Nyla Nox Interview in the Guardian (part 2) by Joris Luyendijk

Nyla Nox Interview in the Guardein (part 2)

by Joris Luyendijk

“It’s a proto-fascist ideology. Top bankers as predators and us as prey”

Are top investment banks “deliberate social Darwinist systems”? Quite a few interviewees on this blog have described investment banks as abusive environments. But they seem to consider this an outcome, not an act of design. Today’s interviewee thinks it’s deliberate. She goes by the name of Nyla Nox and for seven years, under a different name, she worked the “graveyard shift” (midnight-8am) in the graphics department of two major banks, one of which she refers to as “the most successful bank in the universe”. She says:

“It took me a while to figure this out but when [bankers] say ‘leader’ they mean ‘predator’. Senior bankers called themselves ‘top predators’, like sharks or lions. This made junior bankers the dogs, very afraid of them while fighting for dominance within their own group. We were prey.”
Nyla has an advanced degree in the humanities, as had many others in the graphics department (a design and layout job where you turn texts and figures supplied by bankers into documents with graphics). Applying her training to what she saw for seven years, she says:

“I don’t say this lightly but it is a proto-fascist ideology. This idea ‘I am the superior species’ and you, being losers, deserve to be brutalised. But by calling it ‘leadership’ they decouple the ideology from racism and sexism. It’s simply the ‘best and brightest’ and the rest of us are inferior. Have lunch or be lunch. And they’re so open about it! Not being successful is your own fault. It’s a super-Calvinist universe. Americans believed it the most.”
When Nyla got in touch with me, she wrote:

“Even in your interviews the banks seem too glamorous, home to the ‘best and brightest’. I closely observed thousands of bankers when they weren’t trying to sell themselves. Is it impossible to speak the truth or to believe it?”
At the time this struck me as perhaps extreme, but reading her experiences perhaps she did see the beast in the eye:

“Have you heard about ‘the cull’? It applies to everyone at the bank, including support functions, contractors, secretaries, etc. Up to 25% of staff is laid off every year, regardless of circumstances. ‘Weed out the weakest so the strong can lead.’ There we were, four colleagues sitting in a row, and I’d count: when the cull comes, one of us will go. Who?”
Now you may think that this is how a meritocracy works. But then listen to this:

“About every three months and without warning or preparation we’d be taken to the basement for a test: ‘best practice’ rules and skills. The test result sorted us into four groups. When the cull came we’d expect group 4 to be fired but often people from group 1 or 2 would go instead. People were scared for months because they were in group 4 … I saw many good operators being fired while less successful ones stayed on, so it clearly wasn’t about performance.”
So what was it about? Brutalising the effectively defenceless as part of a survival of the fittest culture? Read the full interview here for more context as well as many other goodies, for instance the contrast between how mega-banks present themselves to the outside world, and what goes on in its bowels.

There is also shocking stuff about the scope for insider trading: “I saw more secrets in a month than most bankers in a lifetime: upcoming deals, trade flows, projections, takeovers. I could have sold it all.”

And about incompetence at the most successful bank in the universe:

“Much of the astronomically expensive specialist ‘advice’ was copied from existing books for other clients. How do I know? Because in spite of the 300 revisions they had failed to replace all the names! Frequently they’d lift stuff straight from the client company’s own publications. I often saw emails going round – ‘stop feeding clients their own material’.”

Joris Luyendijk: The Guardian

Link to the website


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‘I live in a hostile environment’. Over the last year, many EU citizens in the UK have said that. So many times. Harassment? Bullying? Legal uncertainty? Lack of empathy? Being made into the ‘other’, being publicly vilified, demonized? Encountering obstacle after obstacle, so that life becomes a misery? Like many other EU citizens, I have […] Continue reading

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“Part satire, part thriller and part exposé, this book explores the dark corporate underbelly of the banking world and of those who are stuck working in it.” “Nox has a clear, honest writing style and has unique and refreshing ways of describing people and their relationships. ” “This was an interesting book that gave a lot […] Continue reading

Slaughterhouse Morning review in Tinted Edges

“I really liked the character Nyla.” ” I also learned a lot about finance and banks in this book. I love books like this, when the author is writing about an industry, and writes it so well that we actually learn something.” “The writing style (like I mentioned above), is very unique. It took me a while to […] Continue reading

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