Wednesday, January 28, 2009


One of the things I have to put up with in my job is a certain amount of cold-calling from recruitment agents. They just call up reception, say they're a friend of mine and get passed right through. I'd rather they didn't do it, but in some respects I've brought it on myself as I have a profile on a well-known professional networking site that shows what I do and who I do it for. Because of this, I try to find a balance between answering their questions (after all, one day I'll be interested in the service they provide) and keeping company information private.

Last summer, I was getting two or three calls a week from agents with roles to fill and my answer was consistently the same: "I'm not looking for work at the moment". Towards the end of the year the calls tailed off and then ceased all together. In the last couple of weeks, though, they've started up again. In fact, I've had three in the last four days. The difference, however, is that they are now trying to find out whether we are recruiting at the moment. That tallies with what the media is telling us about the state of Financial Services at the moment.

Today, though, I got a call from a different sort of company. At first it was exactly the same; they called reception, who just passed them on without speaking to me first, and then launched into their spiel. It soon dawned on me that this wasn't about recruitment at all, rather it was about personal finance.

They started off talking about a 'conceptual idea' that could save me money on my mortgage by somehow getting the government to add to the capital invested in it. I confess that I was still working while he was talking so didn't pay as much attention as I would if I'd been genuinely interested. Even so, I'm not sure the idea makes any sense. Apparently, whatever it is is perfectly legal but obviously the government doesn't want to shout it from the rooftops. To me, that just made it sound dodgy.

I was then asked if I was a higher-rate taxpayer. I wasn't prepared to answer that question but they carried on anyway: "Just think of it as an illustration of what we can do for you." This was some sort of tax review aimed at reducing the amount I pay to HMRC. Again, I zoned out and didn't really listen to much more than that.

With the call time heading towards five minutes they finally got to the point, which was to ask me wether I would consider meeting with them to go over my finances.

"No, that's not something I'd be interested in doing."

"Ah, well, all right then. Thank you for your time."

I could have given the same answer at the very beginning but if they're going to waste my time then I might was well waste theirs, too.

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