Back when they first began their careers, a number of former finance professionals tell The Wall Street Journal today, it was, as we said back then, all about the Benjamins. "It was the sexy thing to do," one investment banker says. But over the past year, they have learned some harsh lessons, and they have begun to reassess their priorities. Some of them have experienced some pretty major epiphanies about life, and have decided to strive to be Better People. As 25-year-old former Goldman Sachs analyst Yewande Fapohunda tells it:
"Now, people are starting to think you can do extraordinary things without making extraordinary money."
Yes. Now they are starting to think that it is possible to live life without being a slave to the desire to accumulate massive piles of cold, hard cash. Wild! What other lessons has the crash taught these geniuses? An economist weighs in:
"Some professions are socially more useful than others, even if they are not as well compensated."
You don't say. Like nursing or pro bono law or teaching underprivileged children?
Not really, no. Rather, the former finance workers interviewed by the Journal are finding fulfillment in other ways, like by starting entrepreneurial ventures backed by their "healthy savings accounts." One guy they interviewed is pursuing his dream of starting a company to sell "niche lagers." Another, John Servin, traded in his Manhattan apartment for a multi-acre farm in Vermont, where he's looking for a job at a leisurely pace. He was actually relieved to be fired from Merrill Lynch because, he says, "I wasn't using my brain." No shit! We would never have guessed.
And then there's Bill Sonner. As a former trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Bill was so tough, his colleagues called him "the sniper." Now, he's driving a Mister Softee truck.
Mr. Sonner says he earns $60,000 to $80,000 a year, a far cry from the $350,000 he regularly made at the NYSE, but enjoys his route. He treats people right, cutting deals on ice-cream sandwiches or custom-ordering popsicles for picky customers.
Rivals get a different treatment. To chase away the competitor, he lowered his price and kept repeating the discount every day until the other guy gave up. "I knew I would beat him," he says.
Well. Old habits die hard, we guess.