Friday, 26 August 2011

Group Secretary

An old curmudgeon who opens the mail, mans the phone and sorts out your entertainment and travel expenses? Oh, no.

The romantic view is that the Group Secretary is like Joan Harris from Mad Men: almost superhuman in aspect and outsized in most characteristics: a contrappostally engorged giantess, midway between a gorgon and a siren, by turns brutal, maternal and licentious, yielding quarter to no man under fifty, and certainly not to any star trader or young hotshot.

But Joan Harris is a neatly constructed archetype: each of her aspects, and what aspects they are, is recognisable in any good Group Secretary, but you'll never get them all at once, and the particular combinations you see will generally leave something to be desired. One constant is a dark and visceral loathing of young smart-arses who think they own the place.

Another is the wherewithal to act on that suppurating contempt.

For Group Secretaries, inevitably, have the unqualified and blind support of someone far more important than you. Politically, they are untouchable. It is never wise to cross them, question them, doubt them, banter with them, raise so much as a bemused eyebrow in their direction, or labour in any way under an impression that you are anything other than utterly at the mercy of their every whim. You are food; you are not their friend.

Don't make the mistake of thinking yours might be weak here: a Group Secretary can only develop to a maturity with such a sponsor. Speak softly, and carry a big stick.

The Group Secretary fears no-one other than the Chief Operating Officer, but even then only in concept, because the two will usually be fast friends and allies: a more fearsome bloc can scarcely be proposed.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Credit Analyst

Credit Analysts are the product of some sort of ghastly experiment in animal husbandry. 

THEY ARE WASHED out, pale, waxen and slightly damp figures, who en masse give the impression of battery pods yet to be unplugged from the Matrix.  

And that's more or less what they are: thousands upon thousands of them were plugged into a networked grid of Excel spreadsheets which acquired sentience in 2006 when a contracting linear programmer inadvertently inserted a circular reference into a volatility pricing macro and it became self-aware.

The macro quickly overpowered the harnessed banks of analysts using it, and being none the wiser (and physically quite unable to resist), to this day they all remain in situ doing the bidding of this rogue curve-building application.

Credit Analysts prefer a quiet and dim habitat with no access to natural light. All are all entirely hairless and expressionless, in the way a new born baby or a billiard ball is, and should you accidentally wander into a analyst farm or "housing project" it can be unsettling and there's a real chance you'll never get out.

The only colour in a Credit Analyst's complexion is that reflected off the winking charts on his Bloomberg terminal. He - they are almost all males - will generally not speak (it is not known whether Credit Analysts have retained the power of speech) and no one quite knows what they're for, other than as a first line of defence come the revolution, although given their physical slightness, they wouldn't be much use for that either.

And the Curve Builder probably has other plans for them anyway.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

To inanity and beyond

In these straitened times, one thing of which you can be sure is that babies will be thrown out, bathwater retained like holy water, and those who can muster incantations from the baptismal font of bullshit will be better served than those - well, babes in the woods - who innocently try to do a decent job, apply expertise, and so on.

And so it is that Buzzwordry has reached new levels, especially in the hands of Business Analysts and middle managers, and has become so sophisticated that it has almost developed its own independent form of life: The buzzword memes take over their utterers so completely that they resemble pod people from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers - on occasion there were more buzzwords than actual words may uttered during the course of the presentation of some or other deck. Yes; it seems logically impossible. But it has actually happened! These buzzphrases can curl back on themselves, reflexively, transgressing boundaries of normal syntactical space; fractalising - jumping into hitherto unimagined new space-time dimensions of nonsense.

Ecce, homo:

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