The City Diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ah, he is wise: the journey of discovery for a comic-book hero of investment

We are often bombarded with new books from publishers hoping to get a plug for the latest thoughts of some business leader/guru. Many of these are rather staid, but one could signal a new approach to business publishing: 'Mark Mobius: an illustrated biography of the father of emerging markets funds', by Kaoru Kurotani. The book tells the life story of fund manager Mr Mobius (pictured) in Japanese manga comic style. With such speech-bubbled pearls as "I learned from the Great Depression that we must not put all our eggs in one basket" and "There are always some markets which have great potential: the key is to find them", the book does not offer too many insights into how the Franklin Templeton manager achieved his success, but the pictures are nice. What next? The 'Marvel' story of Warren Buffett?

Diamonds aren't for ever?

Retailers are nervous that the credit crunch will hit consumer buying power this Christmas. But while Asda aims to entice value-conscious shoppers with the cheapest turkey of the big four supermarkets, at the other end of the spectrum is the "Cartier Comes to You" service. The company (whose products are modelled in the picture) is trying to steal a march on rival jewellers by offering to deliver directly to busy City workers, whether they are at their "desk or club". But has the initiative been prompted by the knowledge that this niche market could be more niche this Christmas as many expected bonus payments are replaced by P45s?

Heavy weighs the handbag

An Asda survey reveals that the average weight of a woman's handbag has soared 38 per cent over the past five years to almost 2.4kg, so manufacturers are being asked to increase the strength of weight-bearing straps across Asda's range. The rise in weight appears to have been driven by women playing a bigger role in the corporate world, where they are expected to carry such items as handheld computers. As Fiona Lambert, Asda's brand director, says: "Women often complain modern life is becoming a burden now we know they're right."

Brits do failure with a flourish

American venture capitalists have known for years that entrepreneurs who fail often prove a success eventually. Now, University of Ulster professor Stephen Brown is attempting to encourage such wisdom on this side of the Atlantic with his book 'Fail Better!', in which he argues that many of the highest achievers stumbled repeatedly on their path to prosperity. But we would argue that we already do "successful failure". Just look at ex-England manager Steve McLaren's 2.5m payoff, or ex-Northern Rock chief Adam Applegarth's 2.2m pension.

Drumming up sales

After last year's salmonella recall, Cadbury has bounced back with the strange ad campaign that features a gorilla playing drums to a Phil Collins track. Consumers might have feared that eating Cadbury's chocolate would put hairs on their chest, or turn them into fans of the former Genesis drummer's music. But since it started at the end of August, the ads have helped boost sales of Dairy Milk by 8 per cent. Choc on!

Calm down be a girl

2007 has had its share of bizarre business stories, including the banker who sued her firm because her boss greeted her with a cheerful good morning, which she said was inappropriate. Favourite is a story about an overly macho US trader who was allegedly told by his boss to take female hormone tablets to calm down, which he says resulted in him leaving his wife and starting a gay relationship.

Bonus problems? Grin, grieve, and lie like mad

A City website's advice on etiquette for a disappointing bonus season:
1. Stride into meeting with confidence and come out looking smug even if your bonus is a disaster.
2. Leave meeting with a broad smile, remembering to say "Thanks, boss" loud enough for your peers to hear.
3. Invite your colleagues out for a night on the town. Even if you have already spent your wad, it is better to blag than lose face.
4. Buy a new car (better still, buy your girlfriend/wife a new car) or move into a bigger house. That will really convince colleagues you were well looked after.
5. But do grieve. It is vital to come to terms with your loss (of cash and status).