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Correspondent’s week

This week by Daily Mail personal finance journalist Justin Harper

After a week off, I return to the office on Tuesday to be greeted with 1,000 emails, press releases and a nice bag of Halloween chocolates to take home and give away to trick or treaters next year.

Tuesday is press day at Money Mail, so there is a lot going on in the office. We are busy writing fillers to plug gaps in the section, checking facts for a final time and making sure we have covered all the latest personal finance news.

As I have been off, I do not have any- thing in the section this week, so I start writing a feature for next week. We get lots of readers phoning up about how to sell their shares so I am writing a piece tackling this. The day goes smoothly and we finish in good time.

Wednesday is a slower day. We kick things off with a news meeting in which we discuss ideas for the section and do a post-mortem of Money Mail.

Before that, we have a health hazard to deal with. Liz Philips has a cold but is refusing to tell the boss, Tony Hazell. We have a strict one-sneeze-and-you’re-out policy because we are a small team so, if one person gets a cold, it is highly likely that the whole team will be wiped out. She finally confesses and is sent home – but not before she has made about 50 calls, sent 100 emails and said goodbye to half the Daily Mail editorial team.

The news meeting begins and, after a few house-keeping issues, we sell our ideas to the gaffer. Unusually for me, the ideas I put forward are actually accepted and I get asked to write them. Buoyed by this success, I push my luck and come up with a couple more which get shot down in flames.

I have lunch with Alison Rolls and Anna Guthrie from Norwich & Peterborough Building Society. I ask boy wonder James Coney to join me so it is two against two. Sadly, Alison cannot make it so we have the upper hand. Anna is a little surprised that we decline her offer of a glass of wine as we have physical engagements that evening.

When I joined the Mail almost five years ago, we were a bunch of hard-smoking, hard-drinking layabouts. How things have changed. The boy Coney and I cycle into work and feel guilty if we have a wine gum. Tony and James Hopegood are keen marathon runners while Charlotte Beugge and Liz are always talking about Pilates and power yoga. PG Tips has been replaced with peppermint, rosehip and green tea and cakes on Fridays are now consigned to history.

Thursday is a busy day. I have been asked to write an investment piece for our Saturday City section about shares and tax, which proves to be challenging for me. A quick call to a good accountant and it all makes sense.

Thursday afternoon and Friday morn- ing are taken up with Enterprising Young Brits. The Daily Mail has been running a big competition with Lloyds TSB and the Treasury encouraging young people to set up their own businesses. I was given this special project to cover a few weeks ago and now write regular features about the young entrepreneurs.

It is now at the short-list stage and we have about 100 long-listed entries to go through. Myself and a panel of judges, including Glastonbury Festival legend Michael Eavis’s daughter, go through the entrants on Friday morning. There are some crackers in there, including the young people behind the cyclepod, Glasses Direct, 0800 Handyman and a teenager Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: or telephone: 020 7970 4776


F&C rethinks buyback policy

The F&C investment trust has announced a new buyback policy to keep its discount at 10 per cent or lower. The board has been concer-ned about the size and volatility of the trust’s discount to NAV. The aim is to reduce discount volatility, making shares more attractive to potential shareholders and giving reassurance to current […]


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