Editor’s blog: Don’t bank on City types opting for MI6

A report suggests bankers are quitting the City for the Secret Service. But personally, I can’t quite see it.

A mysterious ‘exclusive’ in the London Evening Standard claims that ‘a growing number of bankers have quit the City to join MI6’. In an interview with a man known as ‘John’, who was ‘speaking in a small room in the bowels of the Foreign office, down a labyrinth of little-used corridors’, we learn that ‘bankers often have good interpersonal skills and expertise at developing relationships – a key skill for MI6 officers’. Building trusting relationships and then betraying them via acts of blackmail is, indeed, something the two professions have in common.

It’s hard to know which end of this coy recruitment drive to approach first. Me, I can’t quite visualise those Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan squid-like types seeing the error of their bonus-loving ways, and giving it all up for £28k and a Vauxhall Corsa in which to inconspicuously skulk around the mosques and youth centres of Luton and Beeston.

I have to say I’m not sure this new recruitment drive is working. I live a stone’s throw away from the MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross, and am often passing as the troops clock in or out (I’ve taught my toddler son to hum the 007 theme sotto voce as we push past in the buggy). I can assure you that they’re a pretty nondescript, joyless bunch, with not a Church brogue or decent, well-cut suit in sight.

But they are opening up to the world and embracing diversity. Apparently they’re now prepared to consider previously radicalised individuals, providing they’ve ‘renounced their previous views’.

I’m also impressed that they are willing to employ individuals who have lived a bit. After all, Philby, Burgess and Maclean were all fond of a drop and didn’t mind who they slept with. On their website, there’s a cosy little Q&A where they assure potential recruits that you can still be considered even if you’ve dabbled in illicit substances. ‘Question: In my past, I’ve taken recreational drugs. Can I still apply? Answer: Yes, but you must be prepared to stop using them completely. We are unable to accept applications from anyone who has used Class A drugs (ecstasy, cocaine, etc) in the last 12 months, or Class B/C drugs (amphetamines, cannabis, etc) within the last 6 months.’ This condition is, I imagine, going to count out quite a few City-based masters of the Universe.

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    Matthew, interesting stuff. If we have trouble visualising them, surely that’s a good start, isn’t it? Semper Occultus indeed.