CAREER INSIGHT: 'Money Is Everything, Money Is Nothing' with Bilal Hafeez
In this career insight episode, I am joined by Bilal Hafeez who is the CEO, Head of Research and Editor of Macro Hive. He spent over twenty years doing research at big banks – JP Morgan,Deutsche Bank and Nomura, where he had various “Global Head” roles and did FX, rates and cross-markets research.
To mark his 25th year in the industry, Bilal has written an article on the 25 lessons learned from 25 years in finance, covering invaluable lessons on finance, business and life.
In this conversation, we touch on the following 5 lessons:
- Money is everything, money is nothing
- Failure is the best way to level up
- Start with what you fear
- Be effective, not efficient
- Learn every day or quit.
It's rare that you get to have private conversation with such an experienced professional and Bilal's open and honest approach is not only refreshing but incredibly insightful.
The conversation will hopefully add great value to those about to start their career, all the way up to people who hold leadership positions in a large organisation or a start up.
Bilal has done them all and shares his best advice!
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For this episode of Career Insight, we were joined by Bilal Hafeez, the founder, CEO and Head of Research at Macro Hive. Bilal recently released an article titled 25 Lessons Learned in Those 25 Years.
Our conversation covered 5 key points that we think would resonate with you. Here is what we discussed -
Can you give us a brief idea about your career background?
I studied economics at Cambridge university after which I applied for an internship at JP Morgan back in the year 1997 which was the beginning of my career in finance. there was this massive technology boom in markets that was going on, and mergers and acquisitions. M A was the hottest area to be in at the time so I requested to be in that area and started a training program in New York in late 1998.
The team I joined was the foreign exchange research team and they had allocated a new Argentinian chap called Alfonso Pratt who ended up becoming a massive mentor to me, and he really settled me down into that role.
This began my long stretch as a researcher on the South Side where my real proper job was FX Research. I started off there initially, working more on the modelling and technical side. Thereafter, by 2002, Chase Manhattan took over JPMorgan. There was a big takeover and a big merger with lots of changes going on. At this point, I decided to leave and so did many of my colleagues.
I went to join Deutsche Bank in 2002 in London which back then was beginning to become a powerhouse in global markets and were hiring lots of talent from across the street. And within 5 to 10 years, they became one of the biggest foreign exchange banks in the world. So I joined that division, FX there and had a great career as an FX research analyst.
I eventually ended up heading up the research team at a very young age, and became managing director again at a very young age. Then the financial crisis hit in 2008, which was obviously a big shock to the system, and there was a lot to learn from it. Then soon after that, I thought it was better to be outside of Europe and the west at that time because the global financial crisis was quite depressing. So I moved out to Asia, where I headed up research at Deutsche Bank, Singapore. So I was there for a number of years, enjoyed it, and learned a lot about China and the rise of China and Asia.
But after a few years, I realized my family and I preferred London. We then moved back to London where I headed up a new research group which Deutsche Bank had set up called the Multiasset or Cross Market Research Group. Apart from that, I was also part of a special research unit for the CEO of Deutsche Bank. So I did all of that for a few years but then by the end of 2015, early 2016, I decided I had enough of working at Deutsche Bank. I was there for a long, long time, and it was my time to part ways.
It was then that I moved to Namora in London, the Japanese investment bank, and I ran research out of London there for three years. But by 2019, I felt like I'd spent so much time on the sell side and I had so many ideas of how to do startups that I decided to do startup research in 2019. I set up Macrohyde along with a number of other people, and I've been running doing that for the last three years now. We essentially provide research to some of the biggest investors in the world, some of the top hedge funds, and asset managers. We also have products for students and individual investors as well.
You have a broad background going from M and A to different banks ranging from various geographic and cultural locations to setting up teams.
You also mentioned having a great mentor. Can you tell us about how this has impacted you as a person and your career?
Yes, absolutely. And I think one of the luckiest things I've had is I've had people with more experience mentor me early on in my career. So with my job at JPMorgan, Alfonso was a massive influence on me. He really helped me a lot at that time. So he was in some ways passing on his experience to me, whether explicitly or not, through his actions and the way he was interacting with me.
That's what he was doing. And even earlier, when I was at school, I grew up in a working-class area. It wasn't such a nice school, but my economics teacher was a real mentor to me and he really encouraged me to study economics and push myself. So again, that's an example of somebody who's more seasoned, more experienced, passing on their experience.So that's part of the motivation for doing this: sharing my 25 years.
Another point of motivation is that I get asked a lot by different people on things like life advice; I think about these things a lot where I'm always thinking about how can I improve my life, about learning from the wisdom of elders, from older spiritual texts. I really like to try to improve myself and help others in that way.
Typically many people in the industry during the 90s came from a traditional schooling background and also different ethnic and well as class backgrounds.
Also given your swift move up to an MD at a young age, did you feel any sense of imposter syndrome at the time?
Yeah, there definitely was an element of that. I would say the biggest cultural sort of challenge I found was actually going to Cambridge University. So I grew up in this ethnic working-class area. As it happened, it was in Oxford, but there's a side of Oxford that's not so nice; I grew up around there. And so going to Cambridge, which is the epitome of privilege and history and all of those sorts of things, that for me was the biggest transition.
Going to the Formal hall where you wear gowns, you have so many forks and knives. I literally was the guy, you've seen the movies, not knowing which forks and knives to use. Because I grew up in a household where you tend to eat with your hands. My parents, originally Pakistani, eat with their hands. Generally, that was a big, big sort of cultural clash.
And then working within banks, I did feel an element of not fitting in. But strangely, banking tends to be quite a good place for people who are a bit different because there's lots of odd people in banks. So one thing I did find that was interesting was that JPMorgan was a very sort of American bank, ethnically, very white as well, at the time I was there. But then I moved to Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Bank was much more multicultural, so there were lots of people from India and Lebanon. I mean, it was actually surprisingly diverse. I did notice when I joined Deutsche Bank that I just felt more comfortable because I just saw lots more people that look like me in senior roles, whereas at JPMorgan I didn't find that at that time. And so while I may not be as aware of it, at JPMorgan, I think I did have that element of imposter syndrome and just feeling like I'm not like everybody else. But at Deutsche it was the opposite, I actually felt much more comfortable.
Another thing I would also say is there's also a difference, between banking like M and A and trading. I tend to find banking tends to have the vibe of being more elitist. There seems to be a bit more of just the way people dress and the way they act. It's more about your title and your background and so on. Whereas trading, you tend to find people of diverse backgrounds. So often you have people from very working-class backgrounds who go into spot trading. FX is famous for that. You often find people who are quants, who are these Russian geeks like you have on the desk and so on. Because in some ways trading is much more your validation of daily market prices, whereas M and A is more relationship driven. You end up with a sort of different sort of subculture there. So at Deutsche, I didn't find as much of that imposter syndrome.
25 lessons learned from 25 years in finance: 5 Key Points
“Money is everything and money is nothing” Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean by this statement? What is your message to young people who base make important decisions based on monetary factors?
Yes, a lot of people don't want to talk about money. It's one of those things that you try to avoid talking about, but everybody is thinking about this. When you join finance, you want to get paid well. You hear about people with impressive bonuses, you hear about hedge fund managers who are billionaires, and in some ways, you want to become like those or accumulate the wealth that they have. So I wanted to put this up upfront, but also the other reason for talking about this was that the product of finance companies is money itself. That's the product that we're all involved in its money is crossing borders. You're using money to buy other companies. You're trading money in different forms. So the product is money. And that's unusual because in every other industry, the product is something else; It's a car and we use the money to buy the car, but the company's focus is the build of the car. Or it could be law, it's right contracts. But in banking, the product is money. That is the product. And what that means is everywhere you turn, you'll be facing money in different forms, and so you can't escape it. And that's what I mean by money is everything. So, for example, I started off in foreign exchange in the early days, and foreign exchange is the largest market in the world. Like today, about every day, six or $7 trillion is traded each day. Today, it's huge amounts of money. So when you're on a foreign exchange trading floor, somebody buying $100 million or something or $500 million or something is not really a big deal. It just happens. So suddenly you start hearing these big numbers and then you think about your own salary; your think “Oh, I'm on 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, even a million” It sounds like it's too small relative to that. So the first thing you have to do becomes aware of how being surrounded by money starts to affect you. And one big thing that happens with money is it makes you very comparative. As soon as people start to talk about money, you start to think, “Okay, what's my salary? How is it compared to other people?” You start to judge other people in monetary terms as well. And of course, you never can pay yourself below. You can pay yourself above.
So every year when I used to get my bonus I'd always feel unhappy, even though the numbers were amazing. When you think about it, even getting a bonus is amazing. But you'd always hear about somebody else who you compare yourself to, who got more.
And then another subtle thing is when you start to interact with people outside of finance, you start to think, “Okay, I wonder how much that person is worth or has” which has this corrosive effect on you where you start to judge everybody through a monetary filter, which is not really a good thing because everything has a lot more value than that. And so that's one thing to understand - this corrupting influence of money that it can have on you. And the irony here is, if you obsess about money, it doesn't necessarily make you better at your job in finance either. It can also lead to you becoming self-destructive in different ways. At the same time, I'd also say that money is nothing in the sense that the true value of things is not linked to money. So the value of things is, how good are you at your job? Which is not necessarily to do the money directly. It could be to do with, how good are you at discerning people's behavior in the market so that you can trade well as a researcher. How good are you at modelling different types of behaviours? That's not necessarily to do with money per se. It's something else. It's a skill you need to accumulate. How good are you at working with people and managing people? That's not money. That's something else. The other thing is that money is at some level of social construct. It's not real. You have a car, that's real, that's tangible. Money isn't.
Money only exists as a source of value because we trust that whoever's creating that money isn't going to print an infinite amount of that. Also when you scratch at the surface of money, you realize the foundation of it is trust so if you stop trusting the person that's involved in money, then you'll stop engaging with that.
Another thing we've learned with banking is that when people stop trusting banks, then the bank goes bankrupt, which we learnt from the global financial crisis. So very quickly, this obsession with money. And money often makes you take shortcuts. It often makes you sort of lie to people. That also could lead to a massive unravelling of yourself and of the industry. And often people end up getting sacked because they broke someone's trust as well. So money is everything on the one hand, but it's also nothing as well.
Looking back in retrospect, over your 25 years, do you think that there was a particular moment that you transitioned out of the chase to place yourself above it?
Yeah, I mean, for me it has to be the global financial crisis because before that I had lots of fire in my belly. I was rising up really quickly. And when you were in finance at that point, it really did feel like there was no limit to how far you could go or how much banks could do. But the global financial crisis dramatically changed that. Within a week of Lehman's going down, I thought the whole financial industry would vaporize, and that there wouldn't be a banking industry left. And then I suddenly thought, what other job can I do? Would I need to go into teaching or something? Suddenly you realize everything you thought was so valuable was not valuable at all. On top of that, the social status of banking changed as well. So when I told people I worked in finance, suddenly we were looked down upon; everything had changed - there you thought you were master of the Universe but, suddenly that will change. That to me was a big shock, where at a very visceral level, you felt like everything had gone.
It is then that you start to realise what you value - you start to think about who do you care about relationship-wise and about your career. You also start to think about the hopes you had around money, whether they were misplaced or not. And then there was all this cultural revolution going on in banks to change their cultures, to make them less aggressive. And so suddenly everything changed after that.
Many young people are coming to the end of their education period expecting a deep and long protracted recession. They are also seeing headlines about layoffs in major companies like Facebook and Twitter and they can't help but feel apprehensive. Do you have any words of advice for them on how to navigate this situation?
Yeah, one thing I would say is that having been through a number of crises now, so when I started off in banking, I was a summer intern during the Asia financial crisis. Then when I was on my graduate training program in 98, we had the LTCM hedge fund crisis and fellow people at other banks were laid off because banks were making losses back then. And it really did feel like things were going to be ending, at least to the job prospects. The one thing I would say is that nothing's permanent. So there is going to be a downturn or there may be a recession, but it won't last forever. There'll be a big upturn. And so whatever negativity there is out there, there will be some positivity thereafter. One is it's a cycle. Just remember that it won't last forever. Secondly, I think that when there is a recession or crisis or those sorts of things, things go into flux and lots of things change and that often can lead to lots of interesting opportunities. So sometimes what happens is that banks often would say, okay, we need to let go of the more senior people and we need to get more junior people to manage costs so that to the advantage of younger people. It could be that in the current environment, a lot of resources and lots of people were going to technology, maybe they'll switch and go to finance instead. Often banks and financial entities do quite well during recessions. Certain aspects of them, macro does very well in that environment, so there's areas of finance that do very well, and then also there's geographical dispersion as well. So maybe the UK is doing poorly, but maybe the US will do better. Maybe China at some point will pick up again and Hong Kong will do better. So there's always this dispersion as well. I think when things are in a state of flux, lots of opportunities can open up as well. And then also just remember, things ultimately are quite temporary.
“Failure is the best way to level up” What's your take on failure and how we can learn from it?
Yeah, this comes down to how we change as people. So the idea is we always want to improve and change and so on, but ultimately can you really change as a person or not? Like you have friends or you're in relationships and you think, will that person ever change or not? So how do you change? And the irony is that I think the possibility of changing is much, much higher when you're failing than when you're succeeding. Because when you're doing really well, there's no need for you to reflect on yourself or to do something different because you're doing well. And that's often people become quite arrogant when they're doing well. And you, as a friend, could tell them, Why didn't you change? They'll say, Why should I? I'm doing well. So it's really failure is the foundation of change and levelling up. So when you go through some failure or setback, for example, you may not get a job, you may not get a promotion, or you may get a pay cut rather than a pay rise. You may have had some project you're working on that doesn't go down well, or some trading book doesn't do well. That's really the time when you have a massive incentive and this internal impulse to look to how you can prevent that from happening again, that failure should become the fuel for you to look into yourself and say, what can I do to change? So you have a choice almost like when you get hit by a failure, you can either close in on yourself and become all sort of closed and depressed, unhappy and angry; you can go to a place of negativity or you could go into a place of positivity to say, “ oh, hang on, whatever I was doing before didn't work here, so what can I do differently now to make things work better?”
And so these setbacks, while it's tough to say this, you should almost embrace, because that gives you some information that you didn't have before about how you can be different around a certain situation, and then you can learn what it is you need to do better. Now, maybe, for example, you might realize that you need more technical skills. It could be that you weren't able to trade a market really well, and so then you go and learn some new technique or learn something about that market that helps you improve. I just think in the end, if you want to improve and change, it's really failure is really the only time that you as a person are open to that possibility.
What are your thoughts on how society as a whole looks at failure as a way of not ever being able to succeed? Do you think it's a byproduct of our education system where we don’t have a mechanism to accept failure and learn from it?
Yes for example Carol Dweck has written a book called Growth and Fixed Mindset where she talks about children's education. She talks just about this, where you can have this fixed mindset, which is about outcomes, where you always want to score well. And what happens with a fixed mindset is that you end up just doing things you're very good at because if you stretch yourself, then you could potentially fail. And unfortunately, most of the education system we have is built around this fixed mindset that you get rewarded for outcomes, but not for the process. And so you get penalized for failing. The alternative to that is what she calls a growth mindset, which is that you should not focus on the outcome, you should focus on the process. So are you constantly stretching yourself? So the objective is not the result, it's the journey. So are you doing something that's stretching yourself? If you are, you should get the gold star for that. If you fail at that, it's fine. If you do well or not, that's by the buy. Each time you do fail, you learn though. So there's a learning, there's a feedback mechanism. But the idea is you should have this growth mindset, like, are you growing or not? She touches on this and she's written a book on this subject which is very good and very helpful for people in all areas.
Do you think you, as individuals, started with a growth mindset or do you think you learned how to adapt the way that your mind figures out failure?
I was definitely in a fixed mindset; just doing things I'm very good at and sticking with that. Don't experiment so much. As time goes on, as you get older, you get more mature, you go through setbacks, and you're able to switch your mindset. Now, of course, these aren't stuck, all of these things. Sometimes I do have a fixed mindset, sometimes I do have a growth mindset. So it's not binary. Instead, you constantly sort of change. But when you do go through a sense of failure, one can then go back and say, okay, let me put my growth mindset hang on and see it differently.
Did you ever need external inputs to help you identify resistance to critically analysing yourself?
Yeah. I mean, there's been a number of different areas where I've had that outside help. One is having a. Good line manager is very helpful. So if they are genuinely a good manager, that helps a lot. But more than outside of work is very important as well. So outside of work, I got married at a very young age. I'm still married and so being in a relationship is the biggest feedback that you can get because especially if you're living with your partner, because when you start to live with your partner, that's when you really can wind each other up. They know you really well and that's a massive source of feedback that you get constantly, whether it's good or bad or whatever. So I think that's been really helpful to me. So I've grown up with my partner who's my wife, who's just helped me grow as a person.
Also outside of that, I've also had sessions for multiple years with psychotherapists and psychologists where I'd go once a week to sit on a couch and talk about all my issues. And I did that proactively because I realized that I need to improve as a person. I need to understand myself and my biases. And so I just found a psychotherapist to work with them. And you talk about your childhood and your family and this and that and it really helps a lot to understand why you do things the way you do.
I have also participated in lots of different spiritual traditions from different religions. Because I think that while religion can have a bit of a bad rep as being a bit sort of superstitious but old fashioned, for me, religion is a really amazing repository of how you can live a good and healthy life that's worked over thousands of years. So it's stood the test of time quite well. I've engaged in lots of different spiritual traditions, in different faith traditions and learned a lot through that as well.
“Start with what you fear”. Can you tell us your views on this statement? Why is it a good place to start?
Yeah, you can look at this at different levels. At the very basic level, if you think about when you start your day at university or at work or whatever your context is, you always have this feeling deep down within you of something you want to avoid that day. You have this thing in your gut that says, “look, I don't want to talk to that person or this project, I want to start that project”. There's something inside you that tells you that there's something bad about that that you don't want to and so you end up doing everything else. That's easy. You do the easy projects, and you speak to the easy people. But that thing within you that is telling you to avoid doing something, it's actually telling you something important that that's the hardest thing that you have to address early on because it is something that's weighing on you somewhere. A classic example is an exam. inside you, in the run-up to an exam you have this corrosive sort of pressure and it's tempting to not revise because then you don't need to think about the exam. But in the end, you have to revise to pass the exam. In the same way, one should look inside oneself to say what am I scared of doing today? And do that first because at the start of the day, that's when you have your most energy and just do it. It might be having a difficult conversation with somebody or what you perceive to be difficult because something happened days earlier. It could be a project that's particularly tough that you're just trying to avoid. Just do that first.
And so the point here is that if you start to get in touch with your emotions in a more effective way and having done work with therapists and done all of this type of stuff and being married for a long time, you get a much richer sense of your emotions. And so it's tempting to intellectualize everything because I'm very rational everything's in my head. But no, another sense that we have is our gut and our emotions.
And that often is a better guide to what you should do because your mind can intellectualize and rationalize anything and is very good at doing it. But your emotions are harder to manipulate. They just come up within you. And so for me, every day I think about what is the thing I'm really trying to avoid today and I try to do that first.
4. “Be effective, not efficient: What is your take on this? How do you become more responsible and manage tasks better?
Yeah, so it's a great point. And the distinction I'd make is being efficient at something is whatever you're doing, just doing it really well and really quickly. So that's being efficient and that's great. But the problem is if that thing you're very efficient at is not the thing you should be doing right now, it's pointless. And the example I give is, let's say your objective is to fly to New York and what you end up doing is you find the most efficient way of flying to Hong Kong you find the fastest plane that goes there, what's the point of being in Hong Kong? You do it efficiently, you're swiftly in New York, and you can apply that to anything and everything. And so I think what often happens in our work life, in the academic side as well, we become so focused on efficiency I'm doing this thing really well, that we don't stand up and look, is this the right thing I should be doing? So for example, when you're preparing for an exam in an academic context, you could spend an age studying one particular topic inside out. But the paper will have 1/20th of the paper will be on that topic. So why are you devoting so much time to that? It's much more effective to work out what's the range of topics you should know that's likely to be an exam paper. So effectiveness is all about trying to work out what is the right thing to do and what should you prioritize
People use different terms - The Pareto principle, The 80-20 principle; where often any business, your productivity, your career, all hinges on 20% of whatever you're doing, generates all the revenue, often the tail. The 80% doesn't do anything. So each day you need to work out what is the most important thing that you can do that will have the biggest impact on your life or your business or your career and focus on that. And that's being effective. So it's not so much, let me be really efficient at what I'm doing. It's actually before that you work out, what should I be efficient at? And too often we end up sort of sleepwalking in our day jobs where we confuse being busy doing stuff with being effective. So what you should almost do is when you look back at your day, think about “what did I do today that really moves the dial”. And often it can be nothing. Sometimes you look back and think “ I actually didn't actually do anything that moves the dial.“All I did was I answer some emails, I had one or two random conversations, and I was busy, but nothing will really move the dial.” So then you must reflect on why that was and make changes accordingly,
How do you strategically go over your priority list and also manage to accomplish your daily tasks and to-dos?
Yeah, I'm thinking about that all the time, even to this day. Because at the end what you need to do as a start for any business is you need to make sure you have a good product and you need to find clients that will pay for that product one way or the other. Now, what sometimes happens is that there's too much focus on the product and you forget about the selling side. Or it could be you'll focus too much on the marketing and the selling side and you have a terrible product so it becomes too superficial. So there's always this conflict between the two. And so I and the team, we're constantly thinking about what's the right thing to do on both sides and at the same time, we do waste our time on trivial things often. So, for example, when we look at our website, we could end up spending ages and ages talking about oh, this should be this font or that font, or this should be bigger or smaller. And everyone has an opinion on that because it's a superficial visual thing. And then you think, we spent 5 hours on this. Was it really worth it? Was it really worth that? So we're constantly taking stock of the things that we need to focus on but it's an important challenge and a balance. And then also one shouldn't also neglect processes as well because if you don't have the right internal processes around when you wear research companies so it's about publishing at the right time, making sure the publishing process works, and there are no errors. If you neglect that, then everything falls apart as well. And so you've got to work out what's the most important thing out of all of those things. And as a startup, because everything's so new, you're constantly trying to work out what the right thing to do is and there's no easy answer to that.
Now that you're a senior person in MacroHive, are you now more involved in strategy and less in what you would do traditionally on the research side? Have you had to learn to delegate out responsibilities in a slightly different way than perhaps in a well-oiled structured business?
Yeah, it's a great question. Interestingly. It's gone the other way, to be honest. When we first started the startup I was probably doing less research and more strategy and management. But as we've grown as a company, we can then delegate and get people to specialize. So now I've had more time for research now than before, as we now have other people. There's an individual person that focuses on marketing, there's an individual person that focused on publishing whereas before I was doing a bit of everything. So you can do less of that type of thing as you grow as a company. But one thing that probably remains is this need to look at things strategically, but that doesn't necessarily require huge amounts of time, necessarily. It just requires every now and then for you to take time out, even five to ten minutes, just think, okay, where are we going? And then go back into what you're doing.
5. “Learn every day or quit” What is your take on this statement?
eah. So this goes back to it's partly my personality. I'm very curious, and I like to learn things. And I think that learning and growing your knowledge is one of the joys of life and gives you a sense of purpose, and it just helps in so many different ways. And so if you're not learning over the course of your day, then that should tell you something. That should tell you either that you've reached the limit of whatever that role is, and you should do something else where you can learn or your attitude is wrong. Now, and I've seen this so many times in people in banks where they get comfort. They're in their comfort zone, where they're really good at what they're doing. They're cruising along. They've got their nine-to-five. They've got it all worked out, but they're not learning. They're not growing as a person. And to learn by learning, it can be different dimensions. It can be learning about things within your job, the product you're working on, or skills like, am I good at selling or not presenting? Or it could be in your personal life, am I improving as a person? Am I becoming a person in my relationships? So every day there's an opportunity to learn. And learning underlying that is a sense of humility that you don't have all the answers and none of us has all the answers. That's just the nature of things. So we always can learn, and so we always have to make that decision about learning. Maybe you don't need to quit. You need to change your attitude at work. But even if you change your attitude and you're still not learning, then I think you have to leave, because there's a block that's happening there, and you're not making use of this amazing capacity we have as humans to take on new information, learn new things. I mean, humans are amazing in that way. And so you're somehow limiting your potential as a person if you stay in that rut.
In your 25 years and process of learning, you reported to people such as the CEO of Deutsche Bank. Is there anything that you observed from those individuals that were common contributors that helped them get to where they are?
Yeah, I think one thing I realize when you get to the senior levels of management is that people with very different approaches can end up at the top. That's one thing. There's no set pattern, I found there's a certain level of motivation, and ambition that they all have, but they can reach it in different ways. I would also say that there's a big difference between entrepreneurs and people that move up within the company and become CEO as well. And often people in senior management or banks think they're very entrepreneurial. When they're not, they're working for an existing organization. It's almost like being a bureaucrat in some ways. You can work the machine really well and you can end up at the top. Whereas an entrepreneur is a very different skill set. Now, having been on the startup side, you realize actually is very, very different. So there are different types of success. The one key thing when you do see people in senior management at the highest level is that half of the role seems to be around managing perceptions and relationships. It's a lot more about that side of things that you're projecting an image about yourself, about the bank, about the institution, more so than any sort of technical thing because you grow up in a bank working on product and this and that. But when you go higher up, it becomes more like you're almost like a statesman or a politician in some ways. And the other thing you realize with people at even the highest levels, they in some ways have less and less power than other people do. They're constrained massively because the guy at the top, they delegated running divisions where the people so they can't just come in and say, you should stop trading like that. They've got to negotiate. That sort of difference. They're affected by shareholders, and what the press is doing. So in some ways, you're really constrained. And I think people don't quite appreciate how constrained people at the top really are. People seem to think that, okay, they're at the top, they can change everything. But it's not that easy for them to do that.
When you're just starting out there's so much focus and talk about the application process and securing the job. There's very little conversation about education around how to be effective when you actually start work. So would there be any advice you would give to people at that part of the journey?
Yeah, I mean, there are a couple of things I'd say. One is don't get so obsessed with the particular product or division you're in. I focus a lot on who your line manager will be. One thing I look at would be to see what's their track record in managing graduates. Because you can look at a manager, they could be a superstar, but then underneath them, they could be a high level of churn. And then you realize, actually, he's not a good manager; he's very good, but not good manager. You want to be part of a team where there are examples of graduates who that manager has managed and who've ended up doing well. So I focus a lot on that to start with. So number one, find a good manager. Make sure you're always learning especially the technical aspects of your job. It's the early part of your career that you really have an edge in doing that. And then the other thing is to just understand the politics of organizations where the propaganda of the company will always be that it's a meritocracy. If you're good, you'll be noticed. But the reality is that's not often true. You've got to work out who the power players are everywhere. So who are the alphas, who are the most important people when it comes to trading, sales, research, banking, or whichever area you're in at the level that's appropriate to you make sure they know how well you're doing. And that's the other part of what you're not taught is how to market yourself because nobody's going to look out for you apart from yourself. If you're lucky, your manager may do. But you've got to make sure that when you've done good work, all the right people know about that good work. So your manager for sure should know, but then let other people know as well about your good work. So it should be based on something real. So when you've done good work, then you market that and never take credit for other people's work. That's just bad. That's a bad precedent you're setting. And it will come back to bite you later on if that becomes a habit that you have. It's more on the organizational side, I think that's very important to know.
Now that we have delved into 5 out of the 25 lessons, where can people go if they want to read about the rest?
Yes, if you go to the Macro Hive website( macrohive.com) it's on there. You may find it on the “News” section.Also, feel free to connect with me and you can sign up for our free newsletter to keep in touch with what we're doing at Macro Hive.