Are you beach-ready? Maybe not. According to Bret Easton Ellis’s famous portrait of a psychotic financial services professional, Wall Street is populated by ‘hard bodies’ obsessed with their appearance. In fact, the opposite may be true: investment banks are replete with out-of-shape types who binge on Krispy Kreme doughnuts and only rarely visit the gym. We understand this to be especially the case in M&A.
“There’s a big split between the trading floor and M&A,” said one ex-M&A banker. “On the trading floor, the hours are predictable and it’s easier for people to be physically active before and after work – there’s only so much you can do once the markets are closed. But in M&A, the hours are less predictable. There’s nothing really to prevent you from working incredibly long hours and blobbing out. People get fat. It happened to me.”
Blobby bankers can draw inspiration from the likes of Kishan Shah, a 27 year old former analyst from Goldman’s special situations group. Shah reached a weight of 400 pounds (29 stone) before slimming down to less than half that size. Shah got out of Goldman and now runs ‘Downsize’ a chain of gyms catering exclusively for the obese. Shah was unable to talk to us, but he’s reportedly now obsessed with exercise and wears a bracelet that alerts him whenever he’s been sedentary for too long.
With only weeks to go until pectorals-by-the-poolside, bankers are advised to make serious and immediate adjustments to their diet according to Tim Bean, executive weight loss and anti-ageing guru from ‘The Hard Edge’. Now is the time to give up alcohol, said Bean. It is also the time to cut back on coffee, to have a diminutive evening meal, to cut out wheat and any form of starchy carbs. Don’t go mad on fruit either. “Go for steamed vegetables and stir fry, have a cooked breakfast like mushrooms and eggs,” Bean instructs.
Exercise might be an idea too. One trader who has shed much of his body weight told us he swears by his erg rowing machine and now takes Boris bikes everywhere. For really urgent blob dispersal, however, Bean advocates a weights-based training regime. “Cardio won’t solve the problem as quickly as you’d think – you you need to lift weights hard and with high intensity. That will keep your metabolism up for hours afterwards.”
The best way to suddenly shift weight gained in a banking job, however, may be to experience redundancy. “The best way to lose weight is to lose your job,” said the trader. “Suddenly you have a chance to go to the gym.” The ex-M&A banker agreed. “I got rid of my weight by leaving M&A,” he said. “Suddenly I didn’t have to get up early and go to work, so I got up early and went for a jog along the Fulham Road. It was very painful and I hit the pain barrier very early on, but frankly I was glad to be out.”