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Do you need to be ultra-masculine to get ahead in finance? No, but it probably helps.

Curious video emerges of ex-Goldman Sachs boss demonstrating his masculinity

Is it necessary to be manly to get ahead in banking? In theory, no. In reality, it may help.

Following a study suggesting ageing hedge fund managers compete to achieve a "warrior physique" in order to further their careers, it has become apparent that the same dynamic may exist in investment banks. - Or at least among ex-senior bankers who now work for private equity funds.

58 year-old Alexander Dibelius, the former head of Goldman Sachs' German operation has appeared in a video posted by his 34 year-old wife, Laila Maria Witt, on Instagram. You can see the video below: it shows Dibelius lifting her in the gym as an alternative to lifting weights.

Far be it for us to speculate on Dibelius or Witt's motivation for making the video demonstrating Dibelius' muscularity, but it's worth noting that the video has gone viral in Germany and has had 66,000 views and counting. Handlesblatt notes that the video appears intended to display Dibelius as an alpha male and Maria Witt as his loving (younger) wife.

Dibelius left Goldman Sachs in 2015 and is now managing partner and head of German operations for private equity fund CVC. As an industry, private equity has a notorious preponderance of men and finds it difficult to attract women. CVC appears no different: out of 30 employees listed on its website, only around three are female. Dibelius' new video is unlikely to do much to address this issue.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher and Florian Hamann Insider Comment
  • An
    10 February 2018

    Just to add some context to the 'curious' picture.

    It's a photograph of a banker and his wife messing around in the gym. He's a well-known banker in Germany (he was previously a heart surgeon), his wife is an actress. The age gap between them, while not material, isn't really relevant as neither of them were forced to marry the other. If he was married to an older woman it would be unlikely to draw criticism. I can see why though, why a person who is very active for his age may be attracted to a younger person, and why a person may be attracted to someone who is charasmatic, successful and able to provide financial security, if it was indeed a factor. But its their choice, not ours.

    Management, especially in private equity and some other roles, tends to attract highly competitive, driven, alpha types, be they male or female, who often lack people skills. These are characteristics which are not just relevant to 'masculinity' or being 'manly'. Females who make it into senior management or leadership roles are often described as 'superwomen', and men in these positions are sometimes similarly praised but are often described as 'macho' or 'testosterone driven'. The culture puts off a lot of people, male and female, it could be that it puts off more females than males, but it is the culture in finance that needs to change if it to become less macho and more attractive to men and women, otherwise it will merely end up a case of replacing aggressive male staff with aggressive female ones.

    It is highly unlikely that the picture, which isn't intended as part of a recruitment drive, will influence any females considering going into private equity one way or the other.

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