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Correspondent&#39s week

“Personal finance journalism? I&#39ve never understood why you guys do it. It&#39s so boring. What&#39s wrong with showbiz?” So starts another eye-popping week in the mini-Manhattan that is Canary Wharf.

Tuesday&#39s telephone accuser is a testy contact who, bless him, will not believe that I actually like my job. He thinks that financial services is the lonely refuge of nearly-rans. To be fair, he has been an IFA for more than 12 years so his grasp of reality is undoubtedly frazzled.

But there are many who claim they just happened to – whoops – fall into this industry and he deserves an explanation.

“Showbiz is for morons. How can you consider the life of H from Steps to be more interesting than yours?” I rant. “Personal finance can give people a chance to get back at the companies who take them for granted.

“Say a bank refuses to help a customer who has been seriously mistreated. The consumer comes to us, we investigate their problem and usually discover that said bank did actually make a mistake. An apology and compensation often follow. Job done.” Demagoguery over, I exhale.

“Yeah, but it&#39s hardly Watergate, is it?” he retorts before gently replacing the receiver with a nasty chuckle. Fair point.

On to lunch with Stephen Westwood, an investment trust wizard at Henderson Global Investors, who launches a robust defence of his favourite savings vehicles despite their complexity to your average investing Joe.

It is hard to get hot about investment trusts as they just do not appear built to withstand the 21st Century UK financial services industry&#39s relentless populist drive towards product simplicity.

But Westwood points out that the imminent demise of investment trusts has been wrongly forecast for the last 10 years by certain newspapers so he has hopes for another steady year.

Wednesday and this week&#39s story ideas are fleshed out but not before a hailstorm of phone calls from public relations professionals regarding possible pieces on bicycle insurance for National Lawn Mowing Week or something similar. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, hardcore PR demon Liz Willder gets through and scorches my ears about some fresh research on the UK&#39s ludicrously low levels of savings.

Am I interested? Sure am, so she promises to send over the data. Strangely, she doesn&#39t have a single tale of weekend hi-jinks in Clapham involving kebabs and discos. She must be off-colour.

Thursday sees a meeting with Legal & General&#39s Peter Timberlake (no relation to Justin) to pick over the life insurance market before scurrying back to the office to file delayed copy.

I am struggling for a snappy intro on annuities when I get a call from my three-year-old godson Tom, who thanks me for the toy gun that I bought him for his birthday.

Apparently, Tom now sleeps with it under his pillow. This wasn&#39t my original intention, of course, but he seems happy. I ask him for guidance on the annuities story and he says: “Time for custard.” He might have something, you know. A Fleet Street career beckons.

With one lead in the bag, I head home for a sneaky ale and a crossword before dropping off to sleep to a funked-up mix of Neil Diamond and Guns &#39n&#39 Roses.

I have an early start on Friday to finish off a lead on career development loans for the back page of the Money section. Incredibly, 17,000 such loans are taken out every year by people seeking a new job. The day then sails by.

I tie up loose ends with next week&#39s Wealth Check money makeover case study, who has changed her mind about being photographed. I cannot persuade her to change her mind – I even toy with the idea of offering money – and begin asking around for friends&#39 cousins&#39 friends who will volunteer instead.

Drawing a blank, I retire and seek solace in drinks with friends who do not work in the media.

After a couple of Martinis, they delight in telling me not to take my lack of case study too seriously. “It&#39s just a job, fella.”

They think I am a charlatan who spends all day using $10 words.

Sam Dunn is deputy money editor at the Independent on Sunday


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