Why bankers cry in work washrooms

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Investment bankers depressed

Bankers love to cry. Go check out the men’s room stalls and you’ll see what I mean. They're in there. I’m not one to talk. I’ve cried too.

What brings this on? I've worked in banking 18 years. Here’s when I’ve seen grown men break down into tears.

Got fired

Lets start with the obvious ones. This is has got to be the worst.

Getting fired sucks. No two ways around it.

I’ve seen people slam desks, run in shame or just stare into space in disbelief. I remember this guy Jim who called his girlfriend to get some empathy and she dumped him right on the phone. Heartless.

Didn’t get promoted

This happened to me, and did I cry.

I was supposed to make managing director (MD) in 2010. A few weeks before the event, I got pulled into the boss's office to be told that it wasn’t going to happen.

I held it together till I got home and then it was an hour of tears with my wife…..she hasn’t divorced me yet.

Didn’t get paid

Sometimes bankers get a donut for their bonus. For the newbies that means a big fat zero. You walk into room thinking you’ll get enough for a new Porsche or maybe a down payment, and you walk out with friggin donut.

It happens more often than you’d think. Management is ruthless these days. Tears are full of impotent disappointment - and maybe regret for working so hard.

Got abused

And this is the most regular source of visits to the men’s room. Even after all the politically correct talk, abuse happens. It happens daily.

The phone rings, the boss calls you to his office. You walk in thinking its going to be about the next project or deal. And the abuse begins. Somewhere you messed up. He’s mad and he’s not going to let it go. And your ego gets bashed, beaten and destroyed. You manage to pick yourself off the floor and walk as casually as possible to the men’s room before breaking down.

Didn’t get to go to a client meeting

Now let’s talk about the more petty episodes. Have you ever been in these client meetings where there are three people from the client side and 13 bankers? I’m sure you know the ones.

Now, why is everyone there? Thirteen bankers in one room. Ego. It’s like everyone getting a trophy for participation.

The thing is, the kid who did all the work for the meeting, probably isn’t there. That poor soul is still stuck in his cubicle crunching numbers and wiping those tears wondering why they didn’t take him.

Raise your hand if that’s happened to you.

What do we do about all this, other growing a back bone? Somewhere in my tenth year I picked up a copy of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. The stoics helped me out.

If your ego’s been getting bashed, I highly recommend you check them out and go google Warren Buffett and his inner scorecard. Good luck. And it’s ok cry.

The author is one of a group of senior bankers who blog at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.

Have a story or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

Photo credit:crying boy by kobiz7 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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