Finance loses its glamour as crisis exposes the system’s flaws

An interesting story from the WSJ today introduces us to different people who used to be a part of the highly esteemed Wall Street, with their highly-paid jobs, but are now fleeing the field after the crisis exposed the financial system’s flaws and seemingly wake them up to the things that matter more.

Like nearly 30% of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates in recent years, Ted Fernandez set his sights on finance. Though he majored in materials science and engineering, he was wowed by tales of excitement from friends who went to Wall Street.

But when he stopped by an investment bank’s booth at a job fair a year ago, it was eerily empty. The booth belonged to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., and the date was Sept. 18, three days after the 158-year-old bank filed for bankruptcy. Now Mr. Fernandez, 22 years old, is getting a master’s in engineering at M.I.T. and aiming for a career in solar-power technology.

“Undoubtedly, I would have gone into finance if the financial meltdown hadn’t occurred,” he says. “Now I won’t make as much money, but I can go home at night and feel good about what I do. That’s worth more than any amount of money.”

Two things about this:

First, although there are people who choose to take that route really for financial reasons (t0 support his/her family that barely gets by everyday), I think it is admirable that others are beginning to look beyond the 6-figure pay that Wall Street/finance firms offer their hires as well as the prestige that comes with it.  Anyway, I think the industry already has an oversupply of talents and it’s beginning to get crowded.  The non-finance world can definitely benefit from the brilliant minds of those people.

Second (and this might run oppose to my thought above), is it wrong for me to think that this diaspora will see the basic laws of demand and supply at play? That is, as the supply for quants/analysts/traders decreases, the compensation would go up for those that choose to stay in the field or in alluring those that are still undecided on their life paths.

Source: WSJ


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