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Correspondent&#39s week

It is going to be a busy week. Sandler, Pickering, budgets for 2003, a major advertising review, opening in France, new plans for Germany, new fund managers, new fund launch. Oh, and the market is collapsing.

Remember Marshal Foch. “My centre is giving way. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking.”

Monday morning brings the usual round of various catch-up and progress meetings. Meanwhile, we are issuing two press releases – one on the launch of our new global healthcare fund and one on the formation of our high alpha UK equity team.

We avoided the tech bubble so global healthcare fund is our first equity fund for three years. We have accelerated the fund launch because we think this collapse in markets is creating an opportunity. We reckon this launch will look like a smart decision in three years time. We are also demonstrating that at least one manager will try to launch the right fund at the right time. But will anyone ever remember? (Editor – I&#39m talking about you).

This swift decision means we have to get all the marketing material, key features documents, illustrations and presentations ready in a week – a bit quick by anyone&#39s standards. As we work on this all afternoon, steam rises over the marketing department.

Tuesday is Sandler day. Get in especially early to pull documents off the Treasury website. Alan Ainsworth and I speed-read to grip the key points. The proposals are radical and cunning, with both threats and opportunities for the fund industry. I call a few journalists to get their reaction to the Sandler proposals. Have to be mainly off the record as our corporate view is not yet agreed.

In the afternoon, we review budgets, interspersed with further discussion with journalists on Sandler, the new fund and the new fund managers we are recruiting.

Wednesday morning, we take time out to look at the next steps for growing our strategic bond fund – now a firm IFA favourite. We have to keep up with the bond team&#39s thinking.

Lunch with a city journalist and Michael Taylor, our head of equities. We have an interesting discussion on the possible value of stockbroker analysts.

The afternoon is spent with Guy Beech and the UK sales team looking at plans for the next quarter. In the evening, there is a presentation by PWC on its annual survey of the profitability of the asset management industry. Scary.

Early Thursday, our monthly product development committee meets. Some exciting new ideas for Germany.

In the afternoon, the project team for the global healthcare fund get together. Amazingly, it seems all the work is complete and all the boxes ticked off and compliance made happy. A number of our fund managers are demanding staff application forms, which is encouraging.

Friday morning, we review the project to open for business in France. Then we have one of our series of roundtable lunches with the heads of some key IFA firms. All the talk is Sandler. Our guests are very sanguine and sceptical of the huffing and puffing from one or two companies. They can cope with fees and they would welcome better qualifications. Maybe, if they have survived everything so far, they can cope with more.

Sales data prepared for our advertising review shows how well the IFA channel is still holding up while the direct market is back in redemption.

Our conclusion is that all firms should write down a fee tariff and an explanation of why their services are worth the money. Our guests reckon they can all demonstrate the value they offer.

At the end of the day, there is a final flurry of calls – everything from confused customers to a journalist wanting clarification of VAT anomalies. As I juggle the messages, I am beginning to imagine the hiss of tonic hitting the ice.


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