Simon English: Stockbroker beats cat. And fund manager

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The Independent Online

Outlook This week our sister paper the London Evening Standard made an unusual discovery: some stockbrokers know what they are doing.

The paper's stock picking competition featured Jeremy Batsone-Carr of Charles Stanley, the office cat, a hedge fund manager, and a lap-dancer (she thrives on City tips). Please do send in your complaints.

Over the three months of the competition, the stockbroker proved better than the rest at managing his way through a truly tumultuous period for all things financial, when randomness seemed likely to trump any careful thought.

The cat was second (far from random, his portfolio was based on austerity), the hedge fund manager third and the lap-dancer fourth. She's sticking to what she's good at. You writing in yet?

Anyway, what the competition served to highlight was that not all of, or even most of, the City is bad.

You can berate as many imaginary coke-fuelled pin-striped traders as you want, but the truth is not many people in the Square Mile are like that. Most are just folk doing their jobs as earnestly as anyone. Some of them are even quite good at it.

If you're annoyed at bankers' pay, remember that most of them are too. Hardly anyone gets that million quid bonus you keep reading about.

Even Stephen Hester at Royal Bank of Scotland isn't getting it this year. And job insecurity in the City is higher than I've ever known it. It really ain't a lot of fun in the Square Mile just now (shed tears now).

Lisa the lapdancer does get bonuses. But then she's in a steady job. Jeremy Batstone-Carr and the hedge fund manager have both been taking lessons in case things turn really bad. It could happen.