Inexplicably, journalists everywhere covering the business beat have declared today “Wall Street Mental Health Day,” or, rather, “Wall Street: They’re F**cking Nuts! Day.” The Post has a piece on traders who’ve been “traumatized by mass layoffs as electronic trading replaces humans” and are, dun dun DUN, “beginning to seek help from psychologists.” New York’s cover story, “Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” delves into burnout and psychological trauma that can come with taking a job on the Street. Even FHM chimes in, with what appears to be a very well-researched article on a raging endemic over at Merrill wherein analysts are so “psycho”—their words—that they can’t understand the dangers of nailing their therapists, which most of them, to their own detriment, often end up doing. (I kid...maybe). But anyway, the New York piece was the most interesting to us because our old pal Alden Cass grabs the mic and really seems to get to the bottom of things:
…Ask Cass why his clients are burning out, and his answer isn’t any different for a banker than it would be for a public-school teacher; there’s a gulf between what they expected from their jobs and what they got. “I can’t tell you,” he says, “how many people come into my office and ask, ‘How come I have this money and I can’t find happiness?’
So what does he tell them? “That happiness equals reality divided by expectations.”
What else does he tell them?
[What do you tell your patients?]
I teach them “Act as if” tips, which is from the movie Boiler Room. “Always be closing” is a good one, too. A lot of my workshops have Gekko quotes, too. I also like “Don’t get emotional about stocks; it clouds your judgment.”
[The Wall Street Journal dubbed you “The Fraser Crane of Wall Street.” How do you feel about that? Would you rather be Niles?]
No. I’d rather be neither; they’re too touchy-feely. I’d rather be Dr. Phil.
[You have an advice column in Trader Daily. Would you call yourself the “Dear Abby of Trading”?]
No, “The Hitch for Traders.”