Time was, there were two types of people who worked on Wall Street. There were the people who lived and breathed the markets, the people whose pulses quickened at the thought of closing a deal, the people who got a rush gazing into the eyes of an Excel spreadsheet. Then there were the people who hated every waking second they spent working in the industry, the people who fantasized about leaving on an hourly basis, the people who dreamed of coming in one day and being fired, because they couldn't actually bring themselves to quit. Typically, this was because the money was too good.
Now, even for the select few whose compensation wasn't hacked to pieces post-crisis, the money is no longer enough to keep them in their desk chair, sending a silent prayer into the universe that HR put them out of their misery. In fact, taking a tech job for zero money and more hours is now viewed as a vertical move.
It was February 2012 and banks, dealing with the fallout from the credit crisis, had culled more than 230,000 jobs the year before. Stu Taylor, the London-based global head of matched principal trading at UBS Group AG, figured he better get out. So he left his seven-figure salary and risked his life savings on a technology startup. He and three partners “went into a zero-salary moment” setting up Algomi Ltd., a bond sales management platform to be used by traders, portfolio managers and investors. Three years later, the 42-year-old says the far longer hours to bring home a fraction of his previous pay are worth it. “I enjoy what I’m doing, we’re creating something I think is making a difference, and it’s mine.” As investment firms including UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Deutsche Bank AG have curtailed or shuttered lines of business, particularly in debt trading, the contractions have prompted former bankers to quit finance and put their experience to use in the new field of financial technology, or fintech...Ex-bankers such as Taylor who left big-ticket jobs consider their moves an investment as well. “What I’ve lost financially, I have absolutely gained in terms of wanting to be there,” he said. “And hopefully, maybe, there is a payday someday in the future.”
If you, too, are one quarter away from saying "Fuck this shit, I'd rather work for nothing than spend another nanosecond in this job," take heart: you're not alone.