Want A Standing Ovation? Have A Near-Banker-Death Experience

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Near-Banker-Death Experience

Let’s be honest here, the greatest joy in banking is a huge bonus. But money alone won’t bring happiness. Honours and titles also matter. One of the greatest honours which can be bestowed upon an ibanker is a standing ovation.

Standing ovations usually happen for one of two reasons: a massive deal is closed and the bank makes an extraordinary amount of revenues; someone collapses or faints from exhaustion and / or excessive stress during a deal. The latter is what we call a near-banker-death experience.

An example of the first scenario was when we extracted over USD50m in fees on one deal alone from a massive Middle East client. The head of Investment Banking practically moonwalked over to our desk and shook everyone’s hands. This sort of event is the more common of the two. The second scenario is what leaves the strongest impression on all bankers as it touches on human limits. I’ll never forget the first time I witnessed it. I was less than one month into the job.

The victim was Thomas, an Associate from Denmark. He joined the bank the same time I did. The poor guy was unfortunate from the very first day on the job because the head of his team was responsible for several geographies and given they were short-staffed Thomas was assigned as the ‘extra help’ for multiple geographies. In short, he was screwed at hello. Thomas sat one row away from me.

On one of those very busy days when he was juggling a handful of billion dollar projects while getting yelled at by everyone, in person and over the phone, having to read and reply to a couple of hundred e-mails and warding off incessant requests for his help, he suddenly collapsed…

He hit the ground with a thud. Right there in front of us. Apart from those immediately around him it was business as usual. People were too engrossed in PowerPoint or Excel to pay attention. Medics arrived soon after and Thomas was taken away. The head of the team said a few words and we were then told to get back to work.

The next morning Thomas returned to work. As soon as he entered the floor the head of the team got up and started clapping, followed by his underlings and theirs in turn. Next thing you know we were all up clapping for a guy who essentially compromised the most important thing in life, health, for a bonus. Senior bankers’ bonuses, to be exact.

As the clapping continued and we watched Thomas blush, my line manager whispered in my ear: “lucky bastard, he just doubled his bonus.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

am October 14, 2012 at 3:07 am

It’s possible that he was exhausted from a lack of sleep and just fell asleep while standing.

I’ve been close to having that happen to me but I always managed to be in a chair when it happened.

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RJ October 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

This happened to a guy on my team in NY. It was stress induced combined with a panic attack thinking he was having a stroke, which brought on more panic/fainting/medics. He didn’t get a standing ovation but it was business as usual. Happens quite often. I knew a guy at blackstone who was taken out by medics. nuts

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Gary October 17, 2012 at 6:13 am

HLHZ LDN has two associates wheeled out on stretchers a few years ago, the story came across as though is wasn’t abnormal by any means.

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