A writer for the New York Times, Kevin Rose has delved into the financial world’s underbelly to produce ‘Young Money’. In this book, Rose charts the rise, fall, rise, and lives of eight financial analysts the way they map and track funds on America’s economic battleground, Wall Street. The eight individuals work for some of the biggest investment firms in the country. For many, this is a dream come true, and in a post-financial crisis world, it seemingly is. But in this world, everything has a price. Some pay up, some get out, and some get crushed beneath the weight of it all.
To say that landing a two-year contract as an analyst at one of the country’s top investment firms is a lucky break is an understatement. It ‘s hard to express just how hard it is to even choose as a candidate for one of these opportunities. The amount of schooling, work, experience and networking that has to do with an application even send is staggering. The eight analysts featured in Young Money seems to have hit the jackpot, the lottery and captured the Goose that lays the eggs all at once. It was their goal, their dream and their ticket to the future they always wanted. The problem is that no one told them how soul-crushing the work could be.
Readers, especially those that are just entering the corporate workforce, may be tempted to draw similarities to some of the analysts. They are often young, driven, eager and willing to do what it takes to move up the ladder. Many will say that they know that they are expected to put in long hours. However, “long hours” can be and often is a nebulous term as was seen in the book. Forty-hour work weeks quickly escalate to sixty and even eighty-hour work weeks. Having a life outside of regular work hours is considered to be difficult by most working professionals and is almost impossible to have when working as an analyst on Wall Street. In what may initially see as a work perk, the corporate cell phone becomes a digital tether. When employees are assigned one, the expectation is that they receive and respond no matter what time of day or location. In essence, this means that there is no escape from the trappings of work regardless even when on vacation or holidays.
As the reader progresses through the book, they begin to the impact that the financial industries cultures on the mental and emotional outlook of the young analysts. For example, when they received their contracts, almost every single one felt like they were on top of the world. After all, they chose out of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of applicants. They believed they were special, that was different from the rest and that they picked for a reason. This notion gradually changed as they waded further into the murky waters of the industry. Bit by bit this idea that they were the outlier, that they were unique, that was an indispensable asset eroded until became aware of the harsh reality that they were just like every other person in the company. Worse, they lost their feeling of invulnerability and realized that they were expendable, and very much so.
In Young Money, Rose has brought to light the toxic nature of the financial services industry. Everyone in the world saw what happened during the 2007-2008 global financial crisis and the roles that companies, played in it. Now, Rose has shown that while things may look different from the outside, things are not so different from the inside. Investment firms still want to generate as much revenue as possible, and they are willing to squeeze out every single drop of tear, energy, and humanity from their employees to do it.
Readers should not expect this book to be a profound dive into the intricacies of modern financial trends or services. Rather, it is a book about coming of age for these eight young analysts. It introduces them to the allures, luxuries, and rewards that come with the job, but also the burden, the sleepless nights, and soul-crushing work that comes with it. It is a book about the intersection of cultures, where upstart and hungry young professionals meet the weathered and often brutal culture of finance. It is about realizing a dream, only to find out that a single misstep can lead you down a nightmarish path. It is the story about eight young analysts trying to make their way and climb the corporate ladder in the post-crash world.
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