This piece was not published in Money Marketing in October 2006

Read why this piece never made it to the pages of Money Marketing


Correspondent's week

The trouble with working every Saturday and Monday and having half a dozen clients is that you never quite know when your week begins – or ends. In some ways mine starts on Tuesday. That’s when the wonderful Money Box team produces the first list of ideas for Saturday’s programme. I would like to call it a ‘long list’ – a plethoric cornucopia of dozens of top-class original ideas which we pare down and hone into five prize-winning pieces ready to broadcast the following Saturday and Sunday to our 1.5 million listeners. But sometimes it’s a very short list — surely something new must have happened in the febrile world of personal finance?

Meanwhile a tide from the Kent coast is washing over me. Saga Magazine, with whom I started my life as a freelance journalist and still write for, is launching a new super, interactive, fabulous (enough enough) website. We need to commission some ‘content packages’ about savings, pensions and wills. And pieces I have already written in the past for the paper version of Saga (wasn’t paper invented in the 15th century? It’s so last half millennium) have to be ‘re-purposed’ for the web. I suspect my editor is learning these new terms just slightly ahead of teaching them to me. I hit the phones.

I almost scream when I read an email asking me to do a book – a book! – from another old client. This summer has been the first of five that has been blessedly free of researching, writing, proofing, or indexing a bloody book. Yes. I might. Who wouldn’t want to spend six months to reach 527 readers? But ask me again in the spring, please?

Great. Listeners have been responding to an item we did last week with more problems, but slightly different. That might make a story. Credit cards rates up (surprise), concern about pensions (again), insurer gives away money (!!), teaching kids personal finance (mmmm), and of course it’s the start of laws to ban age discrimination – except when the Government thinks it’s a good idea for minimum wage, redundancy, retirement and of course pensions. Slowly the programme comes together.

I cheer myself up by re-reading the tough speech made by FSA chairman Callum McCarthy which says the present way financial products are sold is a business model that seems bust. Last time I made a speech like that to a hall full of financial services folk six of them walked out. But now Sir Callum – Sir Callum! – is saying commission is a big problem – bad for providers, bad for customers and not good even for the advisers who get it. I cheer. My commissioning hits two out of two. Both my first choices will write for and at the fee offered.

I search through the Inheritance Act 1984 for obscure clauses to spice up a familiar list of ‘how to cut your IHT without becoming Sir Philip Green.’ And find one! The piece is for the web. But I find I’ve written a – what was that phrase we used in the 20th century? – ‘leaflet’. I wonder if I can get someone else to re-version it into an animated Java script.

On Saturday one guest turns up late – not her fault – so everything happens in the wrong order but as ever the programme starts with ‘Hello’ ends with my name and lasts precisely 24'00". Phew. Thanks team.

Sunday I sleep late and go for a walk, though part of me says ‘your VAT is due. Get your accounts out’. Sod off. I’m not re-purposing Sunday, it’s my day off. So I watch the new High Definition stuff I’ve recorded. I like HD so much I even watch golf!

Monday is another day behind the microphone fielding questions from listeners. In the evening a planned cinema trip turns into a contentless package of flop-in-front-of-the-telly-with-a-bottle-of-wine-and-watch-Spooks.

Oh God, it’s Tuesday again. Surely something new has happened in the world of personal finance…

This piece was not published in October 2006 in Money Marketing


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