Remember the pre-dress down days, when Hermes ties were the norm in banking and everyone who was anyone wore shirts with their initials monogrammed on the cuff? An MD in the M&A team of one big French bank wants those days to return.
“I personally deplore the spread of ‘causal Fridays'”, he says, speaking off the record. “The abandonment of ties in meetings, even with clients – who then don’t wear ties themselves.”
What’s wrong with the open-necked shirt and chinos look? The MD says the absence of a shirt and tie shows a lack of respect on both sides: bankers don’t respect clients and clients don’t respect bankers. The restoration of the traditional dress code will encourage greater sophistication all round.
His objection comes after banks like Goldman Sachs have begun offering technology staff the option to wear whatever they want at all times. It also comes after junior M&A bankers at Credit Suisse and elsewhere say ties are on their way out and that, “Monday to Thursday is suit, no tie. Friday is casual,” although ties are still required for client meetings.
Nonetheless, the wearing (or not) of ties seems to have become a generational issue in banks: the junior we spoke to at Credit Suisse said he wears one always because managing directors (MDs) appreciate it and “notice this stuff.” An MD on Wall Street tells us the wearing of a tie makes him, “feel more professional” And the punctilious MD at the French bank says he always wears his suit and tie, even on casual Fridays, and that this is “not a problem.”
Have his (scruffy) clients and colleagues ever commented on his sartorial rectitude? “I don’t know,” he says. “I have other things to think of and I hope they do too.”