As you may have heard, many of your colleagues in the financial services industry will be laid off in the coming months, if they haven’t been already. Wall Street is in the process of cutting 200,000 positions, and those who aren’t escorted into a room with an HR representative and a box of tissues should consider themselves lucky, particularly if they need money to live, have a family to support, and/or like their jobs. For others, however, being told they have 20 minutes to box up their things, walk out the door and not come back unless they want to tussle with security turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to them. These would be people who’ve either been suppressing a nagging voice telling them to go after a passion that doesn’t involve working on Wall Street or for whom the appeal simply lies in not spending the majority of their day fantasizing about life that doesn’t so closely resemble hell. Among those who fall into the latter category, coming into the office has gotten so bad that if you gave them the option to leave their current situation to take a 95% pay cut and run the risk of death by stabbing, they’d go jump at the opportunity. Wyatt Laikind knows what we’re talking about.
Laikind, 26, made three times as much in his first year out of college working at Citigroup Inc. (C) as his single mother earned when he was growing up in western Massachusetts. “It was like winning the lottery to get that job,” said Laikind, who worked as an associate on the New York-based bank’s high-yield credit-trading desk. He got a job on Wall Street because he “was under the impression that it was a more meritocratic environment,” and “my hard work and intelligence would be paid off,” he said. At first, he liked the excitement, he said. Then, after financial regulations curtailed proprietary trading, the job became “less appealing.” He said he didn’t like smiling at clients while having to figure out how to profit from them. In July, after a vacation, he called his boss to quit, he said in an interview from Quito, Ecuador, where he is now working for Equitable Origin LLC, a start-up that offers a certification system for oil exploration. His salary is less than 5 percent of what he made at Citigroup, he lives with intermittent hot water, and he was robbed at knifepoint last month, he said.
“I feel happier on a daily basis,” Laikind said.
As a thought experiment for the group, so you can keep it in the back of your mind, let’s explore our personal thresholds as it relates to theoretically working at Citi. At what level do you figure you could honestly say, I’d be happier [insert scenario here, for example: earning 98% less and being mugged walking to my car; earning 50% less and being relieved of my iPhone on the subway; earning 86% less and having limited access to indoor plumbing; earning 99% less and dancing for my dinner] than working at Citi.
Wall Street Unoccupied With 200,000 Job Cuts [Bloomberg]
**Where do you work now?