Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the interview

As some of you will be aware, I often listen to the World Service during the course of a night (in my vaguely “awake” times) - with my radio stuffed under my pillow. Well, at about 4am last Saturday (yes, pathetic I know!) I heard a fascinating programme called “The Interview”…..
Owen Bennett-Jones was interviewing Geraint Anderson. His father’s a Labour peer and his mother is a missionary, but he chose a career in the Square Mile. The 36 year-old Cambridge graduate worked for twelve years as an analyst in London's financial district and earned several million pounds before leaving his job a year ago. He was very much a high-flier – named top stock-picker three years out of four during his time with Dresdner Kleinwort. Having built up a rather tidy nest egg of more than £3m, he’s now jumped ship and written a book -- described as fictional, but which he says is mostly true -- which reveals a world of wining, dining, drugs and illicit sex. Obviously, many (me included) will see it as a bit rich for Anderson to make a few million and then tell everyone what a dreadful place the City is. His account of an industry notorious for its lax regulation confirms what we suspected all along:
'They don't care about anything other than next year's bonus. They don't care about gambling with the money of ordinary people because they're making millions. I truly believe the credit crunch is a direct result of the City's short-term gambling and the bonus culture.'
Not surprising perhaps (afterall, he must have been very persuasive in his City role), he came across as a very engaging, charismatic and almost likeable character. At the end of the interview, he talked about his commitment to raise money for a school in Africa – he gave an undertaking to build the school himself, with his own money, if he hadn’t raised sufficient funds within two years – out of guilt perhaps.
The interview merely confirmed my view that much of the financial world seems to be driven by huge personal greed, a gambling culture where people seem to “win” even if they’ve failed and a reliance on the fact that the rest of us understand very little about their mysterious world!

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