In a world of bland, promotional career advice from top bankers, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein remains something of a wise old sage. Blankfein is direct, self-effacing and able to reflect on years of experience in a top job without appearing smug.
So, it is with his latest address to the Goldman Sachs intern class. Young people striving to be within the 2% of 250,000 applicants to entry-level positions at the firm need to…stop pushing so hard.
Blankfein, he admits, was driven but a bit directionless. He went to law school because it was an “extension of liberal arts”, still has nightmares that he actually managed to attain his diploma, and went into the sector because “one of the things you get from a law degree is a lot of debt”.
By the time he was in his mid-20s, working for J. Aron & Company (later acquired by Goldman), his “hands were getting sweaty” as he still didn’t know what he wanted to do. “I knew I wanted to be good at whatever I wanted to do, but in order to get good at something you need to start. And I hadn’t started yet,” he said.
“Now people feel like that when they’re 16, which is one of the oppressive features of this generation,” he said. Young people “mark themselves to market” he said and compare themselves to friends and high achieving celebrities. “If they haven’t dropped out of college and started something by the time they’re 19, they’re over the hill.”
Blankfein’s advice is to “chill out”. This is not, of course, a tip to wander through life completely rudderless, but simply don’t assume everything will fall into place immediately.
“History better to read than economics, because history is reassuring when you read about people’s lives and realise that people who did great things failed six times or didn’t get going until they much older. The detours and disappointment are much more educational,” he said.
Separately, if you’re wondering whether investment banks in Europe are simply enduring the usual summer lull or are in for a really difficult year, the WSJ has some news – it’s pretty grim.
M&A, equity capital markets and are all down, and the reduced levels of confidence after the Brexit vote could see muted levels of activity for the next two years, according to some analysts. How will banks respond?
“Headcount reductions, closing down certain trading desks, getting out of lines of business altogether. I think that’s going to be the agenda for the next couple of years for financial institutions,” said Herbie Skeete, managing director at exchange consultancy Mondo Visione.
Meet the junior trader who brought down Visium Asset Management (Bloomberg)
Thanks to the slump in the pound, newly-qualified lawyers at U.S. law firms in London can now earn $180k (£137.4k). The magic circle firms pay £85k. (Financial Times)
BNP Paribas has shaken up its investment bank again. Martin Egan and Benjamin Jacquard are now co-heads of its newly-combined primary and credits markets division (Reuters)
The head of fintech at Citi has joined USAA (Finextra)
“I’m comfortable going through periods of pain, sweat, and tears, knowing there’s a reward at the end. It’s not a quick reward,” asset manager Michael Hasenstab, who’s fund has lost 32% in AUM since 2013 is trying to get back on top. (Bloomberg)
What does a passive asset manager do all day? “We have to deliver perfection every day. Sometimes you have to deliver perfection-plus.” (Bloomberg)
Yes, you should be watching the Olympics at work (Fast Company)
On Usain Bolt’s semi-final smile shot (Instagram)
Photo: Richard Newstead/Getty Images