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Why I left Wall Street

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                              Joe Guzzardi Many years ago, discount ansaid online I walked out of Merrill Lynch corporate headquarters at 1 Liberty Plaza and left Wall Street entirely. I moved as far away as I could and still remain in the lower 48 — Seattle. To this day, discount ansaid online people ask me what happened. I was an officer, discount ansaid online earned an excellent salary, discount ansaid online had a generous expense account and a corner office with a panoramic view of the Hudson River. Looking back, discount ansaid online I count five reasons. First, discount ansaid online I had grown increasingly uncomfortable with most of my peers. The simple fact — true then and still true today — is that the bankers, discount ansaid online lawyers and traders who gravitate to Wall Street work for money. Colleagues who were asked to list the most important thing in their lives would reply that it was their family or their faith. But really, discount ansaid online it was money. Discount ansaid online No one works on the Street for its aesthetics. Second, discount ansaid online I had reached a period in my career where, discount ansaid online after a series of promotions, discount ansaid online I was swimming with the sharks. Doing deals and bringing in revenue to the firm had been enough at the beginning. But eventually, discount ansaid online my early successes led to becoming a department head with a large staff reporting to me. By then I was a visible target. Discount ansaid online Insecure executives above me were nervous that I might outshine them. And my overly eager underlings wanted my job. Like everyone else who approaches the top rungs of the corporate latter, discount ansaid online survival became key. That meant being willing to out-maneuver the hard chargers around me. Discount ansaid online I had two options: scheme to put the skids to my superiors or let myself be undercut by my subordinates. Neither option held any appeal. Third, discount ansaid online and closely linked to reason two, discount ansaid online I was increasingly disappointed in myself. Discount ansaid online I silently rooted for my superiors to fail. Discount ansaid online Their downfall could accrue to my benefit. Wishing bad things to happen to others is an ugly way to live. Fourth, discount ansaid online I had over the years already avoided several corporate reorganizations and purges. Discount ansaid online No one dodges them all. Fifth, discount ansaid online my father, discount ansaid online a businessman all his life, discount ansaid online died. During many searching bedside conversations we had throughout his prolonged illness, discount ansaid online he encouraged me to step away and live a more fulfilling life. I can't say that I never regretted my decision. The last time I checked, discount ansaid online the job I once held paid a seven-figure salary — and not just barely seven figures either! Another wonderful feature of the high life that I look back on wistfully was the freedom to order World Series tickets and have the bill sent to accounting. Despite the perks, discount ansaid online however, discount ansaid online I would make the same decision today. This week's events — the Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, discount ansaid online Lehman Brothers' Chapter 11 proceedings, discount ansaid online and the last-minute federal rescue of AIG — re-confirms my judgment. The unthinkable happened. Discount ansaid online Merrill Lynch, discount ansaid online my former employer, discount ansaid online Wall Street's giant and the dominant securities firm for a century, discount ansaid online is gone. What precipitated Merrill's demise was moral bankruptcy. In 2007, discount ansaid online while America tried to cope with growing financial uncertainty, discount ansaid online the big boys had no worries. While your savings vanished, discount ansaid online your home equity plunged and the value of your investments dwindled, discount ansaid online Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain earned over $80 million. Thain worked at Merrill for less than three weeks. His short time aside, discount ansaid online Thain was, discount ansaid online according to the Associated Press, discount ansaid online America's most highly paid executive. On Dec. Discount ansaid online 3, discount ansaid online 2007, discount ansaid online Thain brought in his close friend , discount ansaid onlineNelson Chai and appointed him executive vice president and chief financial officer. Chai's 2007 salary: $2.5 million for less than a month on the job. In August 2008, discount ansaid online Thain added his former Goldman Sachs associate Thomas Montag to the Merrill Lynch roster for $40 million. If you really want to feel outrage, discount ansaid online think about this: Just prior to the Bank of America acquisition, discount ansaid online over the last four quarters Merrill Lynch wrote down $52 billion in assets, discount ansaid online posted cumulative losses of more than $17 billion and had to raise nearly $30 billion in capital to stay afloat. The Merrill Lynch board forced the man responsible, discount ansaid online former chief executive officer Stanley O'Neal, discount ansaid online to resign last October. Before being shown the door, discount ansaid online O'Neal received a $160 million exit package. Today, discount ansaid online O'Neal is sitting on his fortune playing golf, discount ansaid online no doubt at one of the finest resorts in the world. Given today's real estate values, discount ansaid online O'Neal could use his golden parachute to gobble up his native Alabama. In the meantime, discount ansaid online who knows? Maybe one of the 24, discount ansaid online000 employees dismissed under O'Neal's watch would be willing to serve as his caddy. Joe Guzzardi recently retired from the Lincoln Technical Academy. Discount ansaid online He has much fonder memories of his career at the school than he has of his Wall Street days.