We recently asked a friend of ours what the heck everyone in the dealmaking world is actually doing these days, now that there are no big M&A deals to work on, or huge financing projects. We forget his answer — it was something about new work to be done (modifications!) — but it didn’t sound very straightforward.
Whatever it is, it sounds like many of the still-employed have plenty of time on their hands:
WSJ: For now, the coping is taking the form of prolific meeting-taking. 10 of 11 people interviewed described, with unexpected eagerness, how now is a good time to “connect with clients” or “build relationships.” One boasted of spending just two days a month in the office, while another ex-J.P. Morgan employee boasted of two breakthrough meetings — just hours before he was fired.
The bankers say that the most substantive conversations are, surprise, those with companies in urgent need of cash. These companies will listen to anyone who may have a creative idea or two. With markets frozen, there is little work to actually complete. “What’s your definition of business?” snapped one Merrill Lynch executive.
Often these conversations devolve into discussions about the fate of Wall Street itself, and whether the bankers’ employers will survive or not. “You do that for a little while and you run out of things to talk about,” says one Citigroup banker.
Of course, connecting with clients and relationship building are good things. You probably shouldn’t make too much money doing just that — eventually you have to make real money.
“They watch CNBC all day and surf the Web,” says the Citigroup banker. “Investment banking had this boisterous vibe. Now they’re completely beaten down.”
This would appear a moment of natural self-reflection. Perhaps the time to consider a career move out of New York, or pursue an abandoned passion.
That’s good news for CNBC, although it seems like the only ads they have to show all these glum bankers are ones for the USA Today and sterile catheters.
And remember, the current situation is after Wall Street has been reduced to its 2005 levels of employment. If the current business drought persists, we’ll probably need to kick it back a few more years, at least.
(HT: Megan McArdle)
Citigroup: Morale Low, Bathrooms Gross