The anguish is indescribable but let me try and describe it to you anyway. It was World Mental Health Day this week, but you could have fooled me, because my own emotional well being was not best served by the following toxic combination: incoming email from HR announcing the start of the ‘Performance Development Review’ process and a chance encounter with the head of equities, whom I have studiously avoided since I started at Salvation Bank.
He was perfectly pleasant and suggested we meet for a catch-up and coffee towards the end of the week when we could discuss my ‘progress’ so far. He didn’t use air quotes, so perhaps the irony was unintentional, but I hope he takes espresso because I don’t think I can make the subject of my progress stretch for the entirety of a grande latte.
How will he respond when I tell him that I have taken over some client accounts who were scarcely trading with Salvation Bank before, but now are doing absolutely nothing? What stockbroking wizardry is this? I no longer know what clients want.
In the past, what made a stockbroker was the ability to have no opinion and express it – with the occasional flash of inspirational silence. You just waited ages for the phone to ring and when it didn’t, you knew it was your client not ringing. The head of equities must suspect already he’s hired a sheep in sheep’s clothing who may be an inspiration to slow adults everywhere but stirs up nothing except apathy.
My explanations for the underperformance so far will meander aimlessly but end with the locution “I hope…” Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.
A performance development review sounds oxymoronic to me, who is locked in a vortex of personal regression, but HR take this whole process very seriously here, so seriously in fact, that they offer training and refresher sessions so one can extend and maximise the suffering.
I have to set personal goals (presumably they’ll want something more than “survival” which is my stated aim) and align them with my team’s and the firm’s overall objectives. If I can do this, I will come face to face with something commensurate to my capacity for wonder, but HR should not hold its collective breath.
I am not a team player. I have bought into a collective ethos in the past and given my all for the common cause, and a fat lot of good that did me when the excrement hit the ventilation system and I found myself suddenly and strangely alone.
Investment banks which use the first-person plural, spout a lot of guff about the ‘family’ and overdo the corporate cheerleading tend to be the least sentimental and most cut-throat when it comes to wielding the axe.
He who wrote this knows all the cost/ for he gave all his heart and lost.
Maintaining your own identity and refusing to be subsumed into that of your employers — baulking at the brainwashing —is sound advice for anyone trying to make their way in this business.
In the era when stockbroking has been commoditised and its exponents homogenised, independence must be preserved and fought for, as is being demonstrated all over Europe. The Catalans wanted their independence. The Scots and then the British did too. The Kurds had their own referendum and even the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto are pressing for autonomy, which got me thinking: since we’re all so fed up with being blamed for the global financial crisis, general fat cattery, the ‘rewards-for-failure’ bonus culture, global warming and being subjected to overregulation, the MiFID cataclysm and replacement by machines, why doesn’t the City strike out on its own, hold a referendum, declare independence from the rest of Britain and establish the Capitalist Republic Of The City Homeland — or, more catchily, CROTCH?
The City generates a huge sum of tax receipts, contributes disproportionately to GDP growth, has a rich history, its own distinct culture, language and mode of attire and can hold the rest of the country hostage (a bit like the rail unions do when they want a tea-break extended) by simply refusing to fund anything.
The economy would grind to a halt in minutes. The borders of the City of London are ancient, well-established and defensible. Canary Wharf is not contiguous, so if we are to include our brethren there, then perhaps some kind of sealed train like the one which linked West Berlin to the rest of Germany during the Cold War will have to operate on the DLR.
Yes, people must be free to choose self-government. Self-determination is a principle in which I passionately believe.
The first things I will do when elected leader of CROTCH will be to put a line straight through MiFID, cut taxes, abolish dark pools and alternative liquidity providers, deregulate like crazy and put compliance officers in uniform on the street to they can stop some real crime for a change instead of just getting in the sodding way all the time. An age of affluence and liberty beckons. At present, under the current regime, the future is not what it used to be.
When finally captured, a notorious bank-robber in 1930s America was asked why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” he sagely replied.
In the new millennium, the City is where the money is supposed to be. The City is mostly about money. My desire for self-governance for the City is not uniquely motivated by counting house considerations. All I’m asking for is the opportunity, just once, to prove that money can buy you happiness.