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Beard&#39s a gooner

The old City dictum, never trust a man with a beard, is being challenged by yet another financial services mover and shaker, Darragh Leeson of Prudential. He was spotted at last week&#39s Money Marketing boat party sporting the beginnings of a peppery grey goatee.

But all is not what it seems. Leeson&#39s real intention is to do a Robert Pires of Arsenal fame. The goatee is a transitional phase which he was forced to adopt because, not being a morning person, when he tried to grow the Pires number, he kept forgetting and shaved it off at least twice. He will now grow a full goatee before trimming it to reveal the Pires version.

The Diary wonders if Leeson secretly doesn&#39t give a fig about Pires but is really emulating his real hero – tax planning oracle and Money Marketing columnist Tony Wickenden, who began the trend in financial circles.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Mark Dampier&#39s outfit at the MM boat party managed to combine the stylish with the functional, after he was warned he could be made to walk the plank as punishment for leaking a story to another publication.

Heeding the threat of one irate hack that he might end up in the Thames, Dampier removed his coat to reveal a lifejacket. Said Dampier: “I don&#39t have waterwings but I thought I should come prepared.”

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