The night before I had a dream in which there weren’t any banks to give awards to.
We had a highly successful evening last night at the Spear's Wealth Management Awards which took place just as Congress blocked the vote to bail out the toxic Wall Street banks.
Standing up on the podium to address the crowd of 500 or so in the room made me think of an interview I recently read with one of the world’s top contemporary art auctioneers – Christopher Burge of Christie's. He revealed that the night before big evening sales in New York he has a recurring dream that as he takes to the stage he is standing naked and cannot read his confidential ‘book’ in which all the absentees bids are written down.
In the last few weeks I had my own recurring nightmare in which there weren’t any banks or bankers left to actually give any of our smart Asprey-made awards to. Fortunately, as I could tell from the sound of middle-aged men baying about the markets whose voices nearly drowned out my speech – despite a request for the biggest sound speakers Sotheby's could fine.
At Spear’s we like to think of ourselves as the Michelin Guide to wealth management. Our awards recognised the individuals and firms behind the Rich Lists, from the bankers and asset managers who keep their client in the money to the lawyers who keep them out of court. We also honour the achievements of HNWs – in philanthropy, family business and the environment – as well as the luxury brands which have been most innovative and successful in attracting a cult following from the platinum card brigade.
But how the wealth landscape has changed over the last 12 months. Last year our Lifetime Achievement award-winner, Marcus Gregson, who founded HSBC Private Bank, said that London was experiencing “a golden age, a sort of perfect storm, where everything that could go right has.” It’s a very different story today. More ‘eye of the storm’ right now.
I’m also announced the launch of spearswms.com, our new interactive which I will be blogging on regularly. This means that if any of our readers are sitting in the Palace Hotel in St Moritz this Christmas and want to know the top five divorce lawyers in London, you can have an on-line beauty parade streamed from the comfort of Mario’s Bar.
The new website also includes a new service for our HNW readers called Unbillable Hours, something which will be incomprehensible to any lawyers. This service provides free expert advice on HNW dilemmas, ranging from how to draw up a confidentiality agreement for your driver to what to do if you think that HM Revenue & Customs has recently obtained the details of that little bank account in Liechtenstein.
Sir Mark Weinberg collected the Lifetime Achievement Award, arriving in just the nick of time as our awards host Ross Westgate was just about to announce to the baying, boisterous crowd that they could have 15 minutes off to re-charge their glasses before the big event – Sir Mark's speech.
Anyhow, Sir Mark eventually made it to the podium and everything went smoothly although I had to very firmly let the hooligan banker crowd know that they had to shut up for Sir Mark's speech – for just five minutes. The hooligan element wasn't quite as bad as last year when the noise was so bad during Marcus Gregson's speech at the end that some banker jumped up on the stage and started shouting at the unruly crowd to show some manners and respect. I finally shut the crowd up at the end by telling them at the end that they were all going to be nationalised if they weren't careful.
Then it was onto Automat in Dover Street for an after-awards dinner which was made interesting by the arrival of Lord Lamont with Isabel Goldsmith; they joined the likes of Sir Mark Weinberg, Lord and Lady Dalmeny, CNBC host Ross Westgate and my wife Vanessa. I hope Lamont enjoyed the set menu – chicken pate and a huge Automat burger. Sign of the times m'lord.