Thursday, 26 April 2012

So for introductions - I'm a recent MBA graduate working for a bulge bracket investment bank in the City. The reason why I write this blog is two fold - the first is that I think my family and close friends are tired of me complaining about my job so I think its time I vented it elsewhere and the second is - today I read an article about an analyst in an investment bank who quit his job, followed his passion and became a musician and is actually happy !! Now I don't really have any apparent talent but I can string together a few sentences in English - so I thought - well, let me try my hand at writing.

Now for those who actually enjoy their investment banking jobs - then this blog is clearly not for you. You are definitely going to get offended and will put up comments like - I'm generalizing, patronizing and condescending so save yourself the heartburn and go on to the " IBD for Fun" webpage or something. For all those - who feel that they actually sit in the bank and ask themselves everyday, sometimes exasperated and many times very depressed " what am I doing here " - then stick around.

For those who are uninitiated into the world of investment banking - now, I'm not an expert having been around only almost a year, but I think that's more than enough time to see things for what they are. I promise to not be another Greg Smith (a.k.a the person who made muppet and Goldman Sachs common parlance) and take 12 years to realize the heinousness of the bank and banking industry. As a junior banker - you spend more time in office than at home (the day they provide beds at work - I can promise you that 80% of the bankers would move out of homes, can you imagine what that does to our take home pay - no longer do I have to spend 50% of my salary in rent - woohoo!!), your weekends and holidays are forfeit, where knowledge of whether you get to go out for dinner or get your Saturday night free is like predicting the lottery and most often you are wrong (you hope you get it free until your wretched MD/ED/ VP ask you to take a " first crack at the presentation/model/document") and where more than 70% of your time is spent bitching and complaining about your lunatic bosses, socially inept colleagues, sleep deprivation and generally bad food and lifestyle.

But the one thing you do learn and that is a very important lesson, when and if you do get free time - how to make the most of that time. You tend to cram in 20 things all in that time to make yourself feel as alive as you possibly can and experience as much joy (shortlived as that may be). I don't think I have met a single " happy " banker, I think they are a myth - like unicorns and the Yeti, perhaps they are out there - somebody must have met them - but not me.

But how can you be? When you are at work 15 - 20 hours a day battling with excel and powerpoint - its not really what you would call a meaningful existence. Add to that the holy trinity of MD/ED/VP - who have been put on this earth with the sole purpose of ruining your personal life - then your daily emotions fluctuate between consternation (e.g. We have a " sit-down" on Friday evening at 7 pm to discuss a deliverable due on Wednesday) to frustration (e.g. This is the 100th version of the presentation in our attempt to reach world records of excellence because the previous 99 versions werent " good enough ") to finally murderous rage (e.g. - when your MD comes and tells you - " Guys, we need to re-build this excel model from scratch - the assumptions you used were wrong and yes, you ll have to spend the weekend on this".)

However, a lot of what is written is tongue and cheek - there are normal people in the bank (very few - but they do exist) and those are people you are likely to bond with. So like in all firms - boss bashing is a favourite activity, however in banks the humor tends to take a turn towards the perverse where the most outlandish ways of expressing dissatisfaction solicit the most laughs from the generally humor deprived exhausted souls.

For e.g. - the thought of taking a dump at your staffer's desk is talked about with great relish and the kind of food one must ingest to produce the right quality and quantity is a focal point of discussion.
Another is sexual proclivities and the amount of action your MD/ED/VP gets - it is obviously very limited since they take great pleasure in screwing the junior bankers at work instead metaphorically ofcourse.

Commonly swapped stories are " how painful is your MD" / " how intense is that VP" " how many useless mark-ups and iterations does your ED provide ". It is common to start a project and ask your analyst about the MD in question i.e. how painful he is and type of comments he provides. Responses ranging from " very light (huge sigh of relief with visible outtake of breath) to " OMG - he is f#$ing insane (sinking feeling in stomach) will determine your stress levels and frustration for the next few weeks and months.

So, this was just the primer written on the few nights that I actually came back at a reasonable hour (read as 11pm). Hopefully, I am able to keep this up.

Till next time,

Arrivederci


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