Nearly every ibanker who has set foot on this fine earth believes in the service and worship of a higher power. The very few outliers of this mysterious, numbers-are-much-sexier-in-my-bank-account sector (i.e. ibanking) you may come across who deny this simply haven’t looked deep enough within their soul to realise it. But they will. It is but a question of time and they have no choice in the matter. It may be that it dawns upon them only after their life as an ibanker ends, and they rediscover that luxury called free time. It could even happen right after they’re summarily fired from the job and find themselves sitting alone on a park bench eating a tasteless sandwich. And then, like unexpected lightning, it strikes and everything becomes illuminated.
When it comes to religion the ibanker is both a monotheistic and polytheistic creature at the same time. But let us not dwell too deeply on the inconsistencies which that assertion introduces into the dialectic. As tends to be the case with many arguments, conflicts and general confusion, much boils down to semantics. And though some will argue that that those two states of disparate beliefs – simultaneous acceptance in one and in many – are irreconcilable they are in fact not wholly incompatible in the world of the ibanker. Before I explain why, it’s important to touch on a remarkable trait of the ibanker species: openness to the impossible.
Believe young ibanker…believe
See, the ibanker has battled odds which would turn nearly any doubter of things supernatural into a firm believer, including himself or herself. Reminds me of an amusing little story. It is said that once upon a time an ibanker in India managed to sell the Taj Mahal, which everyone knows doesn’t belong to any one person, to a consortium of European investors for fifty million dollars cash and disappeared with the money as soon as a fake deed was handed over. By the time the fairer skinned businesspeople realised something was wrong it was too late and they had indeed been taken for a – rickshaw – ride of epic proportions. Note, the protagonist was an ex-ibanker at a tiny boutique ibank, so imagine what the big boys at the top firms do. But that is a whole other story. The point is the ibanker is a believer in all things. [READ MORE…]
It was the middle of July. Though, as always, I was busy as hell and indoors looking out at the world through a window near my desk, I reminded myself that this was a great time of year. The weather was warm, people were excited about summer travel plans and of course there were interns all around the bank.
Hungry, driven interns ran around with boundless energy. Interns, many of whom had gone through everything short of giving away an organ to obtain an internship, were to us in the business very much like newborns, the future. They would one day carry the torch…
Of course, not all interns are the same.
When a banker has spent enough time on the job he or she will come to acknowledge that there are several undeniable certainties in business. One of them is that for every worthwhile act or deed you carry out for someone you can, and damn well should, ask for one in return. It need not happen right away but should at some point in the future when the time is just right. When a true banker calls in a favour it often means money is part of the equation and a banker’s favour always – let me repeat, ALWAYS – comes with interest.
As the banker evolves in his or her craft he or she becomes a procurer of bigger favours. Moreover, this wizard of finance also becomes well versed in the act of subtly implying favours.
I spent a great deal of time covering the Middle East region and, let me tell you, in that part of the world everyone understands the saying: “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. For the enterprising banker, it is a land of opportunities…
One quiet morning as I sat at my desk building a financial model… [READ MORE…]
Once upon a time there lived a diligent, thirty year old investment banker who was known to do little other than work. More than handsomely rewarded by the investment bank for his contributions, he was never short of money and had a penchant for luxurious living. In fact, he demanded the very best of all things. The finest French wine, Savile Row tailored suits and watches only the very best Swiss watchmakers could concoct. He divided his time working between London and New York. It was commonplace to believe that he was living the life.
The investment banker was in Mumbai on business.
It’s Friday night and, having spent the last three days working from before sunrise until well past sunset, he decides to abandon the palatial Taj Mahal Palace hotel and go out for a drink. The polished concierge enthusiastically recommends a well-known Mumbai institution only steps away from the hotel called Leopold Cafe.
“The restaurant serves delectable dishes and popular drinks and is frequented by writers, artists, travellers, business people, Bollywood actors and even escaped convicts,” says the concierge with a head bobble.
Wearing his Navy Blue jacket, khakis and burgundy loafers, the investment banker sets out to enjoy a drink or two and unwind a bit.
There are different reasons why individuals become investment bankers (ibankers). Why they yearn to practice the sacred art of investment banking (ibanking). Though some people enter this esoteric world of high finance by pure chance, and with little effort, they are anomalies. In the vast majority of cases deep-seated motivations propel the uninitiated to persevere until the gates of entry to that prestigious world open before them and they finally break into investment banking.
Most of those motivations can be grouped into categories. They explain why so many bankers agree to work unusually long hours, put up with abnormally high levels of stress and sacrifice so much personal and leisure time. Take a look at the faces of people who have been in the business for over 10 years, especially in a front office role. Many wear their sacrifice on their face. Sadly, few of them realise this.
Those of you currently in the business, next time you attend the Monday morning meeting just take a nice, long look around the room at the seniors bankers present. Is it not unusual that many of them are probably 10 years younger than they look? I know it took me less than a year at the bank to give birth to most of the grey hairs I presently sport.
So why do so many people accept, amongst other things, the premature ageing that comes with the territory?
Hypnosis: dangling a shiny pendulum
For many there’s a psychological attraction. After being mesmerized by the words and countenance of recent graduates in polished suits at campus recruiting events dreamy-eyed candidates are propelled to put forth an application. I recall one banking workshop where the speaker, a young banker, left his key chain on the panel table before getting up to speak at a podium. Every one of us noticed the Ferrari emblem of the prancing horse. When the workshop came to an end, my friend Noah nearly trampled two girls as he ran up to speak to the banker. Never mind that the speaker has had stress-induced diarrhoea for the past month, working round the clock to make a deal happen, and has been literally pissing out his ass every morning at work.