Young money mavens not sold on Wall Street ca­reers

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Mike Stimp­son

THE Wall Street an­a­lysts at the heart of Young Money don’t party as hard as The Wolf of Wall Street’s Jordan Belfort, but then they’re work­ing with much smaller dis­pos­able in­comes. Af­ter all, the high­est-paid among the eight re­cent col­lege grads shad­owed by jour­nal­ist Kevin Roose pulls in maybe $150,000 in a year — big bucks by most people’s stan­dards but a small frac­tion of what Belfort scammed in his days of liv­ing high. This is the sec­ond book by Roose, a busi­ness writer for New York mag­a­zine. He fol­lowed the young fi­nanciers for three years, be­gin­ning at their re­cruit­ment by in­vest­ment banks in 2010 — less than two years af­ter the great crash of Septem­ber 2008 — and found them to be ap­pre­cia­tive of their re­mu­ner­a­tion but gen­er­ally un­happy with their work lives. Young Money is en­ter­tain­ing, helped in good part by the au­thor’s re­mark­able adept­ness at weav­ing sev­eral nar­ra­tive threads with­out con­fus­ing the reader. Wall Street banks ex­pect their new re­cruits to work 100-hour weeks and be avail­able at any time; as a re­sult, first- and sec­ond-year an­a­lysts tend to be highly stressed and lack ro­bust so­cial lives out­side the of­fice. By the third year of Roose’s project, some of his eight sub­jects have left the banks, a cou­ple have left the fi­nance sec­tor al­to­gether, and all seem at least a lit­tle weary and dis­il­lu­sioned. Pay aside, the Wall Street life is a hard life for rook­ies. Short, breezy chap­ters in­tro­duce us to and then fol­low the odysseys of the re­cruits. All start their jobs with an ea­ger­ness that quickly dis­si­pates as de­mands wear them down. Chelsea, for in­stance, be­gins her time at Mer­rill Lynch as a dili­gent mem­ber of the firm’s pub­lic fi­nance team, but quickly grows frus­trated with work­ing long hours un­der a high-strung con­trol freak who doesn’t have her back when she makes a mis­take. Jeremy works at Gold­man Sachs, where his days are made mis­er­able by a boss with an ex­plo­sive tem­per; af­ter his first year, he notices that his own tem­per has short­ened and he’s of­ten un­kind. Chelsea and Jeremy both leave their em­ploy­ers. When Jeremy quits, he writes on Face­book that “the nightmare is over.” Roose ad­mits that his pool of “con­flicted” sources may well be an un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple. “My banker sources were atyp­i­cal by def­i­ni­tion — dar­ing or dis­il­lu­sioned enough to be will­ing to risk get­ting fired by talk­ing to me, and kind and in­tro­spec­tive enough to spend hours at a time an­swer­ing prob­ing ques­tions about their lives,” he writes. The track­ing pe­riod of the re­cruits runs through the Oc­cupy Wall Street days of 2011-2012. Roose’s sub­jects give lit­tle thought to the Oc­cupy move­ment, though none of them are en­tirely dis­mis­sive to­wards the pro­test­ers’ is­sues. A cou­ple of them do won­der aloud, how­ever, if their work is do­ing much good at all for so­ci­ety. Roose finds it sad that so many bright people from pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties get drawn in by Wall Street’s money ap­peal ev­ery year. He wor­ries that Wall Street will change some of the “so­cially con­scious” young people he met, and change them for the worse. He wants to see the al­lure of Wall Street fade so that more “highly cre­ative young people use their abil­i­ties for pur­poses other than pad­ding an in­vest­ment bank’s bot­tom line.” There’s noth­ing deep or ground­break­ing about Young Money, un­less you’re sur­prised to learn that Wall Street is a high-stress work en­vi­ron­ment. Nev­er­the­less, it’s a thor­oughly read­able look at what it’s like to toil as a ju­nior an­a­lyst for a big in­vest­ment bank. It gets a “buy” rat­ing. Win­nipeg writer Mike Stimp­son ad­mits he prob­a­bly isn’t bright enough to be an

an­a­lyst on Wall Street.

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