic building. Art that is there to make a financial institution look young and interesting, and to match the rug. Art that I wasn’t allowed to stop and appreciate as if I was in a gallery. Art that I would very much like to own.

Terry Frost print

I’m shown into one of a series of identikit rooms with tables and a sideboard (and a brightly coloured painting). Eerily tidy rooms that I mess up just by being in. Rooms overlooking the bins.

‘Ah, yes… yours is of course one of our smaller portfolios.’

Because I have chosen fizzy water instead of tea or coffee, I don’t get offered one of the faux home-made biscuits someone’s helpfully left between us. And especially not the oaty fruity one I had my eye on.

‘Bonds…commodities… shares… equity… gilt…’

They’ve got a special wooden box in which all the tea bags are in individual wrappers and all lined up really neatly in colour-coordinated rows.

‘Manged… hedge funds… discretionary… I’ve started so I’ll finish…’

I wonder if you can see into Claridges from here.

‘Dip… sharp dip… unusually sharp dip… FTSE… not quite what we expected… fiscal… Europe… government debt… Greece…  f***ed…’

Ok, maybe I made the last bit up, but most of the time I felt like Homer Simpson. I knew there were actual words coming out of his mouth, words that may even have fitted together to provide a plausible explanation of the current financial climate in Europe vis-a-vis the small investor.

But what I heard was ‘Wah, Wah, Wah, sad-face, blame Greece.’

I suppose it could have been worse. There could have been spreadsheets.

The advice regarding my own modest finances at the moment can be summerised as: ‘Sit tight, do nothing.’

On the up side,what little money I have is all in tax-exempt ISAs (I know, not very community spirited), making the only taxable income from 2009-10 a whopping £0.03. That’s 3p to you. And to HM Revenue & Customs for that matter.

At the end of the meeting he tentatively tries to give me some literature about ‘the markets’ and the partners’ philosophies thereof. I politely decline. He doesn’t look surprised.


Handel House Museum


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