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Money Talks - Five minutes with Toby Walne

Cover of  by Toby Walne

Toby Walne
Financial freelancer and author

Toby's headlinemoney Who's Who entry

Tuesday 10 Nov 2009

This week, freelancer and recently-published author Toby Walne explains why money is such a fascinating subject for journalists to write about, points out that he is not a fan of people with over-developed egos and reveals a time-travel fantasy which would take him back to a place where he could sport a trilby without feeling self-conscious.

My business card says I am:
A journalist.

The main areas of the financial services market that I cover are:
All areas but specialise in alternative investment opportunities for the Wealth Management section of the Mail on Sunday. My first book, 101 Extraordinary Investments: Curious, Unusual & Bizarre Ways to Make Money. A Handbook for the Adventurous Collector, was published recently.

I was prompted into writing about finance by:
Money being the root of all evil. I love journalism and finance is such a great big meaty subject full of deceit, greed and personal tragedies that demand to be investigated and written about.

The biggest influence on my career as a finance hack so far is:
The Mail on Sunday's personal finance editor, Jeff Prestridge.

The best piece of advice I have ever been given is:
Never stop learning.

The best news story/ feature I have ever written about the financial services industry is:
The 'Save Our Post Office' campaign. I have had the privilege to visit more than a hundred communities - from Bridlington to Basra - sharing the plight. Dumping more than 20,000 letters of protest unannounced on the bosses' desk at Post Office headquarters in London was particularly memorable. We failed to stop the rot of ?Reinvention' and ?Change', but the thoughtless culling of vital and often profit-making branches has not passed without Financial Mail exposing the scandal. Meanwhile the Post Office wastes millions telling us what a great job it does. If only it put as much energy and cash into supporting its branch network.

The headline I would most like to see in the finance pages is:
Jesus Returns! The Wrath of God to Drive Sinful Traders from the City Temple.

The first big decision I would make if I took over the regulation of financial services in the UK is:
Cut all that self-serving red tape and hot-air spin. It would save customers a lot of time and money. Then roll up my sleeves with the single aim to do the best for consumers.

The column/feature in the wider media which I always read is:
Private Eye's ?Funny Old World' - then work my way back. Can't stand over-developed egos and it is great to see their pompous bubbles burst with satirical wit and humour. Also like looking at cartoons.

The column/feature in the financial services media I always read is:
Jeff Prestridge's column in the Wealth Management & Personal Finance section of the MoS. Sharp and brutally insightful but with an easy writing style to envy. He never lets up on the industry and is doggedly determined to root out truth and demand justice.

I would invest a £500,000 windfall in:
Pay off the mortgage? Boring. First I think a no-expenses safari in Kenya - plus a detour to see gorillas in Rwanda, one of those trips to the Antarctic only rich people can usually afford and then on to the Galapagos Islands. The trips must also include a spot of whale watching. Naturally, will drag along my long-suffering family.

Most memorable freebie I have ever been on while covering the subject of finance is:
The first biggie - a junket to Japan and Hong Kong many moons ago. For some worrying reason the most memorable episode was keeping score in a competition between Leo Bland and Patrick Collinson to see who could ask the most questions at a Chinese paper-pulping factory.

My guiltiest pleasure is:

If I was invited to a fancy dress party, I would turn up as:
I really don't like the idea because I hate fancy dress. So I'd rather not dress up at all, but stay home and get drunk in the bath. If you forced me, it would be some hideous bad taste ensemble. Perhaps Alan Partridge.

If I weren't doing my current job I would probably be a:
Creative director for the Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper. My name would be Don Draper, the year would be 1960 and I would be wearing a trilby without feeling self-conscious.

My biggest regret is:
Not spending more time with my grandparents. Mortality sucks.

My top money saving tip during the credit crunch is:
Walk more.

You won't know this, but I'm very good at:
Cleaning out the chickens without being asked.

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