Sir Teddy turns to the bottle at holiday time

People & Business

"Empty pockets every night into a large bottle. The result can be put towards a family holiday," advises Tory stalwart Sir Teddy Taylor. This is just one favourite money-saving tip revealed by a clutch of top MPs to Virgin Direct, in what Richard Branson's company tastefully describes as its "Questions of Cash" survey.

Alan Clarke of "Diaries" fame recommends "never writing a cheque" while fellow Tory Michael Mates suggests "hiding the wife's credit card".

The Labour suggestions are a lot more politically correct but most of them are by MPs I've never heard of. Nicholas Palmer, member for Broxtowe, suggests "avoiding politics", Steve Pound (Ealing North) urges you to cut down on "beer and fags" while Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) simply says: "Deep pockets, short arms."

As for the Lib Dems, Andrew Sanders (Torbay) declares: "Don't buy shaving foam, use soap instead."

Virgin claims the results of the poll of 51 MPs show clearly that they prefer direct distribution of financial products: 41 per cent of those polled opted to buy direct from the company. Our political leaders seem to be a pretty well covered lot; over two-thirds have a personal pension, 47 per cent hold a PEP and 37 per cent invest in Tessas.

Last but not least, 73 per cent of the MPs polled admitted they were still learning about money management. What this says about the future prosperity of this country I'm not sure.

It must be fun being a risk manager for a large company. Every other October you get the chance to attend the Monte Carlo Risk Management Forum, three days of lectures and lunches. This year insurance brokers Sedgwick are making the occasion even more agreeable by sponsoring the City of London Sinfonia (CLS).

On Tuesday 7 October the Orchestra will play for the first time in the principality with a concert including pieces by Tchaikovsky, Campra and Vivaldi. Which is all fine and dandy, but when I think of Monte Carlo I think of casinos. Do any of their delegates ever get the urge to test their risk management theories at the gaming tables?

Tony Richards of Sedgwick laughs: "It's been known. The only disincentive is the amount of money you need, I think." Not that Mr Richards has ever been tempted: "I'm risk-averse myself."

Is this another Martin Taylor in the making? Mr Taylor, now chief executive of Barclays Bank, started his career writing for the Lex column on the Financial Times before being whisked away by Christopher Hogg to help run Courtaulds.

Now John Kingman, a writer for Lex and a former private secretary to Stephen Dorrell at the Treasury, is being whisked off to work for John Browne, chief executive of BP.

Mr Kingman will work with Nick Butler, BP's group policy adviser, advising on BP's strategy. When I say "whisked", he's got to serve out his three months' notice, of course. Seeing that Mr Taylor wound up at Barclays, perhaps Mr Kingman will succeed Derek Wanless at NatWest - who knows?

It looks as if the search to replace Ray Snoddy as the FT's media guru has ended - the Pink'un's banking expert John Gapper is firm favourite for the job, although he modestly insists that "nothing has been decided yet."

Mr Gapper will write on international stories while a yet-to be appointed reporter will help out on UK stories. Also, Simon Davies from Lex is going to be the FT's international capital markets editor from 22 September.

You know it's the holiday season when the Global Markets Economics team at Bankers Trust can devote two-and-a-half pages of its European newsletter to a learned article by Flaneur de Boulevardier: "Red wine: A blue chip investment?"

The newsletter usually comments on the latest monetary signals form the Bundesbank and the like. I don't recognise Mr Flaneur's name either. He obviously knows his stuff, however. Did you know that "in the last four- and-a-half years the BT first-growth claret index has risen by nearly 350 per cent, compared to a 64 per cent gain for the Footsie."

The author analyses why top French wine prices have shot through the roof in the last five years, so that now you can pay a pounds 100 deposit for a bottle of something that hasn't even been bottled yet. The chief culprit is the juxtaposition of relatively fixed quality wine production and an increase in demand from a richer and more knowledgeable public.

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