Skip to main content

By Request: The Legendary Farewell Letter

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Since you asked: Below is guest-blogger Keith Hahn's "legendary farewell email" to his colleagues at JPMorgan, upon leaving tech/media/telecom IB:
From: < >
To: [redacted]
Sent: Thu Jun 30 13:44:18 2005
Subject: The end of an era
Dear All,
As many of you may know, farewell emails must start like this or some planetary misalignment triggers the spontaneous combustion of several exotic and furry species. That being said today is my last day at JPMorgan. I would say that it's been a pleasure working with all of you, but then again, losing the ability to walk fully upright, several inches in various key places, and possessing a gait resembling someone just released from a night in a maximum security state penitentiary would suggest otherwise.
Although the tone of this email smacks of someone who just got the equivalent of the petting zoo parting gift behind the wrong door in "Let's Make a Deal" in lieu of a normal banking bonus, I assure you, that even though the bonuses of the departing second years make Planck's constant seem like a Powerball jackpot, I am not bitter. After all, a firm must try especially hard to have a retention rate pegged somewhere between the NYC water main and an incontinent schoolboy, and have a unique talent to put a veil over people's eyes so thick that it makes a burqa seem like a leopard print thong. Thus is the nature of the sweetly scented veil of empty rhetoric, in which all pitch-books are under 25 pages, each telecom dividend is more "special" than the last, each project is on its way to becoming the "SECOND BIGGEST LBO EVER!," and all GBC bindings are dolphin friendly.

To be fair, I have grown fond of many of JPMorgan's finer qualities – the glorious inverted pyramid, in which prides of senior people are supported by a lone analyst, in which Atlas doesn't only shrug, he is in serious need of a chiropractor. It is not necessarily debilitating to process the groundbreaking ideas of those who make "Ice, Ice Baby" seem like an original score, or coexist on the bottom rung of a firm whose idea of resource management is so misguided that its next major strategic initiative is to invade Manchuria, but it does tend to wear on the psyche, if not the cuticles.
My only advice going forward – impair or infirm yourself in some way or another. JPMorgan rewards competence about as well as Pol Pot rewarded wearing eyeglasses, and never has a firm been so afraid of those who work out and bathe regularly. The firm's "star" system is apt in many ways, in that it emphasizes the critical role in the firm played by giant balls of hot flaming gas. The M&A floor smells like Cheetos and feet for a reason, and although this reason could definitely use the aid of some anti-bacterial soap and moist towelettes (and why are M&A off-site activities so desperately masculine (gun ranges, et al.) that in general the overcompensating M&A folk make the cast of Queer Eye look like Gunsmoke), M&A personnel sure are "highly regarded."
So throw off the chains of dynamism, point-of-view, and especially humor! Cast away the shackles of personality, creativity, and passion! JPMorgan will take your tired, your sick, and your hungry – and hire them on the spot.
Switching gears for a minute – good luck to everyone – there were ups and downs, highs and lows, cheers and jeers, kip-ups and tri-pods, but most of all there was soft, gentle, weeping... Most of all – thanks to everyone who put up with me for the last two years. I did learn a lot – some financial, some hygienic...
And next year I'm joining the circus...
Keith R Hahn


The Art Of The Farewell

Not everyone gets to write a New York Times Op-Ed when they quit their job, however disaffected. It’s also easier to quit a job after twelve years of cashing investment banking paychecks. No matter how “morally bankrupt” Goldman Sachs is, Greg Smith isn’t giving his bonuses back. Unlike Smith, who quit his job on his own terms and got to publish most of his resume in the Times, most of corporate America isn’t as lucky – and almost everyone in corporate America really wants to quit their job. So what are you supposed to do if you can’t get any above-the-fold space in a major newspaper? You have to burn bridges the old fashioned way – by writing a farewell email.