Money makes you happy. Right? Yes, according to a recent report from the UK Office of National Statistics, which found that greater wealth was generally equated with greater well being. And yet senior bankers, many of whom are on incomes in excess of £300k ($456k) and surely have a mountain of assets more enormous than the average, are strangely hollow and unfulfilled.
So says a new study published in the Journal of Organizational Studies and reported upon by Quartz. Academics at Queen Mary University of London and Lund University in Sweden followed six senior banking professionals over a two-year period and came to the conclusion that a successful finance career requires a total and potentially irreversible suppression of the self.
"They [bankers] literally don’t have a self—it is bypassed, put to one side,” said Maxine Robertson of Queen Mary University of London. “Despite extensive and repeated interviews with each, there was an absence of a clear or rich story of identity,” the academics said. "“Meaningfulness, emotions, and personal investment in work values were not salient in their career histories.”
The academics referred to this self-suppression as 'Teflonic identity manufacturing' - or the avoidance of any sort of identity associated with work.
Curiously, however, they found that even outside work, the bankers they interviewed maintained a similar sort of evasiveness. Few had unusual or interesting hobbies: money was spent in ways that would ensure they fitted in with colleagues rather than differentiated a self. However, the representative bankers suggested that they were postponing their identities rather than negating them. 'They spoke of vague, general plans for an “expansive and independent life” in the future, after they left banking,' says Quartz. Some talked about being able to provide for their families when they didn’t even have a partner. Ultimately, it all sounds a bit sad.
Separately, you don't have to focus on finance if you want to earn money. The new College Salary Report from Payscale suggests that the highest paid students at mid-career are those who studied strategy or petroleum engineering. Similarly, the highest paid MBAs have focused on strategy or strategy and management. MBAs who've majored in corporate finance or finance rank only ninth and 11th in terms of mid-career compensation.
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