When I tell people what I do for a living, I sometimes get asked (mostly by people who've heard the term but have only a vague idea what it means) whether I am an investment banker. I generally respond jokingly with something like, "How dare you use cuss words with me!" The joke is often lost on the audience but, for sake of clarity, here is why I'm not an investment banker:
It is curious to reflect that in the London market of 25 years ago, last week’s decision by UBS to maintain investment banking bonuses in the face of a thumping loss would have been literally incomprehensible. Back then, bonuses were paid out of profits. So without profits, where might the money come from? [...] I have written on this hallucinatory procedure before. Suffice it to say that whereas any corporation could in theory adopt it, only the banks have had the brass neck to do so. Then again, only the banks paid bonuses based on imaginary profits of various kinds throughout the bubble years.
This is also why I can't imagine myself ever investing in shares of investment banks. I really don't know how to analyse or value companies where profits, cash flows and spending decisions aren't necessarily related, and where the principal-agent problem is so pronounced.