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Six rules for selecting a second spouse when you work in banking

Bankers could teach Rupert Murdoch a thing or two about wife selection

It's not just Rupert Murdoch - financial services professionals are also prone to undertake serial marriages - and suffer marriage breakdowns. Take Roger Jenkins - the 58 year old ex-Barclays banker who divorced his beautiful Bosnian wife Diana in July 2012 and has since been associated with first Elle Macpherson and then a Venezuelan beauty queen. Or take George Soros - the 83 year old hedge fund manager who has been divorced twice and last year got engaged again, to 40 year old Tamiko Bolton, who runs a yoga website. Or there's Bruce Wasserstein, the departed American M&A banker who married four times, latterly to a 20 year old Harvard MBA graduate with a little investment banking experience.

Bankers may seem spoilt for choice, but selection of a second spouse is problematic if you're a wealthy chap with few physically redeeming features. Some women clearly prefer men with money and status, but finance types can unfortunately be prey for beautiful gold diggers who leave them for personal trainers when redundancy strikes or bonuses shrivel. The prescient financial services professional is therefore advised to take the following factors into account when choosing a subsequent spouse:

Rule 1. Go for someone as rich as yourself

If you get remarried, find someone of equal financial means. If not, you're opening yourself to all sorts of legal horrors, say lawyers. This is especially the case in the U.K., where prenuptial agreements are less watertight.

"The first marriage is often a marriage of financial equals," says Julian Lipson, head of the family law practice at Withers. "The second marriage often involves a considerable financial disparity between the two parties."

James Ferguson, head of family law at Boodle Hatfield also advised recently-divorced City of London bankers to pursue people in similar financial circumstances to themselves. "In the event of another divorce, the law in England and Wales is particularly generous to the weaker financial party," he said.

Rule 2. Go for someone who understands all your hang-ups

Bruce Wassertein's second wife, Christine Parrott, with whom he had three of his five children, was a psychoanalyst with her own private practice in Manhattan. We suspect that this gave Christine a superior insight into the sometimes challenging banker mindset.

Unfortunately, Wasserstein 'summarily dismissed' Parrott upon encountering his third wife, the beautiful Claude Becker.  

Rule 3. Go for someone who understands your lifestyle

In a second relationship, bankers tend to go for someone who's like them, says one U.S. financial services professional who's on his third marriage and requested that he remain anonymous.

"Almost everyone I know has two or three wives. It's pretty rampant around the Street," he says. "People graduate from university in an established relationship. They get married with this altruistic view of the world - they're all going to do something great and become wealthy doing it and then they go into banking and get exposed to a whole different scene. Bankers end up having nothing in common with their university partner."

Often times, second relationships are formed with people who are met through work, he said. "You're wedded to your work and you're on call 24/7. You gravitate towards people who understand that world."

It helps that everyone in banking is nicely groomed while first wives are prone to "letting themselves go", he added.

Rule 4. Go for someone isn't too assertive

The danger in a second marriage is that the divorced-banker-spouse ends up selecting a type A personality whom they've met through work and is just as ambitious and competitive as themselves, said the U.S finance professional. This can be a problem, he said: "You get two type As and it doesn't work. Between first and second marriages you swing from one extreme to the other."

From this point of view, he said the third marriage can often be the best of all: "It's more balanced."

Rule 5. Go for someone who's not too like your first wife

Brandy Dunn, a clinical psychologist and author who ran a private clinic in Manhattan specialising in relationships and sexuality, said it's not always the case that bankers go for someone wildly different to their first wife the second time around. Sometimes they go for someone too like their first choice. "People tend to repeat their choice in partners," she said. "Many do not self-reflect (examine what happened in the first marriage and try to end dysfunctional relationship choices).

"A good red-flag is if the man/woman seems to blame/speak poorly of their ex. You want to see that someone can take responsibility for their role in the demise of the marriage," Dunn added.

Rule 6. Go for someone whose needs you are prepared to take into consideration

After years of hard work and burnout, bankers tend to look for fun in their second wives, said Dunn. They often settle upon a young woman, or someone carefree, she said. Sadly, this won't work either. "For a relationship to work the second time, it is important to enjoy someone's company and to have realistic expectations of marriage/women (a woman can't make a man happy)," Dunn advised.
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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • an
    17 June 2013

    So there are no women bankers? How about a guide to selecting a spouse you don't want to divorce in the first place? Or are you just trying to write a guide to picking a trophy wife (aka "second wife") in code?

    Maybe I will write a guide on how to avoid marrying chauvinist men who think that the size of their wallet equates to the size of their "human worth".

  • Fi
    Finance Worker
    17 June 2013

    Rule 7: How about just don't get married? Or just pretend you are married by wearing a fake ring. That way you can't be divorced and avoid these problems!

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