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Out for Justice: Finding fun in the drudgery

By Taipan
10 May 2018

There is a stereotype of the staid investment banker, taking himself far too seriously, as obsessed with the numbers as he is with his perfectly-coiffed haircut. But the truth is that the industry attracts its fair share of oddballs, rogues and plain old geeks.

The best bankers are happy to take themselves anything but seriously. This is evident over drinks, lunches and Korean karaoke. But it is also evident in rather more official channels.

Exhibit A: A recent NetRoadshow password. These codes, which give investors access to marketing materials ahead of a bond offer, are usually either gobbledygook or fairly boring terms such as ‘heating’ or ‘complex’, to take two recent examples. But some wag opted for ‘JUSTICELEAGUE’ as the password for a recent deal, making a brave choice to favour the universe of DC Comics over the objectively better Marvel universe.

Exhibit B: ‘Project Milky Way’, the name chosen for a secretive project that several bankers were working on. Was this a deal that would enter the stratosphere? Was it beyond this world? Was it just a tap for Nestlé, which makes those rather moreish Milky Way bars? None of the above, it turned out. It was an IPO for a southeast Asian pizza chain.

Veteran bankers might scoff at these small gestures of humour. In days gone by, DCM bankers competed on a conference call with an issuer, seeing who could name the most Madonna songs without the CFO noticing. (“You’ll be like a virgin in the market” was one memorable line delivered to the frequent borrower.)

Times have changed. Banking has become more professional and the meaningful work that goes towards deals has — understandably — become more serious. But there is still time for a bit of fun. Even if your idea of fun happens to be the Justice League.

By Taipan
10 May 2018