|The Jolly Contrarian’s Dictionary |
The snippy guide to financial services lingo.™
Structurer /ˈstrʌkʧərə/ (n.)
A queer fish with an odd relationship with the legal department, from whose bosom the very idea of a “structurer” originated. Structurers, and legal structurers, are some kind of odd hybrid between Sales and Trading, hired onto the desk in the dog days of 2005 (when anyone actually did “structuring”) to salt away the fiddly details of a complex derivative trade that Trading can’t model and Sales has no hope of understanding, let alone giving the merest toss about. Structurers are essentially lawyers that have got a bit giddy about working in an investment bank.
Whether she is a legal übermensch who has overcome her basic nature to become something greater, or just a runt who, having proven unable to hack the rigours of unadulterated legal practice, has succumbed to her own mortal weakness, is a matter of conjecture. Opinions are divided: structurers will tell you it’s the former; unreconstructed in-house lawyers will swear it’s the latter — each talks her own book, in other words — though the irony is that private practice lawyers will say exactly the same thing about those who have gone in-house.
In any case, structurers tend to obsess about legal details, to the exasperation of those in legal whose job it actually is to obsess about this. Observe the effect this has on legal product: when two factions in the same camp are trying to outdo each other’s pedantry before the other side has even had a look, there is scant hope that the document will avoid disaster: it was this kind of internal arms race, after all, that led to the CDO cubed.
Structurers will not advance their odd relationship with the legal department should, in their excitement with their new life, stray into overfamiliarity with former colleagues still consigned to the old one. For example the following, when uttered by a newly-migrated structurer who, a few short days ago, worked, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and was himself a beloved member of the legal team, is apt to “take the biscuit”:
Should he continue in this vein young sir will, with indecent speed, find himself quite unbelovèd by his alma mater. Those who remain will regard him with the fondness surviving members of MI6 — the ones who weren’t betrayed and murdered by a filthy double-crosser — have for Kim Philby. Their humour will not be improved by being addressed as “legal eagles”.