If you work in a bank, you probably have a lot of friends. And most of them are probably either your colleagues or your clients. If you lose your job, this can make life very lonely.
Personally, I spent eight years working for a U.S. bank in London. I had a lot of friends among my colleagues. We'd talk every day, go out to lunch, go for coffee breaks and spend huge amounts of time in each other's company.
And then I was laid off.
I suddenly realized they weren't my friends after all. People who I thought were close to me didn't even get in touch to say they were sorry, not even by text message.
Of course, some did, but I'd say that I knew around 300 people in the industry and that when I was laid off I was contacted by around 20. And most of them only sent a single message of condolence.
Are people in banking inherently uncompassionate? Not really. It's more about the system. There are a lot of cuts in our industry and this means people are inured to the pain of seeing others laid off. - It's a bit like a hospital where patients are referred to by code numbers due to their sheer volume. Banking is the same: you have a high workload and you can't keep up with all the people joining and leaving. It's a kind of empathy fatigue. When people disappear, it's easy to send a single text saying, "Sorry mate, let me know if I can help," knowing that you probably can't. And then you get back to your day job.
Personally I always tried to do it a bit differently and to stay in touch with colleagues because I knew life can be hard on the outside. This has made my own ostracism harder to handle: I thought the colleagues I spent time with would miss me. It seems they don't.
Maybe I'm too thin-skinned to work in a bank. But I find it sad and disappointing that everyone has disappeared on me. Clients are the same. - I had one who I would fly to see twice a year. We'd spend the day in the office and then go out for lunch and dinner. We had fun together and I thought I knew him pretty well. But since I lost my job I haven't heard from him at all. I was his number one broker. I guess he just found someone else to service him instead.
Daniel Cazal is the pseudonym of an equities salesman from a U.S. investment bank
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