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The Outsider: Making your boss love you

You’ll turn your boss off with slavish devotion and turn him on by doing his bidding. It’s a hard life says ex-banker and author David Charters.

Life at the bottom of any corporate food chain is tough. In investment banking it’s particularly so. Brownie points are hard to come by; excellence, timeliness and hard work are taken for granted.

Beneath the gloss of high pay and high living, investment banking has a high failure rate: at many firms the new entrants starting out in the associates’ pool know that only half of them will make it past the two year mark. They may arrive as bright young things, full of hope and ambition, but to the jaded cynics further up the line they are a fungible resource, identikit slave labourers to be put to work night and day, seven days a week.

In this environment, distinguishing yourself from the rest of the crowd is a challenge. Getting bad marks is easy – just try missing a deadline or mis-spelling the chairman’s name in a presentation.

We’ve all attended corporate briefings or ‘town hall’ meetings, where the usual sycophants sit in the front row and are guaranteed to ask an oily, ingratiating question. They usually look the part, aping the managing directors’ dress style, never letting down their guard when it comes to expressing views on senior management or the direction the firm is going down, and always first to sing the corporate song.

Reassuringly, it doesn’t always work. The point about bosses is they didn’t get there by being stupid. When they indulge in grandstanding or victory laps after a successful deal, they adopt a fig leaf of subtlety. They invite the chairman to celebratory drinks with the team, because the junior people on the deal have worked hard and it would be great to see that top management appreciate their efforts – for which read, I’ve done really well, these guys assisted me and I’m smart enough to go through the motions to give them a warm glow.

To get into this position, however, you will need to take few knocks without complaining that you’re being beaten about the head by an industry that expects total commitment 24/7 – this, after all, is what you signed up to.

So when your boss asks you to do another all-nighter – let’s say it’s your third this week – to produce a presentation for a meeting tomorrow morning that he’s known about for days, you grit your teeth and smile.

When he says he’s going out to dinner with his wife, but you should bike the draft round to his house later, you keep on smiling and think what excuse you’ll give your soon to be ex-girlfriend for standing her up again. And when he screams down the phone at you later that the draft he’s looking at doesn’t cover all the additional points he thought of over dinner, you make a Note to Self to improve your powers of telepathy.

Play this game and even if your boss doesn’t come to the conclusion that you are his soul mate, he will at least accord you respect. And when it comes to pitching to the management committee for bonus money, you may just be on his mind.

David Charters’ latest book, Trust me, I’m a banker, is published by Elliott and Thompson, price 9.99.

Comments (8)

  1. Lets face its no different to a factory production line if you don’t hack it there is always someone else waiting to come on board and do the work and get the top-tier bank on the cv, it doesn’t really matter until you reach Associate Dir level, because everyone below AD is someone go-for

  2. David Charters is the best authour to write about the City since Michael Lewis. His work is full of outrageous insights, presented with brilliant sense of humour.

  3. There is no way the money is worth all this.. esp as an analyst (first 2 years)…

    Better join cap markets and although you still take it from traders but only between 7am to 7pm.. then you can go out and have a life..

    IBD analyst are taken for granted, constantly overworked, insulted and treated like crap. If you want to join the industry leave you dignity at the door. You will not be needing it. You can also throw away your social life and any happy thoughts you have ever had..

    As i write this it’s 2:30am and I am still at work doing a pitch no one will ever read for a project we can never win.. but I am “happy” after all I am an INVESTMENT BANKER!

  4. Monkey, quit before it’s too late. U should enjoy your work intellectually and otherwise and consider sucrifices worth it, otherwise it is a torture to u and others. I mean it. This is the tone of most analysts who speak up, rn’t u the author of onenighter or latenighter or whatever analyst’s blog? – u sound familiar.

  5. Anon, I am quitting as soon as bonus time is over.. this is not living.. I am moving on to cap markets. I did an internship there and have a few contacts and have already received an offer.

    I am not the author of any blog.. I sound familiar because these are the sounds all analysts make. No one likes it. I swear i haven’t met a single person who likes his/ her job after the inital 2 months as a graduate (when they are still naive)

    *Writing this at 5:08am* Back to the financial model that won’t balance.. arrggh!

  6. Monkey, that is brutal indeed. Also mind you very few people r truly good at modelling and some seniors have serious phobias. Hope cap markets won’t disappoint you. Ok, the blog was called The Allnighter written by a Monkey-friend of yours.

  7. Or you could get an ounce of self-respect, quit and go an get a job that allows you to enjoy your 20’s, keep your hair and waistline in check as well as a social life…

  8. Now we know how to make our boss love us, how to make our girlfriend love us at the same time ?

    Sad to look for love at work… But I hope for investment bankers they are some boss who can satisfy natural needs of their team ..

    Is anybody good at pricing here cause I am wondering what is the formula of the NPV of wages + bonus over the period of frustration and sacrifices (including both heath and social life)?

    Just to help those who might need information to make decision about their career path ?

    Thank you in advance guys,

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