If you work for Goldman Sachs, don’t necessarily expect to wear a suit. Goldman these days is more a chinos sort of place than a world of Ferragamo loafers and shirts with your initials embroidered on the cuff. Only 21% of Goldman’s summer interns see themselves working in suits and if you work for Goldman’s tech team you’ll be free to be “totally casual” at all times.
It’s not like this at BNP Paribas, or at least it doesn’t seem to be.
At BNP Paribas, you’ll seemingly still find plenty of bankers wearing suits, ties and silken socks even when they’re not at client meetings. Research by Emolument suggests nearly 40% of BNP bankers are still wedded to formal dress at all times, compared to just 20% at J.P. Morgan. 20% of BNP bankers told Emolument they were also given guidance on the colour of their garments.
Paribas declined to comment on Emolument’s findings. We understand, however, that the bank stipulates that its employees must be dressed in a “smart professional” manner, which is one notch up the “smart casual” favoured by rivals.
BNP insiders say it’s not just that the bank encourages sartorial superiority – it’s also the fact that they often work in the centre of Paris and therefore are under pressure to appear chic. “Our Paris office is located in the heart of Paris, whereas a lot more people at SocGen and Credit Agricole’s corporate and investment bank are out in the suburbs,” says one. “You need to look good here because you come across a lot of fashion people at lunchtime and it can be awkward if you don’t.”
In London, insiders suggest BNP staff are more sharply dressed than the rest because a comparatively high percentage are from France or Italy, where sartorial rectitude is more highly prized than in London or New York. One French trader tells us he always has at least 15 white shirts with his initials embroidered on the cuff, for example.
The smartest dressers at the French bank in London are reportedly in fixed income, with Arne Groes, the (Danish) global co-head of G10 rates and prime services and financing and Giulio Baratta, the (Italian) head of IG finance in EMEA, praised for their look. In Paris, Solveig Bachellery, BNP’s (French) head of innovation in the corporate and investment bank, is reportedly the one to watch for tips on what to wear at work.