Why I left Wall Street
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Joe Guzzardi Many years ago, kidney disease 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 â€” Seattle. To this day, kidney disease people ask me what happened. I was an officer, kidney disease earned an excellent salary, kidney disease had a generous expense account and a corner office with a panoramic view of the Hudson River. Looking back, kidney disease I count five reasons. First, kidney disease I had grown increasingly uncomfortable with most of my peers. The simple fact â€” true then and still true today â€” is that the bankers, kidney disease 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, kidney disease it was money. Kidney disease No one works on the Street for its aesthetics. Second, kidney disease I had reached a period in my career where, kidney disease after a series of promotions, kidney disease I was swimming with the sharks. Doing deals and bringing in revenue to the firm had been enough at the beginning. But eventually, kidney disease my early successes led to becoming a department head with a large staff reporting to me. By then I was a visible target. Kidney disease 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, kidney disease survival became key. That meant being willing to out-maneuver the hard chargers around me. Kidney disease 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, kidney disease and closely linked to reason two, kidney disease I was increasingly disappointed in myself. Kidney disease I silently rooted for my superiors to fail. Kidney disease Their downfall could accrue to my benefit. Wishing bad things to happen to others is an ugly way to live. Fourth, kidney disease I had over the years already avoided several corporate reorganizations and purges. Kidney disease No one dodges them all. Fifth, kidney disease my father, kidney disease a businessman all his life, kidney disease died. During many searching bedside conversations we had throughout his prolonged illness, kidney disease 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, kidney disease the job I once held paid a seven-figure salary â€” 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, kidney disease however, kidney disease I would make the same decision today. This week's events â€” the Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, kidney disease Lehman Brothers' Chapter 11 proceedings, kidney disease and the last-minute federal rescue of AIG â€” re-confirms my judgment. The unthinkable happened. Kidney disease Merrill Lynch, kidney disease my former employer, kidney disease Wall Street's giant and the dominant securities firm for a century, kidney disease is gone. What precipitated Merrill's demise was moral bankruptcy. In 2007, kidney disease while America tried to cope with growing financial uncertainty, kidney disease the big boys had no worries. While your savings vanished, kidney disease your home equity plunged and the value of your investments dwindled, kidney disease Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain earned over $80 million. Thain worked at Merrill for less than three weeks. His short time aside, kidney disease Thain was, kidney disease according to the Associated Press, kidney disease America's most highly paid executive. On Dec. Kidney disease 3, kidney disease 2007, kidney disease Thain brought in his close friend , kidney diseaseNelson 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, kidney disease Thain added his former Goldman Sachs associate Thomas Montag to the Merrill Lynch roster for $40 million. If you really want to feel outrage, kidney disease think about this: Just prior to the Bank of America acquisition, kidney disease over the last four quarters Merrill Lynch wrote down $52 billion in assets, kidney disease 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, kidney disease former chief executive officer Stanley O'Neal, kidney disease to resign last October. Before being shown the door, kidney disease O'Neal received a $160 million exit package. Today, kidney disease O'Neal is sitting on his fortune playing golf, kidney disease no doubt at one of the finest resorts in the world. Given today's real estate values, kidney disease O'Neal could use his golden parachute to gobble up his native Alabama. In the meantime, kidney disease who knows? Maybe one of the 24, kidney disease000 employees dismissed under O'Neal's watch would be willing to serve as his caddy. Joe Guzzardi recently retired from the Lincoln Technical Academy. Kidney disease He has much fonder memories of his career at the school than he has of his Wall Street days.