The 15 most hated office clichés in all of financial services


Every office job has them. Clichéd, often empty phrases that bosses and colleagues utter that make you want to pull your hair out. Financial services is no different.

We got in touch with a host of U.S. bankers, consultants, institutional salespeople and accountants in their 30s to develop a collection of their least favorite office clichés, ones voiced by their bosses on a near daily basis. Some you may have heard of, others you probably haven’t. Add your own into the comments below.

Action items: Essentially just a list of things that need to get done.

Hard stop: One that’s oft-used in journalism as well. It means you have to stop a meeting at a specific time as you have another appointment that you can’t move or be late to. “I have a hard stop at 11 a.m.”

Over the wall: You are in the know. You have information that others don’t.

Parking lot: To put an end to a conversation with the idea of coming back to it later. “Let’s put that in a parking lot and move on.” Giving an idea “some air,” or time to resonate, is similar.

Dig out: To get through all your backlog of work. “Let me dig out and I’ll come see you in an hour.”

Circle back: To re-evaluate something or give it a second look. You can also circle back – or re-connect – with a person to solve an issue. “Let me circle back with Bob and I’ll let you know.”

Deep dive: Giving a thorough analysis.

Horses for courses: Acknowledging that there may be more than one strategy or approach that will work. “There is more than one way to skin a cat,” would be the closest idiom.

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered: Don’t be overly greedy, lest you get the chop. Sort of an anti-Gordon Gekko.

Touch base: To make contact or catch up. “Let’s touch base later today.”

Give me a buzz: “Call me.”

Ping: Similar to a buzz, except it doesn’t have to be a phone call. You can “ping” someone through any means of contact.

Ready, fire, aim: The idea of being aggressive and moving quickly without over-thinking. Some eggs will likely get broken, to explain one cliché with another.

Get alignment: To get everyone on the same page.

30,000 foot view: The abridged version of an issue. You don’t want every detail, but just a general idea of what’s happening.

Comments (22)

  1. Please stop people ‘reaching out’ to me! I feel violated every time someone attempts this: think 1970′s zombie crowd attack, slow and very terminal.

  2. Also, stop thanking me ‘for sharing.’ I’m not a charity.

  3. ‘and the reality is….’ This from a boss who clearly had no clue what reality is.

  4. “Bullet point the action steps”……don’t give me any ideas

  5. Here’s one: “Net-net” Meaning the very, very bottom line of the conversation (i.e., the takeaway)

  6. Another thing I don’t like is for people using sports language in office like say It is over the hump etc. You are monday morning Qr.back. These sicken me. I like straight talk.

  7. Heard a new one….”this is a perishable” meaning that it is time sensitive. Why do these idiots need to speak like that???

  8. And don’t ever *PING* me again!

  9. “Do what makes sense”. Would anybody do something that doesn’t make sense?

  10. One that I never even thourghly understood was give me a “bridge document” it indicates that the person I just gave a document to is either too stupid or too lazy to figure out what’s going from the information just given to them.

  11. Since when is “give me a buzz” a financial world’s lingo?

  12. Ugh.. loving this list. The one I can’t stand is when someone is going to “shoot me an email.” Keep the violence at the theaters folks. If you plan on shooting, you’d better aim to kill…lol.

  13. I’ll ping you to touch base so we can circle back on those action items as soon as I dig out.

  14. “Circle back” is one that really makes me cringe. But I recently heard a new one … after explaining that we needed help with a project, a colleague approached me and said; “Hey, I have some ‘bandwidth’ … Thank you; but for crying out loud can’t you just say I have some time?

  15. @Rich ‘Bandwidth’ is a brutal one. Didn’t include because it wasn’t mentioned and seems more like a sale and marketing cliche. I took bandwidth to be more knowledge than time. “I can provide some bandwidth on that idea…”

  16. @Troubleboy, I’ve never thanked anyone for sharing because they were a charity, it’s expected in that particular case. However when someone shares information, communications, and themselves with others with the intent to benefit or help, thank them for sharing always.

  17. here my favorites: how are you? how you doin? how is it going? what’s up? what’s happening? what’s new? what’s good with you? how are you hanging in there? how are you going? … each repeated at least once per conversation, in each conversation, every day, and by people who couldn’t care less. GCC advice: try to respond with: “been better”. most likely response: “al hamdullilah, habibi, thanks god you’re okay…”

  18. here my favorites: how are you? how you doin? how is it going? what’s up? what’s happening? what’s new? what’s good with you? how are you hanging in there? how are you going? how was your weekend?… each repeated at least once per conversation, in every conversation, and by people who couldn’t care less or might fire you the next day. GCC advice: try to respond with: “been better”. most likely response: “al hamdullilah, habibi, thanks god you’re okay…” be careful if someone also asks you after asking any of the above repeatedly: “are you okay? you seem a bit tense…”

  19. ASAP a.k.a As soon as possible. when they really mean they want it NOW so you should drop everything and do it.

  20. Fun article! I worked in the product dept of the asset management div of a large bank. but now I’m back in my natural environment which is a smaller entrepreneurial investment manager. Indeed the big bank was lousy with these sayings. I was asked to take conversations “off line”, asked to assess how much “band-width” was available in my group to assist with a “deep dive” on a project for distribution” (sales). I often felt like the country cousin because I didn’t have an easy supply of these sayings but now that I’m back in a smaller more entrepreneurial environment and work with big names in the Canadian business world (all of whom speak normally and without such phrases) I have to believe it is a bank culture thing. Like having a regional accent.


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