Sold short: confessions of a young banker

Alice Fulwood in The Economist:

had to watch each episode of “Industry”, a tv drama about young bankers, in 15-minute doses. This is no fault of the show, which is joyously binge-worthy and thoroughly deserves the second series it has just been granted. It’s because it reminded me so powerfully of my previous life – as a 20-something on the trading floor – that I kept having to press pause before psyching myself up to carry on watching. Sure, some of the details are a little off (how did Harper get away with that $140k loss? Would a hedge-fund manager really bet on Treasury yields going to 4%?). Yet most of it is jarringly familiar to anyone who, like me, was lured into a career in finance as a young person.

When a character spread his company-branded fleece on the floor of a toilet cubicle to take a nap instead of returning home to sleep, I sighed with recognition. I remembered that choice: should I waste over an hour travelling back and forth for two hours’ sleep in a real bed, or kip on the bathroom floor for three? I, too, picked the loos – mostly because I was afraid that going home would mean I would turn up late the next day. How did I end up working in finance? Though I told people it was because I liked economics and maths, in large part it reflected my own insecurity. I reckoned I was pretty clever and reasonably numerate. But I was also worried that I lacked the wild talent and immense self-belief that you need to pursue a “dream career” in something like theatre or politics, where failure looms large. My passion was for being successful.

More here.