City Diary

WOULD YOU buy a guide to reducing your mortgage payments written by someone called "Robin Banks"?

The publicity people at Kogan Page, the publishers, insist that Mr Banks is the real name of the mortgage broker who has penned the tome Slash Your Mortgage, set to come out this autumn at pounds 7.99.

Mr Banks promises to help you "save pounds 1,000s on your mortgage", and to expose all manner of home-loan rip-offs. "It's not rocket science!" he insists.

Maybe not. But the author's name must have an interesting effect on staff when he announces himself at his local bank branch.

TALKING OF new books, Rosalyn Dexter, the Feng Shui expert consulted by Downing Street, has written about how to organise your office at work.

Ms Dexter says that at work "the way you organise your desk is vital to harness good chi [energy] and benefit your career and your life."

The direction you face at your desk is vital, she says:

"On your desk put a small arrow indicating your preferred direction. If you wish, you can also place an arrow for your second direction. This will remind you to adopt your best direction - a quick glance at your arrow and you can align yourself to your power position."

Sounds like a good swivelling chair would be helpful. The book, Chinese Whispers, which comes out next month at pounds 25.00, published by Ebury Press, is packed with other useful tips:

"When you are sitting at your desk check that you can see who is entering your workspace. If your back is to the entrance it can create unease which energetically will tire you sooner." How true.

"If you cannot see the door and you can't move your desk, strategically place a mirror so you can see the door."

Ms Dexter also says there should be easy access to your desk: "Remove obstacles!"

Even colours are important. Black desks can diminish productivity as black absorbs energy, she writes. Also, "Do not sit under high shelving units or you will feel that "everything is getting on top of you".

The book even advises you on which departments to put where in the building. Human resources must go in the north-east corner, for instance, while financial advisers and traders should sit in the south-east.

Finance companies have water as their element (something to do with liquidity, perhaps?) so you should incorporate navy and black in your decor. Oh, and place young trainees and new staff in the north or west.

A ROW has broken out in the otherwise placid world of financial information publishing. Hemmington Scott is suing Interactive Investor International (III) over a chunk of information which appeared on III's website, which Hemmington claims was done without permission.

All of which leaves III, which provides information via its website, www.iii.co.uk, quite bemused. A spokesman for III says: "Hemmington Scott have served us with a claim, and we will fight it vigorously."

The III man says the company negotiated to take the information concerned from Hemmington. Then it negotiated with one of Hemmington's resellers who could deliver the data more effectively. "Suddenly, unexpectedly and spookily they decided to sue us," he says.

Peter Scott, chairman and co-founder of Hemmington, whowith his partner Jill Meiring owns 40 per cent of the company, has a different view. "III acquired a substantial amount of information from a third party who had no right to redistribute it. We asked [III] to withdraw the information from their website. They refused. We took [legal] action. The same day they withdrew the information."

Nobody is expecting the wheels of the law to turn any faster than usual. Which may be frustrating for Hemmington. It is demerging its highly successful Net and database activities from its traditional publishing business. Observers reckon a float may be in the offing, although Mr Scott won't say. "Things will be clarified next month," he says, tantalisingly.

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YOU HAVE to have quite a loud voice to make yourself heard at the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (APCIMS), it appears.

Chris Ring, managing director of NatWest Stockbrokers, who has just been made an adviser to the APCIMS board, already sits on something called the "High Volume Committee".

A spokesman points out: "Actually its for the member firms with the highest share trading volumes - like NatWest and Charles Schwab."

The trade body has also recruited two more people to the board: Mike Jones, managing director of Capel-Cure Sharp, who already heads up the APCIMS settlement committee; and Tim May, operations director of Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite.

APCIMS is headed by Angela Knight, former economic secretary to the Treasury.

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