**STOP PRESS – EMBARK TAKES ZURICH – more in the links section below**

“Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

WE will not speak of funds this week, brethren; we have had enough of that. Nor will we speak of technology, or regulation; we have had enough of that. Nor will we speak of lying, and mendacity, and lust for power, for we have most certainly had enough of that. Instead, let’s spend our brief time together this week trying to think about something different. We might not manage, but we could all do with a break.

After DeadX last week, I was pretty wiped. I love doing our events, but man do they take it out of me. So I recharged on Saturday night by going to see one of the best gigs – definitely top ten – I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t really matter who it was – Karine Polwart doing her Scottish Songbook since you ask and yes, you’ll see a video from her down below – but it was just ridiculously, insanely good. People around me were rapt; laughing sometimes, wiping away a tear sometimes; doing their best to stop her and her band leaving the stage at the end. Some of those people might have been me.

During the gig, and later, I started thinking about the performance, and why it was that she connected so much with an Edinburgh audience, who can be more than a little pan-loafy when the fancy takes them. I also thought for a bit about Kurt Vonnegut’s quote (I’ve been an obsessive Vonnegut fan for 30 years and even read the books no-one likes, sometimes twice) and whether what was going on was just a wonderful fraud, brilliantly executed. Maybe it was, but it didn’t feel that way in the room.

Whatever, that couple of hours did me a power of good. Over the last day or two I’ve been thinking in turn about whether there’s anything in work that can do the same thing. Work is a performance; we become a version of ourselves when we walk in the door. We try to perform well for our clients and colleagues, and if we work for bigger and more organised businesses than the lang cat, then we probably get a performance review. We won’t talk about fund performance.

I reckon there are two things that do it for me, and I suppose what’s behind the Update this week is to encourage you to think what they might be for you.

One is public speaking, which is an obvious performance. I do a lot of it, and I always enjoy it, but sometimes something happens between the speaker and the audience and it’s just different. Those times don’t happen all that often, but when they do it’s an amazing rush. DeadX was a rush this year.

The second one is writing. I often write papers late at night, when the house is quiet and you can clear your mind (it’s 11.30 on Tuesday night as I write this, in case you’re wondering). When it goes well, something a bit weird happens, which pop psychologists call being in a flow state. I can look up after finishing a bit or a whole paper, find I’ve been at it for several hours and that it’s 2 or 3am. I’ve generally got no recollection of the time passing. So I read back what I’ve done, and if it’s good then I get a massive kick out of that. It still gets edited though, because as Ernest Hemingway quite rightly pointed out, “the first draft of anything is ****” (that’s up on the lang cat wall).

Anyway, it’s nearly the end of the year, and everyone’s tired, and everything’s in a bit of a mess. I urge you to spend a bit of time between now and the end of the year finding something that recharges you the way that gig did for me.

Back to normal service next week.


  • **STOP PRESS** – we just heard that, as many expected,  Embark has continued its acquisition mission by taking the Zurich Intermediary Platform into the fold. Short potted lang cat reaction: this feels right. It’ll be good for ZIP to have an owner that really wants it; that’ll help rekindle some of the sales relationships that have degraded over the last couple of years. And it’s good to hear that all staff are TUPE-ing over; important news for folk at this time of the year particularly. I’ll write a bigger thing on this once I’ve had time to have a ponder.
  • Last 3 days for completing the lang cat’s State of The Adviser Nation – if you work for an advice firm, want to have your voice heard and earn a free 2019/20 lang cat advised platform guide, then head here and knock yourself out. Not literally, unless you like that sort of thing.
  • Friend of the lang cat Paul Resnik is running what looks like a couple of brilliant seminars soon on suitability and liquidity through his Financial Suitability Forum. More details here.
  • Big news on the GBST / FNZ deal – the Competition and Markets Authority would like a word.
  • And here’s your music choice – always going to be Karine Polwart this week. Here’s her version of Big Country’s Chance. I hate Big Country, but this is great, and was twice as great live.

See you next week