The real reasons Ivy Leaguers flock to Wall Street
Best-selling author Michael Lewis, the scribe of hits like “Moneyball,” “Flash Boys,” and “Liar’s Poker,” just penned an eye-opening op-ed on Wall Street and what it does to young bankers. A former banker himself, Lewis identifies several structures – or occupational hazards – that can turn bankers into a cliché of themselves: selfish, immoral and egotistical.
But his first point, why Ivy League graduates still flock to Wall Street, may be the most interesting. He argues that the funnel from Ivy League schools to banks is about much more than just the fact that they both are home to smart people, something Kevin Roose also notes in his recent book, “Young Money.”
Part of the parallel is about status, Lewis claims. People who enjoy the reaction to “I go to Harvard” also get a kick out of saying “I work at Goldman Sachs.” And, unlike in other industries, like tech, where you need to make something to be somebody, Wall Street only asks you to sign an employment contract to gain status.
Roose offered a different take after following a bunch of fresh young bankers around for two years for his book. He argues that, as graduates, most Ivy Leaguers aren’t born risk takers. In fact, they’re the opposite. Many are naturally anxious, and there’s nothing scarier than graduating without a job or any plan on what to do in life.
Investment banks provide a cure. Two-year analyst programs and job offers before graduation. “We think of Wall Street as being full of these crazy risk takers. But in a lot of schools it's these scared organization kids going to Wall Street,” he told Vox earlier this year.
While each take different angles, the point is the same. Banks, whether inadvertently or through design, often take advantage of recruits’ weaknesses: fear and ego. And if you aren’t careful, investment banking will help nurture both of these attributes, Lewis suggests.
Banking and strategy consulting both pay well. And they both offer the glamour of interacting with key players in the global economy. But which is right for you?
Want to know which investment banks are having a good 2014 and in what areas? The first half leagues tables are out. Hint: J.P. Morgan did well.
Harvard has picked an insider, Stephen Blyth, as the new head of its $36.4 billion endowment. Some may consider the move a surprise considering the fund has underperformed for several of the years he’s been there.
Just how bad has traffic been in New York during the U.N. Summit? Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman was caught taking the subway. He made $465.4 million last year.
Former investor relations executive Michael Lucarelli, who was last seen running from a courthouse shoeless and in a tank top, has pled guilty to insider trading. His lawyer said Lucarelli developed a hankering for cocaine, which may have pushed him to trade illegally.
Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down. This could be good news for banks, particularly those that haven’t yet settled mortgage claims. Holder was tough on Wall Street.
RBS Chairman Philip Hampton plans to step down next year to join the board of drug maker Glaxo. No successor has been named.n=Body
Buzz Around the Office
Apple was forced to pull its latest iOS update after iPhone users lost the ability to use one key function: to make phone calls.
Quote of the Day: “More generally, anyone who works in big finance will feel enormous pressure to not challenge or question existing arrangements.” – Michael Lewis