Sunday, March 18, 2007

Life During Wartime

I was "surfing" the web the other day (don't you just love hackneyed phrases?), when I stumbled across a couple nuggets that have (temporarily) restored my faith in humanity, or at least in that small and elusive subsection of it that can occasionally be found hiding in the dark corners of the financial Goat Rodeo known as investment banking. I speak, of course, of the Financial Analysts.

Now, for those of you not in the know, Financial Analysts are those bright, promising, and often attractive college classmates of yours who disappeared into someplace called Douche Bank or Golden Slacks after graduation and from whom you have not heard since. Sometimes you will run across one in the street, usually late at night when you are stumbling home from a hot nightspot with some smokin' cutie on your arm and images of the Kama Sutra running through your head. Invariably, you are shocked and (temporarily) sobered by their altered appearance: pasty complexion, dark circles under the eyes, slouched posture, and a furtive, shifty expression marked alternately by booming bonhomie and snarling, sobbing cynicism. My God, you think to yourself, what happened to Jock/Bif/Muffy? You promise to stay in touch, and you even leave a voice mail or two at their home or office, but you are frankly relieved when they do not call you back.

Well, let me tell you why that Golden Girl or Golden Boy has sunk so low: they have been through the Mother of All Wringers, my friend, and they are lucky to be alive. (The image that pops into my head is the old Hustler magazine cover with a woman's legs being put through a meat grinder, but then again I am probably older and certainly less politically correct than you.) You know that old phrase, "S**t flows downhill"? Well, Dear Reader, your college drinking buddy is sitting at the very bottom of a veritable mountain of aromatic ordure that an army of Associates, Vice Presidents, Managing Directors, and Important Clients is busy shoveling downhill at him or her as fast as they possibly can.

Among you Dear Readers, there will still be some of you whose Sympathy-O-Meters are flickering at "Feeble," since you have heard that your friend is raking in approximately three to five times what you and your other college friends are making. This is probably true. Nevertheless, let me remind you of another unfortunately scatological yet apropos chestnut: "Life is like a s**t sandwich: the more bread you have, the less s**t you have to eat." In the case of the Financial Analyst, the proportion of fertilizing filler is still way out of whack with the surrounding pumpernickel, no matter how much pumpernickel there is. Hence the tendency for newly minted Financial Analysts to morph in appearance from Rock Hudson to Marty Feldman within three months of starting the job.

Now for the Restored Faith in Humanity bit. You would think that tender young shoots such as these, exposed to the withering blasts of endless pitchbooks and monstrous LBO models demanded 24/7/365 by the clay-footed demigods of High Finance, would eventually shrink and curl into catatonic little blobs. But no. There are some—at least a few—who toughen their skins, stiffen their spines, and stand forth upon the broken bodies of their fellow Financial Analysts to shout, "Wage slaves of the world, unite!" Or at least, "Up yours, a**hole!" Such youthful bravery and defiance brings a tear to my jaded eye.

So, with that preamble, I refer you to the following classic posts from one of the many guerrilla websites for Financial Analysts and their ilk, The Bull Pen Report:
Editorial: Interns – They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To, by "Darren Bowman," Second Year Analyst; and

Study: Killing A**hole Associate May Not Negatively Affect Bonus

PARENTAL ADVISORY: Foul language and naughty situations enclosed. As with troops in wartime, Financial Analysts tend to develop functional Tourette's syndrome as a coping mechanism for their plight. If you have winced at my coy use of asterisks above—after all, this is a family blogsite—you will definitely not appreciate the articles linked to above. Stay home and read the Kama Sutra instead. Hypocrite.

UPDATE September 10, 2009: Fixed broken links to The Bull Pen Report. Enjoy in moderation.

UPDATE January 11, 2012: The late, lamented Bull Pen Report seems to have passed irrevocably into the ether, mirroring no doubt the investment banking careers of its founders and contributors. Sic transit miseria. Oh well, trust me: it was funny while it lasted. Regular readers will note that I have done my small part to pick up their baton by no longer blanking out cusswords with asterisks. Someone’s gotta fuckin’ care.

© 2007 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.