It’s the weekend. If you work in America or are an American anywhere else in the world, it’s more than just any weekend – it’s the weekend after Thanksgiving. Woot…! Party..! Unless you’re a salesperson in an investment bank. Because, if you’re a salesperson you’ll be all partied out. Not just this weekend; every weekend.
Investment banks are filled with salespeople stretched so thin their skin is almost translucent. Salespeople, so exhausted they look grey on a good day. Salespeople, whose suits are so tired from long nights drinking expensive wine that they’re permeated with the aroma of aftershave and ethanol. I know, because I am one. I am a VP in sales at a U.S. bank in London.
When it gets to the weekend I’m sick of socializing. Downtime, holidays, I want to stay in. My job is going out: I work more than 10 hours a day in an office and then on one, maybe two nights week, I’m out with clients. I’m the life of the party, eating, drinking, leading a merry dance of witty banter. You might think this is an indulgence – all that fun on the company dollar. I used to think it was so, but it wears thin. Comes a time in life, around 32, when the most important thing is eight hours sleep. Trust me.
Of course, there are ways you can make the mandatory entertaining more manageable. I try to meet clients early. I try to go places with good food and then to explain to the clients I know well enough that the food has eaten up my entertainment budget and we can’t go on for drinks. This doesn’t always go down well – British clients, especially, expect an all-nighter. Sometimes I wished I worked for ING, where client entertainment seems to involve a trip to the gym (although you can bet the feasting still happens too). At least that way I wouldn’t gain so much weight.
It might be ok if I while I’m out expending all this social energy I got to meet women. I don’t. I’m a single man, but I have more chance of developing a relationship with a female in a soccer locker room than I do during a night of client entertainment. You can spot bankers entertaining clients from miles off: they’ll be out in Mayfair and on one side of the table there’ll be men in surprisingly bad suits; on the other, more men (maybe a token woman) in “smart casual” – jeans, shirts and a blazer. These are the clients They’re all portfolio managers and they’re several notches higher than me on the dating stakes.
So, while you might think that working in banking is good for your social life and will raise your dating capital, it really won’t. My experience is that you’re too exhausted to date, and that the potential dates you encounter when you’re not exhausted and out for work purposes just aren’t interested. There’s no kudos in banking now. It’s a conversation killer. Sometimes I say I work in film instead; the difference is extraordinary.
Jason Jones is the pseudonym of a salesperson in a U.S. investment bank.
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