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Morning Coffee: Is this the most embarrassing interview question in banking? Finance, the beautiful profession

Preoccupied worried man in awkward situation

Don’t go into an investment banking interview if you’re not expecting to be thrown some curve balls. Back in the day, it was a combination of the standard ‘motivation’ questions (Why our bank? Why this department? Why banking?), competency-based questions and then finally some brain-teasers to test mental agility.

Now that Google deemed brain-teaser questions uncool, investment banks have started phasing them out. Chances are you won’t be asked how many tennis balls you can fit into a subway station – but prepare yourself just in case.

Boutique banks are eating up market share from larger investment banks, and young analysts are queuing up to get in. As we reported earlier this week, interviews at boutiques are now considered the toughest of any investment banks among junior and mi-ranking investment bankers, and Centerview Partners is supposedly the trickiest of all. One anonymous poster on the Wall Street Oasis has shed some light into why this might be the case – interview questions involving Rihanna. The response below came after the “the dumbest question I ever received”, says the banker.

“What song best describes your work style?”
“Work by Rihanna”
“And why is that?”
“Because of its consistent lyricism. I feel that it represents my work ethic and perseverance.”

Maybe questions asking how many quarters it takes to reach the ceiling of an interview room aren’t that bad after all.

Separately, Financial News has uncovered a problem among the financial services industry – everyone’s attractive. Our own analysis suggests that equity capital markets bankers are most likely to be beautiful, but Financial News’ own assessment of its 40 under 40 list suggests that, while everyone is by no means a model, they’re certainly more attractive than the population at large. Lookism, as its termed, could seriously harm your career. Financial services organisations have various programmes to tackle sexism, discrimination against disability or racism, but they’re not shy when it comes to hiring, say, a tall, attractive rower.

Ugly people are at a big disadvantage. Aside from the obvious social skills that develop from being deemed beautiful and popular, one study suggests that less attractive people earned 10-15% less than more attractive ones. The solution? Cultural change within the organisation and “a concerted campaign to treat lookism with the same contempt as racism or sexism could also help,” FN suggests.

Meanwhile: 

“London’s role will not be easily replicated, and the alternative to London not being Europe’s global financial centre is that the EU does not have a global financial centre.” (Financial Times)

A lack of clarity over the UK’s Brexit plans is forcing banks and other financial services firms to start shifting jobs to the continent early (Reuters)

Citi considered Paris for its Brexit base, but Frankfurt won because it already has 300 people there (Financial News)

Mini-Brexit boost: Handelsbanken is opening branches in the UK regardless (Bloomberg)

Northern Trust has a new asset management chief (Fund Intelligence)

Credit Suisse is hiring private bankers in Saudi Arabia (Bloomberg)

China is the promised land for AI (Economist)

When extreme exercise is bad for you (NY Times)

Life as a male escort (Vice)

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

Image: Getty Images

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