When it comes to the sympathy vote, IFAs are pretty far down the list along with estate agents, MPs and the authors of those handy online bomb-making tips for terrorists.
Make your clients a bomb (the other type), and it’s: “So what? That’s what I pay you for.” Advise them less conspicuously, and you can expect an earful of invective, because you’ve ruined their lives forever, and they’ll see you in court.
But you just can’t win, because right now, betting on the economy’s forthcoming fortunes is as chancy as a wager on the 4.30 at Sandown.
On the one hand, you could recommend an adventurous investment strategy, on the basis that most commentators reckon those fabled ‘green shoots’ are sprouting again, the Stock Market has frothed like a pint of Shepherd Neame’s finest, and if you’ve got a classic car in the garage flog it now, because its value has gone up almost 400% in the last 10 years.
Why, even the departing Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, seemed positively perky when he appeared on ‘Desert Island Discs’ – even if his cheery selection of records (including “Mambo No 5” by Lou Bega, for God’s sake) may have been evidence of sheer relief that he’s about to pass the buck to the Canadian guy. But still – crack out the bubbly!
On the other hand, you could be tempted to suggest an ultra-cautious approach, after hearing the rollocking that IMF managing director Christine Lagarde gave George Osborne – telling him to go easy on the austerity medicine, while at the same time counselling Ireland, Greece and Spain to carry on squeezing.
(Some observers believe that Mme Lagarde’s unexpected chippiness and contrary advice may be down to the fact that she was distracted by her own domestic problems. Such as a police raid on her flat in Paris, seeking evidence of political funding shenanigans.)
Furthermore, there’s an article doing the rounds on the internet, ostensibly from a reputable financial publication, headed ‘The End of Britain’.
It claims that, the moment interest rates go up, the nation’s debt burden will become unsustainable, the NHS will have to be flogged off, pensions won’t be paid, banks will be stormed by frantic depositors, and we might have to turn to somebody who can at least make the trains run on time. Cue Sergeant Fraser: “We’re all doooomed!”
Unless, of course, you happen to be in the fortunate position of acting as IFA to Gloria Mackenzie of Florida, who has just won a record jackpot of £241 million on the lottery.
In which case you might tell her: “Go out and blow the lot”. Because Mrs Mackenzie, bless her, is 84 years old.