Long hours and heavy workloads mean that bankers, brokers, lawyers, and accountants rarely meet anyone outside of the corporate jungle.
While many professionals in those industries try online dating, it’s often unsuccessful, according to Rachel MacLynn, the founder and managing director of the London-based dating agency Vida.
Finding that online dating is time-consuming, intrusive, and impersonal, many bankers turn to professional matchmakers — like MacLynn — to set them up on dates.
“Name the bank, and we’ve set them up with someone,” MacLynn, 37, told Business Insider. Her dating agency Vida — which is based in Mayfair — has clients in senior positions at firms including Barclays Wealth, Goldman Sachs, EY, KPMG, and Deutsche Bank.
Most of the agency’s clients are straight, while 55% are men aged between 35 and 60. The consultancy’s female clients tend to be younger, between 30 and 50.
For an annual fee of £9,000, MacLynn or one of her team of six employees meets with a new client to discuss what he or she is looking for in a partner before arranging 10 dates, or “introductions,” over the course of 12 months.
Before a date is arranged, Vida’s clients look through five or six portfolios of potential dates before selecting their chosen match. If there’s a spark, clients can opt to freeze their membership until either the relationship ends, or they decide to withdraw their membership and settle down.
80% of Vida’s clients end up in long-term relationships, according to MacLynn. “They usually find their partner at number five or six,” she said.
Before becoming a professional matchmaker, MacLynn worked as a business psychologist at a recruitment consultancy, then began working as a consultant at the London-based dating agency Seventy Thirty in 2006.
In 2011, she set up Vida. The company now employs seven core matchmakers, including MacLynn, with one senior team member heading up its Gay and Lesbian matchmaking service. The consultancy also employs dozens of matchmaking consultants internationally on a freelance basis.
Before arranging a date, Vida’s matchmakers meet face-to-face with its London clients as well as with potential matches to assess their mutual compatibility. With international clients, the team uses Skype or asks for feedback from a local consultant who can meet the client in person.
Around 50% of Vida’s clients work or live in London, with the rest scattered between New York City, Europe, and Hong Kong.
With a number of international clients, MacLynn has found that where her clients work can have an effect on what they’re looking for in a partner. “Bankers in US firms are totally in awe of European women,” she said. “The whole bilingual thing is like catnip to them.”
Wherever they are based, many of Vida’s clients look for someone in a different industry.
“I meet a lot of very successful men who specifically don’t want to meet people in finance,” MacLynn said. “They spend so much of their time being logical and analytical that they’re looking for someone in a creative industry like fashion or marketing to balance that out.”
Staff at big firms like KPMG, EY, and US banks like Goldman Sachs want a partner just as intelligent as them in an equally demanding line of work. “A director in a fashion business, for example,” the matchmaker said. “But smaller firms, people working for hedge funds, for example, have less of a focus on meeting someone with a certain level of academics.”
Many insist that they only want to meet someone with an Oxbridge or Ivy League university degree. “People working for companies with very corporate, competitive environments tend to place intellect very high on their list of priorities,” she said.
And though Vida’s clients are smart, that doesn’t mean they know what makes a life partner compatible.
“Having worked in psychology for so long I’m aware that what they say they’re looking for and what they’re really looking for are different,” MacLynn said.
Matchmaking isn’t just about finding a date who fits a client’s description, MacLynn said. That’s why she asks her customers why they find a certain look or character trait attractive.
One client, she said, insisted that her partner must be an architect with children between the ages of seven and 12, and even “specified the postcodes in London that would be acceptable.” MacLynn encourages clients like her to keep an open mind, and shows them more realistic matches who share similar values.
“That’s the core of everything — values.”
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