‘If cocaine’s everywhere, I missed the memo’: Industry as seen by a banker

‘If cocaine’s everywhere, I missed the memo’: Industry as seen by a banker

November 11, 2020

The HBO/BBC show overplays the excesses but gets a lot spot on, from the expensive dinners to the often cruel ‘banter’

During my first weeks on a graduate program in investment banking, I spent most of my days unattended on the desk, praying for the phone not to ring. After yet another day of avoiding doing anything in particular, I began to fear that sitting silently might also not be the best way to impress on the trading floor jungle. After stewing and deliberating for some time, I walked past my boss’s empty desk to Amin’s – the next one along – and dispatched my best banal 5pm small talk. The reply? A slow turn around and a “Fuck off”.

Given these friendly beginnings, plenty of the BBC’s new drama Industry, about a group of young bankers on a graduate scheme, rang true. The joy of spending all of your £30 dinner allowance and sneaking some food home. The “banter” (“Did you bring the Evening Standard?” would ring out if you arrived at the office at 7.01am instead of 7am). Interviews where you have to say you like meritocracy not money. The trading desk thinking the sales team just answer the phone. Sales thinking traders are animals that can’t talk to clients. Researchers thinking both don’t know anything at all. Dinners at £150 a head expensed without a blink of an eye. Clients that don’t want to talk about business over lunch for fear of spoiling a nice time. And, just as happens to one of the show’s characters, someone really did tear off my shirt pocket – two days in a row – saying it looked like I was there to fix the lights. I quickly beat the well-worn path to TM Lewin for the city uniform.

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