It is milk round season again: the time of year when hundreds of university students sit shivering in hotel corridors waiting to be summoned to interview by various captains of industry, investment bankers, solicitors or whoever they hope will employ them. Every year, there are the inevitable gags. In my day, there was a bank which started every interview off with "let's pretend we are on Mars ..." (the idea being to get the candidates to show off their sparky, rounded characters). This year, my grown-up friends are actually doing the hiring, and I gather that the candidates are a truly sad bunch.
A number of friends asked candidates how the Millennium fund should be spent, expecting a spiel on old buildings, new buildings, sports stadiums, etc. To my friends' astonishment, the answer invariably came back: "UK equities."
Another candidate was asked what he would do with all the money and time in the world. Answer (robotically): "More than anything in the world, I want to work in corporate finance." Not, I feel, a good sign for the future of British banking.