Advice for Women in Finance

Eddie Braverman's picture
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The following is a guest post by The_Analyst, principal and founder of Stone Street Advisors.


Some Advice For Our Female Readers Working in Finance (etc.)


My boy Comfortably Smug RT'd this supposed "expert" list of advice for women trying to make it in the "Man's World" that is Wall Street and Finance. Let me be the first to tell you, if you follow all of this "advice," you will make a fool of yourself. It's only a matter of time. Doubt this at your own peril. That being said, working with a bunch of dudes is not only really uncool, but is actually a sure-fire way to ensure an organization is rife with groupthink, tunnelvision, and other Very Bad Things.

In Finance (etc), we hope you can see how such things are counterproductive (to say the least!), so anyone who says women have no place in the industry is an idiot who'll inevitably come to regret his chauvinism sooner or later. Regardless, since we are 100% equal-opportunity, we'd like to provide some more color for our female readers, from a male perspective.

1. What if you aren't a big drinker?

The article suggests various strategies such as paying-off the bartender to pour your drinks weaker that everyone else's, drinking soda and telling people it's a gin & tonic, and other minor lies. These and similar strategies aren't horrible if you're trying to stay (mostly) sober, but I can see this easily causing much anxiety when it doesn't have to.

Anyone who graduated college should be used to guys acting like drunken morons. Do yourself a favor and practice being sober around them if you haven't already. If you're not a big drinker and/or you'd prefer to stay (mostly) sober for whatever reason(s), practice makes perfect. You should also try this out with your friends, so it'll be much easier when you do it for work. No reason to drive yourself crazy fretting about how you're going to deal with it when it inevitably happens. As they told us in Boy Scouts: Be Prepared!

If you decide to work in Finance (and other similar professions), and don't think such situations are going to pop-up, do yourself a favor and find another career. This applies to both men and women. If you're not cool with what the career entails, unless you're a glutton for punishment and/or a masochist, don't set yourself up for pain, sorrow, and worst, failure.

2. What if you're a vegetarian or vegan?

Ask Comfortably Smug. I'm little, if any, help here. But seriously, order the soup and salad. Unless you're really, really overweight, everyone will just assume its because you want to maintain your figure or something along those lines. You may get some relatively painless jokes thrown your way, but don't worry, as with almost everything, its not intended to hurt, so don't take it as such. Easier said than done, learning how to take a joke will help you so much in life I cannot even begin to explain...

3. How do you handle a conversation about the strip club?

Even at the whitest of white-shoe, the most staid of staid firms, this is an almost inevitable conversation. As I said above in my response to #1, if you think otherwise you are deluding yourself, and/or you do not know what the internet is. Or both. Whatever. I get that this is not an ideal situation in which to find yourself, to put it mildly, but to pretend it won't happen would be silly and self-defeating, so yea...

The article mentions that abstaining from such activities/conversations will likely have consequences, and in that, it is correct. However, I think it's worth expanding upon the advice provided:

"You could be missing a good business opportunity, but I don't think they're sober, talking shop in the strip club," Glickman said. Instead, she suggests saying, "See you in the morning," or "Let's get drinks before you go."

Frankel cautions against openly criticizing your colleagues. "If you choose to work in a culture that's clubby and masculine, you can try to change the culture, but in doing so you may damage your career," she said.

Glickman's advice is almost academic (read: not easily practicable In Real Life), but at least she's on the right track. Simply: If you don't wanna go, don't, whether it's because you think its a disgusting, abhorrent display of testosterone-fueled idiots behaving at their worse or whatever. The next day, when they're sober - or likely extremely hungover - only the biggest assholes are going to ding you for not joining. As long as you don't have an established track record of being a antisocial sour-sport, avoiding the debauchery that happens at your city's various gentlemen's clubs will quite often outweigh the potential damage you could do to your career by attending. While doing shots off a stripper's tits may get you high-fives at the time, I'm not quite sure how that's going to help your career. Unless you're Lynn Tilton, i.e. the exception not the rule.

4. How do you score an invite to the golf club/tennis court/squash court/basketball game?

Ok ladies and non-sporting gentleman, this is where I take the most exception with the 'advice" being peddled in the aforementioned advice column. Allow me to explain, bit-by-bit:

First, before you ask for a golf invitation, make sure you can actually hit the ball. Consider investing in some golf lessons. When Glickman was an MBA student at Cornell, she got the school to pay for golf lessons for female MBA students who wanted to learn the game.

This is actually very, very good advice. If you want to succeed in a field where playing golf is a hobby enjoyed by those at the top...learn to play golf. Where this starts to go a bit off is later...

Once you've taken some lessons, ask casually to be included if you hear someone mention a foursome going on the following weekend. Asking someone their handicap also implies that you play and know something about the game.

Many among you, male and female, may not see any problem with such an approach, but therein lies the danger. If you're new to golf, and/or only tangentially interested as a means to climb the corporate ladder, this would be setting yourself up for failure, as the situation is unknowingly loaded against you.

First, DO NOT ask to be included. DO.NOT. Feel free to talk about golf, talk about golf outings, etc, but DO NOT ASK IF YOU CAN COME. No one wants to hang out with someone like that. If you want to get invited, you just have to demonstrate over time that you are not a buzz kill. Second, when you mention something like a golf handicap, the automatic assumption is going to be that you not only have one (of which you are not ashamed), but that you know far more about golf, handicaps, etc than that. If you don't watch golf, read Golf Digest (at least here or there), know the top courses in your area/the country/the world, etc, etc ad nauseum, you run a very-real risk of that becoming readily apparent, much to your own embarrassment.

"Act as if" was only a line in Boiler Room. Meaning: if you're just trying to hang, don't be surprised when those who do find out you're just pretending.

In fairness, the article goes on to provide another alternative, which I think is actually quite smart an idea, again, so long as you're comfortable with so-doing:

If golfing's not your game, think of another way to make the client happy, like scoring tickets to a sold-out Bon Jovi concert. It doesn't matter where as long as you manage to build a relationship outside the office. Making that connection will enable you to hear about things you otherwise may not have been privy to, especially since people tend to relax in an environment outside the conference room.

Again, this is a good idea, with the caveat that if you're into jazz/classical and have to try to memorize the chorus to "Living On A Prayer" in the car on the way to the show, I'd strongly suggest sticking to your strong suits instead of trying to show that you're "cool." Most importantly, I cannot describe (without extensive cursing) how terrible an idea the following is:

It's also not a bad idea to pluck the morning sports scores off the Bloomberg terminal so you can impress your boss. Tossing a key game stat into conversation can earn you more credibility than five perfect presentations.

Just like with the pretend golfer example, this has significant potential to make you look like an idiot. Unless you're into that sort of thing, and you happen to work somewhere so-doing has a weird way of paying-off, do yourself a favor and either 1. ignore this advice or 2. only mention things about which you're ready and willing to discuss at further length/depth. If you walk into work and say "How about them Yankees?" you better be able to discuss the Yanks' decision to bring in a closer when the starting pitcher was having such a solid night, how the AL-East is playing-out going into the All Star Game, etc. Otherwise, again, you're potentially setting yourself up for failure. Again, this does not apply only to the ladies, but to men who aren't into sports just the same.

5. What do you do if you think you're getting paid less because you're a woman?

For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life.

Since I'm neither a woman, nor one who sets compensation (yet), I'm going to defer to the advice in the article here.

Like I said, the advice isn't ALL bad, not hardly, and contrary-to what I tried to shoe-horn into

Hopefully you've found this helpful and, if we're really as witty as we think we are, a good read, too. If not, we wish you the best of luck next time your drunken colleagues are cheering for you to do body shots on the bar.

Comments (30)

Apr 19, 2011

Hold on a minute... you're at a disadvantage and looked down upon if you don't drink alcohol ? are you kidding me? What has this industry come to? this is silly

Greed is Good.

Apr 19, 2011
konig:

Hold on a minute... you're at a disadvantage and looked down upon if you don't drink alcohol ? are you kidding me? What has this industry come to? this is silly

Come to? Parts of my family have been in this industry for decades and I have to say, if anything it's calmed down a lot, especially after a lot of the firms went more corporate following their IPOs. Drinking is a part of the game, but there are abstainers. My boss' boss doesn't drink at all, ever, since it is against his religion (afaik) and he was successful at MS and at other firms.

Apr 19, 2011
konig:

Hold on a minute... you're at a disadvantage and looked down upon if you don't drink alcohol ? are you kidding me? What has this industry come to? this is silly

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXLQ2RPLO78

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Apr 19, 2011

I never drink

Apr 19, 2011

Many people (myself included) find it much easier to connect with a co-worker after a couple (or 8) drinks. Only loser's will look down on you, but people will be curious why you don't drink.

Apr 19, 2011
Heinz:

Many people (myself included) find it much easier to connect with a co-worker after a couple (or 8) drinks. Only loser's will look down on you, but people will be curious why you don't drink.

Indeed they might, but that doesn't mean if you don't want to drink (that one time, that week, ever) it has to be uber-awkward, only a little bit. In situations like that, some people only get comfortable after a drink (or 8), and that's fine, but if you don't drink and you don't want to be a (social) pariah, you've got to know that going in and figure out a way to deal with that somehow. Practice, I think, makes perfect, as I said. If you're anxious about not drinking during a work event and you're not sure how you'll handle it, practice it on a Friday night when you're out with a bunch of friends who are getting sloshed, then make a habit of doing it. When you're in the same setting at work, it'll likely make it much easier.

Apr 19, 2011

hmm. Not sure on how to comment on this. I think I'll sit back and wait for a bit :)

Apr 19, 2011

"Being a vegetarian is seen as being more effeminate," said an associate at a hedge fund who did not want to be named..."

"effeminate"? why cant people just say "GAY" anymore? Enough already...

"Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

Apr 19, 2011
Apr 19, 2011
Jackiesinthesun:

http://news.discovery.com/human/do-intelligent-peo...

Stop trying to justify your love of drink

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Apr 19, 2011

and. This article is entirely too long.

Cliff notes:
1. Chill out, Don't be a prude
2. Drink, but don't drink too much
3. Be a Jock.
4. Hide your veganism/vegetarianism at all costs.
5.If you think you're getting paid less, that is a reflection of your own negotiation skills. Stop whining.
6.Don't wear pink
7.Dont cry
8. Dont eat a banana at your desk

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Apr 19, 2011
Jackiesinthesun:

8. Dont eat a banana at your desk

haha best line of the thread..

Apr 19, 2011
Jackiesinthesun:

and. This article is entirely too long.

Cliff notes:
1. Chill out, Don't be a prude
2. Drink, but don't drink too much
3. Be a Jock.
4. Hide your veganism/vegetarianism at all costs.
5.If you think you're getting paid less, that is a reflection of your own negotiation skills. Stop whining.
6.Don't wear pink
7.Dont cry
8. Dont eat a banana at your desk

Apr 19, 2011
Jackiesinthesun:

and. This article is entirely too long.

Cliff notes:
1. Chill out, Don't be a prude
2. Drink, but don't drink too much
3. Be a Jock.
4. Hide your veganism/vegetarianism at all costs.
5.If you think you're getting paid less, that is a reflection of your own negotiation skills. Stop whining.
6.Don't wear pink
7.Dont cry
8. Dont eat a banana at your desk

  1. absolutely, cannot stress enough.
  2. Dont have to drink, but if you're not, don't be antisocial and/or a weirdo.
  3. Working out/sports are good both to do and watch. Don't have to be able to quote a QB's Junior-year completion percentage, but good to stay up-to-date.
  4. No comment.
  5. generally, yes.
  6. Its called "Salmon"
  7. also cannot stress enough. There's no crying in Finance.
  8. ...at least not like you're making love to it...
Apr 19, 2011
The_Analyst:
Jackiesinthesun:

and. This article is entirely too long.

Cliff notes:
1. Chill out, Don't be a prude
2. Drink, but don't drink too much
3. Be a Jock.
4. Hide your veganism/vegetarianism at all costs.
5.If you think you're getting paid less, that is a reflection of your own negotiation skills. Stop whining.
6.Don't wear pink
7.Dont cry
8. Dont eat a banana at your desk

  1. absolutely, cannot stress enough.
  2. Dont have to drink, but if you're not, don't be antisocial and/or a weirdo.
  3. Working out/sports are good both to do and watch. Don't have to be able to quote a QB's Junior-year completion percentage, but good to stay up-to-date.
  4. No comment.
  5. generally, yes.
  6. Its called "Salmon"
  7. also cannot stress enough. There's no crying in Finance.
  8. ...at least not like you're making love to it...

LOVE the cliffnotes, well said

Apr 19, 2011

5. What do you do if you think you're getting paid less because you're a woman?

For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life.

Call it The Uterus Effect and feel free to blame me for the inescapable realities of biology. The insurance business knows no political correctness; one of it's few admirable qualities. As you say, such is life.

Apr 19, 2011
Midas Mulligan Magoo:

5. What do you do if you think you're getting paid less because you're a woman?

For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life.

Call it The Uterus Effect and feel free to blame me for the inescapable realities of biology. The insurance business knows no political correctness; one of it's few admirable qualities. As you say, such is life.

but didnt u come from a uterus magoo?

Apr 19, 2011
Jackiesinthesun:
Midas Mulligan Magoo:

5. What do you do if you think you're getting paid less because you're a woman?

For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life.

Call it The Uterus Effect and feel free to blame me for the inescapable realities of biology. The insurance business knows no political correctness; one of it's few admirable qualities. As you say, such is life.

but didnt u come from a uterus magoo?

biology > circular reasoning...every time

Apr 19, 2011
  1. Don't lie to kick it
  2. Don't be shy
  3. Be yourself

All you need to know, IMHO.

Apr 19, 2011

I don't see an issue with working with a vegetarian, but I have worked with a vegan before--it was the most obnoxious experience of my still young 4-year career. Not only would she refuse to participate in lunches, dinners, parties, etc., but if we tried to buy her something that was "vegan", like a salad, it wouldn't be good enough. "Oh, that's not organic." "Oh, iceberg lettuce has minimal nutrition." "Oh, that salad dressing has too much salt." "I can't eat that cake--it has dairy products in it." Jesus f*cking Christ. Thank God we are allowed to discriminate in hiring against people's choices of food. If I knew before hand during the hiring process that a candidate was a vegan, I would automatically ding that person. It's just not worth it.

Apr 20, 2011

LOL, hey, try tuning into www.hedgefundlive.com. they have a live broadcast of a trading desk. of course, male-dominated. completely open, uncensored. perfect example of trader guys can be such... GUYS. the couple of girls on the desk have learned to get use to their crude jokes and disgusting eating habits. exactly, practice makes perfect.

HedgeFundLIVE
www.hedgefundlive.com
The World's First Interactive Trading Network

Apr 20, 2011

"For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life."

Is this satire? At the right side of the bell curve for any given ability/skill, there are just more men than women due to higher male variability. That being said, Daniel Tosh pretty much nails it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMwPq-a-8W4
For the most part, finance is not an old boys club anymore, and it's tiresome to keep hearing this trope. I would say it's easier nowadays being a female than male in finance due to modern political correctness and the natural male tendency to be, on average, more lenient toward females in conduct.

Apr 20, 2011
Easy:

"For what(ever) it's worth, I don't see any reason to pay someone more or less simply based on their gender. I actually think so-doing is not just wrong but patently ignorant, as numerous studies suggest that not only are women just as capable as men, but in many cases, may in fact be more-so! Unfortunately, people are stupid and/or maintain biases despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Such is life."

Is this satire? At the right side of the bell curve for any given ability/skill, there are just more men than women due to higher male variability. That being said, Daniel Tosh pretty much nails it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMwPq-a-8W4
For the most part, finance is not an old boys club anymore, and it's tiresome to keep hearing this trope. I would say it's easier nowadays being a female than male in finance due to modern political correctness and the natural male tendency to be, on average, more lenient toward females in conduct.

while I agree with what you're saying here, it is still very much a boys club.

Apr 20, 2011

Fing hilarious video. ^^^

Apr 20, 2011

Some thoughts to append:

(1) DON'T BANG YOUR SR GUYS (VP+). That shit will stay with you, seriously. You're a (assuming) hot chick in banking you're a rare breed already, it could work for or against you but all the other guy analysts will never forget the time you had a three way in a hot-tub in Alta on that retreet (based on actual events).

(2) DESPITE THE VERBIAGE ABOVE, YOU WON'T GET AN INVITE TO XX SPORTING EVENT. Barring you're unattractive and badass at the given sport and they need a "secret-weapon". When go do that type of stuff as a group we want to talk about fratty type shit and more than likely the chick bankers in the office so if they don't already do that in front of you it's not looking good.

Apr 24, 2011

Same suggestions can be given to Mormons.

Apr 24, 2011

I'm sorry but this "Some Advice For Our Female Readers Working in Finance (etc.)" is pretty ridiculous. I'm sorry but if you don't drink or you're a vegan people will not give a shit. Wall Street is a more tolerant than people give it credit for. My sister works in finance, and yes she is the only female professional in her office, but she gets along great with everyone there. It's a great culture and she loves it there. She doesn't try to pull off any of this memorizing sports off bloomberg bull shit. She doesn't care or even act like she cares about sports. She still gets invited to yankees games and the US Open.

When I was working at JPM last summer all of the female analyst got some advice for women in finance email and it was the so fucking stupid it was comical. All of the women were just like, "what the fuck is this?" It basically was telling them that acting feminine is unprofessional and therefore you should try to be more masculine. BULLSHIT. If you're a woman in finance, just be yourself. If your smart, professional, courteous and personable, people will like you.

And as far as the vegan/vegetarian thing goes....again, no one cares whether you're a vegan/vegetarian. Man or woman. Your diet is your own thing. Every restaurant (especially in NYC) has vegan/vegetarian options. My sister's boyfriend is an Indian guy who happens to be Hindu, so he doesn't eat meat. He's a trader at a BB, a profession that has the rep of being a bunch of manly animals. He goes to dinner with clients and no one even notices.

And as far as the strip clubs go, you really shouldn't be talking about that kind of stuff infront of women in the office. 1. If you're in a corporate environment, it can get you in hot water with HR and 2. It's just awkward for everyone. If the woman you're with is someone you're good friends with (a female analyst who you've been working 100 hr weeks with for the past year), that's a different story. And as far as taking shots off strippers tits go, there's definitely times for that and there's times not for that....

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Apr 24, 2011
Dr Barnaby Fulton:

I'm sorry but this "Some Advice For Our Female Readers Working in Finance (etc.)" is pretty ridiculous. I'm sorry but if you don't drink or you're a vegan people will not give a shit. Wall Street is a more tolerant than people give it credit for. My sister works in finance, and yes she is the only female professional in her office, but she gets along great with everyone there. It's a great culture and she loves it there. She doesn't try to pull off any of this memorizing sports off bloomberg bull shit. She doesn't care or even act like she cares about sports. She still gets invited to yankees games and the US Open.

When I was working at JPM last summer all of the female analyst got some advice for women in finance email and it was the so fucking stupid it was comical. All of the women were just like, "what the fuck is this?" It basically was telling them that acting feminine is unprofessional and therefore you should try to be more masculine. BULLSHIT. If you're a woman in finance, just be yourself. If your smart, professional, courteous and personable, people will like you.

And as far as the vegan/vegetarian thing goes....again, no one cares whether you're a vegan/vegetarian. Man or woman. Your diet is your own thing. Every restaurant (especially in NYC) has vegan/vegetarian options. My sister's boyfriend is an Indian guy who happens to be Hindu, so he doesn't eat meat. He's a trader at a BB, a profession that has the rep of being a bunch of manly animals. He goes to dinner with clients and no one even notices.

And as far as the strip clubs go, you really shouldn't be talking about that kind of stuff infront of women in the office. 1. If you're in a corporate environment, it can get you in hot water with HR and 2. It's just awkward for everyone. If the woman you're with is someone you're good friends with (a female analyst who you've been working 100 hr weeks with for the past year), that's a different story. And as far as taking shots off strippers tits go, there's definitely times for that and there's times not for that....

Generally speaking, this post is largely bullshit. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that YES, people DO care if you don't drink. The advice here is pretty good concerning how to deal with it, but if you're not careful with the way you deal with your lack of drinking, then yes it can definitely be an issue. If you handle it professionally and/or surreptitiously then it's not a big deal at all. As a teetotaler, my first job in investment banking was a nightmare--I was the total outcast because I didn't go out after work with the team and drink. When asked why, I said, "Well, I don't drink. I've got a real moral problem with it." Ya know what? I didn't deal the situation properly. People DO DO DO care in this business if you don't drink. I've dealt with it everywhere I've worked but I've learned to respond professionally and humbly to the question.

On the vegan front, yeah, again, people care. It's the same with drinking--as long as you handle yourself professionally then people don't care. If you act like a snob about it, people do care. This is pretty simple stuff and your post was basically bullshit. Sorry.

Apr 24, 2011
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