There’s a popular narrative among former senior bankers – particularly ex-Deutsche Bankers – about going into the industry. You could do better. You’re a smart and entrepreneurial? Banking is not for you. Utilise your talents elsewhere – the work in banking is boring and the big money’s not there anymore.
Rashid Hoosenally, the former global head of FICC structuring at Deutsche Bank who left last year to start investing in early stage fintech firms, has a different theory. Not matter what you want to do eventually, investment banking is the best place you can start out.
“Even if you want to be an entrepreneur later in your career, go into banking first,” he says. “Working in banking is not so much simply learning about the industry, but the other skills you acquire that will serve you throughout your career.”
Most investment banks have made some effort to curtail working hours for their junior bankers, or shake-up working practices to make it less about endless hours in front of Excel models and add in some level of client facing responsibilities. But the actual work is by the by, says Hoosenally. It’s more about equipping yourself with “human skills”.
“You learn how to influence people, how to deal with very successful senior executives and not be intimidated by them,” he says. “It also teaches you how to frame and solve complex problems – it’s incredibly useful outside of banking.”
A report released this week by consultants Accenture suggested that 75% of millennials don’t want a long-term commitment to the job they take on. In investment banking in particular, it says, firms have to accept that young people view their employment as “gigs” that act as a stepping stone to new things.
That view is fine, says, Hoosenally, but don’t under-estimate the value of the training you’ll receive in banking.
“There’s a popular view that if you’re a gifted ambitious student, you should avoid investment banking, which is a waste of your experience when you could be working in a more exciting sector. I still believe there’s no better training ground,” he says.
Hoosenally joined Deutsche Bank in 1995 – having first spent two years in M&A at Credit Suisse First Boston. This is was back when the investment bank at Deutsche Bank was launched.
Anshu Jain, who would later become Deutsche’s CEO, was there at the outset, as were Henry Ritchotte – eventual COO and head of the digital bank who left last year and is now also investing in fintech – Michele Faissola, the former global head of rates who now runs his own hedge fund and Edson Mitchell, the former global head of markets who died in a plane crash in 2000.
Despite Hoosenally’s enthusiasm for investment banking careers, he admits that working in banking is an entirely different experience now.
“I feel like I’ve come full-circle,” he says. “When I joined Deutsche Bank we were literally building an investment bank from scratch – that opportunity will never be there again. The whole environment was incredibly entrepreneurial, ambitious and open to possibilities. Investment banks are not like that now – that attitude has shifted towards fintech.”
In theory, Millennials demand validation, they demand to be included in decision-making and expect to be promoted rapidly based on merit. Part of the problem investment banks face keeping hold of juniors is that they’re just not set up to nurture young talent, says Hoosenally.
“When banking was growing, it was a sensible strategy to engage and nurture young talent,” he says. “But for the past few years, investment banking has been consolidating and headcount has been reduced. If you’re an insecure senior banker, you might start thinking of this young talent as a threat – maybe there are not enough jobs to go around any more, and you start thinking about your own survival more.”
Hoosenally points out, however, that most banks have mentoring programmes, and if you claw your way to the top, you feel compelled to help out young talent.
“This system encourages you to become a good mentor – there’s a moral obligation that if you received help from senior bankers, when you reach the senior ranks you should do the same for young talent,” he says. “I still feel that the current woes of banking are temporary and it will turn around – and banking needs good bosses.”
Nonetheless, Hoosenally left Deutsche Bank in September last year and is currently investing in fintech start ups and considering getting his own fintech venture off the ground.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have varied roles over 25 years in investment banking, but I always knew I wanted a second career. I’ve had little time off during this time – it feels I hit my mid-40’s in the blink of an eye, and now’s the right time to do something different.”