The proposed buyout of Integrity Asset Management shows how important it is that the two businesses really understand one another. For instance, how could anyone who understands anything about making rain even theorise about putting me or my sales team on the chopping block? It would be like putting dollar bills into the shredder, then burning the remains, and then burying the ashes and stamping on the freshly covered ground.
All of which has gotten me to thinking, dear diary. Remember that old saying about being nice to people on the way up, as you never know who you’ll need on the way back down?
The new paradigm in asset management is now about knowing the right people; getting them to know you; and avoiding the rest.
The right people
He has been around for years for a reason. Maybe he never quite got the promotions, or an expensive divorce keeps him at the desk longer than expected, but you can learn from this old warrior, and he poses zero threat to your aspirations.
The Young Gun
Select just one of your juniors, preferably several ranks beneath you as a margin of safety, and position yourself as a mentor. This will look great to your superiors, and when HR decides to implement that 360-degree review process, you’ve got the ideal candidate.
The Back-office Blackmailer
Be nice to the guy who reminds you “Without the back office, you hotshots wouldn’t even have a job!” Well, he’s right, and there will be a day when he wants to prove it. Don’t be in his bad books that day.
The Cool Dude
It might not help your career, but this guy knows lots of hot girls. For those of you a bit shy with the fairer sex, this could be your route to attraction-by-association. If you aren’t the cool dude, be his wing man.
The Tasselled Loafers
Usually worn with chinos and often a Bluetooth earpiece, these shoes define a certain kind of guy. Being around him is as much fun as eating sand, but the faux Ivy League confidence coming out of his footwear is enough to convince most visitors from HQ that this guy is on the fast track. If you can’t bring yourself to buy a pair, at least stay friendly with the owners of such fashion disasters – being associated with him will see you through those tricky State-side inquisitions.
She’s only in the office for a few weeks, so this is a concentrated charm offensive, particularly if it’s your department being audited. This woman, probably years younger than you, has the ear of upper management and you want a glowing reference in her report. Swallow your pride and be nice to the arrogant little know-it-all.
Two words: damage limitation.
The useless people
Mr Nice Guy
Usually someone in a dull accounting or back-office role, this is the least offensive person in the office, always wins ‘Most Popular’ awards at the annual dinner and is average at just about everything. No need to waste time on this person – they’ve no chance of a position of power, and they’re too damned nice to sabotage yours!
The iPhone Traders
Generally not on the investment team, these guys always have hot stock tips and seem to spend most of their time toying with their portfolios on their smartphones. Very dangerous to be associated with; they will either get busted for shady dealing, or will get lucky and quit so they can trade full-time.
The Exam Taker
The idea of being an investment automaton abhors me, so I haven’t wasted my time on such pursuits, but those people who try and try to get past level one of the CFA, but fail and fail, simply cannot be worth knowing. It shows neither stamina nor determination. These kids are first against the wall when the tanks roll in.
He smells faintly of wine after lunch each day, he never gets to the office before 9:30am, he’s known as the office party animal. It will end in tears – make sure they’re not yours.
The Girl Who Cries at Her Desk
You’ve got to trust me on this one; you only need to be nice once and you’re on the hook for life. Even if you get a little something out of it first time, you’ll regret it as the months of situations and crises roll past, I promise you.
Offices are stacked with useless people whose sole effort appears to be avoiding the chopping block. Somehow they endure. Treat with kid gloves, because survival often stems from inside knowledge about an important executive’s ugly side. Eventually the truth will come out, but it ain’t gonna be pretty, and when it does, you don’t want to be anywhere near the blast zone. And never, ever let a Survivor get any dirt on you. Otherwise it’s time to get friendly with the headhunters.
This woman never stops studying, always doing a Masters in this or a Post-grad in that. Not only does she know way more than you would ever want to, she knows she knows it and thinks you’re dumb. This doesn’t matter; she is on course to over-qualify herself for most useful jobs anyway! (Like making money.)
The Back-Slapping Boss
Beware too much praise from above – it usually precedes a kick in the pants. This type of MD has been playing the game for way longer than you have and knows the tricks; accept the praise quickly and move along.
A final note on this list of the right people and the useless people. Anyone in this industry ought to print this out and jot down their colleagues’ names alongside each category. And if you can’t figure out where you fit into all of this, well, dear diary, you’re not cut out for this business.
William T Fitzgerald is a fictional character, as are all the other individuals and companies in "RFP Diary". Any resemblance to the living or to real firms is purely coincidental. Will's adventures continue fortnightly.