IN THE wake of the crisis, understated chic is still the name of the game for City top dogs – even when they’re kicking back on their summer hols.
Who should be spotted by one of The Capitalist’s spies yesterday in Juan Les Pins, France, but Tullett Prebon boss Terry Smith, still pale-faced on the first day of his stay.
Apparently, Smith is out there enjoying a relaxing break with his wife at the relatively modest 4* Hotel Ambassadeur – a warm, family-friendly outfit whose website advertises rooms starting at an eminently reasonable €95 per night. Wonders will never cease.
Our man on the sunlounger gushes that he “couldn’t get over how friendly” the notoriously hard-talking Smith was when he was recognised – and this despite the fact that he had to settle for a séjour en France at short notice, snapping up a deal with lastminute.com after his plans in the Italian lakes fell through.
A mere week after the conclusion of Cowes Week, and the City sailing set was back in the Isle of Wight at the weekend for the next jaunt of the season, the Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta.
Two days of sailing and a packed social calendar followed – including the traditional party for 1,500 guests in the grounds of the waterfront pad owned by John Caulcutt, the founder of airline services group Watermark.
Among all the festivities, there was a bit of an upset on the City sponsor front this year as Charles Stanley took over the event from usual sponsor Brewin Dolphin. Brewin apparently missed the deadline for submitting its agreement to this year’s deal because its executive chairman Jamie Matheson was out of town – an omission which can’t have gone down too well with the boss, since he himself is one of the City’s most dedicated boaties.
Just a few years ago, Matheson lovingly restored his wooden yacht Opposition to her full former glory – three and a half decades after she was first crafted for then-Prime Minister Ted Heath.
We’ve heard all about the City’s irrepressible competitive spirit, but this takes the biscuit.
I hear that a certain member of fund manager Henderson’s marketing team was in the nearby Virgin Active gym yesterday morning with her personal trainer, a rather hunky Italian muscle-man, when a bizarre coincidence occurred. Half way through her workout, said Italian stallion decided to up the stakes by pitting his “student” against a man being trained by his colleague just across the room – challenging the two to a row-off over a certain distance.
Unbeknown to the trainers, however, the other gym bunny in question was none other than Henderson chief executive Andrew Formica. Sensible as our marketing gal was, she felt it “only appropriate” to let her boss win, despite the fact he didn’t recognise her in her gym attire…
ROW THE BOAT
Speaking of rowing, a call to arms for City boys and girls keen to put their biceps to the test for a good cause.
Warship HMS Belfast will play host to a land-based rowing challenge on September 15th, with teams of four sweating it out against one another on rowing machines to raise money for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability.
The evening – which is the brainchild of a group of volunteers from Goldman Sachs taking time out for the firm’s Community Teamworks programme – costs £30 per person and includes admittance to the ship and refreshments after the competition. There’s also a cash bar afterwards for those wishing to undo their good work on the exercise front by partying into the night.
Visit www.rhnrowhard.org.uk for more details.
After years working in the high-octane world of the City, what better way to capitalise on your experiences than by setting up a business to aid stressed-out former colleagues?
Mitesh Soma spent over a decade working at the likes of Deutsche Bank, UBS, Deloitte and Citi before leaving to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, founding online pharmacy Chemistdirect.co.uk.
A recent brainwave, however, has transformed the group’s sales – in the form of an “Executive Stress Kit”, a sort of home health MOT package designed to put the minds of busy businesspeople at rest. The £100 packs, which contain a cholesterol monitoring kit, blood pressure monitor, pedometer and gadget to measure your percentage of body fat and BMI – have been flying off the online shelves in the last month, with half of them being delivered to addresses in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf.
“There’s so little job security around at the moment that people are feeling the pressure even more than usual – it’s dog eat dog out there,” Soma tells me. Indeed.
Perhaps hope is on the horizon, though – I hear that conversely, sales of Alka-seltzer and painkillers to the financial community have recorded a sudden surge over that same month.
A new barometer of improving economic prospects?
WHAT A MOUTHFUL
Word arrives of a delightful little online tool, designed to cut through the gimmicky business jargon which has exploded in recent years.
www.Unsuck-it.com is a sort of dictionary for those words and phrases at which you regularly have to cringe in the office – “blue sky thinking”, “the big picture”, “thinking outside the box” and other such regular howlers.
Most of them, mind you, seem to be translated broadly as “using your imagination” – but the act of tapping out the phrases angrily on your keypad is somehow strangely therapeutic...