I&T News has a new columnist, one of Sydney’s biggest investors and wheeler-dealers, who goes by the nom de plum, Castlereagh.
You can always judge a conference by its catering, I always say, and while it may not have been gourmet standard I was impressed with the pragmatism behind the choices at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia 50th anniversary bash.
There I was, in the Great Hall of that wonderful piece of Stalinist brutalism, the Sydney Exhibition Centre when they brought in the morning tea – half size jam donuts and small sausage rolls!
Now I think I need to explain why I was there. My dislike of the superannuation industry is well known – I just don’t like the idea of saving money with everyone else, it makes me feel unclean. Don’t we live in an economy where we all compete with each other to get richer?
But on this occasion I was diverted into the conference by the police and security as I made to leave the BHP annual general meeting. I was there to protect my investment and do a bit of pointless heckling when the whole thing was thrown into chaos by about 40 protesters venting their hippy anger at the mining giant.
What a waste of time those people are. If I was them I’d just head back to Nimbin and juggle their firesticks.
Anyway, there I was trapped in the Exhibition Centre and, with my business done at BHP I had little choice but to wander among the actuaries touting their wares in the Great Hall.
I spent some time at the Rice Warner booth and played their superannuation modeling game. Very annoying. I kept coming last – I was living to 103 and retiring with a lump sum of $33,000. I wandered off when somebody tried to engage me in a discussion about longevity risk.
The most fun was to be had at the Citi stand. You could endlessly shoot bullets from a Nerf machine gun at a map on the wall, where Citi had marked out all of its global offices. I’m still not sure at the point they were trying to make, but it was a lot of fun and they had to virtually wrestle the gun out of my hand when someone else wanted a go.
And of course I need to return to the subject of the donuts and sausage rolls. It was so convenient, they had them set out on perhaps a dozen tables through the Hall so you could wander up to each one of them in turn, just take one, and then move on pretending that you weren’t actually stuffing your face.
I began with the intention of starting on the donuts and then moving onto the sausage rolls but as I circled the room it all got mixed up and I went from sweet to savoury and back again. It was brilliant because it also played into my theory about dieting: that I can lose weight if I don’t have lunch. So with all those donuts and sausage rolls on board there was no need for lunch and my diet was intact.