Status vs ethos: why working in the financial industry today?
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
The 80s came with a roaring sound. After the oil crisis, the civil wars, the assassinations, the
kidnaps alongside the heroin epidemic of the late 60s and all the 70s, a new decade came
along with Ronal Regan and Margaret Toucher as main Stuarts of a western world in
demand of a vigorous restart. Those were the times when the blueprint of the
contemporary financiers were moulded, with his suspenders and regimental ties and her
Chanel tier and big pearl earrings. A new breed of youngsters coming for the big bucks to
buy toys and perks that would have helped to emblazon their names in the mind’s eyes of
their peers, right there next to the word success.
Today, it’s rather funny to appreciate how distant we may be from those stereotypes and
how still someone is kept on chasing them, whether in order to pursue a tired witch-hunting
or to fulfil their egos. But let’s go back to our Gordon Geckos…
The epitome of those times, where bankers were wearing double-breasted, wide shoulders
suits and live in the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in areas such as Belgravia in London,
was giving lavish dinner parties and using end-of-the-year bonus to buy a nice European
coupé or some weird creation of art/design for his/her duplex.
And today? Well, today some are still muddled up in out-dated consumerism but many high earning professionals are using their earnings more and more in order to live and share experiences such as travelling, clubbing, eating, socializing and more. Today the goal is to experience the world. The real status is not the same anymore, a golden watch but more of a golden bottle of champagne bought at a table in a club located on a beautiful Mediterranean island and guess what: it’s ok, and please no judgement. We are undeniably social animals, and even if once it was more about owning and showing to peers and acquaintances your fancy belongings, today it is more about doing and sharing, our adventures, through various social media… ok, but what’s missing?
Personally, I started working in the financial industry for a variety of reasons and being
myself at the time a maverick, of course, some of these reasons where obviously wrong and
others where right or actually, looking backwards today, I shall say more soulful (by the way,
I did buy the suspenders and I did wear a gold watch but…). My conviction, in fact, was
and still is that the financial sector is the most important industry of all as, like no other
the business segment, its capillarity ties to all other industries and as Peter Parker’s Uncle
once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. It is of vital importance that today
people working in finance will realise that their collective work can and will impact the life
of billions of people for the years to come, and so they have to endeavour what’s in their
best in order to pave a solid path for other industries and workers that often are aliens to its
at times complicated dynamics – beautiful tough right?! But how?
Well, for the purpose of this post, I shall limit myself to that which I believe would be the
best ethos any financier should adopt in today’s society and I’m not talking necessarily
about charitable work (which is very important anyway), but rather a sense of purpose that
too many times comes overlooked. This sense of purpose lies in the fringes of a bigger
picture: bankers, investors, wealth owners and managers are in the position to be of good
examples to many others that are not in a position of impact, they can show the way to a multitude of people and for this, they should be acting at their best.
So, why working in the financial industry today? As probably there are many other
industries that can give the big bucks. I believe that the answer is so to point the steering
wheel in a direction diametrically opposite from the one that was customary in the past,
away from the old course, the same old one that set the 2008 financial crisis and that still
today makes infamously the headlines of many newspapers. We should all be our own best
selves for the sake of a better financial industry. I will let you decide how!