Fund manager turned novelist explores human impact of GFC

The causes and consequences of the Global Financial Crisis have been comprehensively analysed by economists and market experts and are referred to daily in a factual, “let’s not go there again” way. But examples of the use of the GFC as the context for a work of fiction are thinner on the ground.

Step up Neil Turner, known in real estate circles as Schroders’ head of property fund management, but also now a novelist and author of Pass the Parcel, a story set between 2008 and 2010 and drawing together a group of characters for whom the Global Financial Crisis would have profound consequences.

“One of the reasons why I wrote the book was that in the fictional space I didn’t think that the financial crisis had been perhaps seen by enough people,” Turner told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts.

“I think it’s such a rich part of what was happening in a particularly important period of time and there’s a great backdrop to a story where you’ve got lots of different characters seeing the same thing, but through different lenses.”

although there are lots of non-fiction books and the film the big short obviously um was out there which are fantastic i didn’t think that much have been written in the fictional world so that’s why i did it

The tale gathers up and eclectic mix of characters: a hedge fund manager based in London, a poor young Mexican couple in San Francisco, a future leader of the Conservative party in Suffolk, a real estate fund manager and his brother, a property company head.

“So there’s a whole group of different people in there that went through the financial crisis and came out at the other end, and everybody changes” Turner explained. “You can’t go through that that experience and be the same person at the end that you were at the beginning.”

The process of writing the book changed Turner’s view of the GFC.

“I didn’t want the book to be a technical book and I wanted people that just generally like to read fiction to enjoy the book, so I couldn’t go into too much detail about the technicalities,” he said.

“But of course, you have to do a lot of research to be able to talk about these things,” he added. “I lived through it and I was working in the financial services industry so I did have a pretty good idea of what was going on, but when you look into the nuts and bolts of some of these cases it did change my view and I think some investment banks did behave really poorly and I don’t think i’ve quite understood just how poorly they behaved.”

Click on the video to watch the full interview or listen to the podcast below.