‘Financial journalism is a bit like cricket,’ I found myself saying to a prospective IR magazine intern the other day. ‘Because the more you begin to understand about the business world, the more it comes to interest you.’
Clearly cricket was on the brain. It was not long after the Ashes series had finished and I had transformed from being the kind of person who scoffed at cricket fanatics to a bona fide cricket enthusiast.
Some accused me of glory-seeking (I’m English and we beat the Australians – commiserations to our Aussie readers) but I assure you that was not the case. The thing about cricket is that its appeal is unfathomable to those who don’t get the game. To a cricketing ignoramus, the Ashes is a long, fatuous and painfully dull exercise. But once I made the effort to understand the game, I began to enjoy the nuances, the sheer complexity and the number of variables that will determine whether a ball spins, slices or cuts.
Then factor in the terminology. It’s like another language. Designed to outmaneuver the novice, it does not exactly encourage wider understanding. This reminded me of the business world, where those in the know frequently rather enjoy (and benefit from) keeping the rest of us in the dark about what they are doing.
The interesting thing about the job of someone who works in investor relations is that the role requires you to do precisely the opposite. This means not reverting to business twaddle or obtuse management terminology but helping investors to really understand how your company works.
If only the cricket followers could be a bit more straight talking, there might be a few more fans of the sport out there.