City People

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THERE'S NO such thing as dress down Friday. City of London bankers and brokers caught up in the craze for "dressing down" at work apparently still maintain strict dress codes depending on their status and business.

Bankers, who traditionally wear single-breasted suits with plain grey or blue cloth, prefer a classic, double breasted, dark blue blazer for "dressing down" days, according to a survey of 250 Square Milers by bespoke tailors Norton & Townsend.

In contrast, stockbrokers prefer sports jackets in a variety of green, brown and yellow checks. Commercial property agents opt for linen or cotton jackets with fawn or olive coloured trousers. Lawyers dislike the whole idea of "dressing down". They feel uncomfortable with a more casual look, fearing they might upset better-dressed clients, say the tailors.

Not so Essex Man. Many derivatives and bond traders have pushed the dressing down code to the limit, wearing cargo trousers and T-shirts to work. However, those that do go for bespoke tailoring choose lambs' wool or cotton jackets in blue, black or subtle plain colours.

The tailors add: "Several respondents said that wives and girlfriends had complained about the decision by companies such as SBC Warburg, Mercury Asset Management, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan to adopt a `dressing down' code because they are woken by loved ones very early in the morning to be asked their opinion on colour combinations." The tailors conclude: "Suits do not require such complex analysis."

HSBC HAS poached Michael Stone from Deutsche to head up their pan-European chemicals team of three analysts. The bank has also recruited Anne Alexandre, from CSFB, to be its European Food Manufacturing analyst, joining Andy Saunders, who looks at UK food manufacturing.

Franz Lindelow, head of European products in HSBC's equities division, says the hires fit in with the bank's strategy to concentrate analysis of Europe's top 300 companies in London. Mid-cap companies will be covered from its regional offices in Dusseldorf, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and Madrid.

FROM TODAY the Companies House microfiche library at City Road is history. The library's 50,000 kilos of records have been transferred from London to the home of its post-privatisation owners, ICC, a business information company in Cardiff.

But don't panic. The same information is available online from ICC. The company is also offering a hard-copy service for documents and searches with just a 45-minute turnaround.

All very good , no doubt. But I can't help wondering why the Government allowed the Companies House files to go West. According to the DTI's figures last week, London and the South-east were by far the largest beneficiaries of a net nationwide increase of 30,300 businesses last year, the largest increase in five years. Only one region saw a decline in company formations. You guessed it - Wales.

THE UNIVERSITY of Westminster is launching the UK's first ever Masters Degree in Venture Capital. Mark Watson-Gandy, Visiting Professor on the course and City banking barrister, said "Everything on this course breaks new ground.

"The informal venture capital market alone is estimated to be worth in excess of pounds 5bn. Venture capital is a big market for professionals with even bigger pitfalls for the unwary."

The course is flexible, withpart-time and full-time options, and you can study subjects ranging from International Finance to Corporate Fraud.

Anyone interested for more information on the course should contact the University on 0171 911 5088.

HERE'S A story which should warm the cockles of every beancounter's heart. Ken Gardner (76), as well as being Master of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, has some high ambitions. In October he intends to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise money for Leuka 2000, the Leukemia charity.

According to the AccountingWEB newswire, Mr Gardner has some experience of big climbs having already climbed (or is that walked?) up Mount Etna. However, that was 53 years ago and Etna is little more than half the size of Kilimanjaro.

KPMG'S "Forensic Accountant" bulletin has some new twists on the old joke: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Accountant: "Because he did it last year."

Solicitor: "To give the hedgehog his business card."

Barrister: "We prefer to see the act in question as the mere traversal of a thoroughfare."

Expert Witness: "In order not to favour one side."

Judge: "What's a chicken?"