We advisors are born overachievers. And overachievers are, whether active or in recovery, workaholics. (Like all addictions, workaholism is incurable.) Thus, we do not necessarily vacation well. Part of us lies on the beach, letting all our cares drift away on the gentle rhythm of the waves -- while the other part whispers, “You could still get something productive done after dinner!”
Always eager to aid my fellow sufferers, then, let me suggest a novel which may go some part of the way toward resolving the conflict between one’s hankering for an entertaining beach read and one’s compulsion to find instructive insight into the late financial crisis. It’s Other People’s Money by the English novelist Justin Cartwright. And it is outrageous fun.
As Sir Harry, the patriarch of London’s oldest private bank, slips into senility, his son Julian -- who has taken the firm’s hedge funds into every doomed derivative of the day, all but wiping out its capital -- struggles to shore up the bank, preparatory to its planned sale to an American billionaire.
So perhaps Julian -- only temporarily, mind you -- has tapped into a family trust, and even a client trust, disguising these takings as legitimate deposits in the bank. After all, everything will be put right when the sale closes. I think you -- of all classes of reader -- must see where this is going.
But even as you watch the noose tightening -- sure that this is going to be a tale of inevitable and deserved retribution -- you find yourself starting to pull for Julian. (So exquisitely skillful is Cartwright that you will begin to feel this even before you’re conscious of it.) He is, we learn, a second son, who only reluctantly took over the bank because the presumptive heir went walkabout. We see that he’s a quite decent chap, with a devoted American wife and lovely children. Yet he has clearly done an unqualifiedly wrong thing, and the American buyer has begun to sense it. The vultures are circling relentlessly.
I’ll say no more, because I want you lying there on the beach in -- there is no other phrase for it -- blissful suspense. I will only add that on the very last page of Other People’s Money -- long after the basic plot has arrived at its resolution -- there’s a twist that will make you gasp with delight. It’s the perfect lagniappe for your August.
©2014 Nick Murray. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission. Nick reviews current books, articles and research findings in the “Resources” feature of his monthly newsletter, Nick Murray Interactive. To download a sample issue, visit www.nickmurray.com and click on “Newsletter.”