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Today I was taught an interesting lesson about financial incentives at work. For those uncognisant, I work at an investment bank which are famed for having ridiculously long hours, though it’s not too bad right now leading up to Christmas when the markets are fairly quiet.

So, today most of my team has gone to Melbourne for a presentation to some twobit company, or otherwise on leave. The associate I work with is therefore the highest ranked person in the entire division. He has no urgent pressing work, since we have no pitches due in the next few months. We have some work flowing on from a meeting, but nothing directly delegated to us.

This is the situation when someone from another division (and hence not subject to ridiculously long hours) comes up to our floor. She sees me, an analyst and a grad plus the associate still tapping away at our keyboards despite the rest of being completely empty. It is now 4:00. She comes up to the analyst. “I will give you $10 if you leave within the next 10 minutes.” He refuses. She goes to the associate. “I will give you $100 if you leave within the next 10 minutes.” I stayed back at the office with him till 8pm.

So, apparently financial incentives are not enough to make investment bankers work less.

What a crazy world we live in.

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