The Investment Banking Zoo

efinancialcareers.com  –  April 2011

The average investment bank contains a plethora of weird and wonderful creatures. To the untrained eye they’re all just suited blokes marching around purposefully carrying FTs but closer examination reveals quite distinct beasts with their own peculiar habits and beliefs. Anyone becoming a banker needs to get to know these brutes’ foibles if they are to successfully climb the greasy pole. 

You should be able to spot a trader a mile away as they are invariably fat and raucous. They tend to have large sweat patches under their arms and raw nostrils. Funnily enough, they congregate in large groups on the bank’s aptly named ‘trading floor’. They should be approached with great caution as they will mock anyone they feel is talking down to them. They eat pies and drink ‘wife beater’.

The average salesman can best be recognized by his Saville Row suit’s outrageously bright inner lining and his comedy cuff links saying something like ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell’ on them. He has the red nose and cheeks of the regular champagne guzzler and, when cornered, will says things with total confidence about subjects he knows nothing. He’s not academically gifted enough to be an analyst nor sharp enough to be a trader but they’re often ex-army so don’t mess.

Corporate financiers are the tallest creature in the bank. They are always immaculately dressed and have an unshakeable belief that they are superior to everyone around them. They fagged for many of the chief executives they are desperately trying to butter up and are easily recognised by their clipped vowels and the huge bags under their eyes.

Analysts are the bank’s ‘rocket scientists’. Without their studious insights the whole banking edifice would collapse like the house of cards it is. Most of them are semi-autistic geeks who have had longer relationships with the spreadsheet they’re working on than any female they’ve encountered but don’t underestimate them … or they’ll bugger off and join a hedge fund.

It is essential that any aspiring banker knows exactly which genus his colleagues are and that he tries to make friends with as many as possible. However, never forget that whilst you should keep those friends you make in the banking zoo close, real power comes from keeping those creatures you don’t get on with even closer!

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