All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC group
Asia CommentTaipan

The secret to keeping your banking job

Product package boxes and shopping bag in cart with laptop compu

What makes a good investment banker? Apparently, it’s pretending you’re not very rich

I’ll admit it that in the good ol’ days, I enjoyed treating myself to something nice after receiving my annual bonus. After all, what is the point in burning the midnight oil and leading a stressful life, if not to enjoy the benefits it brings?

For me, it was about expanding my collection of fine whisky and wine. Others I know buried themselves in art collections and antique cars, while some took the stance of not flashing their wealth but living low-key lives.

However, being a flashy investment banker who throws their money around may not be an option anymore — depending on where you are based and which company you work for.

One ex-colleague of mine who recently moved from Hong Kong to Mainland China shared a document with me the other day. It was an alleged code of conduct at a rival firm’s DCM department on “how to become a professional banker”.

The title appeared fairly normal until you read the content.

To be a professional, bankers must apparently live their lives “responsibly”, and deal with personal matters “seriously”. They must not feel “superior” because of their upbringing or their family background.

This raised all sorts of questions in my mind, but the note did get more specific.

Perhaps a little too specific. Apparently to be a professional banker, when at work or with clients, bankers at this firm are not allowed to drive a car that exceeds Rmb1m ($158,000) in value, wear a watch that costs more than Rmb150,000, or carry a handbag with a price tag higher than Rmb50,000.

They are also not allowed to post on social media about any high-end luxury goods they own, or document fancy meals or travels.

I wonder how the bank set those numbers? The calculation does sound quite scientific.

Are such requirements going to help turn around the public’s opinion that bankers can be greedy and money-hungry? I certainly hope so. But one thing is certain — handbag-loving Tai Tai would stand no chance of working for this bank.

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree