Coming of Age

Rich Pickings


This book will launch on Feb 10, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

"Rich Pickings" is about high finance in the 2000s before the crash, corporate life, and a young man's battle for self-discovery in the face of stress, doubt and temptation. It comprises edited extracts of the diary of Jake Egerton, beginning in June 2006 and spanning about a year. Jake finishes university, moves to London, and gets a job in investment banking. He enters the world of emerging market finance. He’s too innocent and fixated on success to be wary of how corporate life in this powerful industry may change him. What a time, that first year in finance, in a world still oblivious to the looming crash; the promise of rich pickings…

Friday, 23 June

(Average EM $bond spread: 222 basis points [bp])

Just feel confident about it, man. Brasher Menthol is going to be intellectually stimulating as hell, dynamic, fast-paced, fun, energetic. It’s exactly what I need post-DPhil, which has been such a lonely experience. Time to get into the real world!

I shook my head and shuddered slightly, to end the inner pep talk. Drained the last of my beer.

I scanned the room. An inane party scene this, Linkham College’s year-end MCR party, but glowing nicely now (finally!), thanks to the drinks in my belly. There was Emily, her waxy features glistening with sweat as she tried to work her magic on Chris who, as usual, was just letting everything wash over him. There was fat Stu, dancing with such determination that gravity seemed to be looking the other way. A mass of bodies in motion, faces broadcasting across the spectrum from ennui to enthusiasm.

Someone gripped my left shoulder: Tim, all danced-out.

“Bitch!” I said.

“Hey, bitch!” he grinned and removed his hand. “Want another drink?”

“How did you guess, bitch?”

“Livingstone scholar!” we both yelled.

“So, we’ve really finished up, hey,” I said, leaning close to Tim’s ear to counter the whoops erupting from the dance floor as ‘Get Lucky’ came on.           

“It’s nuts, I know.”

He caught the bartender’s attention and called, “Two Carlings, please.”

The beers arrived. We clinked our glasses and drank.

“Well, London is going to be awesome,” said Tim, yelling to be heard.

“It will, bitch,” I yelled back. “Upward and onward!”

Later, I weaved back to my room, getting drizzled on softly. I had drunk way too much, I reflected, swaying over the toilet while pissing. Thank God, I was able to summon the will to go to the kitchenette, fill a large Starbucks’ mug with water and chug it all down. Back in my room, I stripped down to my boxers and stretched out under the bedcovers.

It was a relief to close my eyes, stopping the room from spinning.

Yes, London will be good, I thought. Much to look forward to. Much to prove.

Sleep came abruptly.


Later, I had a really fucked up, classic sort of anxiety dream. I was in the examination room and things were going well. I knew my stuff – in fact, I’d anticipated the essay question almost perfectly. I watched my hand guiding the pen, nearing the conclusion with five minutes still to go.

But then, wait, what? Something was happening to the ink! The pages and pages of blue ink were … fading. Frantically, I tried to retrace the words, but they were disappearing too fast.

Fuck me, no one will believe me! Despair flooded over me. My heart pounded. I wanted to weep. The fucking ink, just fading away!

When I woke up, I was so relieved to realize it had just been a dream that, for a few moments, I didn’t even notice how hungover I was.

About the author

AXEL VAN REENEN is a pseudonym for the Author, who was educated at Oxbridge and holds a Doctorate in Economics. He was at Lehman Brothers when it collapsed in 2008, and thereafter continued to work for investment banks for some years. view profile

Published on December 16, 2020

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Coming of Age