WALL STREET JARGON DEBUNKED: A former Goldman Sachs analyst explains how to talk like a banker

Have you ever spoken with your finance friends and wondered what exactly they were saying? It often feels like Wall Streeters have their own language, especially when talking about what they do.

Alan Li, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, debunked some popular banker jargon on the latest episode of his podcast, “The Vampire Squid.”

“Financial jargon,” said Li, “is any financial professional’s way of saying something very direct in a very abstract way.”

Here are seven key financial phrases, according to Li:

  • Revealing the kimono: Revealing something straight, without the sugar coating, even if it’s negative. As in, “Oh gosh, the other company is asking too many questions. We’re going to have to reveal the kimono sooner or later.”
  • Fire drill: An impending deadline or meeting that means they are in a big time crunch to get work done. As in,”Guys, I can’t go out to eat dinner tonight — I’m on a fire drill until 10 pm.”
  • Out of pocket: Not able to respond to anything because they are at an event, or don’t have any phone service. As in, “Mr. MD I can’t join the 3pm call. I’m going to be in Patagonia, I’m going to be out of pocket.”
  • Under water: Too much work, they can barely swim, they are drowning. As in, “Hey I can’t get a beer with you right now. My MD just gave me a 30 page deck that’s due tomorrow. I’m under water.”
  • Burning the midnight oil: Working late into the night. As in, “Alan, I need this model from scratch done by tomorrow morning. I know it’s 10 pm already, but please don’t burn the midnight oil.”
  • Bandwidth: Capacity. As in, “Alan, I got a really exciting new project. How’s your bandwidth looking?”
  • Face time: Showing their face in the office so senior people see that they are working late, whether or not there is actual work to be done. As in, “Geez all Alan does is face time until 3 am. He doesn’t even do any work.”

You can find the podcast on Li’s blog or on iTunes.

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