Now that bankers are vilified as insouciant hedonists, flash parties and wild away days are frowned upon. However, pre-2008, such events were common. In 2004, Deutsche Bank engaged Kylie Minogue to perform at its derivatives conference. At the more extreme end of the scale, Tetsuya Ishikawa, and others have written entire books about the hedonistic ways of the past.
Surprisingly, a degree of pre-2008 craziness appears to have occurred even at SocGen, usually seen as a fairly reserved French bank.
An extract from Jérôme Kerviel's recent book, published on our French site today relates how:
· One Friday evening SocGen transported 600 people in its trading business to a top hotel in Deauville for an 'away weekend.'
· The first night was relatively quiet and pleasant, but on Saturday there were obligatory group events.
· These events, fuelled by alcohol, included lots of singing and comedy sketches. The main subjects were bonuses, individuals' performance and sex.
· To great hilarity, someone asked, "What interests you about finance." In a very straight voice, the respondent said, "The dough." This elicited shrieks of joy from all concerned.
· The 'boss' of the risk department sang a languorous song about how, "We take risks outside the law."
· The 'boss' of sales pretended to play a card trick, declaring, "Ladies and gentlemen, it's up to you and our clients to find the margin. It has disappeared. Where's it gone? Not here. Not there. Aha! Here it is, in my pocket!" The laughter became hysterical.
· There were also a few songs along the lines of, "Si ça te plaît de jouer au baron, achète-ton une Porsche rose bonbon." (If you like pretending to be a [rich] baron, buy yourself a pink Porsche.)
Anyone hoping to find anything similarly crazy at SocGen today may be deeply disappointed. Post-Kerviel the bank has significantly tightened its risk and compliance systems.