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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 26, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    A Good Job in the Bank

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    From time to time when I was growing up, someone would sidle over to me and say, “Get yourself a good job in the bank, boy.” I ignored the advice and went off studying poetry and novels, my head full of Wordsworth and Keats and Shelley and D.H. Lawrence and Henry James and Ford Madox Ford.

    What an eejit! Further down the line, I was dumped on the job market. The poetry was, in the old phrase, “as much use as cold tea in a po [chamber-pot]“. Just yesterday I was rummaging around and discovered an old file of  unsuccessful job applications of mine from that period. I shudda got a good job in the bank.

    Finally, after a long, long time, I fetched up in journalism. It was tough trying to get into the union and then working like a dog to get a staff job. I shudda got a good job in the bank.

    Now I hear on the BBC News that something like 1,000 bank officials in the UK are earning more than a million a year. Sterling. Meanwhile, we are told that an international trawl failed to come up with someone who would run AIB for 500,000 euro.

    What’s so special about these guys (they are nearly all guys)? I’m not bitter, I just want to know. What extraordinary skills do they possess that they should feel entitled to such vast salaries? Or is it like working in Guiness’s? You are around beer and stout, so you get an allowance. You are around money, so you get a big salary (I’m talking about top salaries - pay at the lower levels is not in the same league.)

    The banking sector is in a mess and has had to be rescued by the taxpayer, here, in the UK and many other places. But still the big salaries are being paid: if I keep on with this, I’ll end up taking a placard and marching up and down the street. I shudda got a good job in the bank.

    • paul m says:

      Simple Maths really Deaglán

      Bankers love money. Banks love more money.

      Therefore bankers multiplied by their love of their job is directly proportional to amount of money they’re earning and that is equal to the amount of money being made for the bank.

      It’s known as greedometric theorem

    • Liam says:

      Fully agree, they are not entrepreneurs and retail banking and speculative investment banking should never have been allowed to mix if there was ever the slightest chance that the govt would have to bail them out gratis. Moral hazard is compounded by not letting these banks go to the wall, they are not too big to fail, they are too big to save. Capture theory and concepts like it apply here along with groups like the farmers, the medical and legal professions……. I shudda got a job with any group that has the ear of government!

    • Kynos says:

      Female relative of mine is pretty high up in a European bank. She went to university got a 2:1 in history, joined a large car manufacturer, became an accounting junior, did her CIMA, became an auditor, did her ACCA, left Ford, joined a large German bank, rose in the ranks, worked in Germany and in India, put in a shared service centre in Bangalore, joined a UK bank, one of the senior figures in that institution now, doesn’t earn a mill a year but knows a few who do. She says she’s a rare enough bird in the banking game. Someone with academic qualifications. Lot of senior traders in UK banks started as barrow-boys in Thatcher’s London, bought the fancy braces and the BMW back in the Eighties, got out of the stockmarket ahead of Black Monday (or was it Friday?) or after it and got into banks when financial services opened up. Their sole qualifications would be as market traders. Not much difference between hawking cabbage, justice, or credit default swaps it seems. The important bit is to pull off the dead-looking leaves or tuck them in well make sure the light is right so don’t shift them until the evening and make sure you’ve a good line of patter to keep the punters distracted from the reality of what they’re buying.

    • Kynos says:

      Probably would have fit right in with the poetry quals given the spectacular lack of accuracy we’ve seen in the banks’ ability to do their sums lately. Two college professors walking through a forest. Hear a cuckoo calling. One, professor of English, declaims a bit of Shelley: “O Cuckoo shall I call Thee Bird, or just a wand’rin Voice?”
      Other professor, of maths, says: “State the alternative preferred
      Give reasons for your choice.”

    • Kynos says:

      Mind, always said poets and artists are the only ones can keep the rest on the straight and narrow. As Socrates said they can act superior and expose inconsistencies even in warriors. There was a reason the old kings of Ireland feared Amergin more than Conall Cearnach the father more than the son maybe that’s why you became a jou8rnalist and not a banker. Tempted to add “One cannot hope to bribe nor twist / Thank God! the British journalist” but we’re not in slaggin’ mode today.

    • Eoin says:

      As a matter of interest, Deaglán, how long after college was it when you got a job in journalism?

    • Deaglán says:

      Eoin, Good to hear from you and to know you are still reading the Blog. The short answer to your question is three and a half years. But obviously I had to do other things along the way to stay alive, mainly part-time or temporary third-level teaching. There was a recession then, too.

    • Eoghan says:

      I am living in London with a few friends working in the city, and have often wondered the same – what do these guys have in their head that is worth so much money to anybody? Do they add so much value to the economy that they really deserve the wages they get? I still haven’t worked out the answer.

      If anyone has, please let me know.

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