How to dress as a technologist in a bank. A sartorial guide
If you're thinking of joining a bank's tech team, you might be excited about what you'll get to wear. After all, while most people in banks are only permitted to wear "smart casual" as their most outré clothing option on a Friday, technologists at the likes of Goldman Sachs have been released from the confines of sartorial scrupulousness and can wear whatever they want, whenever they like.
Except they don't. If you're going to work in a bank's tech team, there are clothing norms and you will need to observe them.
"There's the odd hipster here and there, but a lot of us here are very conservative," says one technologist at Goldman Sachs. "The older techies here haven't changed their dress codes much and still wear shirts, and the younger ones kind of follow them. No one wears a hoody, for example."
What about that photograph of Marty Chavez surrounded by a group of hoody-wearing technologists from 2015? This was at a hackathon, explains the tech associate. - Those outfits are not usual.
You especially must not wear a hoody if you work for J.P. Morgan's tech team in London. Although we understand that hoodies are "everywhere" at J.P.'s more relaxed Bournemouth office, the bank's London technologists say they're not common in the bank's tech-focused John Carpenter Street office in London's Victoria. "Management have banned hoodies for being too unprofessional," says one J.P.M London tech associate. "Although some people wear them anyway."
If you can't wear a hoody as a technologist in a bank, what can you wear?
"We just tend to wear jeans, a T-shirt and a jumper," confesses the technologist at Goldman Sachs.
Part of the problem appears to be the front office. - No one in tech wants to be seen wearing an old T-shirt and hoody when the bankers in the front office are still dressed in suits or chinos.
"The technology team here is usually dressed more casually than the rest of the bank, but we don't dress that casually," says a technology analyst at Citi in Canary Wharf. Typically, he says he takes the lead from the front office: "On a usual weekday I wear what the front office people wear when they dress down - an Oxford shirt, chinos and driving shoes." Only when the bankers in the front office wear this outfit themselves, does he go a notch more impromptu: "I wear a hoody, jeans and trainers on a Friday," he adds.
In this sense, the notion that anything goes in terms of banks' technology dress codes couldn't be more wrong. The Goldman associate says the whole thing is just a ruse to attract juniors: "Most senior people here know better and don't pander to it. In any case, who's going to pick banking over tech just because you can wear particular clothes."
Finally, while you can't (usually) wear a hoody to work in a bank as a technologist, it's also worth noting that you shouldn't really wear a suit. "I used to wear a suit and tie to work every day when I first joined," says the Citi analyst. "This was considered very strange in technology and everyone kept asking whether I had an interview coming up."
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