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A shaw thing

Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
The week started with a quick snifter with the journalists’ group my husband calls “the witches’ coven”, that I have been admonished for calling “the agony aunts” (not all are female) and which is in fact a group of senior freelance journalists, many, but not all, of whom are newspaper consumer champions, who like to chew the fat and put the world to rights once a month.

Congratulations are due to group founder Diana Wright of the Sunday Times, who is next month to receive an honorary DLitt from her alma mater the University of Nottingham. Apparently you do not get a citation as you do for the MBE but I am sure if you did it would include services to financial journalism and charity fundraising. I look forward to seeing the photos of the soon-to-be Dr Wright in the academic gown and fetching floppy hat that she must wear for the installation ceremony.

The website is coming on apace and I and fellow journalists Laura Howard and Simon Read are signing up IFAs to help with answering questions from the public about their finances. All contributions greatly received and we very much hope it will become an informal lead generator for advisers.

Meanwhile, what is this unseemly spat between Aifa director general Chris Cummings and IFAP chief executive David Elms? Cummings, it is reported, is unhappy with the way IFAP spends it £2.7m budget, claiming it is targeted at people who have already decided to seek financial advice.

Elms retorts that the IFAP publicity campaign, which in the main part is focused on the press, generates 6,000 pieces of consumer media coverage each year quoting IFAs as expert commentators. But sadly it seems it is the same handful of IFAs who get quoted again and again, and in many cases those masters of the punchy soundbite are not current advisory practitioners but full time PRs – expert though they may be. Come on, all you other IFAs, quietly getting on with your business. Time to strut your stuff in public. Do not let those bank advisers steal your clothes and snaffle your market.

Earlier in the week I had a terrible dream about a rock band. Worse, I woke up to realise it was all true. Key players – as it were – in the band are What Investment editor Keiron Root and former colleague at the now defunct Charterhouse Communications Martin Fagan. OK, let’s not gild the lily. A boy band they are not. But my spies tell me they are rather good.

Number of august financial journalists of my acquaintance – who, to spare her blushes, will remain nameless – who started her scribbling career on Health & Efficiency magazine: one.

Esther Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
First to sunshine and strawberries at Wimbledon, courtesy of the lovely ladies at Esure – Niki Bolton and Asia Manzoor.

Despite living just one Tube stop away from the SW19 grounds, I still managed to turn up 20 minutes late while everyone else who had had to commute significantly further all managed to make it on time. But soon enough I was happily ensconsed in the debentures lounge along with Sam “is this shirt too tight?” Dunn, talking Sheilas and car insurance over a glass of rose or two.

During our chat, it emerged that Niki is quite partial to a spot of gambling and, having won the office sweepstake – which involved predicting the winner of the Apprentice after the second show — went on to double her £25 winnings by putting the money on a horse Further to this, she informs me that she is off for Tea At The Ritz later this year, after her business card was pulled out of the hat at a recent work event.

Asia, on the other hand, added rather dejectedly that despite trying to improve her chances in the draw by dropping two business cards into the hat – one Esure card, one Sheila’s Wheels card – it was still Niki who came up trumps.

Post-lunch, we spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in prime seats on court number one watching Gasquet, Roddick and Sharapova all win their games with relative ease – and even made an appearance on TV, according to the multitude of texts we received, albeit at the point when we were deep in conversation about Primark and paying no attention whatsoever to the tennis.

Elsewhere this week, it has clearly been a busy week in the office for a several of the PF editors who have been filling their days taking part in Kaupthing Edge’s Can you skidoo? challenge.

Congratulations must go to the Independent’s James “speed demon” Daley who managed to skidoo his way around the ice track in a record breaking 30.596 seconds, closely followed by the Times’ Andrew “speedy Gonzales” Ellson who came second.

Finally, I was amused to receive an email from Cobalt Private Finance’s Dean McCarthy and Andrew Montlake who informed me that they had put a £10 each-way bet on horse called She’s A Shaw Thing at Ascot.

While I’d like to report that she came storming through at the last minute and was first across the finish line, when I later enquired as to how the aforementioned nag had fared, dear Dean replied “worse than you” while Mr Montlake added “Like the real thing… still running late into the night”.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Helen Pow at telephone: 020 7943 8038


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