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Finance Culture: Hard Work Has its Rewards

By Lucas Laursen

Financiers would shudder to be lumped together as a "culture," but they do seem to have one thing in common: an intense work ethic.

The Bad Rap

Financiers have historically earned a reputation for ruthless ambition, macho gamesmanship, and clubbish exclusivity. It's fashionable to play that down, of course. But financiers do find that the workplace culture rewards a mixture of informed assurance and networking.

The collective enterprise of Wall Street has had an edgy reputation since nineteenth-century Gilded Age industrial tycoons made fortunes on the backs of immigrant labor and competition-stifling monopolies. The sheer self-confidence required to build these fortunes (not to mention the fortunesthemselves) attracts a highly ambitious workforce today. While some analysts tire of their colleagues' moaning and groaning, most ultimately enjoy pushing themselves.

The Glamor

Wall Street went Hollywood with the 1987 Charlie Sheen film Wall Street, released in the same year as the junk bond crash. The glamour of the junk bond boom was replaced in the late 1990s with the tech stock boom that went crash in 2000. Notice a pattern?? Yet somehow, the high stakes will always entice each generation's aspiring Vanderbilts and Carnegies.

New arrivals in the office are quickly indoctrinated in the ethics of hard work, putting in long hours and often learning their jobs as they go. Then it's networking after hours with colleagues at the local bar. Such intense work and play means equally intense, rewarding bonding.

Young analysts report that they enjoy each other's self-selected, very bright company. It may be fierce, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

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