|The Jolly Contrarian’s Dictionary |
The snippy guide to financial services lingo.™
The key terms, that you hacked out in that still, small moment of clarity, or weakness, when the inspiration struck you and your counterparty, in some nasty bar in a bad part of town in the early hours, while a janitor mopped the floor, a bellhop stacked chairs and the bartender shot you daggers, but through which you clenched the deal.
The cocktail napkin is that terse memorial you both sign before the throwaway remark that consigns your hopeful — and, yes, partly inebriated — aspirations of commercial elegance and clarity to the meat-grinder: “the lawyers can pin down the details later”.
Sometimes called a “termsheet”, the cocktail napkin is the concentrated essence of your deal. Everything of importance — everything you need, to confirm that your respective idems reached a consensus is there: you’re done, you are locked, loaded, and all you now need are the legal eagles to wheel in the stirrups and the machine that goes “ping” and smother the whole thing in acres of boilerplate.
Now here is a curious refutation of a truth that is otherwise universal: the Game of Thrones diktat, that everything before the “but” is bullshit, does not apply.
Everything on the cocktail napkin goes before the “but” — that is its very definition — but here it contains all the distilled, unvarnished essence of your engagement. It is the antithesis of bullshit. At the exact point where the napkin ends — its torn & lipstick-smudged edge — that is where the “but” begins. But note the rude inversion: this time, it is everything that comes after the “but” — and make no mistake, torrents will come after it — that will be bullshit.
But hold on for dear life: within nine months you’ll be live!