2009 – The Year of the Pretender | The Banker

January 20, 2010
3 min read

Last year I went to Premier Personnel to try and make a quick buck off of the placing of students that finish up their studies and their jobs at Penguin Tutoring at the agency – in essence trying to “sell the recruitment agency a dose of their own medicine”. The MD and senior manager obviously thought I was mad, but Theo asked a few more questions about my background.  A mechanical-engineer-who-makes-heart-valves-now-runs-a-tutoring-company. Nice. How about we turn you into a banker? Hell, now there’s a twist.

So I applied for this awesome position at RMB. And the brochure-ware makes you think that these guys look like they own the A game! I put together an “out-of-the-ordinary” CV by mashing up my character traits with an engineering design. It secured an interview.  Armed with a suit but no clue as to what RMB actually did, I went to the interview.  Clinically impressive building. I always wondered who owned the third tallest building in Sandton.  You can all now wonder how it looks inside..

The interview was the first of four, each of which involved at least 8 senior people asking some tough questions. I even got asked what my net present value was.  I was impressed by the fact that they didn’t worry if you had no experience in banking, or knew what a credit committee was. Or even that IBD stood for “Investment Banking Division”. All they wanted to see was that you were the most willing to learn new things, and that you fitted into the dynamic culture of the fast paced and aggressively challenging financial world with the holistic balance of what RMBers strive to be. It helps that you think things through slightly differently.

So having worked here for just over 2 months now, I have to admit that it blows my mind how important necessary it is for you to work with clever people.  Most employers employ the cheapest staff they can to “keep the overheads in check”. It becomes a mess. Stupidity runs amock. Systems fail. Panic reigns.  In here, every person has been picked out because they have potential and add massive value to daily operations.  This, in turn, attracts the smartest clients, who funnily enough, have all this sensibility money to invest. And the wheel begins to turn.

Last week I had breakfast on the 18th floor with a view for miles, with delicious pastries, scrambled egg and those little fried and crumbed potato rolls. Thick carpet underfoot and business ideas bouncing around the room – could quite easily have been a five star hotel.

So I’m working on being a banker.  One day I’ll be a “corporate-finance-transactor” or a “debt-capital-markets-specialist” or “subject-matter-expert”.  But for now I’ll be the newbie.  And I love it.



I found your post quite interesting. I am in a transition phase (in my mind at least). I am also looking to move from engineering into finance as you did. Given that you wrote this in 2009, has the world of finance lived up to your expectations?

IT consultant

Wow sounds amazing. I have always wanted to do finance. Seems very hard to get into the program. Do you know how many candidates they accept a year. Is there anyway to prepare for the interview. With regareds to work experience requirements, i might be lacking as i have been working in a SME for my dads company for 5 years (Studied prior) and dont have much corporate experience except for developing application which is used in the mining industry. Any information would be greatly appreciated

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