Looking at her CV, it seems reasonable to assume that at one point in her life, sometime around her mid-20s, Amelia Noel really wanted to work in investment banking. After a first degree in journalism and marketing at the university of Missouri and an early career in advertising, she studied an MBA at Columbia and specialized in finance. At Columbia, she was in the investment banking club; she was in the women in finance club; and she spent her summer as an associate in Evercore’s global M&A team.
When Noel left Columbia in 2019, she joined Evercore full time. But 15 months later she left again. Nowadays, she works freelance for a Colorado-based strategy consultancy and runs her own coaching firm. Her coaching niches are avoiding burnout and liberating yourself from the grind: “Work less. Stress Less. For good. Stop overworking & feel better at work today.”
Noel isn’t explicit about her reasons for leaving Evercore. The boutique M&A firm is on track to pay an average of $767k this year, and pays New York-based associates like Noel salaries of $160k according to the H1B salary database. However, like many boutiques, it’s also known for sweating its staff more than most: Wall Street Oasis put average working hours there at around 78.6 a week in 2021; this was less than Goldman Sachs (87.5), but a lot more than Deutsche Bank (68.9).
Without referring to Evercore explicitly, Noel has, however, been talking to the Wall Street Journal about her experiences as a junior banker. She suggests that the perpetual need to be willing to drop everything and respond immediately to “please fix” emails from more senior staff was the main issue. “Until you’ve gotten that 10 p.m. ‘pls fix,’ you just don’t get it,” Noel tells the WSJ. When she worked in banking, she says she felt compelled to bring her laptop everywhere with her, including to brunch, to bars and on a ‘Christmas carriage ride in Central Park with her family.’ The need for constant availability was such that she conceived running routes to ensure she was never more than 15 minutes from her laptop. And the arrival of each email was a cause of angst while she assessed the amount of work involved in the fix it required.
Evercore isn’t the only bank with a “please fix” culture; most places have one. And Noel isn’t the first person to call out the need for perpetual connectivity as one of the most tiresome elements of banking jobs: writing in Business Insider this summer, one intern complained of an “abusive” culture in which MDs sent terse emails and expected him to respond almost instantly irrespective of the hour.
Escaping the tyranny of “pls fix” might be easier said than done. The WSJ notes that it’s also a feature of consulting jobs, business analysis jobs and most jobs that are client-facing. And even though many “pls fix” requests may seem trivial and concern minor things like font size and logo alignment on presentations, they’re critical for winning deals. Perfectionism is mandatory, says Mark Mehta, a consultant based in New York: “That’s what clients are trying to pay you for.”
Separately, a 21-year-old MIT computer science graduate from the Bronx has defeated various top hedge fund managers in a game of poker.
Bloomberg reports that Tyrone Davis, who previously interned in Goldman Sachs’ quant team and who currently works for hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein at Saba Capital, beat Boaz, his boss, plus David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital and Mo Grimeh of Point72 in a charity poker tournament in Manhattan.
Davis said he likes poker because it’s puzzle-oriented and creates a challenge of figuring out the odds. Trading is similar, he said: “It’s being able to do quick mental math on your feet.”
While poker has given Davis exposure to top figures in the hedge fund community, chess seems to have got him his break. Growing up in the Bronx, Davis said he practiced playing chess in Union Square and in other parks. “It definitely helped me be able to sit down for hours and apply my brain to certain long tasks that require a lot of attention span.” Bloomberg says involvement in the game introduced him to Weinstein, who’s another a chess master and who also grew up in NYC.
It’s a bad time to be working for an M&A boutique like Evercore, Lazard, Moelis, PJT, Houlihan Lokey and Greenhill. Their stocks have dropped on average by 34% this year. The shares of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are down 20%. (Financial Times)
Goldman Sachs has lost around $4bn cumulatively since setting up its consumer business and is less enthusiastic than before. It doesn’t help that it bought loans provider GreenSky Inc. in a $2.2bn deal at the top of the market. (Bloomberg)
In which Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts explains how she got a job in trading after Oxford University because her mother knew someone who was a chairman of an investment bank, and that although she loved it, it was also incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and racist. “I remember going to a Chinese restaurant with a hot plate and these people were throwing money onto the hot plate and burning it.” She left after having children because the women in the industry got by by “pretending children didn’t exist.” (YouTube)
The hedge fund to work for in 2023 is being founded by two 38 year-old traders, Andrew Komery (ex-DE Shaw) and Alex Chacon (ex-Point72), and is receiving several billion dollars in investment from Millennium. It doesn’t have a name yet. (Bloomberg)
Tiger Global Management is down 52% this year. (Bloomberg)
Credit Suisse’s new CFO Dixit Joshi is in a hard spot, but those who know him say he’s “battle hardened” from his time at Deutsche Bank, has a “genuine understanding” of sales and trading and is always “mature and calm.” (Financial Times)
It’s not easy being the Bank of England. “I don’t really see the point in saying you’ll buy 10bn a day when you’ve only been buying a few hundred million up until now. The real question the markets have is how much are you actually willing to spend?” (Financial Times)
Be kind to yourself during early parenthood. “It may take a few more months or even a year, but things will get easier, you will get more downtime and sleep, and you and your partner can redevote time to making sure your finances are in good shape.” (The Cut)
Coinbase has spent $2m on a semi-candid corporate movie about its origin story. (The Block)
A 27-year-old called Jasper Lau runs venture capital firm 8090, which is funded by very rich families. He invests $10m-$15m in start-ups. “I told them, ‘Look, I can help source these opportunities and get you guys started.” (Bloomberg)
Facetime is still important during hybrid working. You need to be seen sitting in the office, by the boss. Passive presence counts. “Just go in and, “you’re seen as one of the good ones, somebody who really cares.” (WSJ)