I just came across this short little summary statement from the HBR’s “Shortlist” weekly summary (which sadly, is being discontinued). It’s by Michael Lewis, the highly regarded author of various Wall Street oriented books, along with gems like “Moneyball”. My favorite Lewis book is “The Big Short” which is a fascinating look at the shenanigans behind the 2007-2009 financial meltdown. Lewis does indeed seem to know his stuff:
Michael Lewis knows a little something about Wall Street. And getting past the usual employee complaints about the financial sector (long hours, for one), he offers several often-hidden occupational hazards for the stellar university graduates who think they can make it in the industry while also holding on to ethics and personal responsibility. One: “Anyone who works in finance will sense, at least at first, the pressure to know more than he does.” And many of the things you have to pretend to know can’t even be known in the first place, he argues. “You will be paid a lot more to forget your uneasy feelings.” Two: Working in finance does not involve joining “a team of professionals committed to the success of your bank.” Instead, most who work on Wall Street and are successful “have no serious stake in the long-term fates of their firms.” And three: “Anyone who works in big finance will feel enormous pressure to not challenge or question existing arrangements.”
So for those embarking on a career in finance, Lewis has one last piece of advice: “Watch yourself, because no one else will.”
The full article from Michael Lewis is here. Enjoy. Or cringe. Depending on your view of where Wall Street fits into the scheme of things.