Over the past few days I’ve been getting emails, instant messages, and texts from Wall Streeters mocking the Forbes 30 Under 3o in finance list.
The messages look something like this (some of these have been edited for clarity):
- “[Name redacted] is an idiot, who went to Law School and now is a 1st year Associate at a bank in something not even in the front office.”
- “No, seriously, who the f–k picks these guys?”
- “A Bit Coin startup?!!??”
- “This is why I don’t read these things… Aside from [Name redacted and Name redacted] most of these guys are, well, white collar criminals in my opinion.”
- “Isn’t that Hedgeye kid the one that got chewed out by the Kinder Morgan CEO? LOL!”
For the record, yes Kevin Kaiser is the kid who got railed by Kinder Morgan’s CEO for one of his reports, and yes, a lot of people gave him (negative) attention for it. And yes — he’s on the Forbes list.
Here’s the deal — Success is generally applauded on The Street. If you’re good, people talk about it. You’re a big swinging … (you know the deal) at a respectable (not boiler room white collar criminal) firm with a respectable amount of assets under management.
But there is a deep-seated belief that even if you’re writing papers with Larry Summers, even if you know every aspect of a deal in and out and are the one who figures out if it’s worth doing, you’re not contributing as much as the guy who just made a huge score trading, or did the final handshake on a huge deal.
Right or wrong, this feeling is in there, and every now and then it just comes out — BAM!
On Wall Street, you’re supposed to eat what you kill. What you kill should be big game. If you don’t kill anything, you shouldn’t eat.
And the bottom line is, traditionally, a kid in the “back office” hasn’t killed anything. They may be really important to how the bank runs, but they don’t run money. They also haven’t suffered the rigors that front-office workers have to suffer to earn their prestigious positions, from their sleepless days as interns, to their gruelling first years as an analyst.
Additionally, on Wall Street you’re supposed to do deals with real money, and as yet Bitcoin isn’t real money — it’s an experiment, and returns aren’t supposed to be experimental, they’re supposed to be tangible.
Maybe Bitcoin’s day is coming, but it isn’t here yet.
Now, all that said: It’s not like Forbes didn’t have respectable judges on the case. There was Anthony Scaramucci, Founder of fund of funds SkyBridge Capital; venture capitalist Jim Breyer, a Partner at Accel Partners; and Adam Zoia, the CEO of executive search firm Glocap.
There were definitely some heavy hitters on the list too — like Neil Mehta, a D.E. Shaw alum and founder of Greenoaks Capital; and Sam Barnett, a 24-year-old with a $US115 million investment firm.
And we can’t forget Leigh Drogen, whose buy-side research aggregation firm Estimize contributes to Business Insider (have to point that out).
So we find it hard to say the list was a complete failure.
Point is, Wall Street can be a very hierarchical place where everyone knows their place, that’s true. It’s a place where guys at small firms and posers are called “pikers,” and the back office is farther away from the front office mentally than it is physically. There are tribes — the traders, the hedge fund guys, the analysts, and so forth.
But if you’re good it isn’t that hard to measure — in dollars — how good, and that’s “the code.”
Or maybe you’re all just hating.
So shoot me comments, or suggestions of who you think should actually be on the list to [email protected] — because someone’s got to be worthy.
And don’t shoot the messenger, OK … you guys are the ones telling me this stuff.
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