Bank of England, London by Tadie88 CC BY-SA

‘Swimming with Sharks: My Journey into the World of the Bankers’ by Joris Luyendijk: a short review

I had heard of Joris Luyendijk’s book but to be honest I had neither bought it myself nor paid more attention to it. One can hear or read so much about the banking sector whether you like that industry and the people who work there or not. I read many magazines and online articles but I skipped his book. I was wrong to do so.

Banking is a crucial part of the economy from retail banking to mergers and acquisitions and all other financial activities. I got the book at my birthday party and I read it in a matter of days. It is about how Joris, an anthropologist and journalist from The Guardian, learns and finds his way in the financial sector in London and gains experience and knowledge with every person he meets and in cases interviews.

The book does not focus on technical details but much more about corporate tribalism in banking, the impact of reward structures and thus behaviour and culture. Why do or did the persons behave the way they do or did? How do reward and fear of job loss drive behaviour? How do the people in the banking sector create their own tribe and ensure it remains intact.

I can highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to get a specific insight in those elements in banking and potentially as a learning in general. But let’s be honest, banking is a unique sector but other industries or areas can have similar or different aspects which leads to behaviour and culture that the public would also not want. Consider this when reading the book. How should you and our society tackle behaviour and culture which has gone beyond where the risk of damage outweighs the benefits. This book certainly begs this question.

Dit kan niet waar zijn - Joris Luyendijk

Photo: cover of the Dutch edition
Main Photo: Bank of England, London by Tadie88 CC BY-SA

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