What One Man Two Guvnors teaches you about conflicts of interest

Richard Bean’s comedy is a great metaphor for the conflicts of interest within finance, says Matthew Partridge.

917-Corden-634

One Man Two Guvnors is a modern adaptation by Richard Bean of the 17th century Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni. In 1960s Brighton an unemployed skiffle player Francis Henshall (played by James Corden, pictured, in 2011) has managed to become the personal minder to both Stanley Stubbins and gangster Roscoe Crabbe. To complicate matters, Stubbins is wanted by police for murdering Crabbe, who is really his sister Rachel in disguise.

The key moment

Francis Henshall's attempts to juggle both roles leads to endless confusion and misunderstandings. Further complicating matters is his desire to have a bite to eat, which culminates in him nearly electrocuting a waiter and setting a (planted) member of the audience on fire. Things are eventually resolved with the inevitable happy ending. Stanley and Rachel are united, though not before Henshall takes advantage of his situation to get Stanley and Rachel to give him a paid holiday with Dolly, Charlie's bookkeeper.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

Lessons for investors

Richard Bean's comedy is a great metaphor for the conflicts of interest within finance. Whatever they may say, the first loyalty of bankers and brokers is to the firm that employs them, not to their customers a point that many private investors overlook.

While some of the more blatant conflicts of interest, such as supposedly independent financial advisors receiving commission from the sale of financial products, have been eliminated, others endure. The key is to avoid getting sentimental, and instead treat financial products the same dispassionate way as you would any other type of good or service.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Other financial wisdom

One reason why Francis is able to get away with his deceptions for so long is that both Stanley and Rachel are too busy to check up on him. In the same way, understanding how financial products work, monitoring the performance of those whom you put in charge of your money and looking around to see if you can get a better deal are all vital if you are to get good value for money.

Unfortunately, as the 2017 FCA report into the asset-management industry makes very clear, most retail investors don't do this. Always bear in mind that if a product sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/financial-glossary
Investment strategy

MoneyWeek's financial glossary

All those financial terms you wished you knew but were too embarrassed to ask about.
27 Mar 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601062/the-moneyweek-podcast-charles-heenan-dominoes-are-falling-be-very
Stockmarkets

The MoneyWeek Podcast – Charles Heenan: dominoes are falling; be very careful

Merryn talks to Charles Heenan, investment director of Kennox Asset Management. Assets are cheap, he says, but you need to be very, very careful about…
26 Mar 2020
Visit/economy/people/601024/great-frauds-in-history-the-hound-of-hounslow
People

Great frauds in history: the Hound of Hounslow

"Flash crash" trader Navinder Singh Sarao made around $70m from manipulating the futures market.
25 Mar 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601028/stockmarket-crash-more-to-come
Stockmarkets

Stockmarket crash: more to come

The stockmarket crash was hard and sudden – and it might not be over yet. But while the short term outlook is awful, says Merryn Somerset Webb, that d…
23 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/property/601065/what-does-the-coronavirus-crisis-mean-for-uk-house-prices
Property

What does the coronavirus crisis mean for UK house prices?

With the whole country in lockdown, the UK property market is closed for business. John Stepek looks at what that means for UK house prices, housebuil…
27 Mar 2020
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601063/the-uks-bailout-of-the-self-employed-comes-with-a-hidden-catch
UK Economy

The UK’s bailout of the self employed comes with a hidden catch

The chancellor’s £6.5bn bailout of the self employed is welcome. But it has hidden benefits for the taxman, says Merryn Somerset Webb.
27 Mar 2020
Visit/investments/commodities/gold/601037/gold-is-on-a-wild-ride-so-should-you-be-buying
Gold

Gold is hard to find right now – so should you be buying?

With demand through the roof and the physical metal hard to find, it's not the best time to buy gold. But right now, says Dominic Frisby, you want to …
25 Mar 2020
Visit/investments/stocks-and-shares/share-tips/601035/share-tips-of-the-week
Share tips

Share tips of the week

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
27 Mar 2020