Office liaisons - Tips for bankers & other financial types

Love Birds

You'll like this.

Dr Ivana Takitall is back with a few simple tips if you are going to chance your arm and date a colleague in the office.

Here's some recent advice from the good Doctor we thought you might find useful:

Q - 'Dear Dr,

'My deposit of a dozen red roses in exchange for a physicals contract with a Top Ten girl in Fixed Income was a success.

I am now anxious to upgrade my Facebook status from 'single' to 'it's complicated', but am nervous about dating someone at work, as it isn't exactly something which is encouraged.

Do you have any tips about how I can hedge the downside, and cover my position to ensure that it doesn't finish up in (my) career-ending tears ?

From A Lovestruck Banker'

A - 'Dear Lovestruck Banker,

Relax my darling. Dangerous liaisons are as common in your industry as an underwater stock option. Look around your office - my bet is that there are at least four individuals within your eyesight who are currently doing some dirty bond-pricing with a work colleague.

The key to getting through what can be a very pleasant (although usually fairly short lived) experience, however, is to think with the part of your anatomy that is between your ears, and not that which is between your legs.

Here are my plain vanilla tips for the naked shorts-shedding you seek:

Maintain your usual office routines

Keep it real. Routines give people security, and changes stick out like a coco bond on a balance sheet.

Cover up your audit trail

E-mails on your screen, her name on your mobile, identical stories about a dirty weekend that you spent with 'different people', holding hands in a lift (or worse) - just shout 'affair'. You are an educated man - be clever. Believe me, the thrill of not getting caught is much more satisfying than a red-faced admission of guilt. Some of the best affairs I've ever had are so secret, even I don't know about them.

Manage your risk

Banks and other financial firms mostly don't care who you deposit your genetic stocks with - as long as this doesn't impact your bottom line or seriously upset HR or Compliance. However, if your counterparty is a direct report, client or other potentially compromising figure, leverage your covered bond threefold, because you really don't want to get caught red handed.

Never use office e-mail or instant messaging to exchange sweet nothings

Remember 'Fabulous Fab' from Goldman Sachs, whose soppy declarations of love intertwined with his not-so-cunning revelations about his clients have ended up with an unwanted date with a judge ? Enough said. Remember too, all e-mails and instant messages are archived, and can (and will) be retrieved and used against you. Everyone has a cell phone - text. And for that extra thrill, go poke her on Facebook.

Always be on your guard, and never underestimate other work colleagues

Bankers are a notoriously clever bunch. Plausible deniability is key to maintaining the status quo, so try as best you can to hide any evidence of your insider trading - keep the pillow talk for after-hours. In the final analysis, the whole office will probably know what you are up to, but as long as you all pretend it's business as usual, you'll get away with it.

Go that extra mile

You can bet that all bars within a 10 minute walking-distance from your office will, at some point, be visited by people you work with, or people you know (even if they are there themselves on a romantic roadshow). A little (further) walk goes a long way.

No cover-up

If you are executing a high risk trade, and your boss finds out - don't lie or offer to end it all, but have a risk management strategy in reserve. Think ahead about mitigating, minimising and managing all known risks. If (probably when) your relationship fails your personal stress test, have an exit strategy already in place - an internal move, jumping ship to a rival, etc. In extreme cases, a tour of duty abroad might hold an appeal.


A final word of warning.

Avoid one-night stands. A heat-of-the-moment unhedged trade could well lead to a long-term systemic problem. Remember, like a bonus, a night of passion can always be deferred.


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