In the investment banker (or IBanker) world, where a great deal of effort goes into creating buzzwords and phrases like “leveraging the franchise,” “increasing the footprint,” and “maintaining work-life balance,” an even greater amount of effort goes into creating pleasant synonyms for “We fucked up” and “You are paying for our fuck-up with your job, pal.”
What is not generally known is that these phrases and synonyms are collected and updated in a shared dictionary that is housed on a secure server underneath the Bank of New York building on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. It was originally called the Gould Standard, after robber-baron Jay Gould, who started gathering current Wall Street slang after he won control of Western Union in the late 1800’s. It is currently known simply as the LieBanker.
The 2008 version of the LieBanker mandates that any corporate discussion of billion-dollar write-downs, massive losses due to risky portfolio positions, and personal responsibility for stupid investment mistakes should all be described by the phrase “turbulent market conditions” or "current corporate environment." It also requires that, in every meeting or discussion of these conditions, the following quote from Charles Darwin should be prominently displayed:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
(The number of false assumptions contained in that single sentence are staggering, and deserve a separate post; for the moment let me just say that an investment banker who is actually responsive to change is like a mountain which is actually responsive to erosion –- the effects are visible only after eons, not e-mails.)
The following synonyms for “You are paying for our fuck-up with your job, pal,” are taken from the 05-15-08 LieBanker, which has not been updated since that date because the analyst in charge of it was from Bear Stearns:
Bobbit. A particularly emasculating form of severance; as in, "Did you hear what happened to Brian? It was a real Bobbit."
Boned. To have all the personnel and consultant fat removed from your group or department by those butchers in Human Resources; as in, “Oh man, we got boned in the last RIF.”
BS. A layoff which occurs because it will make the next quarter's balance sheet numbers look good. A BS always affects actual employees, not consultants.
Cap-sized. To have your numbers reduced based on budget restrictions and not performance. Departments that have been cap-sized usually end up life-boated (qv).
De-mailed. To have your absence in the company discovered only when someone realizes you are no longer in the e-mail directory; as in, “Oh my God -- Sharon Radulov just got de-mailed.”
Foxed. To be walked out of your office by security after getting boned. From Bud Fox, the character played by Charlie Sheen in Wall Street.
Life-boated. What happens when the survivors of a cap-size are assigned to different departments.
RIF. Reduction in Force. Not to be confused with ROF, which stands for Retention Of Fuckers, the worst of whom always seem to survive layoffs with their jobs and attitudes intact.
Right-size. The kinder gentler way of saying “down-size,” which is the kinder gentler way of saying “laid off,” which is the kinder gentler way of saying “fired.” Right-sizing means there was something wrong with having all those people doing one job apiece, and therefore something right about a smaller amount of people doing three jobs apiece. It also implies that the kinder gentler event which has just taken place is really just another example of the most overused word in LieBanker: a correction.
Tipped. To be pushed onto the life side of work-life balance.
Unpersonnel. Former high-level company officers who have to be edited out of all corporate historical records; as in, "Zoe Cruz has to be taken out of that video--she's an unpersonnel."
Wrapping. A large severance package; as in, "He's gone, but they gave him a lot of wrapping, so he should be okay for the next few months."
Z-sponsible. Used to describe the person least responsible for a multi-billion-dollar mistake, who then takes the fall for the person actually responsible. The rules of corporate z-sponsibility require that any mistake resulting in massive write-offs can only be rectified by de-mailing as many people as possible at the bottom of the payroll pyramid.