So, a vice president (VP) at an investment bank resorted to Trump-like ALL CAPS in an email in an attempt to get the analysts on his team to pay attention and follow directions. It's not the worst email transgression that has happened in banking, but it does reflect an ongoing level of frustration felt by senior people who can no longer communicate face to face.
Pre-pandemic, the irate VP could just walk over to the analyst pool, find the person(s) who didn't follow directions and mark up the pages in front of them (perhaps with a Trump-esque Sharpie), while saying a few words so loud that the entire room could hear. The shaming and the lesson would have been complete.
Email is a little different.
Email is great, but only for two types of people. The first group write clearly and succinctly with sufficient detail. The second group read emails carefully and follow the directions contained within.
Unfortunately, this amounts to a staggeringly small number of people, even in investment banking and equity research.
If you really want to get details right, in-person discussions, one-on-one phone calls, or full-team conference calls, are usually the most time-efficient way to go about it.
But, what can be done quickly by gathering a small group in the office, when everyone is working there (or traveling) takes more time and effort to schedule via Zoom, and can seem like overkill when everyone already complains about too many Zoom calls.
It's a problem I've encountered myself. I've recently have been working with a fellow managing director and two juniors. We are all working from home and mostly communicate through email, with a huge loss of content along the way.
For example, I called the MD and asked him to re-submit a document with updated closing stock prices after the 4pm market close, instead of using intra-day prices. He re-submitted the document at 3pm! An hour before closing prices would be available!
This is someone who is capable of speaking and writing coherently and persuasively about highly complex scientific and technical topics germane to investment and business development issues. But he somehow can't remember that 3pm isn't after the stock-market closes! - Or else, he can't read my instructions about the timing in an email.
I have not sent my own all caps communication, but I may do yet.
Scott Brown is a pseudonym
Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash
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