Guest comment: A dirty dozen image breakers for investment bankers

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Barney Tremblay, managing director of leadership and communication consultancy Professional Impact, reveals the top wrong reasons for leaving an impression.

Do you regularly undertake a personal image audit? Assets are what you're born with. Deficits are what you create by not investing wisely in your personal image. Like it or not, image counts. Here's where, in my experience, most bankers (and others) get it wrong.

Pathetic Posture

Crouching, slouching, slumping - all signal weakness. Upright is the only posture which commands attention and instils confidence in the observer.

Grotty Greetings

No bone-crunchers or wet fish. A good handshake is made with a whole hand firm grip... reach for the web of the other's hand. Accompany this with good eye contact and preferably a smile!

Hokey Hands

Dirty, bitten nails, paint splatters, even sports calluses are ugly. At the weekend you may be a gardener or DIY expert but in the office you're a professional banker and your hands should reflect that. Have a regular manicure to get in the habit of taking care of your hands and nails.

Haggard Hair

Greasy, dirty, over-gelled, flaky tresses are not your crowning glory. Even long, gorgeous locks need to be pulled back away from your face. Don't ignore inappropriate hair - facial, nasal, aural or chest hair should be invisible!

Eye Candy - not!

Dirty, ill-fitting, disproportionate, unstylish glasses are a serious distraction... as are purple contact lenses!

Ask an expert to help you choose frames that complement not compete with your image and your message.

Manky Makeup

Glitter, gloss and globs are perfect for undermining your professional status. Makeup should be an enhancement, not a mask. Keep the glitz for the nightclub and make subtlety the rule for a day look.

Mucky Mouth

Lunchtime leftovers between your teeth and the whiff of garlic/onion/curry on your breath are distasteful. When you speak, the focus should be on your message, not on your mouth. Healthy, clean teeth and the use of mouthwash speaks volumes.

Contradictory Clothing

Gaping blouses, bulging shirts and straining seams are definitely not fitting. Furthermore, stained, torn or frayed garments leave you looking shabby. Invest! Just remember even a designer label can look cheap without proper fit, TLC and attention to detail.

Jumbled Jewellery

Dangly earrings, oversized jewellery and designer bling do not belong in the bank. Reserve for the weekend any items that divert attention away from your message. Make your jewellery choices discreet and stylish.

Undulating Underwear

VPL, bra overflow, peeping thongs - they're all pants! Underwear needs to be kept under cover. Bank dealings need to be transparent, not your clothing.

Ugly Ankle Syndrome (UAS)

White socks, Homer Simpson socks, odd socks - they're all symptoms of UAS... as is bare flesh showing above sock tops. Pull up your socks! Plain knits as dark as your trouser hem and wearing trousers the correct length are sure cures.

Shoddy Shoes

Worn-down heels, peeling or PVC soles, unclean and unpolished shoes - these are deal breakers. This blatant inattention to detail reveals more about your self-discipline than you realise. Good shoes, well looked after, are the very definition of well-heeled.

Not acting on the above information is equivalent to self-sabotage - can you afford to ignore it?

... And if you think you've mastered the art of business dressing, let's talk about dress-down days...

Barney Tremblay is a fellow of The Federation of Image Consultants (TFIC). She can be contacted at

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