Friday, 27 April 2012

" My brain and I have not met in weeks, its been a while, infact I am keeping it in a jar at home - saving it for special occasions"  words from my partner -in-crime, comrade-in-arms, my fellow compatriot in pain raging against the bank by the only we know how - Humor.
Now, the unique thing about the Investment banking industry is that nobody laughs here - if you smile or are happy, it must be 2 things - a) you are going to quit or b) it is bonus day and you hit jackpot. Apart from those 2 reasons - people dont smile and god forbid - if sound of laughter is heard over the floor, shocked glances are exchanged, eyes are rolled, disapproving looks come your way and it can only mean one thing - you are slacking and you have " CAPACITY ".  The dreaded word which basically means that your staffer can smell your free time by a mile and dump extra work on you which means that you are definitely not leaving before 2 am because " gasp, you laugh and look happy-this is just unnatural - we must change this situation At Once !!"

There are other very unique aspects about banking. But the most interesting part is the language that you use in order to impress upon others (normal people) that ofcourse, we are a far superior race with fancy jargon of our own. I did a mini survey amongst the mutually frustrated associates around and here are a few of my personal favorites -

  1. "Do you have capacity? " - This horrible question can be posed at any given time and day but very often comes at a Friday evening at 5pm when you have already checked out mentally and are dreaming of getting out of office. This question essentially means that you will be spending your Friday night & most of the weekend at work, cursing the holy trinity who set Monday morning meetings assuming some poor slave will obviously set aside his/her life to create yet another meaningless presentation which will most likely end up as fancy and glossy toilet paper for the client.
  2. " Only requires 20% associate time " -  This is a tricky one - this is the project every associate is lulled into taking because he/she thinks it will require minimal effort, can dump everything on the analyst and be cruising out of office at 8pm - bzzzzzzzzzzzz - WRONG Answer!! This is usually when the staffer has no clue about what the actual project is, how much time and effort is actually needed, is usually for a very painful MD and it most likely will translate into 120% associate time. 
  3. " You should take a first crack at this " - The most hated one - I do truly loathe this one, this usually comes from the level above you when they couldnt be bothered to use their brain for which they are apparently paid a truckload of money for. This is also commonly used by the sadists that love to see you scramble, make an ass out of yourself by attempting to create material you dont know anything about,for a client you dont care about and then give you a billion comments to prove to you that you know nothing. But I am convinced it helps boost their own self-esteem.  If you are an Associate who learnt this technique the hard way, you shall apply this with your analyst especially when you want to avoid weekend work - I too have used it successfully in the past. 
  4. " You can hold the master on this/ you should run point from here/why dont you hold the pen on this" - All very fancy ways of saying - You Bl#$dy Well Need To Do All the Work 
  5. " Do we have a horse yet" -  Now this one truly perplexed me when one of the MD's sent an email around to entire team asking this question on a deal I was staffed on . As the overzealous new Associate who had just joined the team, I was keen to reply " Well, i actually dont know how to ride  and cant really afford a horse, but can check around if you like ...". Luckily, I thought better of it and asked one of the more experienced associates what this means. Its translates into - wait for it ... " Do we know who the lead advisor is " - how is ANYONE supposed to infer that??! I did imagine what my MD would have thought had he actually gotten my earlier response- I dont think I would have lasted very long in the bank after that. 
  6. " Look, get some rest/dont kill yourself - but we need to have this by tomorrow morning at the latest" - Oh, this one is a real favourite when your MD is trying to be the humanitarian. After you have virtually killed yourself for days on some meaningless piece of analysis and he sort of feels sorry after seeing your disheveled  exhausted and completely fatigued sorry state but yet wants work done.  In my opinion, it is essentially to prevent a potential lawsuit incase I collapse or die on the premises. This way, he can cover his ass and say " well, I told her to go home u know ..." but secretly will think  " Such an inconvenience - she died on the job, who is going to remove the body now .... "
There are many others which definitely warrant a special mention - 
  1. Its not urgent but lets have it by Monday (obviously said to you on a Friday)
  2. We need this ASAP 
  3. We should reach for the low-hanging fruit (senior ppl LOVE this one)
  4. Just so you know .... 
  5. Are you comfortable with the numbers? 
  6. Lets make some money! 
P.S. I realised that I need to add a glossary of terms and explain the hierarchy of the holy trinity for the uninformed of the banking world,so very simply - 
MD - Managing Director (Big Kahuna)
ED - Executive Director/ Principal (Little less powerful than Big Kahuna)
VP - Vice President (Completely irrelevant and useless - potential seat of power but unsure of how to use it/inexperienced. They have to try very hard to assert any authority and are under constant threat of being usurped by very smart Associates)
Associate - Slave 
Analyst - Smallest fish in the pond/ the bottom of the bottom feeders/ women before the right to franchise was introduced - no rights, no power, no life - period. 

Next post - Key protagonists of any bank 

Hasta pronto 

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