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Why Wall Street should start focusing on purpose rather than ‘Gordon Gekko-like greed’

Wall Street banks are facing an uphill battle to hire enough junior talent. In an attempt to attract young talent, entry level salaries have been increased across the sector – but it may not be enough. “What is needed is a major change to business practices and focusing on purpose rather than Gordon Gekko-like greed”, says recruiting expert Chad Sowash.

Jasper Spanjaart on August 12, 2021 Average reading time: 3 min
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Why Wall Street should start focusing on purpose rather than ‘Gordon Gekko-like greed’

You may not be familiar with the name Ben Chon. But in many ways, Chon’s story looks set to be the norm for the world of investment banking. After finishing up his degree at the University of California, Chon started as an analyst at J.P. Morgan. “When you work in banking, or really any type of high-paying job, it’s really easy to get lost in the mindset of thinking a lot about compensation”, he says in a video. “I really fell into that mindset of needing to make a lot of money and holding onto jobs because I was used to living a certain way.”

Most analysts aren’t born to crank out financial models and presentations, let along for 70 to 100 hours a week.”

Chon sees three main reasons for why investment bankers may leave — which all translate directly to the talent acquisition problems. “Firstly, the lifestyle gets unattainable in the long-run”, Chon says. “Secondly, the work tends to get really repetitive. Most analysts aren’t born to crank out financial models and presentations, let along for 70 to 100 hours a week. Thirdly, tying into that, you eventually want to gain a new set of skills.”

Salary hikes across the board

Meanwhile, pretty much all investments banks have recently announced salary hikes for junior positions. According to Financial News, Rivals Barclays, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and UBS and Credit Suisse will all offer first-year analysts a yearly salary of $100,000, with often a $20,000 ‘lifestyle bonus’ on top.

It’s not all about the money

In May 2021, global marketing agency LEWIS delved into what it is that Gen Z want. Much has been speculated about the generation born from 1995 onwards — but as the future of work depends on a new generation, it is becoming abundantly clear that this is a generation that cares about values. “It’s clear that Gen Z prioritise values above all else”, said Chris Lewis, CEO of LEWIS.

That means that a whopping of Gen Z 81% would not want to work for a company that doesn’t share their values.

According to LEWIS’ research, only 19% of Gen Z would be willing to work for a company that does not share their values. We don’t pretend to be math wizards, but that means that a whopping 81% of Gen Z would not want to work for a company that doesn’t share their values. “Companies that don’t understand or reflect that will find themselves struggling to attract and retain the best talent”, Lewis concluded.

‘Clinging to 1930s practices’

But the buck doesn’t just stop at the fact that Gen. Z is more value-driven than most of their predecessors, says recruiting veteran and Chad and Cheese co-host Chad Sowash. “The biggest struggle lies in the fact that they’re still mandating people to work only in the office. Moreover, they’re still clinging onto other 1930s practices of doing business, like pay inequity, harassment, et cetera.”

“We only have some much time on this rock and getting stressed over stupid old white men sh*t isn’t a Gen Z thing.”

As far as what will be needed from those working around the clock to acquire enough, young talent, a major change to business practices will be needed according to Sowash. “It all comes down to a focus on purpose rather than Gordon Gekko-like greed. Companies, especially Wall Street, need to start understanding the value of the time and deliverable human gives them. We only have some much time on this rock and getting stressed over stupid old white men sh*t isn’t a Gen Z thing.”

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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