It’s Valentine’s Day. All around the world, men and women are expressing saccharine statements in heart-shaped cards and eating chocolates with red fondant interiors. If you’re dating someone who works in banking, however, your experience may be a little different to most.
Anecdotally, people who work in banking – especially in M&A – can be difficult to have relationships with. There are plenty of horror stories. Rumour has it that one partner at Perella Weinberg has been married six times. Yann Samuelides, a partner at Goldman Sachs, reputedly offered a Slovakian escort £500k to leave her pensioner husband and become his wife (which she did). Worse, David Gray, a 28 year-old associate at JPMorgan, became obsessed with and stalked an attractive JPMorgan intern from the adjacent cubicle. John Kelly, a former U.S.-based wealth manager at Morgan Stanley, is accused to have made tapes of three women he lured to his home for ‘trysts.’
These are the sharp end of the spike. It’s not often that romances are this dysfunctional. However, if you have a banking Valentine, there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind.
1. Bankers are romantic in absentia
A banking boyfriend may send a giant bouquet to the office, but this does not mean he will ever manifest in person. M&A bankers work famously long hours. Deals do not stop for date nights etc.
Xenia Tchoumitcheva, the Swiss-Russian model who judged our famous ten sexiest male bankers on earth competition, tells us she has never dated a banker as, “I am a romantic and they are never around.”
A blog written by the hapless girlfriend of an analyst, illustrates the depth of the problem. He’s never there. And when he is there, he’s still working. “Today, I got 8 minutes [of his time], yesterday 10,” she says. “We have had a couple of “working dates” where he brings his laptop and I bring my books and we sit side by side and get things done.”
Of course, never being around can be a good thing. In the book ‘Young Money,‘ journalist Kevin Roose attends a ‘Fashion Meets Finance’ pick-up night. There, he comes across a fashionista who says she was happy to have a relationship with someone who gives her space. “I’m really independent,” she tells Roose, “I don’t want someone who needs to be around me all the time. I want them to work 150 hours a week at Goldman Sachs.”
2. Bankers have already ditched the clingy college girlfriend/boyfriend and don’t want another one
Plenty of people go into finance with a pre-existing relationship. That relationship often fails in the first year of the analyst programme. “You just have no social life,” Mark Hatz, a former associate from Goldman Sachs (who now offers bank interview coaching) tells us. “You have no time, and when you do have time, you just want to sleep.”
Demanding college-relationships get dumped. Roose describes how one analyst received a text from his girlfriend stating that, “You have to choose what’s more important – this job, or me.” She’d driven 2.5 hours along ‘the cold desolate stretches of Interstate 90’ to see him, and the spent Friday night and Saturday morning with him before he left her alone to do homework or watch DVDs in his empty apartment. He chose the job.
Hatz says most bankers only have time to develop new relationships when they get to associate-level. At that point, he they often go for friends of friends or fashionista-types.
3. Bankers may want you to admire their trinkets
At ‘Fashion meets Finance’, Roose came across a banker showing off his expensive watch (affectionately referred to by him as “my piece”) to a ‘gaggle of interested women.’ He also came across a private equity associate who referred to his firm’s private jet as “PJ”.
4. Bankers know how to conduct aesthetic due diligence
The much-vilified Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones paid £10k ($17k) to join Berkeley International, an elite global dating agency which claims to be popular with international finance types.
Jones traveled to Manhattan for a date with a ‘tall, dark man’, seemingly from the financial services industry. He informed her that he puts women through a ‘shower test:’ “Any woman can be made to look great. The test is what they look like straight out of the shower.”
However, if you can stick with it, a relationship with someone who works in banking is very possible. Jamie Dimon met his wife at Harvard Business School and has been married to her for over 30 years. Lloyd Blankfein has also been married over 30 years (having seemingly met his wife at law school).
The most grounded banking relationships are often those that pre-date career success, says Hatz. “When I started, several senior colleagues told me to find my girlfriend before I got into my banking career. They said that was the only way to find someone genuine, who wasn’t only interested in your bank account.”