You work in an investment bank and you're single. And it's Valentine's Day. The horror.
Clearly not everyone in finance is facing the prospect of a solitary evening in with a box-set. And clearly not everyone who eschews the schmaltz of Valentine's Day for a hermetical box-set is emotionally stunted. But if you're spending tonight alone on the sofa watching Game of Thrones Season 7 when you'd rather be eating an over-priced meal in a restaurant filled with people engaged in conspicuous displays of affection, you might want to ask Nana Wereko-Brobby where you went wrong.
Wereko-Brobby runs Social Concierge, a membership-only dating and networking group for people in their 20s and 30s, with branches in London and New York City. With five years' experience helping young finance professionals find partners and weekly private events in London's Mayfair, Chelsea and Shoreditch, Wereko-Brobby has a good handle on the love lives of analysts and associates. " We are very much supporters of those who work very hard in this city and just can't bare the idea of logging on for love after 11 hours in the office," says Wereko-Brobby. Even so, she says there are big reasons why bankers can find it hard to date.
"Male bankers tend to be less likely to make the time or to leave looking for someone serious a little later than women," says Wereko-Brobby. "Women seem overall more interested in dating and meeting someone but their salaries/success can be intimidating," she adds.
"Both [male and female bankers] struggle to commit to dating during the week and a lot of my clients then fill their weekends with trips with friends which then doesn't leave much time for dating," Wereko-Brobby says.
"At the moment fintech is seen as a 'sexier' scene to be in [than banking]," Wereko-Brobby cautions. "It used to be models and bankers, now it's models and tech founders." This might be one reason so many former bankers are moving into fintech. It's a, "hot area full of very creative, engaging and driven former bankers," Wereko-Brobby tells us.
"Bankers tend to work extremely long hours and, for some, their schedules are very much at the mercy of their employers," says the dating guru. "I have a client who sometimes doesn’t know if he’ll be in NYC, Hong Kong or London until a few days before which means a lot of cancelled dates." People don't like this stuff.
If you've worked hard to get into banking, why jeopardise your progress just to find a life partner who'll make you happy outside work?
"Clients in finance tend to have a perfectionist streak and think of reaching certain goals before they really focus on dating," says the date-meister. "I’ll work to this promotion and then I’ll sort out my love life. I’m saving for a house, and after that I’ll get social again."
If you work in advertising or another creative field, Wereko-Brobby says you're more likely to find love at work than if you work in finance. With some exceptions, people in finance don't seem to want to date each other. "The matches I see are men in finance and women in a creative field like PR or marketing," says the love doctor. "We also see a lot of women in finance with doctors or lawyers. It’s more to do with not wanting to talk shop on dates and also, particularly for the men, looking for partners to bring some creativity, passion and quirk into their routines."
Some people are proud of their careers. Bankers are cowed. "Some of the men [in banking] in particular have slight hang-ups about the career so tend to avoid career chats too soon when meeting someone at an event," says Wereko-Brobby. "Some of our female clients in finance struggle with the idea that men can be intimidated by their earning potential."
Dating is not a problem you can throw money at. "Sometimes bankers tend to go too big too early, locking in dinner dates at overly smart places that they take clients to (Zuma, Roka, Chotto Matte) when they might be better placed start more low key with a drink in Soho," says Wereko-Brobby. "I had a charming client who worked such long hours that he was only able to fit in about one date a month. By the time they got on the date, he really wanted to make the most of the moment so would make the dates last about 6/7 hours and throw cash at the situation. Brunch would turn into a walk which would lead to drinks at a hotel bar then a tour of Soho bars then dinner then drinks. He was a total gent but too eager to make the moment last and was always at risk of setting a very high standard with the first date (the second was often a trip abroad), or scaring women off with his spending." You have been warned.
Entertaining a date is not the same as entertaining a client. "I also see a lot of habit-led clients pick the same place for all their first dates, which is usually conveniently close to home or work. If your date catches on to the ‘convenience’ factor, it tends to dampen the romance," cautions Wereko-Brobby.
Lastly, stop trying to close the deal. "Slow down," Wereko-Brobby intones. "You need to see dating as an enjoyable and ongoing process, not something need to fit in or gamify with an app. A lot of the successes I see at Social Concierge are between people who have built up a friendship/rapport over time by engaging with the network consistently, rather than going straight for a hook up, first date, then decision whether to carry things on or kill it."