Beardless is best

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The line-up of new managing directors at Barclays Capital suggests facial hair could be a bad idea if you intend to scale the heights of investment banking.

The UK investment bank released details of its MD-promotes yesterday and, unusually, accompanied their names with their mug shots.

Eight of the 70 or so new managing directors are women, and as such are genetically pre-disposed to facial hairlessness. But the remaining men are distinguished by the near complete absence of moustaches and beards.

An image consultant and headhunter tell us the rise of the well-tended visage is more than mere coincidence.

"Anytime you come up with anything that's a block to clear communication it's a form of self-sabotage," says image consultant Barney Tremblay. "People who have facial hair are seen as very academic types, which isn't good in an industry like banking where you're meeting clients."

"It's definitely bad to have a beard," confirms a headhunter. "People who have facial hair are usually consciously or subconsciously hiding a character weakness."

It's not just beards, either. Tremblay says sideburns and large moustaches are equally unappealing in the workplace, although a small "very well-tended moustache" may just about be acceptable. And indeed, Vladimir Piterbarg, Bar Cap's newly promoted head of fixed income quantitative research, is sporting just that.

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