Well hello there. Mr Barrett has kindly passed on the metaphorical baton to cover for the gaffer, who is currently enjoying his well-earned-I’m-sure summer hols. Big shoes to fill. Mind you, a few months back I spoke at a thing and some unnamed darling came up to me and said that, when they closed their eyes, I sounded exactly like Mr Polson. I’ve not slept since.

Light-hearted frivolity aside it’s going to be a bit of a departure for yer actual Top Class Wednesday Update this week. But bear with me, it’s an important subject.

Some of you might recall I did a wee podcast with the good people at Citywire a few months back on the topic of mental health in financial services. We chatted about some of my experiences in the past and the reaction to it was part lovely, and if I’m honest, part overwhelming.

It snowballed into a number of events on the road with Citywire, where we’ve tried to contextualise mental health within the financial services sector and share some of the things we could all do a bit better to look after each other.

I’m growing to dislike the term ‘awareness’ that seems to plague this topic. I think we need to move past that stage. I read an incredible piece in the Grauniad* the other week that sums this up better than I could ever hope to. But in short, we need action.

And it’s not going to be one thing that does it. We need different aspects to work together.

It’s all very well having initiatives in place in big firms, but you need demonstrative leadership to make staff believe they can be used effectively. That’s why I’m grateful to people like Paul Feeney for the incredible work he’s done at Quilter. His session at the Citywire retreat was about the most powerful thing I’ve seen in my 15 plus years in finance.

While the growing theme that people – men in particular – need to have conversations or ‘open up’ about mental health is a starting point, we need to develop the right framework to allow that to happen. That’s why I’m also grateful for the unbelievable work Ollie Smith has done throughout this year, forcing this topic onto the mainstream financial services agenda. He deserves your love and admiration.

Throughout 2019 the lang cat is trying to do our bit to help out by supporting the wonderful work that the Samaritans do across the UK. In September a bunch of cats (including Ollie) are going to walk the 20 miles from the Samaritans branch in Dunfermline, where I grew up, all the way to lang cat HQ in sunny Leith.

We are not doing this to raise awareness. We’re doing it to raise cold, hard cash; £5,000 to be specific as we’re reliably informed that it costs around that to keep our local Samaritans branch running for a month.

I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to read this, especially as it’s a bit of a departure from the norm, but I’d be even more grateful if you’d consider visiting here to chuck a wee bit of cash our way for what we think is one of the best causes going.


  • If you’ve spent the week with an intangible sense of longing that can only be satiated with a new lang cat paper, then you’re in luck. Clicky clicky here for a look at a paper we’ve just finished writing for Scottish Widows.
  • Ooft, it’s a bit of a lang cat jamboree this week. We’ve just released the first peek at our agenda for DEADx Talks #6, our annual conference in a crypt in London. I’m not speaking at it this year so there’s an extra reason to snap up a ticket if ever I heard one.
  • Lastly, your music choice this week is a very on-topic Samaritans by Idles. Before dismissing it as aggressive, noisy, macho nonsense have a look at the lyrics.

Take care x

* for the uninitiated this is an affectionate term for the Guardian