Thursday, October 29, 2009

Email from a young gay banker in Asia

Towards the end of last month, I got the following email from one of my Asian readers:

Hi

Have been a great fan of your blog from Hong Kong. Actually I've encountered two problems and thinking if you could give me some advice...

A few brief facts about myself - I graduated from college last year and am now working in an investment bank. I'm in my early twenties and had 3 boyfriends in the past (one in high school, another one in college and one last year). The first two were ended because of staying apart in different places and for the last one, it was more like different values and something just couldn't work out. I've been observing people around me and my ideal boyfriend would be someone mature, who is successful and has his own thoughts and opinion. I think I'm actually more into older men but of course I don't mind if he's a tall and muscular type :P I did go out to the bars and clubs with some of my friends but it doesn't seem easy to look for my Mr Right. Have made some new friends there, they are all nice people but with quite different cultural background. Most of them there are only looking for some short-term relationships and we don't have many common topics. I don't really have to look for another iBanker or consultant but maybe someone who is successful in his career who has similar goals too. I took a glimpse of gaydar in HK however people there are more like someone who would spend 24hrs online and never really care something other than sex and fun. Here in Asia, they don't have a LGBT network here in banks so I have no idea how I could get in touch with people that's similar to my situation. I know you might find my post boring as you've just answered another London gay banker about the tips, however it doesn't work out in HK. Therefore I'm wondering if you could give me some advice on this please? Have you heard of something similar to interbank network here in HK? Whenever I meet someone that fits my criteria, they are all married. You know how sad that feeling is when I saw a wedding ring on their fourth finger.

On the other hand, I actually want to seek career advice from you too, as I don't know who I can talk to about this. But please ignore me if you're too busy. I'm an Institutional Sales and covering some not-too-attractive products which bonus and pay won't be as good as things like equity derivatives. I have a very, very nice boss here and let me to have my own personal life and don't need me to cover the desk overnight. It's going to be my second year here, but I feel myself more like an assistant instead of a real sales. I don't really have to make cold calls as most of the institutions that meet our criteria are already our clients. Whenever my boss is in town, she will be the person who talks to the clients. Not that I'm inexperienced, but the person who works in my role before told me she had the same problem too. Other than that, I want to cover more products as well because what I'm doing now is something very narrow (I have no idea how I could reach my sales budget next year) and I just want to reach out myself and try something more, however that will be something out of her control (as she's not in charge of these other products). My boss is just too nice and sometimes I don't know how to ask her, moreover it's like I know she might not be able to help me too as it's nothing do with her. What could I do? I'm still too junior to be headhunted to another bank. I know I can talk to someone more senior than my manager but it's like I've skipped my manager and makes her look bad. I know it's a silly question but it would be great if you could give me some advice.

Sorry for my really long email. Look forward to seeing your reply soon...! :)

Have a nice week ahead!


The reader's first question is a bit similar to a question that I answered a couple of years ago about meeting gay professionals in Asia. Unfortunately I still don't know of an equivalent, anywhere in Asia, to the monthly London drinks event for gay bankers. However, it's not clear to me that the LGBT networks that global banks have in their Western offices aren't active worldwide, because I heard that one global bank expanded its network into India.

In terms of boyfriend hunting, I always think that it's a good idea to look for potential boyfriends online. As I mentioned in the post two years ago, fridae.com is a good online place to meet guys in Asia. The reader also says that he's keen on older guys. I'm not sure how old he means when he says that, however as a result of past comments on this blog, I've learned about a couple of web sites that cater for older guys and their admirers. One is clubsilver.org and the other is silverdaddies.com. I'm not sure how international silverdaddies.com is, however Clubsilver.org does have a presence in Hong Kong. In general though, the best strategy is usually to relax and to socialise with as many different types of gay friends as possible. Lots of guys say that they met their long term boyfriend when they least expected it. I'd also recommend that the reader keeps an open mind in terms of what kind of guy would make his ideal boyfriend.

Although I don't usually do career advice, I think this reader's query is relatively straightforward. He's only been working in an investment bank for about a year, so it's very very early days for him. For now, I think that he should try and learn as much as he can about as many different aspects of the business as possible. For example, if he finds that he has spare time during the day he should find material to read, and he should attend as many optional presentations as possible. There should be a training budget, so again he should make sure that he uses whatever is allocated to him by attending courses. No one expects someone to stay forever in the kind of job that fresh graduates do, so it's quite acceptable to raise his career aspirations during his appraisals, and get the advice of his line manager. I'd suggest that he needs to stay put for at least another year, but if no opportunities for career development end up presenting themselves, then armed with all his knowledge eventually he should look elsewhere.

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?

6 comments:

Shawn LI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shawn LI said...

Was interning at a European bank in HK past summer. Though I only stayed in HK for two months, I managed to make a few gay professional friends there (again through websites like PlanetRomeo,fridae and expat forums like Geoexpat). And all these gay friends have their own gay professional gay networks. So I think if the reader can make an effort to know a few friends and expand his network eventually he will find his Mr Right.

Going to gay clubs and bars might not be that effective as the majority crowd there are just enjoying their own time with their friends or "seeking friends to enjoy at later hours" Also the music are usually loud in bars, you can't talk too much anyway. If the reader is really interested in someone, he can just ask for the contacts and follow up such as brunch or coffee chat on weekends (since he is in sales he should have the time to do that)

But as a fellow young gay man, I suggest the reader just relax and be open minded. You will make good friends along the way ;)

For his career question, I can't help much as I am still a student. But I agree with GB that he should fully utilize the training budget and pick up some useful skillsets and knowledge. But again most of the entry level positions at banks are full of grunt work, regardless you are in S&T, IBD or ER (especially in the first 2 year analyst part). Just finish all your work perfectly and gradually you will get more responsibility

justapost said...

One year is too soon to try to take on too much. I think if the person is ready, the boss would be most ready to let him take on more tasks. Banks are hiring again, he can start looking out next year if things do not work out. It seems like his focus is either on making fast money (tough, in 2009) or want some recognition. He needs one more year of experience (sorry, this is without truly knowing how good he is).

Fridae.com is a good place to start, but there is really no LGBT network over here in Asia (I am in Singapore). I have a few friends who worked in investment banks in Hong Kong and they seemed to just get to know each other through your normal social circles. But seriously though, would you really just want to hang out with bankers?

Anonymous said...

In London, I think one can also consider "Village Drink" for LGBT social network.

http://www.villagedrinks.co.uk

In 20 Nov this year, there is even a LGBT career fair in London.

http://www.diversitycareersshow.com

Just for reference.

Jay said...

Thanks Anony - as a graduate jobseeker, i will defo be attending the careers show.

Jay

Anonymous said...

Maybe I can help here, as I'm British but was a student in HK.

There is a gay professional group called Fruits in Suits which might be worth a try (Google it).

For general meeting people, try Club 97 in Lan Kwai Fong on Fridays. They have Gay Happy Hour and the people there are generally friendly although towards the older end of the spectrum.

Many friendly young gay bankers can be found in Volume (in the Mid-Levels). Try Wednesday evening for free vodka.

On the internet, Fridae seems quite popular.

Finally, I'm also planning to move to HK when I graduate, so maybe see you there! :)

Good luck!