Review: Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile

“Cityboy”: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile is a novel by Geraint Anderson based on the years he spent working as a utilities analyst for a variety of banks in the City of London. Geraint first started writing an anonymous column called ‘Cityboy’, which appeared each week in the free evening paper ‘thelondonpaper’. The column became very popular as he revealed the stories of excess and backstabbing that were an everyday event in the line of work in which he was involved.

In 2008 he decided to reveal his identity and this book was timed to be released soon after. As luck would have it (for him!) he released the book just as the media’s attention was focusing on the finance industry due to the credit crunch and impending recession.

Geraint makes it clear that this book isn’t autobiographical. It is a novel, but he says the characters and events are typical of what he observed whilst working in the square mile. The ‘hero’ of the story is Steve, a bit of a hippy with not much ambition and lacking in a career until his brother arranged an interview with a French bank. Somehow he got the job and was plunged into the exiting world of being a utilities analyst.

Geraint clearly doesn’t think highly of the life of a financial analyst. He describes the job as being about coming up with a vaguely plausible explanation of which way a share price will move and occasionally publishing these findings as a research note. It doesn’t matter if the note is wrong as long as it has been written in a way that covers your back! Once the note is published the analyst will travel round trying to persuade clients of the value of the note, in the hope that they will then place orders and trades with the bank. More trade equals more bonus – and it is bonuses which appear to be the major motivating factor of the people in the book.

Steve doesn’t take the job too seriously until he has an encounter with the number one rated utilities analyst – Hugo Bentley. Hugo is arrogant, successful, rich – everything the young Steve wants to be. He irritates Steve to such an extent that Steve makes it his life’s goal to beat Hugo to the spot of being the number one rated utilities analyst.

To do this he has to attract more and more commission from his clients, and work an every increasing number of hours. Along with the hours comes a whole host of bad behavior. Drug usage and heavy drinking are all in a days work for Steve, as are expensive holidays and even more expensive bets.

This book is a fun and quick read. It will certainly make you more skeptical of what an analyst does for a living, and probably make you jealous that some people can make so much, for doing so little.

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3 Responses to “Review: Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile”

  1. Ola says:

    I aspire to get into or break into or work my way into (whichever works) a career as a Cityboy after uni, however take more than many parts of this tale of fiction with more than a handful of salt.

  2. Hugo says:

    Anyone know the identity of the real Hugo Bentley?

  3. fakecityboy says:

    the utilities research team that won the extel awards at that time was the one from Smith Barney Citigroup. So Hugo Bentley is either Daniel Martin or Peter Atherton. I don’t know!

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