"Banks are full of beautiful successful women with dating issues"
It's Valentine's Day and if you haven't spent the equivalent of at least $175 on your chosen one, you're falling behind. But if you're a woman in investment banking, buying lavish gifts can be problematic.
"Men will say they want a powerful woman who earns more than them, but the feedback that I hear from a lot of my female clients is that when they're in a dating situation, this isn't the case," says Lucy Puttergill, the former JPMorgan VP in delta one sales who left banking to travel the world and become a coach in 2020. Research has shown that men don't like women who earn more than them. "There's a big issue around women in banking and dating," Puttergill observes, "It's really difficult for them."
Puttergill, who is currently in Cape Town, works with a lot of female bankers. She says dating is their number one issue. "I cannot tell you how many beautiful, hugely successful women there are in banking who feel like they've been sold a lie," she says. While many of her female clients are high achieving, high earners at work, they struggle to find partners who match them intellectually. "They feel that the only thing going right in their lives is their careers. They're in their mid-30s to 40s, they have a great job and a huge house and some want to have children, but their job takes up all of their time and there’s a sense of failure. "
Younger women in banking don't necessarily share this prognosis. One 20-something female analyst in NYC says young men in hedge funds find it "hot" when a woman is powerful and independent. "For a lot of men these days, this is the type they go for," she claims. However, she acknowledges that she recently split with a guy who was too demanding of her time: "They were in asset management and their hours were on the softer side."
Puttergill says older women in banking are often tempted to double down on their careers because of relationship problems. Single women put more and more energy into work and when they do date, they approach it with the same mentality and treat finding a partner as something to be "achieved." The work persona leaches into personal relationships: "When they meet someone, they end up pitching themselves."
To overcome this, Puttergill helps her clients to feel comfortable acknowledging and presenting a fuller version of who they are. "A lot of people in banking have very low self-esteem," she says. "The achievement and validation that come from banking careers can hide a sense of personal inadequacy. A lot of people in banking have perfect lives and perfect personas, but underneath they feel very vulnerable. I work with people to help them take off the work mask and to see what's beneath."
It's not simply about doing this in pursuit of a relationship, says Puttergill. "You need to reconnect with who you are beneath the high achiever identity. Make your life so full and expansive and enjoyable that meeting someone becomes the cherry on the cake rather than an achievement."
This is the considered way of approaching dating issues. However, the female analyst in NYC is less apologetic about her approach. "I want someone accepting of my priorities" she says. "I need someone who will understand the person that I want to become, who can see that I have expertise that will allow me to be valued in the finance industry. To me that's happiness. I don't want to be at home with the kids."
This article was first posted in February 2023. We're reposting it during the festive break
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