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CITY BEAN COUNTERS GET STAR TREATMENT

DULL accountants, hobnobbing the evening away with some of the world’s glitziest movie stars? Who’d have thought it? Yet that’s exactly what a gaggle of beancounters from Deloitte will do on Sunday evening at the annual BAFTA film awards – for which they’ve been engaged as official “scrutineers” for the past four years.

This year’s line-up looks to be just as plush as last year, at which gongs were awarded to the likes of Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz and Mickey Rourke – this time around, nominees include über-directors James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino for their films Avatar and Inglourious Basterds; actresses Audrey Tautou and Kristin Scott Thomas, for Coco Before Chanel and Nowhere Boy; and Hollywood heartthrobs George Clooney and Colin Firth, for their roles in Up in the Air and A Single Man.

“It is very high profile and exciting work – definitely one of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning with a spring in my step!” gushes Deloitte partner Mark Lee-Amies.

Yet despite having one of the best jobs in the accountancy business, the poor chap tells me he’ll have to keep a very low profile at the awards themselves.

“My wife would love nothing more than to be there and meet the stars, but as much as I’d like to do that, it’s not something I feel terribly comfortable with,” he tells me. “We are proud of the role we have, but it’s important we stay in the background.”

He’ll be leaving the red carpet glory to the professionals, then.


FIGHTING TALK
At last, a scrap of support from the City for shadow chancellor George Osborne’s proposals to abolish the Financial Services Authority.

Peter Shakeshaft, chieftain of Wills & Co, the stockbroker which yesterday received an adviser ban from the regulator, tells me he’s preparing a video webcast to be put up on the firm’s website in the coming days, in its defence.

“I don’t want people to think I am going to shirk away from this,” he thunders. “This ban would not have happened under the old Securities and Futures Authority. There’s never been a better time for Osborne’s proposals.” Yep, that definitely figures.


ART ATTACK
Spotted by an eagle-eyed chum whiling away the time on the DLR out of Canary Wharf: a particularly apt obscenity spray-painted on the wall of a nearby station.

“Fiscal stimulus? F**k you!” our irate artist had scrawled.

In the area surrounding the Wharf, even the graffiti is financial.


BUSINESS GURU
Well, I never. We didn’t have mighty City veteran Terry Smith – the hard-hitting boss of stockbroker Collins Stewart and inter-dealer broker Tullett Prebon – down as the type to take kindly to receiving business advice. But Smith has revealed the secret behind his success, after being involved with the judging for the upcoming FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards.

“The best advice I ever got was from an old associate who recommended I study a business leader and the way he invests so I studied Warren Buffett,” says Smith. “I read everything he wrote. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel; just emulate the people you respect…”