Time was, bankers ingratiated themselves to clients in an attempt to win their business by taking them out for steak dinners, offering them prime seats at sporting events, and showering them with coke and prostitutes. According to a report by Bloomberg today, though, dangling a chunk of meat in a hedge fund manager’s face no longer holds the appeal it once did. People are a lot more health conscious than in the past, they only have limited free time outside of work, and quite honestly? If they have to sit through another agonizing dinner in Midtown that involves the sort of secondhand embarrassment that can only come from you insisting on addressing the waitresses as “Sweet cheeks,” “Sugar tits,” and “My little piece of Kobe beef,” they might just cut their ear off. What’s a salesperson tasked with providing bonding experiences to do?
Gaining popularity, apparently, is inviting hedge fund managers and mutual fund traders to spend an hour or so working out together. The allure is in the fact that it’s a relatively quick commitment, it can be done in the morning, no one feels fat afterwards, and, of course, the enforced silence (other than motivational shouts and grunts).
Pre-dawn and afternoon classes at Manhattan fitness studios SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp and Flywheel Sports are growing popular with bankers who want to bond without loading up on liquor and fatty foods, according to traders and salesmen. John Abularrage, head of Tullett Prebon Plc’s Americas unit, takes clients to 5 a.m. sessions at Barry’s Bootcamp in Tribeca, where they run on treadmills and lift weights to thumping dance music…Health-conscious clients increasingly view steak dinners as “three-hour ordeals,” said Chelsea Kocis, a 26-year-old former equity saleswoman. “‘Let’s meet at 5 for a workout,’” she said, describing the way she’d invite out traders. “‘You can be home before your kids go to bed.’ That’s an enticing thing for a lot of people.”
Another equity salesman, who asked for anonymity because his company doesn’t let staff speak with reporters, said he e-mails clients a weekly invitation listing classes he will attend. The 5 a.m. sessions at SoulCycle in Tribeca, a block from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. headquarters, are the most popular with brokers and portfolio managers, he said. Steve Starker, co-founder of BTIG LLC, says he spins four or five times a week at SoulCycle in Greenwich, Connecticut, the Upper East Side and in the Hamptons, sometimes with clients. The brokerage also sponsored a charity spinning class for clients earlier this year at Flywheel, Starker said in an e-mail. “All it is is bonding,” said Starker, who’s also a founding investor in Cyc Fitness, a chain of less expensive spinning studios geared toward college students and young professionals. “You’re saying let’s go spin this morning, get a sweat and grab a juice after,” said Starker, whose company has studios in Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin.
And while Kocis has gone so far at to quit her job at BofA to start “a cycling studio in the Flatiron district called Swerve Fitness, which will cater to banker outings,” based on the assumption that this is the direction things are headed, others are not buying it. Like the saleslady who scoffed at the notion anyone would prefer exercise over sticking singles in g-strings at a gentlemen’s club that, according to one Yelp reviewer, “USED to be my prime choice of entertainment in the early 2000′s BUT since the recession (2009) it seems as if they let any ol Sally dance on the pole.”1 Read more »