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Fish, capital cities and the Triad: a banker's other life

Much as we may think otherwise, the grass is not always greener on the other side

As I was reading this esteemed publication the other day, my attention was drawn to a headline-making deal done by a couple of Chinese banks in Hong Kong.

It just happens that I recently met a young man from one of those banks, so I decided to text him congratulations on what must have been his deal of the year. Within seconds, he texted back, telling me that the loan was not actually originated by his firm. They were just tagging along.

Before I could reply, the chap started to send me one message after another on WhatsApp, complaining about his bank: the client relationships are weak, no one is really bringing in any new business and existing clients are leaving, he moaned.

The lad had only joined the bank a few months ago, so I reminded him that the summer lull was not a good example of how busy he could soon be. But the chap wasn't finished, adding that he was disappointed that he has never had to work past 7pm, and that he has never even met his department head in the office.

My advice to him? To learn everything he can while he actually has some free time.

He appeared to take it to heart and used any spare time he had over the next few weeks in becoming a self-taught man.

Naturally, when we met again at Captain's Bar, I was ready for him to regale me with tales and gossip of other bank deals and colleagues, or to ask intelligent questions about how to negotiate in a volatile market or to impress me with all the new banking intelligence he had amassed.

Instead, I was in for a shock as he began sharing his new knowledge with me.

As of this week, the lad can name all of the breeds of fish that can change their sex during their lifetimes. Equally, if you want to know anything about the history of the Triad in Hong Kong, or need a detailed description of the city's hiking trails, he's the man.

If you also want someone who can name all the countries in the world and their capitals, he also ticks that box.

I must say I was impressed with his efforts, although I was sceptical that his newfound skills will get him much further in the office. But there's a good chance they will come in handy when wowing clients after a few drinks.

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