B-School Life

Fifty Shades of Financial Jargon: An 'Erotic FinFiction' Q&A


Fifty Shades of Financial Jargon: An 'Erotic FinFiction' Q&A

Photograph by Eric Ogden/Trunk

Need something to take the edge off finals stress or holiday planning? Students at elite MBA programs are giggling at a website called Erotic FinFiction which adds a spicy twist to overwrought business jargon — think Fifty Shades of Grey, if E.L. James worked in HR at an investment bank.

For those who appreciate innuendo as much as Six Sigma in-jokes, it’s very funny stuff. For example:

Dimitri gave Sophia […] a tour of his assets. “I could totally lever that” she thought, running her eyes appreciatively over his machinery. The asset intensity would fit her investment hypothesis perfectly.

And:

They were at it all night. They had closed the door, so that no-one could hear them pounding away at their model, trying the most unconventional, wildest assumptions, pivoting tables left and right, merging each and every cell. … At times he felt he needed a break but he knew she wouldn’t let him stop until he gave her at least a 3X exit.

The first posts on the blog are dated Nov. 22. At the end of last week, a post surfaced on the website Medium, called “Comedy Corner.” Yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek heard that the site was circulating among MBA students at Wharton, Columbia, and Harvard. Following a query to a contact email listed on the website, one of Erotica FinFiction’s authors agreed to a interview via Gchat on the condition of anonymity. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Tell me about yourself.

Finerotica: We’d like to remain anonymous (for now), since this is just a fun side project. But we are a mix of MBAs and non-MBAs.

BBW: You say “anonymous (for now).” That makes it sound like you’re planning a big reveal. Does it make it more exciting that you might be found out?

Finerotica: There’s at least one of us who works in a sector (guess) that takes itself pretty seriously. Right now that person wouldn’t want the word “erotica” coming up in their Google search results! So to be mindful of that we’ve chosen to remain anonymous for now. We love poking (!) fun at finance, though, so I suspect we’ll eventually come out of hiding.

BBW: How did you start the blog?

Finerotica: We’re surrounded by people who worked, or will work in finance, some whom take themselves very seriously. We thought we’d make finance sexy for them, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. On top of that, whenever you visit a company recruiting page, you’re shown all these stock images of people in suits at meetings. Why wouldn’t they be having sexy thoughts about those charts or those spreadsheets too?!

BBW: It sounds like you see this as almost a community service, to spice up the lives of finance types.

Finerotica:  Exactly! They way it started was that one of us knew someone who bragged that they could write erotic mortgage stories. We just took it a step further.

BBW: I see from the website that there’s a page for submissions. Have there been many?

Finerotica: Not yet, but we’re hoping all those finance people out there (who know they’re more than just pitch decks and excel macros) will unleash their creative side and send us some sexy stories.

BBW: What’s the writing process like?

Finerotica: We brainstorm terms that strike us as sexual in some way (e.g. bulge bracket, double-entry accounting, etc.), or get inspired by our work experience or b-school cases, and write around that.

BBW: Do you have any theories on why finance lends itself to innuendo?

Finerotica: That’s a good question! I’m not sure, but anyone who can take a class on options and keep a straight face while they talk about spreads and straddles, certainly needs to laugh more often!

BBW: What’s the reception been like so far?

Finerotica: It’s kind of crazy—we shared this as an inside joke with friends and they must have forwarded the link on, because it made its way back to us. We’re glad people enjoy the humor though!

BBW: I’m thinking not everyone has the greatest sense of humor about, uh, financial erotica. Any sense of how this plays at business schools?

Finerotica: So far they seem to love it! Business school students make fun of themselves a lot more than people give them credit for, as evidenced by all their self-mocking parody videos out there, so we’re not really surprised that they liked the blog.

BBW: I was thinking more in terms of business school administrations.

I think it’s fair to be cautious about language when it comes to sex, but if you notice we purposefully show that something’s sexy without saying as much on the blog.  I don’t think we even use the word sex at all, and we plan to keep it that way. The power of suggestion…

BBW: Lightning round. Is finance sexy?

Finerotica:  Yes!

BBW: Is business school sexy?

Finerotica: Definitely. An MBA is a great pick-up line in the right venues.

BBW: What’s the hottest area of finance?

Finerotica: Depends on who you ask. (I’m asking a colleague now via Gchat … she says trading. Nothing beats bid-ask spreads, and going long on stocks.)

BBW: Even in slack markets?

Finerotica: If the market isn’t promising, you pump and dump your stock.

Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek covering small business and entrepreneurship.

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