Britain’s Glastonbury Festival starts tomorrow. 200,000 people – a number equivalent to the population of Oxford – will congregate in some fields in Somerset. It will almost certainly rain heavily. Dolly Parton is headlining. So is Arcade Fire.
Somewhere among the 200,000 Glastonbury attendees are likely to be bankers, hedge fund managers and investors. The festival began targeting wealthy individuals in 2010, with the offer of yurts which could be rented out for its duration for £7k ($12k). It now boasts a pop-up hotel and spa facilities. Glastonbury gentrification has provoked complaints: bankers wearing Daft Punk T-Shirts have been engaging in pro-capitalist debates in the ‘green field.’ And Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson has lambasted the festival for being too middle class.
If you work in finance and are heading to Worthy Farm, Geraint Anderson, the former banker-turned novelist and film maker, says you need to go prepared with more than waterproof clothing. The camaraderie of a music festival in a field might seem the perfect place to bond with clients and colleagues, but it isn’t. “The trouble with a festival is that people tend to get very drunk – or worse,” says Anderson. “It’s going to be very hard to take stock recommendations from someone you’ve seen rolling in the mud pretending to be a frog.”
Anderson is speaking from experience. He attended the Glastonbury Festival in 2000 (ie. pre-gentrification) whilst on gardening leave and met the manager of the team he was due to join. “This guy was there as a chaperone for his teenage daughter,” says Anderson. “I’d been up for at least twenty four hours and had no plans to sleep. He’d just woken up and was going for breakfast. I had to sit with him and push this horrible greasy food around while he talked about bond yields.”
Anderson advises finance professionals who are going to Glastonbury to bring sunglasses: that way you can talk to clients and colleagues if necessary but they need not know the extent of your insomnia. If you meet someone you know from the industry, he advises that you never behave in a more relaxed fashion than them – “The golden rule is that they push the boat out before you do.”
In Anderson’s case, his encounter with a future boss did no harm to his career and helped endear him to his manager: “We worked together for eight years and he mentioned it a lot.” However, the incident also ruined the rest of the festival for him: “I didn’t see him again, but I kept seeing people I thought were him all over the place – it was impossible to relax.”