How 'thick' is your proposition?
I expect you may have experienced the same thing. We head out to the shops with heavy hearts, to purchase those globe-shaped items of confectionary which we know are expected of us at this time of the year. Some of us, those who have not yet had chocolate-idealism leached out of us by the brutality of retail experience, may still summon up a little excitement at the prospect. After all, regardless of the shape it comes in, this is chocolate, right?
Chocolate occupies a very special place in our national psyche. For some people I know, it is a more important dietary component than virtually anything else. I discovered, early on in my marriage, that the one way to transform my mild, gentle, understanding wife into a frothing psychotic, was to hide her Cadbury's Cream Eggs. That's a mistake you don't make twice.
Some people even rate chocolate ahead of red wine. Personally, I think that's a sign of clinical insanity, but it does demonstrate the elevated regard we have for the brown stuff. And with high expectations, comes the all-the-more crushing experience of disappointment. For those luscious-looking chocolate eggs all-too-often harbour a dark secret. No, not a hidden centre of high-cocoa treasure, but rather a deception perpetrated by the sleight of the economist's hand. As we prepare for that special moment, the one which ought to require a fairly substantial hammer, what we actually find is that the chocolate shell is gossamer-thin, it simply collapses in our hand like a deflated balloon with poor self-image. Even the larger eggs suffer from the miserly influence of those accountants. Subconsciously, we know that girth is not an accurate measure of quality, but as we look at the sparkly boxes of eggs on the shelves, even the most hardened of us begins to experience that rarest of emotions: hope.
But that hope is soon cruelly dashed. There will be grown men weeping this Easter over the tattered and insubstantial shreds of chocolate-substitute that were hidden inside the multi-coloured foil. And the psychological damage to young minds must be profound - every aberrant behaviour, every failure to achieve, every burgeoning disappointment to idealistic parents may no doubt be traced back to that awful discovery. Those Easter Eggs simply aren't what you expected, and the unaccustomed surge of optimism is suddenly crushed.
So you've already spotted where I was heading with this, haven't you? Let's not allow our financial services practices to be like those Easter Eggs. Outwardly promising, but inwardly delivering little of value. Big on hype, and diminutive in substance. More focused on throughput than outcomes. It is so easy to disappoint - all you need is to get carried away with your own rhetoric, and focus less on following through and delivering real, tangible value to the client.
That's it. Hardly the most profound of messages, perhaps. Happy Easter, folks! (The office is closed on Friday 14th and Monday 17th April)