real

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…]

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Lawrence of Quid Pro Quo

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…

The request

One quiet morning as I sat at my desk building a financial model… [READ MORE…]

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A hot meal...what's that?

Blessed are they who enjoy the luxury of savouring the taste of hot food after seeing steam rise from their plate. Verily, they belong to a class of people for whom time is no master. One may even say that they are quite privileged. Slave or no slave, much do they differ from the rare breed of women and men we know – personally, for those of us who are so lucky – as investment bankers.

Everyone of us is slave to at least one master in life. And a master no real banker takes lightly is time. It does not forgive, forget or fail.

From the moment an individual seals over his or her commitment to the bank via contract, joins a team and embarks on a journey into the corporate world’s greatest money making establishment, time will define his world. Soon after it may come to change everything about him or her.

Having a young army of energetic souls willing to sacrifice all of their waking hours to the service and pursuit of money certainly adds to an investment bank’s arsenal. However, the organization is able to deliver jaw-dropping results by also simultaneously pushing the limits of human productivity. Before joining an investment bank we see a boy who may be comfortable running around his neighbourhood for a half hour if he paces himself and breathes correctly. A few years into the job we encounter a man whose ambitions only Everest will satisfy. His ability to now achieve much more in a fraction of the time partly due to his growing respect for time.

Rise at 6 in the morning. Shower and dress rapidly. Rush to work. Don’t be late to your morning meeting. Finish the client presentation. Dial in to all the important calls. Meet clients. Send your loved one an I-miss-you SMS. As the list of priorities, tasks and objectives continually rises, so does the need to break down time into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Yet just as it takes time to tame a wild beast, it also takes time to appreciate the gravity of time itself, though of course time is a beast none can tame. [READ MORE…]

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An ibanker never lets go of a deal

Some say that gone are the days when the last standing man in the village facing an army of enemies will fight to the very end rather than scurry off to avoid a certain death. Who knows if today’s metrosexual man whose bathroom cupboard is shelved with anti-ageing products and wrinkle removing formulas would act the same way.

Yet that spirit of epic sacrifice still lives strong in the corridors of the mighty global investment banks. There you’ll find the men and women who do it all for the deal. They will never let go until a deal is successfully closed.

But beware of the countless posers who call themselves ‘bankers’ and tell you they’re completely swamped with work on an alleged ‘live’ deal. Question why it is they can tell you this as they sit back comfortably in a chair at some cafe at 5pm on a Thursday. My dear friends, the bankers I speak of will rarely discuss personal sacrifice with you. Firstly because they have no time to speak to you and are in the office, always. Secondly, because it speaks for itself.

We are all familiar with the widely discussed sacrifices attributed to the banking sector, such as routinely working 100hrs+ weeks during deal time or sleeping at the office. However, the sacrifices I speak of are on another scale: having to miss the birth of your child; not having the time to change out of a suit and therefore sleeping in it and heading right back to work where switching ties will have to do for four or five days; keeping an empty water bottle under your desk to relieve yourself when working on a critical financial model which cannot accommodate a single moment’s distraction; crying uncontrollably at the desk, out loud, in front of everyone because you’re eyes have not looked away once from the computer screens in nearly 17 hours yet continuing to work because everything is about the deal.

Oh and a real banker won’t be chilling in a cafe at 5pm on a Thursday because that’s around the time the banker will finally have time to eat breakfast. At his desk.

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