“Wall Street has gotten so dull, It is essentially a tech job. It is totally silent. For better or worse, it’s lost a lot of its color.”
In Margin Call, the CEO asks Sam, his veteran trader, to dump the toxic portfolio in a fire sale. To compensate for this career-ending move, Sam is offered a one-time bonus. He answers:
“I’ll do it John, but not because of your little speech. But because I need the money. Hard to believe after all these years. But I need the money.”
The scene captures the essence of a firm with money culture. People stick around as long as they have to. But they will leave if offered more across the street. Are they effective at their jobs? Absolutely. But they don’t see their work as part of a greater mission. It’s just another year of doing what needs to be done to get to the bonus.
If all you offer is money, all you get are mercenaries.
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