NEW YORK (AP) -- It used to be said of money people, those who matter at insurance companies, brokerage houses and banks, that they generated as much warmth as a long column of numbers.
It was just a public face, of course, but it was carefully maintained during business hours to project the impression that any money in their care was handled with sacred devotion.
But they do relax now and then. Maybe Christmas got to them, or the stock market made them giddy, or most likely it was their big bonuses, but some sought to entertain clients in recent weeks.
Eric Miller, who offers commentary on investments and other serious matters for broker Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, offered instead some advice on how to look important in the office.
Most important, he suggests, is that you never be seen walking down the hall without a document in your hands. Documents suggest you are hard-working and perhaps hurrying to an important meeting.
People with nothing in their hands, he says, ''look like they are heading for the cafeteria.'' And people with the newspaper in their hands ''look like they are heading for the bathroom.''
Suggestion two: Use computers to look busy. ''Any time you use a computer it looks like work to the casual observer.'' It's a wonderful cover, he says, for sending and receiving e-mail, calculating your finances and just having a blast.
He's thought the issue through.
When you get caught by your boss, ''and you will get caught,'' he says, convince him you're a self-starter seeking to master new software. Offer to show him what you've learned. ''That will make him scurry away like a frightened salamander.''
Three: Maintain a messy desk. Management can get away with a clean desk but you can't. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. ''Last year's work looks the same as today's work.''
Finally: Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. ''People do not call you because they want to give you something for nothing -- they call because they want you to do work for them.''
Jim Griffen shares the lightheartedness. ''So what did you get for Christmas?'' asks Jim, economist and commentator for Aeltus Investment Management.
''Remember when you would compare gifts such as bicycles and sleds with your friends. Later it was sports cars and SUVs that conveyed bragging rights.''
(Explanatory note: You must remember that people in the money trades aren't like you and me. They've just made a great deal of money).
Now, says Jim, we brag about stocks we own.'' Ever-practical, he offers this explanation for the phenomenon:
''Maybe, in a culture that wears its clothing with the labels on the outside, we should make up laminated lists to hang on our lapels to show we own all the right stocks.''
Always the teacher and equally practical, financial planner, commentator and author Jonathan Pond concluded his latest newsletter with questions to determine whether you're a spender or a saver.
For example: You've been told you're getting a raise. The first thing that comes to mind is ...
A. Saks Fifth Avenue.
B. Saks stock.
Another question: You've been hit by Cupid's arrow, and your love's birthday is next week. Your idea of the perfect expression of your adoration is ...
A. An expensive gift and a romantic night on the town.
B. One of Jonathan Pond's books.
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