Answer The Phone Like A Spartan Warrior

The media often portrays the life of young investment banker as one where they are subject to constant verbal abuse and tirades. I’ve personally worked in more than a few industries and I must say you do take a lot of shit in an investment bank. And much of this has to do with stakes.

Sure you can say “it’s all relative” and “people in many sectors take a lot shit”. True. Very true. However, when the stakes include a $25 billion transaction that can make not only triple-digit millions for the bank but single or even double-digit millions for senior bankers who are responsible for the deal and sit just a few seats away from you, while also putting their jobs on the line, then something as small as a typo in an e-mail can trigger a torrent of abuse. Like it or not that’s banking. Period.

Yet there are times when the underlying reason for shouting abuse is simply something you’d expect to see in a movie. Something from another time in history. Say days of Sparta.

The day Bruce, one of the Managing Directors, lost it and, with the might of his voice, reduced Alex, one of the German analysts, to the size of a pea was one of those unforgettable moments. Sadly unforgettable for Alex.

The victim

Alex was a young analyst who joined the team which covered large German corporates. A truly accomplished individual for his age, with top academic qualification and a list of notable achievements outside of his school life, he had one marked weakness: when he answered the phone he didn’t sound like a banker. And the day that marked a turning point in poor Alex’s banking life was on a day… [READ MORE…]