Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Best Part about Summer

You know it's the start of the summer holidays when you see a bunch of bright eyed college undergraduates swaddled with clothing that looks a tad too formal for them walking down the hallways of the trading floor, looking a little too enthusiastic for the countless beatings that will come over what may be the longest months ahead of their lives to come. 

Yes, the best part of summer isn't the part where the big swinging dick MDs head off for a couple weeks break, although that comes pretty close. The best part of summer is internship season, where it signals a reset of the recruitment cycle where you see an injection of new blood into the system, because post summer is typically when the newly minted Analysts and Associates fresh out of school and banking training programs hit the desk full time. 

I've always been a big believer in internships over an extended period of time (10 weeks is sufficient) for both the intern and the corporate entity extending the internship, to see if someone has the potential to undertake the real deal once he leave school. The intern on the other hand, benefits to see if the "real thing" matches up to what he perceived the industry to be prior to joining. There is only so much conjecture one can think up about what it's like to crank for more than 90 hours a week for a couple of weeks straight, instead of living through that phase. 

Summer internships bring about some other positive externalities to the organisation, as the lowest men on the totem pole (typically the rising first year Analysts) would have to guide the interns in their day to day job, which provides an integral set of skills that will be useful as they climb through the rungs. Also, the vitality and life force that the summer interns provide is always fun, given the numerous mandatory social events that get scheduled over the course of summer. 

This summer looks pretty bleak - markets in SEA are getting pummeled, and the negative global events such as Brexit wouldn't be conducive to conducting the traditional investment banking activities. Investment banks have already or are probably in the process of cutting headcount, something which would probably be expedited if the markets do not trend up soon after the latest Brexit blow. That probably means lower headcount for full time jobs that will be offered at the end of each summer internship, which makes the competition even more vicious. 

Having been a summer intern in the traditional Investment Banking Department (where people sell stocks and peddle mergers and acquisitions advice) more than half a decade ago, I find the traits of having a good attitude, being generally being grounded and getting along well with both your peers and the junior bankers to be quintessential in securing a full time job. No one is expecting the summer interns to be able to execute their jobs to perfection, but the young padawan learners must show the potential to be able to do so one day (and that day is always always sooner than they think). Oh yes, and if the group drinks, having the ability to do a few shots without getting pissed drunk helps as well. And if you don't have that ability, in some groups I know getting wasted is always way better than shirking drinks. Yes, very very strange, I know. 

I'm sure summer will be fun. Lighten up all you Brexit moaners. It probably doesn't affect you as much as you think. Even if it does, recite the serenity prayer, because even if you are David Cameron himself, you'll find that you have absolutely no control over the effects of Brexit. And wish well to the Summer Analyst and Associate classes of 2016. Good luck guys! 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Update after the hiatus

Have had a hiatus on this blog as I face a struggle on penning down thoughts that seem pretty much repetitive in context. Have had quite a bit going on in the first 6 months in pretty much all aspects of life. Best buddies getting hitched, the ever changing work environment and also some developments on the personal front took up much effort and prescience over the first six months. 

I've pretty much adopted the mindset that a good life lived probably isn't much one that is full of creature comforts nor that of enhanced hedonism, but one that is filled with continuous struggles and suffering and seeing how one responds to those moments of adversity. The dukka that permeates each and every aspect of life lends perspective to a difficult situation at work, or a difficult relationship. 

What matters the most to me presently is the overarching aim of becoming a better person in every possible way, through each experience, regardless of whether that particular experience is determined as "good" or "bad. What has definitely changed over the last couple of years is a slow but sure movement towards that of a process focus, rather than a goal focus. 

Work continues to take up most of the aforementioned struggles and suffering, and at times I do have to remind myself that this is perhaps the best way to put myself through the fire and emerge stronger and more resilient through each transaction, without thinking much of the monthly income that pads the fuck you portfolio. 

The one thing I'm grateful for is the ability to make a difference to the lives of the more junior bankers, to shape thoughts, perceptions and have some form of influence (mostly positive I hope) where they can learn something outside of just the purism of investment banking. That being said, am still grateful to have a relatively secure job despite the various waves of retrenchment that have hit close to home. Have had a couple of friends and acquaintances who lost their ricebowls over the past few months - all I hope is that they land feet up, eventually. 

Feeling at tad philosophical and pensive on this nice cool Saturday afternoon, with a relatively freed up weekend for once. Quite heavily leaning towards exploring more of the stoical philosophy and double down on the meditation as I seek to develop my capacity for equanimity and tranquility, whilst I let the portfolio and financial freedom targets take care of themselves - the best thing about this is that those are pretty much on auto-pilot as you program in the key parameters. 

A strong glimmer of hope that there's definitely much more to come over the next half of the year with the social calendar pretty much cleared up and what seems like a renewed focus over the last couple of days. Like the soccer team I have supported through the years, I try to make it a habit of ending strong (and finishing in the top 4 for champions league places... haha). 

Hope all is well with you guys out there. If it's not, just remember that it too will pass, and you'll eventually be well if you wish so. :)