Comment: The longer you work in banking, the more you must spend on holidays

As you will know if you work in banking, this is an industry with long hours and where unexpected termination is rife. To survive, most people abide by the moto: work hard, party hard (and sometimes harder).

Junior bankers in particular have mastered the art. I’ve seen people who’ve had very little sleep during the week spend an entire weekend partying before returning to work on Monday morning for another sleepless week. Needless to say, this can only be sustained for a few years. 

Once you hit your 30s, maintaining your mojo in banking is a lot less about partying and a lot more about perfect holidays. These aren’t always luxurious: an MD I knew at Goldman Sachs used to go on crazy hardcore back-packing trips in the middle of the jungle. Obviously his salary allowed him to fly business, get the best guide and to bring a satellite phone (just in case), unlike your average Indiana Jones.

Sporty holidays are also a thing. Plenty of people I know in banking are into cycling and they travel all over the place to ‘unwind’ on their bike. Often these are short holidays in Europe squeezed in between two packed days of client meetings (something which will sadly become less possible when European clients are covered by bankers based locally).

The real banker holiday, however, consists of renting a luxurious villa. Ideally, it will have been used previously by celebrities. Ideally too it will be in a location where you might encounter important clients. Especially if they own a boat. 

Naturally, some of this villa holiday must be spent working – otherwise you cannot consider yourself successful. There are people I know who send more emails when they’re on holiday than at any other time. 

A friend of mine was holidaying on the Amalfi Coast back a few years ago. After a long series of conference calls the decision was made by his boss that he would have to attend a meeting in Finland. So, mid-holiday he dropped his wife and kids to fly to a business meeting. Sadly, he missed his connection in Frankfurt and ended up on a conference call with the client instead, from the Frankfurt business lounge! He had to spend more money making it up to his family later.

Amit Itelmon is the pseudonym of a banker who has been around.


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