Spring in banking: the season of arrogant and aggressive new arrivals

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Bonuses are paid, the snow has gone (at least in London) and hiring season is heating up. In the next few months, you may well find that someone new joins your team. And that person may well not be welcome.

During my career in banking, the new recruits I've come to dread most of all are those foisted upon the team by the manager. The manager's, "secret hires."

Obviously some degree of secrecy is necessary. If a bank is interviewing someone, it has to keep the process private. But the extent of this privacy depends on the team leader. Some managers will say nothing at all. Others are more open. some banks (Goldman) like to introduce the potential new hire to the team for feedback before making an offer. Others just pull the trigger on the new recruit without any consultation.

When the latter happens, it causes a huge amount of resentment. A particularly slimy former manager of mine hired a salesperson friend of his from another bank. A recruiter told me about the move and 15 minutes after the guy resigned I went up to my manager and said (sarcastically), "Nice work on the new hire." He asked how I knew. I pointed out that I'm in sales: I know everything.

It was three months before the manager's new hire actually arrived. During those months, the guy was relaxing on paid gardening leave; we were working hard and nurturing our resentment. The team had no need of the manager's friend.  When he arrived, he was as bad as could be expected: arrogant as hell, shaking hands with everyone, floating around on a cloud of conceit.

He sat next to me and was given a green light from the manager to do whatever he wanted. This meant calling our existing accounts and talking about our services. I then received calls from my clients asking who this guy was and why he was calling given that I was already assigned to them. The whole thing was a mess. Some of my close clients politely told him to stick it. Some of my colleagues gave their clients a heads-up about this guy approaching them and asked them to give him the cold shoulder.

Ultimately, it became apparent that the manager's pet hire had an agenda. This is often the case, and is something to watch out for. He'd joined us because he hadn't been promoted at his previous bank and he wasn't about to let that opportunity pass him by again. Not only, therefore, was he incredibly arrogant: he was incredibly aggressive. He was out there to win the best accounts and to show the rest of us up as inadequate. If anyone was going to make managing director in the next few years, he wanted it to be him. He was basically a nightmare colleague.

Eventually, things became unbearable. Clients were confused and complaining and we had no choice but to speak to the manager. We were promised change and accordingly the new guy softened his approach. Three years later, he still hasn't been promoted. Nor, however, has he been accepted into our inner circle. He started as an outsider who was parachuted and he's stayed that way. Let this be a message to all the managers who fancy hiring their friends.

Simone Bougie is the pseudonym of an equities salesperson in London 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

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