Friday, August 10, 2012

Meet Rosemary McCracken

Money a great motive for murder

 Unlike Pat Tierney, the central character of Safe Harbor, I’m not a financial professional. So why did I build my mystery novel around a character who makes her living managing people’s money?

Well, I know something about the work Pat does. I’m a journalist, and I write about personal finance and the financial services industry. For my articles, I talk to financial advisors and investment managers. I attend their conferences. I know the issues they face and the concerns they have. Most of them are caring, committed people, and do wonderful things for their clients by helping them get their financial houses in order.

At one point, I considered becoming a financial advisor myself, but I dismissed that idea. I wouldn’t have the stamina. I’d have sleepless nights during down markets, and markets have been murder in recent years. But when I set out to write a mystery series and was looking for a central character, an investment advisor was the first thing that came to mind. Pat has traits of some of the people in the industry whom I most admire. She cares about her clients. She goes the extra mile to see that they’re well looked after. She’s a champion of small investors. She has sleepless nights during down markets.

And Pat’s profession gives her a great edge as an amateur sleuth. Financial advisors need know what’s going on in their clients’ lives to ensure they are in suitable investments. They know if they have health concerns. They know how much money they have – or don’t have. And money is a great motive for all kinds of crime, including murder.
There’s one type of crime that Pat is well positioned to spot – white collar crime. The world of finance revolves around money, and provides opportunities for people who are clever and greedy enough to challenge the system. Think fraud, embezzlement, money laundering. There will always be bad apples in circulation, some of them working in the industry. Committed professionals like Pat want to see tougher penalties for fraudsters, and believe the system in Canada is too soft on offenders. They want to protect their clients.

In Safe Harbor, red flags go up when a rookie advisor is given a large investment account to manage. When Pat looks more closely at that account, she sees a sizeable part of its assets in invested in slowpoke stocks. Things don’t add up. And when thing don’t add up for a financial professional, something is very wrong.

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