After Hans Christian Andersen Consulting's management restructure of his toy production factory in 1988, Santa realised that he was able to produce his entire Christmas product range in just over five days.
Andersen's 75-page report highlighted the factory's antiquated production process – using undersized workers – as one of the main reasons that production had previously taken about 340 days each year.
By speeding up production by almost 48 weeks, Andersen created a lot of extra hours for Santa to fill. After a failed application to the Pope to hold Christmas more than once a year, the extra free time eventually began to wear him down, culminating in his nervous breakdown in May 1989.
“Laplandish daytime television was terrible,” he says. “I was craving some excitement and there's only so much fun you can have with reindeer.”
After a slow recovery on Prozac, Santa finally decided to use his spare time productively and in 1990 he began teaching himself the FPC.
With very few financial advisers in Scandinavia, he had noticed there was a promising business opportunity and opened his own firm the following year.
He says: “My client base was small at the beginning. The guys from Abba were my first customers and then I managed to get the bloke who invented Lego.”
When his business kicked off, he often made conservative recommendations to his clients, who were not the most financially sophisticated. He quickly realised that by ploughing their money into with-profits bonds he could guarantee financial security and earn up to 6 per cent initial commission.
But St Nick is bullish about the investment recommendations he made for his clients – a clear illustration, perhaps, of what a depolarised (if polar) environment does for the quality of financial advice.
“There were hardly any financial regulators in Lapland – it was a joke. I didn't feel too bad about taking their money anyway. I was the one that brought success to the Lego guy in the first place. By 1982, I was his biggest customer. I put 55 million pieces of Lego in childrens' stockings across the world that year.”
By 1994, Santa was a big-hitter in the Nordic IFA market and began to proffer himself as an industry pundit, making regular appearances in the comment columns in the trade, and latterly, national press.
But this success was not enough and, after expansion into Belgium and Iceland, he began to consider a major launch into the UK.
Santa went about building his profile the only way he knew how but, despite much hard work and many boozy lunches with influential people, Father Christmas was unable to gain PIA approval.
The Laplandish FPC was not recognised in the UK and the PIA had begun to hear rumours about Santa's disproportionate with-profits business from his days in the
“Apparently a PIA official's grandma was Finnish and apparently I had advised her to invest 100 per cent in with-profits bonds a couple of years back. Would you believe it? Of course, she had tipped off her grandson and, in doing so, blown my chances of getting proper regulatory approval in the UK.”
Although Santa knew that he would never achieve his dream of a listing in the Matrix, he was adamant to work in the UK – be it by fair means or foul.
He soon realised that his annual Christmas Grotto at Selfridges was the ideal place to do a bit of moonlighting.
“The parents would bring their kids in and, when they'd finished asking for their presents, I'd have a quick chat with the parents about their investment portfolio and pension arrangements. My fav ourite trick was to try and get the kids to give me a hand. I'd say 'If mummy takes out an Equitable pension, she'll be able to buy you lots of presents when she's old'. Of course, that line doesn't sound quite so smart after Equitable's troubles last week. But how was I to know, I'm only Santa?” After five years of giving unauthorised advice in Selfridges' grotto, Santa was fin ally rumbled when Howard Davies popped in for a visit.
Santa fled the country before his case ever came to court and retreated back to Lapland to concentrate on his Nordic business.
After several new experimental business ventures, such as reindeer fighting and elf racing, Santa decided to lighten his load.
He says: “I realised I was close to burning out and jacked in the businesses. Daytime TV is a lot better these days and I knew I was sick of being an IFA. Besides I was stinking rich – I didn't need to work. I made my mark on the IFA world and that was what mattered to me.
“When I look at the UK IFA scene today, I occasionally wish I was a part of it. It may sound weird but polarisation really excites me and I wouldn't have minded being there while all the changes were going on.
“I still talk to my British chums every now and again, though. I like to keep up to date with the latest developments. But what with stakeholder, it's going to be a cold and lonely Christmas for IFAs, so perhaps I am best out of it.”