Sunday, March 25, 2012

He answered, "I want to make a lot of money."

Monday night last, I hosted a workshop at a well-regarded university. We focused on employment in the financial services industry. As I do frequently, I asked a student why he was interested in financial services. "I want to make a lot of money," he said. It was an answer I'd heard before and found less than satisfactory.

After receiving that answer I usually probe deeper suggesting alternative careers including: heart surgery, computer sales, or bio-engineering. Once again I usually get a replay of the first response. "I like finance and I want to make a lot of money."

Honestly, I find that answer, or something like it, shallow, thoughtless, and somewhat concerning. 

First, it indicates the job applicant has little knowledge of the income structure found in financial services today. Mega-incomes are now relatively few. There are fewer positions due to the consolidation of the financial services industry, there are fewer deals being done, and the margins per transaction are narrower.

Secondly, if you don't like what you are doing, the promise of a big income down the road can only hold your interest so long. Sooner or later interest will slip away. Then what?

Lastly, if someone tells me that they are primarily interested in income with few supporting interests, I wonder what shortcuts they will take in order to fill their bank account. People, I believe, don't start out to be dishonest. However, they might cut a corner here or there, step across the line just a little, and after a time they are so far out on a limb that there is no way back. That is, until they put the cuffs on.

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