Should Your Investment Banking Job Limit Outside Activities?

Anyone who’s young, smart, and ambitious enough to land an investment banking job will likely have many interests and passions. But at what point could these interests interfere with your job? And does your employer have the right to limit your activity to protect their reputation?

Those are the questions raised by a recent story from Dealbook, which profiles a young investment banker named Allen Mask, who joined Goldman Sachs as a retail analyst. He’d been an amateur rapper during his years at the University of North Carolina, had recorded several albums, and hoped to further his music career while in New York.

But then a financial blogger discovered Mask’s second life and chronicled his activity as the “hip-hop investment banker.” Other media picked up on the story, and Goldman’s media relations execs were none too pleased. The firm eventually gave Mask an ultimatum: no more performances or media interviews.

Mask decided to quit and pursue his music career full-time. He now works for Google and lives in Silicon Valley. But his story is hardly unique.

Another example is Tom Comerford, who worked in Goldman Sachs’ graphics department. In his spare time, he used to give guided tours of New York’s financial district. But when a British newspaper caught wind of it, Comerford was summoned to meet with Goldman’s legal and compliance officers. He has since left Goldman.

“People expect their bankers to behave like bankers,” says one former trader at JPMorgan Chase, who left the firm to pursue a film career. The trader, who spoke to Dealbook on the condition of anonymity, also added, “You’re not supposed to be known for anything else or stand out for anything besides your work.”

What’s your take? Do you think the banks are being fair and prudent to limit the public activities of their investment bankers, to protect their reputation? Is this the price you pay for working in investment banking? Add your comments below.

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