We recently received a review copy of the new book Young Money by Kevin Roose. So, full disclaimer: We received this book for FREE. However, this review is entirely our own opinion, and the publisher never even followed up to check that we received the book in the mail, and certainly they never asked us specifically to review it or to say anything in particular about it.
This is just our opinion.
And our opinion is this:
If you are considering a career on Wall Street, you MUST read this book.
Here’s one of the chapters from the book – the most damning chapter, we might add: I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society. The rest of the book isn’t nearly so stomach-turning.
The book is non-fiction. The author latched himself onto six fresh college grads who headed to Wall Street in the 2010 timeframe, to become analysts at leading investment banks. You get an insider’s view of what it’s like to be a new recruit at companies like Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse – and no, the picture is not overly positive. The kids portrayed in this book are NOTHING like the adults showcased in that “secret society” chapter linked to above. They’re just normal kids – smart overachievers, trying to build a life. (Sound familiar?)
In our posts on Columbia culture recently, we mentioned Wall Street. This book gives you a window into that culture that you may not have accessed before.
If you are thinking about transitioning into the world of high finance, and you’ve never been exposed to it before, you MUST read this book.
You might also want to read some prior posts on this here blahg, such as when we talk about hiring practices at the big banks and why an elite MBA matters to recruiters.
To be real about this Young Money book: This is a slice of life of a few individuals, at a time when all of Wall Street was in transition. The years after the 2008 stock market crash were not normal. Is it “normal” now? Not sure. There are some attempts at change underway, including the recent policy (not fully enforced) that requires (? encourages?) people to take some time off on weekends; see here for the Merrill Lynch announcement, and here for one from Credit Suisse, and the requisite Citigroup announcement. So that’s different. The Wall Street of ten years ago would’ve scoffed at such policies.
Yet there’s some whopper quotes in here. The author reports Wall Street execs saying things that – well, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we are. Like late in the book, one of the associates is talking to a Goldman managing director about being disenchanted about the job, and he point-blank asks the MD, “What motivates you?” And the MD says, “Making money. As much as possible. If money is not your main concern, you should leave.”
Everyone knows that some bright-eyed BSer who says he wants to go into finance is really saying he wants to get rich. It’s the unspoken truth. Same goes for consulting (maybe not as rich, but rich enough).
But for it to be so blatant…
Of course, it’s pretty clear that the author didn’t want to like the Wall Street execs. He is a journalist trying to do journalisty things but he does seem to have a bit of an agenda. You’ll pick up on that soon enough. He’s a liberal arts guy, not a mover-and-shaker guy. Nothing wrong with that, just pointing it out.
Also as you read the book, keep in mind that the author was following a contingent of analysts. If you go to Wall Street after bschool, you’ll get hired in as an associate – only one rung up on the ladder, but an important rung. Your experience won’t be identical to what’s reported in the book.
But it will be similar.
A final note: We hope that all the admissions people out there are also reading this book. It’s an important one. Your season is winding down; go ahead and pick up a copy. You’ll whip through it in no time.