Morning Coffee: 38-year-old M&A banker told he has a biological age of 45. The highest paid mathematicians in finance
Investment banking ages you. As former Goldman Sachs associate turned academic Alexandra Michel famously discovered in a study over a decade ago, the average banking career only lasts seven years but during that time participants go through a brutal initiation of overwork leading to alopecia, weight gain and physical and mental deterioration. Those who persist learn to pace themselves the hard way.
One of those is Navin Wadhwani, JPMorgan's head of investment banking in India. 14 years ago, the now 52-year-old banker was a 38-year-old managing director at Rothschild, working on a grueling deal that had dragged on for months. He went for a routine check-up at the doctor and was informed that he was inhabiting the body of a 45-year-old as clients took their toll.
It was a "tipping point,” Wadhwani told Bloomberg. Unfit and unable to run more than 4km without having a rest, he set about a relentless training schedule involving running, walking, swimming and competing in Iron Man triathlons, of which he's now done five.
In a Facebook post in 2017, Wadhwani described his training schedule. It included, "waking up every Sunday at 3.45am and leaving for training at 430am alone for the last 16 weeks before the event." Wadhwani said he "was able to manage this voluminous training in spite of a busy work schedule" and that he "did not take a single day off from work during this period."
While this doesn't sound conducive to a long and healthy life, Wadhwani thinks there are benefits. He professed that long hours training alone make you more "patient, calm and humble" and that solutions to family matters present themselves while you're "swimming, biking or running," even though you presumably barely see your family because you're working and training so much.
14 years later, Bloomberg describes Wadhwani as "fit and serene." He still seems to be competing in Iron Men events, although he isn't the most speedy. Winning doesn't matter, though. It's the taking part, and the mitigation of a job mostly spent sitting down, entertaining clients or on planes.
Separately, if you're looking for the most highly paid quants in finance, you should probably cast an eye on XTX Markets. The electronic trading firm, which employs 190 people, made £1.1bn in profits last year from its UK entities alone. This helps explain how it is that Alexander Gerko, the mathematician and former Deutsche Bank trader who founded XTX paid an alleged £487m in tax. Others at XTX appear less well remunerated - the average salary and bonus for employees at XTX Markets Technologies in 2022 was £279k.
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