U.S. Bankers from Mars, Euro Bankers from Venus?

eFC logo

An e-mail altercation suggests American and European financiers aren't always the best of buddies.

The e-mail exchange, which first appeared on the U.S. gossip site Bankersball.com, is ostensibly from Daniel Loeb, managing director of Third Point LLC, a New York hedge fund, to Alan Lewis, a potential candidate for a job.

Briefly, Loeb asks Lewis for his best investment ideas, Lewis says he doesn't work that way and looks forward to hearing from Loeb when he's got more time. Loeb replies that Brits are "set in their ways and prefer to knock back a pint at the pub...(rather) than work hard."

Are Europeans really idle types who like a drink? Allyson Stewart Allen, author of the book Working with Americans, says it's just a misunderstanding. "Americans and American companies are extremely time-sensitive and do everything with a sense of urgency," she says. "Anyone who has a glass of wine with lunch is therefore liable to be considered an alcoholic because it will make them less productive in the afternoon."

One American derivatives trader who's worked in London for the last few years says that, if anything, Europeans actually work harder than their U.S. counterparts. "London trading floors work longer hours than New York trading floors because they straddle time zones," she says. "London traders are in for the Asian markets in the morning, and stay late for the U.S. markets at the end of the day."

Although Loeb and Lewis (who is in fact half American and half French) go on to trade insults about everything from the European class system to shareholder value, the trader says Brits are closer to Americans than they are to their fellow Europeans: "French and Germans have a totally different work ethic." What that means exactly, she declines to say.

Who works harder? And were all those insults really necessary? Post your comments below