Saturday, May 10, 2008

When money does not lure

The one topic which keeps on being discussed nowadays amont my MT (management trainee) fellows is who will be assigned to what division once this rotation we have been doing since January is over. In fact it has been discussed since we join the trainee program, but now the discussion intensifies as we are approaching the end of our rotation.

When we first started the program, we have been asked to mention three divisions we would like to be a part of. There are at least 10 divisions we can choose, but it ended up roughly half of my fellows had chosen Equity Research as their first choice. Considering that everyone in the current batch comes from respectable educational institutions in Indonesia, my fellows’ choice should come as no surprise at all. Being graduates from top notch schools, it is natural if they want to preserve their reputation as “smart people” by joining the research division.

However, it was rather shocking for our superiors when they find out that the number of trainees who would like to join the Investment Banking (IB) division - the one division which is considered prestigious in the capital market industry - is not as many as they had thought in the first place.

Why prestigious? Here’s an answer: In the IB division, you’ll get to meet CEO, CFO, and other senior officers of various companies. IB deals with assisting companies who wish to go public or issue new capital market securities, or decide whether they should let go one of their subsidiaries or acquire new business.

Since the action is a one-time activity, the nature of the works done in the IB division is in projects. That is why you will work with different companies. If you get many projects, you can handle at least three projects, all demanding the same amount of attention at the same time.

And since the corporate action to be done is a major one, you don’t meet staffs of the same rank as you are. No, you meet the senior officers, the CFO and CEO – the ultimate decision makers. Not only will you meet them, but you will talk to them and have them hear what you have to say. Isn’t it lovely to be able to speak to people of high importance – even let them listen to you – when you are in fact only a staff in your company?

Another reason is that meeting with VIPs is surely done in special places (places where the bill comes with special prices, too) or in exclusive ways (pricey food, one thing for sure). You will wear nice outfit and look – even smell – wonderful because you represent your company to meet these people of importance. You will travel to various cities for free although what you do there is piling up documents you will bring back with you to your office to work on. The best thing is you will get extraordinary bonus. If you are lucky enough to be promoted to officer position, you will no longer go to your office on that TransJakarta or Zenia of your parents’; you will drive a Mercedes.

Still, all these luxuries have been unable to lure my fellows to join IB. Of the 10 people in my batch, only one person is truly interested to join. Others take IB as their second choice at best.

When asked why not join the IB division, the answers are mostly the same. “I believe I need to learn much about capital market, so that’s why I want to join the Equity Research (division),” as quoted from one of my fellows. “I was told that to get a good plentiful knowledge about capital market, I should join the Equity Research division,” remarked another fellow. “Perhaps I would consider moving to another division after two or three years in the EQR (Equity Research division),” he continued.

I understand why my employers get such answers: Six of us are fresh graduates of undergraduate study. There is this belief that to enter the capital market industry, one needs to start from the research division. What if one joins the IB division and is later unable to answer client’s simple question about the stock market? To avoid getting trapped in such embarrassing situation, it would be better to arm oneself with the knowledge needed first before taking a plunge into the high-class environment.

But then, of the four of us who are not fresh graduates and already have a working experience, why is there only one person who wants to join IB?

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Perhaps age and working experience matter. My colleagues (let’s say their names are Lucy and Roger) and I share one thing in common: We have experienced years of overtime works and maybe we grow tired of it. Should we join the IB division, we will definitely spend 15 hours (and sometimes more) a day working our butt off (sorry about the sarcasm) so that we don’t miss the deadline.

Nonetheless, Roger said he would reconsider his option if he gets more compensation than what he receives today. Could it because Roger is a man? That’s because Lucy and I are married and we absolutely shrug off the idea of working as IB staffs. I told the IB chief that I couldn’t possibly get home much, much late at night when my husband already complained for the three weeks I spent my rotation time in IB, during which I never went home before the clock stroke 10 p.m. There’s no way I would lose my husband because I prioritize my career over my marriage.

But then again, what if I were a man? You know what, I might actually consider working in IB. No, I don’t search for the money and glitters, but I know well that I enjoy working for project works. If it is possible to go home at 7 or 8 p.m. at the latest in the IB division, I will seriously think on working for the division.

Ah, so much of wishful thinking.

Images taken from


YESSE said...

IB sounds very interesting and challenging. If i were them, i would definitely choose IB as my first choice. The chance to leverage my network, make them listen to you and make decision for them is just like holding the world in your hand.

metty said...

Sorry, but I think I want to stick to my marriage this time :)