The London Paper – 1 Oct 2007
Fame at last! I have to say that seeing my anonymous column parodied last week in The Daily Telegraph’s legendary cartoon ‘Alex’ filled me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, appearing in this venerable City institution as ‘City Chap’ made me want to point it outto every joker in town. On the other hand, I just thought that another nail has been hammered into the coffin that is my God-forsaken career.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. After over a year of writing this column it amazes me that ‘the powers that be’ at my bank haven’t handed me a black bag and told me I’ve got half an hour to gather my stuff and bugger off. There have, of course, been numerous times when I’ve almost been rumbled. Certain clients and colleagues have read of my escapades and some have recognised stories that I may have mentioned after a few bottles of Mouton Rothschild at La Gavroche. When confronted I usually apply the maxim most British politicians live by: ‘deny, deny, deny’. When the evidence is overwhelming I take these characters into my ‘inner circle of trust’. Unfortunately, like a game of Sardines that is fast approaching its inevitable denouement this ‘inner circle of trust’ is becoming so full now that it’s a question of when, not if, that the game ends.
Readers may ask why I would lose my job if I were uncovered. Simply put, it’s because the City has a code of silence not dissimilar to the code of ‘Omerta’ that our mafia brethren adhere to. The last thing banks want is ‘civilians’ to know that we’re a bunch of overpaid degenerates who receive huge bonuses for pushing around bits of paper (when we’re not frequenting strip joints or trading on inside information). We in the Square Mile will do anything to confuse the general public into not knowing what we get up to because then you’re more likely to think we’re worth the obscene salaries we receive since we do something that is so ‘complex’. It’s harder to identify the enemy if you don’t understand what they do.
The main way we in the City like to confuse civilians is by employing puzzling terminology like ‘de-equitization’, ‘ebitda’ or ‘IRRs’. The City is simply a market where money and financial assets are traded but if you listen to the experts waxing lyrical it appears as if we’re trying to cure cancer … in Mandarin. Of course, any attempts to demystify our business are stamped upon as one poor sucker, who was writing a book exposing a traditional English investment bank, found out. He found himself threatened with all sorts of law suits and, realising that taking on a City institution was pointless, threw in the towel.
As William Burroughs said ‘sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts’. Losing my job for exposing these facts to some Londoners would be a price worth paying … although, having said that, if my bosses could wait for my bonus to be paid in January I’d really appreciate it.