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GUEST COMMENT: An anthropological investigation of the middle office

By no fault of my own, I work in the middle office. During the long hours I have spent monitoring P&Ls and perfecting the processes that keep this organisation afloat, I have developed a deep understanding of the personality types to be found herein.

I shall now elaborate upon these for your benefit.

1) The anal manager

The anal manager is extremely proud at having ascended to this position. He values his job highly, values his function highly, values the bank highly, and worships the shareholders.

He is susceptible to wild mood swings. At times he can be likeable, but generally he is rude, irascible and inconsiderate.

2) The old associate

The old associate is both pitied and valued by the anal manager. He is not management material himself (lacking either people skills or self-discipline), but he knows the business and the systems inside out. He will remain an associate indefinitely, and knows it.

3) The disillusioned analyst

The disillusioned analyst has been around for a few years and is starting to see the futility of it all. When he joined the salary looked good. 36 months on it doesn’t, the role looks pointless, and so does banking in general. Postgraduate qualifications are his only hope of escape.

Parties like it’s 1999 on weekends.

4) The anal analyst

The anal analyst wants to know everything he can about the role. He will brown nose the anal manager as much as his humanly possible. He yearns for associatedom and dreams of what he will spend that extra 10-15k on.

The anal analyst can often be found trying to take credit for various initiatives by agreeing strongly that they’re a very good idea.

5)The star trader

The star trader is not a natural inhabitant of the middle office, but will sometimes drop by. He is humble, friendly and helpful. He always has time for the middle office. Despite being a top earner he dresses very modestly.

The star trader is my personal favourite.

6) Wannabe star trader

The wannabe star trader is the opposite of above. He is generally very picky about the reports he gets from the middle office and feels that everyone should take the blame for his poor performance.

The wannabe star trader can be found trawling through eFinancialCareers with the intention of making sarcastic comments wherever possible.

7)The awkward quant

The awkward quant will not meet your eye. If he meets you in the lift he will stare very hard at the floor and avoids general banter/small talk.

There is a programming book on his desk. He knows the price of everything in Tesco Express, aisle 4.

8) The rebel

The rebel quite frankly could not give a flying **** about losing his job.

He performs to an acceptable level and does exactly what it says on the tin. He is often found being cocky to anal manager and the anal manager fears him in return.

The rebel spends a lot of time chatting, trying to seduce attractive colleagues.

9)The Essex boys

The Essex boys are usually cash traders. They can be found blurting out 80’s pop hits on the trading floor.

Generally a good laugh. Thick as two planks though.

10)The pretty PA

Chirpy Essex accent, nice girl, all the women hate her, because all the guys drool over her.

11) The new money

Can often be found reminiscing about how they love ski ing. Despite having been only twice.

12) The category defier

Average Joe. Likeable on average, although variance is significant.

The author is a slightly disillusioned middle office banker who would like to be a trader.

Comments (13)

  1. All quiet on the banking front today I think. We only have a head of IMF held on allegations of assaulting a female hotel employee leading to a potential destruction of Greece because nobody can make a decision until DSK is released or not which may take forever or just two days. Yes, much better to publish nonesense from a disgruntled MO person in bank.

  2. You forgot the weird beard IT consultant on an eye watering day rate, with a skillset so obscure (COBOL and OS2/Warp) no one knows what he does but that if he stops doing it very bad things happen. His 6 month contract turning into 5 years. Surives mainly due to project managers leaving every 9 months and forgetting to can him.

  3. AliDesai: Are you the Wannabee star trader?

  4. Anon: he wishes.

    I can’t believe there is a trader anywhere in the world that would have as much time as him to spend trawling this site to post such drivel on nearly every article.

    Ali Desai is as unemployed as DSK is screwed. Please do not compliment him by claiming he has a role to play anywhere in an investment bank.

  5. @Anon and Trader – my dear friends, if you have been following my postings you will know by now that I along with all others (including Charlie the ex-Goldmans risk arb trader) now live in a small provincial town. Our trading days (star or otherwise) are sadly long gone. We cling on to our Ferragamo loafers on the off-chance that we may get that call one day to come back and strut our funky stuff down Fleet Street.

    In the mean time we continue to welcome other failures such as yourselves to move to our small provincial town. The beaches are sandy and clean, the water blue and warm, the ski slopes pristine, the restaurants are all 6-stars or better.

  6. I’m so going to be the disillusioned analyst…

    But seriously is progression really slow in risk? Am i going to be on 40k until I’m 40 and live in a council flat in Brixton?

    disillusioned analyst Reply
  7. @AliDesai – you forgot to add that all the residents are “full of it” and in need of therapy…

  8. @GG – thank you for your kind comment. I always assumed that this was broadly understood by all. However, in the interest of clarity and full disclosure, you are right. Residents of our small provincial town are as you say “full of it”, luckily we all wear wellies to catch any overflow.

  9. Ali is – like me – heavily medicated and therefore not always completely lucid (though thankfully calm). But trust me GG, Anon and Trader, you would not want to be in an enclosed environment with Ali under normal circumstances, not without five 20 stone psychiatric nurses between you anyway.

    It is a sad sign of these austere times that Britain’s psychiatric services have been so savagely cut back that inmates of secure facilities must spend so much of their time on sites like this one.

    Ahh, my talk of savagely cutting things brings back many highly charged and wondorous memories of my time as a mercenary in the Congo. God, those guys knew how to party…

  10. @Jim – were you in the Congo too ? Charlie speaks fondly of those nights under the stars with his Kalashnikov by his side. Almost as fondly as his time at Goldman wearing Ferragamo loafers, blue shirts yellow ties and running the risk arb book. Happy days indeed.

  11. @eFinancial Editor – You have got to be kidding me, I realise this is a site for the unemployed but could you not vet the comments so that only comments adding ANY kind of value are posted.

    This is not meant to be a place where delusional ex middle office bankers try get their intellectual rocks off attempting to make people laugh and failing terribly.

  12. @sick of it, does your comment add “ANY kind of value”? Maybe an idea to stop reading the comments and stick to Creditflux if it winds you up so much? And why use “middle office” (ex or otherwise) as a term of derision?

  13. sick of it is absolutely right.

    I should have critiqued the article above and nothing more. I’ll try…I thought the article was observationally interesting and accurate, however, I would have liked the various characters further developed. For instance, the description of The pretty PA would have benefitted from a fuller physical description, which would have given me some solace when they lock me back in my cell.

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