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24/7? Pah! That's nothing to be proud of

By Taipan
30 Apr 2014

Swanning back into town after a leisurely Easter break in Europe, I thought I'd be able to catch up with some local friends — you remember, the fools who are still wage-slaves — who would surely be twiddling their thumbs in the run-up to the long weekend here.

So it was with some horror that I saw a column in the FT joking about how Asia bond syndicate desks were so busy they had turned into full-on 24 hour operations.

Keen to put this to the test, I phoned around a few chaps. Sure enough, they moaned about getting out of the office in the small hours of the morning on Monday night.

I was shocked. It's been a busy month, to be sure — the busiest ever in dollars, I read. But I was profoundly shaken by the lack of work-life balance on display.

I distinctly remember having to work hard on deals. But roadshows were more civilised affairs back then, largely consisting of the CEO asking some of his friends over a whisky if they wouldn't mind terribly buying some of his bonds, perhaps the following day, so that the company could settle its frankly impertinent outstanding club bill. General corporate purposes, you see.

I've nothing against the working culture, but bankers of all people ought to be able to do their maths. I always followed 24/7 scrupulously. To my knowledge I never worked more than precisely 3.43 hours every day of my career.

Not everything's changed, though. They were mostly the small hours too.

By Taipan
30 Apr 2014