CITY DIARY

For Scottish Amicable to lose one senior executive may be considered a misfortune. To lose two is carelessness. Followers of the Glaswegian life company are asking themselves how it is possible for Graeme Knox, the 50-year-old former MD of its investment arm, to bow out in such an unceremonious manner.

Despite the usual fluff about "looking forward to fresh challenges," seasoned observers point out that the ebullient Mr Knox, who served ScotAm man and boy, was one of a trio hoping for the company's top job when its then managing director Bill Proudfoot stepped down for health reasons in 1990.

Roy Nicolson succeeded, with another contender for the top slot, Maurice Paterson, as his deputy. Paterson left suddenly last year. On Monday, also without warning, it was Knox's turn. The upper echelons at ScotAm appear to be jinxed. Or is there another reason for this seeming coincidence?

Some big cheeses look as if butter would not melt in their mouths. But beware. They are as prone to telling porkies as the rest of us mere mortals. Neil McLaughlin of GKRS Search & Selection tells me that, far from an unusual occurrence, fudging the issue and gilding the CV is commonplace amongst the highly placed. "The problem", he says "is that people don't often check up on the facts given and simply rely on written references."

CVs are often hazy on age and sport an upgraded degree result. McLaughlin relates the true story of a highly placed individual who claimed for over 10 years to hold a degree and was only unmasked when GKRS ran a routine check that showed the qualification to be fictional. The sector most prone to expansion of qualification facts is unsurprisingly, in sales.

Beware the fund manager who holidays in August, for he returns to his desk refreshed, intent on shaking up his portfolio. Or so says Matthew Windridge, head of research at MarketScope Europe. After digging into the reasons behind consistent falls in the equities markets in September he concludes that because of "the high incidence of holidays in August, fund managers have more of an inclination to change portfolios in September." New companies wishing to avoid the "September effect" should pick on March, June or December to report, although the reasons for this are equally obscure.

Matthew Nayler, brewing analyst as Williams de Broe, shows a dedication to his profession beyond the call of duty. For his most recent note on the brewing and leisure group Bass, he details a trawl through the group's latest concept pubs. "As ever," said Nayler, "the best way to judge how the building blocks are progressing is to visit the pubs." So off he went to sip orange juice - with the odd swift half to relieve the tedium - in a total of thirteen varied `concepts' over one long weekend. Nayler is diplomatic about whether or not he enjoyed the experience but he did add that it was not a match for his most arduous trip - 27 pubs in one evening in Newcastle. Such is the brewing analysts' lot.

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