Summer’s coming, which means the interns will be starting to arrive at financial industry companies around Australia.
Many will probably think in just a few short weeks they’ll be inking deals over $200 bottles of champagne, before popping down to Ryan’s Bar and telling all their friends they’re “in investment banking”.
In reality they’ll probably just work heaps of hours and do all the things no one else wants to do, picking up valuable on-the-job experience but watching everyone else do the fun things.
Being clear on what to expect is important to avoid disappointment. So we asked some people who have not been in the industry long what they wished they’d been told before they started, and whether the reality matched their expectations.
One source, who works at a full-service stock broker said the things which surprised him were as follows:
- the amount of cold calling he had to do
- the compliance and regulation he had to deal with
- the people above you being “border-line retarded”
- having to get to know people who would inevitably be fired
- the countless silly questions new staff asked.
He said: “Truthfully, I got past all of these issues pretty quickly but they are a massive pain in the arse.”
The frustrating thing about compliance, he said, was you couldn’t suggest anything without following up with a ream of warnings which were almost embarrassingly obvious. It’s kind of like the financial world’s equivalent of coffee cups that say: “Caution: Hot.”
“Or more to the point having to state the f — g obvious to sophisticated investors and borderline insult their intelligence all in the name of being compliant.”
Brokers sometimes take in a lot of staff and whittle them down over time, until they are left with meanest selling-machines possible. Which is why this source said it was disheartening to begin to get to know people, when they could be gone pretty soon.
“I just distance myself from them.
“The worst is when someone starts working for you, he is kind of good at his job but a great bloke. You get on the piss a few times and then the company reviews him, you stick your neck out for him, and he gets saved.
“Then you warn him and a week later you have to sack him and look like the soft pr — k who thought that guy was any good.”
We also spoke to a currency trader, who said what most surprised him was that the job wasn’t the The Wolf of Wall Street movie playing out before his eyes every day.
“I feel that professionalism could not be expressed enough, as you don’t get plastered with all your mates and turn up hungover.
“That sort of ties into misconceptions. The industry is not one big Hollywood flick. People don’t make huge bonuses like they used to, and all the partying and company cards do not tend to exist.”
“I know people some people are having a good time, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
One thing this trader said he wished he’d been told was that personal experiences — whether they were academic, sporting or social — would help him deal with the pressure and emotion of the job.
“Experiences are very underestimated … how you can deal with the emotion of it all, or what you could draw from in other lives?”
Basically, if you do well you’re going to get paid a lot. But you also work long hours, and very hard.
“The guys at the top who get paid a lot, they have worked incredibly hard for a long time. I don’t think that is said enough. They have sacrificed family time and lifestyle to get there.
“I think coming in I could see that I was going to make money, and hopefully a lot. But I feel that is what everyone expects, they don’t realise how much is ahead of them to get to that holy grail.”