A career in the City

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Callum Campbell

24 Dec, 2004

in Day Trading & Scalping and 1 more

So you want to work in the City?

There is no shortage of ambitious young individuals who dream of, and aspire to, a successful career in the City. Images of  Rolex-wearing, Porsche-driving twenty-somethings living in their Docklands bachelor pads does nothing to stop the swell of wannabe City Slickers.

But just how real are these images?  More importantly, how can I get to work in the City, and where do I start? What are the upsides to a career in high finance? What are the downsides? Which are the best markets to work in? What qualifications do I need?

Those images born from the movie which made the slick-haired Gordon Gecko famous have undoubtedly created one major drawback for any ambitious young individual wanting to work in the City – competition is fierce.

It is this competition which raises the barriers to entry and allows investment banks to demand the very best from the pick of raw recruits coming out of the best universities with a handful of MBA’s and Phd’s. These  individuals will be successful all-rounders who have demonstrated leadership and talent in their already brief lives. They were probably head Boy/Girl at their public schools, captains of their various rugby or hockey teams, achieved straight A’s and will have already seen the jungles of South America whilst cavorting around the world during their gap year. They are well rounded individuals who above all are full of confidence. With track records like that, who wouldn’t be?

Masters of the Universe and BSD’s

This group of individuals is likely to have been recruited through the various university milk rounds, and will be destined for careers at bulge bracket investment banks (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Citigroup etc). They will spend a year attending the in-house management training programme which will take them through the delightful intricacies of the equity, bond , forex and derivative markets through to the deal makers in Corporate Finance. These people will be destined for senior management roles within global institutions and will weald enormous power as Masters of the Universe with BSD’s (that’s Big Swinging Dicks for those unfamiliar with the jargon!).

These Masters of the Universe will be rewarded handsomely for their efforts - million dollar salaries, and multi-million dollar bonuses with lifestyles to match. Dining at the best restaurants, jet-setting around the world, the 911 turbo tucked away in the garage at the villa in the south of France.

The downside?

So what are the downsides for these people? Well there is a very good reason why your 911 is in the garage. You will never get the time to drive it. In return for your high rewards, be prepared to offer at least 2 pounds of your flesh. You will need to live and breathe the corporate mantra, and that also means working all the hours that God sends. I have no problem with that. But you will find that whilst this is entirely acceptable when you are in your twenties and thirties and single, your perspective is likely to change as you mature and develop as a person. Whilst you are single, the successful career with all the material trappings of success are extremely rewarding, but once you find your lifetime partner and decide to settle down, you are more unlikely to want to adhere to the rules of the regime and may look for a more rewarding work/life balance. One morning at 6.00 am, you leave your house, wife and new-born child behind in order to attend your early morning meeting at Canary Wharf to discuss the US and Asian markets overnight activities and surmise what the day ahead will bring for the European markets. By the time you get back, your baby daughter is now 18 years old and starting university whilst your wife has sired several children with your overpaid plumber.

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