Awards for the best cuff links, and other nonsense

Pink-lined suits, coffee that could start a car, and getting religion during the FinanceAsia Achievement Awards pitch season.
As we attended pitch sessions for 10-hours a day over a two-and-a-half week period, debated with one another over the merits of each case and finally awarded various banks for serious work theyÆve done throughout the year, we couldn't help but notice the quirky side of things.

Maybe itÆs the holiday season, but a lot of bankers seem to get religion at this time of the year. At least a dozen bankers said, ôhand on my heartö as they pressed their palm on their chest and earnestly told the truth. That was invariably followed by presenting to us the ôholy grailö of a transaction for the year. Should we not believe you û unless your hands are on your hearts and a chalice is in your hands?

Another favourite motto was that ôefforts were Herculeanö. And we don't think there was a single debt markets banker who didn't claim to have "re-opened the market" after subprime. That market sure was re-opened a lot.

If you didnÆt invoke heavy-weight lines, then you pulled out the creatively sliced, diced and rebuilt league tables. Or you hedged and pitched multiple ôdeals of the yearö or deals for a country, just in case.

The hospitality of course was impeccable. Thanks go to all those who supplied cookies and muffins to perk us up in the morning and keep our blood sugar levels in check during those after-lunch meetings. We'll go for a diabetes check-up after the holidays.
And of course, thanks for the java jolts. Though we had to laugh at one bank when the coffee (thankfully served at midday) was about as delicious as sweet crude. A debt capital markets banker tried it just as we were blinking back our surprise. He gulped and pushed the cup away, but was gentlemanly enough to warn off his colleague.

ABN AMRO (you will be missed) wins the award for the best lunch venue, for the second year running: outstanding cuisine combined with just the right setting for pitch discussions.

Compliments to Barclays on the best multi-country video conference. Not once did we hear the dreaded: "Can you see me?"

Another award goes to UBS for hosting meetings in a different conference room at every pitch session. We loved the art show. The fact that the rooms were recently re-named, so that even your own bankers couldn't find the conference rooms, brought levity to the process.

We also enjoyed the fashion show. Two more points to the Barclays boys for some stand-out cuff links (blue rhinestones that would have made Liberace blush) and a Martian red tie that featured space ships. Hoop earrings - for the women - are clearly in. And to all men who have the guts to wear pink-lined suits, we salute you.

Finally, a special thank-you to all the investment banks out there û and you know who you are û who respected our difficult decision-making process, who were sensitive to our task of turning a combination of qualitative and quantitative points into something we could reasonably judge you on, who recognised that other banks may have had a good year, and who congratulated us on our decisions while expressing disappointment about not winning. Our respect for you only increases û because we know how much these awards mean to you and hope you know that we put our heart, mind, body and soul into them.
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