A well-fitted suit, combined with a Bengal-striped shirt and a bold tie: that was my uniform through four decades of banking. It not only powered me up for a day of meetings
Times have changed. Casual Fridays are now looked forward to with glee by bankers. And when their clients don’t always agree with this dress-down approach, they come up with some novel ways to ward off embarrassment.
A young banker I met at the pub the other day seems to be not so good at remembering his schedule. He was wearing a t-shirt, casual trousers and shoes, which he thought was a perfect outfit for a casual Friday. But once he arrived at the office, he remembered he had a client meeting that day.
Since the meeting was early in the morning, he didn’t have enough time to go back and get changed, so the intrepid young banker came up with a hastily-arranged plan.
Instead of pens and paper, he came to the conference room holding two cups of coffee. His strategy was to check if the client was dressed as casually as he was. If so, he would start the meeting as usual. If not, he would claim he was merely there to serve the coffees and exit post-haste.
In this case, he got away with it: his client was dressed in the same ghastly teenage fodder that he himself was wearing. But I’m not sure he quite thought it through. If the client was indeed dressed smartly, who would actually host the meeting?
Some advice to the young man from an old hand: keep a spare set of smart vêtements in the office, perhaps hanging on the back of his chair. That way, he’ll never be at risk of losing his shirt. An added bonus will be that his boss will think he is constantly in the office.