"He arrives, he contributes, he's interesting, he's good fun," says Angela Knight, chief executive of the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers. And Roger Cloughly is now also the winner of the first FT Mudlark award for exceptional achievement in the back office. The award was presented on Friday at the Systems in the City conference organised by Summerson Goodacre. It was only right, moreover, that he should be given a big rubber stamp to show his authority.

Cloughly began his back office career in 1963 with Argenti & Christopherson, before moving to Strauss Turnbull and then to Charles Stanley in 1976. The biggest single change in that time, he said, was the introduction of Crest in 1996. He is a member of Apcims' settlement committee.

He won more of the 26,000 votes than any other of 19 candidates; Doug Barlow of WH Ireland was runner-up.

But the back office is not just about the City, as illustrated by a long-service award to George Jackson, stalwart of Manchester stockbroking since 1960.

Jackson began his career with Stott & Mewburn, spent 28 years with Charlton Stott Dimmock and has worked for the last eight years, now in reconciliation, for Pilling & Co. Robert Race, head of Brewin Dolphin's Manchester office, says of Jackson: "He's one of Manchester's prize treasures in terms of the operations side of broking."

Motty but nice

John Motson, the BBC's chief sports commentator, hosted the Systems in the City awards, apparently shaking off the blow to self-esteem of being greeted in the bar (he said) with "you must be the bloke who used to do the cricket on the radio". What Motson made of his horse, Royal Coburg, favourite in the 5.15 at Perth, finishing out of the money, doesn't bear thinking.

Bootle shakes it up

Roger Bootle, head of Capital Economics, is no stranger to controversy, given his role as leader of the house-price crash theorists. On Friday, he was taken to task again, this time in Budapest for naughty comments about certain European countries.

Bootle kicked off the last day of the inaugural conference of Inrev, which represents fund managers and investors in the fast-growing world of European indirect property vehicles. He teased France for pulling off a decent economic performance despite being governed by unimpressive policymakers.

And he made rather a good joke about Italy's low birth rate, along the lines that there may be no Italians left by 2190. "Are there any Italians in the room?" he asked. No one responded. "See what I mean," he said.

But Michiel Olland, Inrev chairman, closed the conference with a speech which included an apology for Bootle's remarks. Italians, French and indeed Spanish were all welcome at Inrev, he assured delegates.

And so are you

The love and hate between fund managers and their clients was explored in an Inrev session presented by Charles Foster Taylor, of UBS, and Jan-Willem de Geus, of Morgan Stanley, which compared the relationship to one of courtship, marriage and subsequent counselling.

Fund managers find pension funds and other investors to be "arrogant", according to a survey presented by the deadpan pair. Investors thought fund managers' worst attribute was . . ."arrogance".

But who is the fund manager who related this "worst experience" tale? He took a client to Nobu, where his guest loaded up a plate with about £100 of the finest raw fish and lobster.

Then, when his mobile rang, he made excuses and left without eating any of it. The host, abhorring waste, exceeded satiation by eating the contents of both plates in what he described as an "aquarium" of seafood.

Domain man

David Murray, the metals millionaire who is chairman and controlling shareholder of Rangers Football Club, has sniffed out another investment. He has paid $10m (£5.2m) for Chateau Routas, a 633-acre estate in Provence that has 90 acres of vineyards and five acres of cultivated truffle beds.

The vineyards, classed AOC Coteaux Varois de Provence, produce about 170,000 bottles of wine a year for sale in North America. Murray plans to expand output and sell in the UK.

Axis power

Axis, the German part of Intermodal Resource, Robert Montague's post-Tiphook return to transport, hopes to get high exposure during the 2006 World Cup and the Confederations Cup, this year's hors d'oeuvre. Axis will supply swapbodies (dismountable containers) to Gefco, the Peugeot-owned logistics contractor for the football tournaments.

Hope or glory?

If Duncan Davidson, who will retire next year as chairman of Persimmon, the housebuilder he founded in 1972, needs any tips about how to behave as a "life president", he won't have to venture far. Sir Lawrie Barratt, another titan of the sector, has the same title at Barratt Developments and, like Davidson, lives in Northumberland. "I probably need to have a bit of a chat with him," Davidson said after Thursday's annual meeting.

Davidson has contributed an undisclosed sum to the Conservatives' election campaign.

The result, he thinks, is too close to call. "I don't think it's going to be as much of a pushover as some people think."

He has good form; in 1970, he bet £500 at 6-1 on Edward Heath to win the election.


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