Financial journalists tend to travel light. Their economy class tickets don’t allow much space for carry-on baggage. Their impatience to get to a local watering hole means check-in baggage is not an option. Their meagre salaries, most of all, mean they don’t have much to take with them even if they wanted to.
Journalists also travel sans company. Life on the road can be lonely. And when awards season begins, a lot of time is spent on the road. There is only one source of company for roving financial journalists: the bankers they meet on their travels. But sometimes there are just too many bankers to handle.
A few weeks ago, one journalist attended a pitch meeting with a US bank that decided to bring along 10 of its own staff. Since this journalist is approximately two feet tall, the sight of her on one side of the table and 10 bankers on the other was quite a thing to behold.
She initially used the old trick of laying out the business cards of each person in front of her, putting them in the order they were sitting. But when she realised this made her like a barmy tarot card reader, or an old lady playing mahjong, she decided to rely on her memory instead. (Meanwhile, they all had the same card in front of them. There was a whiff of disappointment on their faces, like people holding the losing raffle tickets.)
Our reporter did wonder why quite so many bankers were needed. Was it to show how connected the various business lines were at this firm? We certainly hope not. Many of them, having never met before, spent the first five minutes introducing themselves to their colleagues.