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Wall Street Programmers Speak Out: No One Told Us This Job Would Be Boring

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Andrew Montalenti is a former Morgan Stanley programmer. He's also a rapeboredom survivor who after years of fear and shame feels strong enough to speak out and tell the world what was done to him. In 2006, Montalenti took a job with the bank as a software engineer after graduating from NYU. A friend had vouched for MS, telling Montalenti it was a great shop and that he "really liked it there." And at first, Drew did too. The project he worked on was "exciting," he liked the people there, it was great. But then something happened. Something so dark and so harrowing to this day it's even difficult to speak of. I'm actually getting a lump in my throat as a type this, as I'm sure Monts did when telling it. In fact, hold on. Let's give him a second to collect himself. Okay. Here's what happened. (Please, do not read unless you've got a strong stomach because it gets quite graphic.)

But soon the work grew redundant, Mr. Montalenti said, and the problems he was asked to solve as part of his day-to-day responsibilities started to seem technically uninteresting. Like many other creatively inclined, intellectually ambitious programmers who took high-paying jobs on Wall Street after college, Mr. Montalenti found himself disillusioned and restless.

It's truly astounding that no one has ever taken Morgan Stanely to task for this. Disgusting even, that they could get away with treating an employee in such a manner. It's one thing to, for instance, insert foreign objects into an employee's ass, piss in his mouth and and force him to wear women's panties but failing to stimulate his mind is quite another. The sad thing is it's an epidemic not just exclusive to MS. Up and down Wall Street, there are tens if not dozens of programmers being degraded in this fashion on a daily basis.

"At my workplace, I did not know one single person who was happy with what they were doing—not even one," said Puneet Mehta, who was a VP of technology with Citi Capital Markets before quitting and, along with two other Wall Street refugees, founding the mobile app start-up MyCityWay. "Each one of them was just getting through it because they had to pay the bills."

The sickest thing here is that, in addition to the abuse, Wall Street banks lured these guys in with false promises.

In the process of recruiting, standout engineers—the kind of people who want to intellectually stimulating jobs—are often told that the programming positions on offer on Wall Street involve sophisticated engagement with cutting-edge technology, only to find that that's not necessarily true. "That's how they attract top talent," said Mr. Mehta. "Going in, most people do not expect to be bored. I've worked outside of Wall Street and I've seen how attractive it is from the outside and how most people just dream of getting one of these jobs." Often the malaise doesn't set in until after a few years. The source of it is multifaceted, and varies depending on the function of the group an engineer is placed in after college. But the most common complaint, based on interviews with individuals who left finance for start-up life, is that the work they're asked to do there is repetitive and boring.

Hopefully anyone reading this, who's found him or herself in a similar position might now have the courage to stand up and say "I am a person, this isn't right and enough is enough."

Programming For Dummies [NYO via BI]


Wall Street Bank That Might Consider Entering The Witness Protection Program Screws Zoe Cruz Out Of A Job For The Second Time

[caption id="attachment_76125" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="How people smile when they're plotting cutting your brake lines."][/caption] Earlier this week, it was announced that Zoe Cruz would be closing her hedge fund, Voras Capital Management. Cruz started the fund in 2010, a few years after she was famously fired by John Mack at Morgan Stanley (where she was co-President), for reasons that remain unclear to this day but include theories like: a) the belief that she was responsible for losing the firm a few billion dollars b) a lot of people disliked her-- including this guy named Vikram Pandi who was "not a fan"-- and told Mack they would leave if he made Cruz CEO c) Mack had to blame either himself or Cruz for some losses and he chose her. d) She was, you know, a girl, and the boys didn’t like that. Regardless, the ousting was probably mildly to majorly humiliating for ZC and since Mack-- who she was extremely close with prior to the personnel change-- was the one who told her to hit the bricks, it would have been fair to assume she spent a least a little time fantasizing about  sticking pins in a Mack voodoo doll and/or slashing his tires. In 2009, though, Mack and Zoe had lunch and she told him she wanted to start a hedge fund. And maybe it was it was the fact that he was feeling nostalgic, maybe it was the fact that tragedy + time = comedy, maybe it was the fact that he was still riding high from "saving" Morgan Stanley, maybe it was the wine, maybe it was that he was feeling bad about the unceremonious canning and thought "Oh, why not just give the poor girl some money" but Mack went back to the office and "told bank executives that he would like to help her start her new investment business, according to people familiar with the matter." And when they said, "But John, didn't you fire her for supposedly taking on too much risk and losing the firm $4 billion," he said "[Well], her track record was a very good track record." So Morgan Stanley gave Cruz $20 million and she was on her way. And while we can't say for sure, and we're not suggesting money necessarily heals all wounds, the $20 million and the stamp of approval and the fact that she could say to investors she was trying to raise money from ,"Hey look, even the guy who fired me wants in" probably helped smooth things over and improve MS's standing in the Cruz-missile's eyes. She likely even had nice things to say about her former employer at social gatherings! And then this happened: Last month, Morgan Stanley asked for its money back, disappointed by the hedge fund's performance and worried about the shrinking size of Ms. Cruz's firm, according to people familiar with the matter...The retreat by Morgan Stanley was part of broader moves to sell off assets that Chief Executive James Gorman felt exposed the company to unnecessary risk or otherwise didn't serve clients, the people said...On Thursday, the 57-year-old Ms. Cruz told clients in a letter that she has decided to close down Voras Capital Management. The letter cited "the difficult capital-raising environment for new funds and the enormous uncertainty and volatility in the markets," according to a person who saw the letter. It was signed by Ms. Cruz. Oooo, that's not good. In fact, it's worse than if they'd never given her the $20 mill at all. But to give and take back? Yikes. All those nice things Cruz said about MS and Co? Strike them from the record because they are so over! Don't call, don't write, don't cry don't beg 'cause you're done! Finished! Morgan Stanely Bailed On Firm [WSJ]

James Gorman Will Say Something Nice About Wall Street When Wall Street Earns It

If you're looking for a cheerleader, go bark up another tree. “Say you want to be out ahead of it and give a lot of speeches and talk about all the good we’re doing,” Gorman said today at an industry conference in New York. “And then some trader does some stupid thing like this guy at UBS did and he’s in jail and all bets are off,” Gorman said. He was referring to Kweku Adoboli, the UBS AG trader convicted of fraud this month in the largest unauthorized trading loss in British history...Traders at New York-based Morgan Stanley had too much latitude in the past, “what I call having an outsized sandbox,” Gorman, 54, said at the conference, which was sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. “Until we can be really confident we’ve got discipline around the sandboxes, I think you have to be really careful not to be holier than thou,” Gorman said. “We’re going to be in the doghouse for a while.” Incidentally, this would a good time to mention that Gorman's bonus policy instituted last January-- STFU or GTFO-- still stands.

Tech Jobs With Longer Hours, 100% Salary Cut Now Viewed As > Spending One More Second On Wall Street

According to some, "payday someday in the future" > payday now anywhere near finance.