Wall Street is a lot more than a place in New York, it is an American institution, and the fortunes of the entire World seem to be inexorably bound to it. For generations the brightest, and most driven, students were recruited into the firms, with household names, that make up the Street. Nowadays, increasing numbers of qualified individuals are choosing the world of cryptocurrency and high technology over Wall Street.
Top banks and brokerages could boast that they had found the best and brightest and at various times these bright young things would annex the best restaurants and bars, with boasts of their salaries and latest achievements. Supporting the stories of long hours and bonuses were the stories of their employers, and what was going to happen next, always told in relation to expected future opportunities. College graduates wore tailored suits and paid with limitless “gold” and “platinum” credit cards, supported by expense accounts, and all was seen to be well on Wall Street.
Recently, Meagan Clarke, writing for the International Business Times in an article titled Wall Street Bank’s pay Raises for Juniors a sign of Millennials’ declining interest in Banking, revealed the story of Kyle Hutzler. Kyle decided in his student years that he would prefer to work in the area of management consulting than in traditional banking. Kyle, an economics major, took an internship in college for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Inc., He spent the summer working on a small team helping smaller businesses improve performances. When the privately owned company offered him post-graduation employment, he accepted. One of his mentors, an analyst for the blue chip investment firm, PICO Holdings Inc. attempted to recruit him, and the company (PICO) would have been happy to hire him, on a significantly higher salary.
The stories that Kyle’s classmates told of their summer internships on Wall Street; spending their 100+ hour weeks collating data to support the statistical analysis required for selling stocks and bonds in volume, persuaded Kyle that Wall Street just wasn’t for him.
I felt the work was simply too repetitive and soulless to justify the grueling hours,
he said, going on to state:
There are very few people, peers or older individuals, who work on Wall Street that I admired.
Kyle’s views are not unique. Across the US, both business undergraduates and post-graduates from business programs, are choosing to spurn careers in the field of investment banking. There were staff cuts following the recession, but jobs are now returning to pre-recession level, and the banks are having problems getting the best and brightest to sign up. Recent pay rises for junior employees are an indication that Wall Street is worried about its ability to lure the right sort of talent.
Where Are Wall Street’s Best Going?
Wall Street lost much of its prestige after it took the blame for causing the last World-wide recession, and now, to add insult to injury, Silicon Valley and indeed the field of digital money, has been offering greater creative opportunities and more friendly work environments, with not totally dissimilar salaries. Not all of the defections are junior either, M. Michele Burns, a finance industry veteran who sits on the board of Goldman Sachs announced she was joining the board of Circle Internet Financial, a Boston start-up that is building a payment processing system for Bitcoin. When BitPay opened its international center in Amsterdam, earlier this year, they were able to add, former General Manager of Mastercard in the Netherlands, Marcel Roelants to the company’s Board of Advisors. These are examples of appointments at the top, there are many more entering at lower levels.
“Wall Street is in crisis mode,” according to Kevin Roose, the author of Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits.“Banks aren’t attracting the kinds of high-achieving students they want to attract, and many of the college kids who do go into banking are leaving to go work for tech companies after a year or two.”
Goldman Sachs, The Bank of America, JPMorgan-Chase, and Citigroupare all in the process of putting 20% pay increases in place. They are also coming under pressure to improve working conditions after an intern died of a seizure, having worked for three straight days for Bank of America in London. The World of high technology money transfer, of which Bitcoin is the bleeding edge, is not merely an opportunity for business graduates. It may be a refuge for graduates against all that is wrong in Wall Street. The fact that Bitcoin price is currently suppressed does not seem to discourage those career high-achievers that missed the opportunity that the internet presented in 1990. They will not miss this time around.