Travails of Wall Street workers

Article at Bloomberg:

Wall Street headhunter Daniel Arbeeny said his “income has gone down tremendously.” On a recent Sunday, he drove to Fairway Market in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn to buy discounted salmon for $5.99 a pound.

“They have a circular that they leave in front of the buildings in our neighborhood,” said Arbeeny, 49, who lives in nearby Cobble Hill, namesake for a line of pebbled-leather Kate Spade handbags. “We sit there, and I look through all of them to find out where it’s worth going.”

Executive-search veterans who work with hedge funds and banks make about $500,000 in good years, said Arbeeny, managing principal at New York-based CMF Partners LLC, declining to discuss specifics about his own income. He said he no longer goes on annual ski trips to Whistler (WB), Tahoe or Aspen.

He reads other supermarket circulars to find good prices for his favorite cereal, Wheat Chex.
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
Ughh. Bloomberg needs to stop posting these articles. It does not help the industry to watch a bunch of rich people whine about having to downgrade from black to red caviar and *gasp* have to buy a domestic car.

C'mon guys. Follow Warren Buffett's lead (even if you disagree with his politics). Buy a 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, live in a $500K house or apartment, and eat at Dairy Queen.
 
C'mon guys. Follow Warren Buffett's lead (even if you disagree with his politics). Buy a 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, live in a $500K house or apartment, and eat at Dairy Queen.

Hehe, he can afford to live poor (though the statement sounds paradoxical). For two reasons:

1) He's his own boss, so doesn't need to keep up appearances like anxious, striving, insecure, middle-class employees do (sending children to exclusive schools, going on expensive holidays, and otherwise engaging in conspicuous consumption that's in consonance with one's (supposed) standing in the business world), and

2) He lives in Omaha, where I imagine you can buy an attractive and spacious house for $500K.

In general it seems to be the upper-middle-class that -- for reasons of insecurity and status display -- seems to engage in conspicuous consumption a bit beyond its means. Ah, the rat race ....
 
What is the point to following Warren Buffet in this particular matter. you have money, if you don't buy some expensive toys and play with that. what is the point? What is Warren Buffet is trying to teach us through living in 500K house?
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
Warren is teaching us that you can be happy and successful without prestige or having to flaunt your status. The man turned down Wharton to study finance at the University of Nebraska under Benjamin Graham. He drives his grandkids around in a rustbucket convertible, takes them to Dairy Queen, and when he talks to the media, he does his very best to come off as an Iowa farmer having a conversation over a game of Euchre and a glass of ginger ale. Accruals make him happy, but large mansions and Ferraris don't. (private jets do, but only for their convenience.)

Ironically, being a good saver is correlated positively with wealth. If you save a lot of money when you're young, you can take more risks when you hit your late 20s, 30s, and 40s. But people who start off thrifty in their 20s also tend to stay that way- at least a little.
 
Ughh. Bloomberg needs to stop posting these articles. It does not help the industry to watch a bunch of rich people whine about having to downgrade from black to red caviar and *gasp* have to buy a domestic car.

C'mon guys. Follow Warren Buffett's lead (even if you disagree with his politics). Buy a 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, live in a $500K house or apartment, and eat at Dairy Queen.
People need to wake up and start drinking PBR again.
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
Andy Nguyen They're called hipsters, Andy, Hipsters. And they've taken over my beloved beer. Apparently drinking PBR makes me one too, though I always thought of myself as a redneck midwesterner. I can't claim I was first on the scene- that definitely makes me a hipster. And if I switch brands to try and escape from hipsterdom, then that REALLY makes me a hipster.
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
In general it seems to be the upper-middle-class that -- for reasons of insecurity and status display -- seems to engage in conspicuous consumption a bit beyond its means. Ah, the rat race ....
The people who go to Wall Street tend to be the same people who want the lifestyle/status/etc. Buffett is an anomaly.
 

alain

Older and Wiser
The people who go to Wall Street tend to be the same people who want the lifestyle/status/etc. Buffett is an anomaly.
is this really the case or people go to Wall Street for the money and somehow peer pressure is the main driver after you are in finance?
 
is this really the case or people go to Wall Street for the money and somehow peer pressure is the main driver after you are in finance?

Peer pressure seems to be the driver. What can one say about bankers who've been pulling in $2m a year and have gone through all of it? What will they have to show after five or ten years? No real capital accumulation for sure. As I see it, for employees, certain jobs seem to have certain lifestyles associated with them -- if a senior executive walks in for an interview, it's probably expected that he maintains a certain standard of living (if only for social purposes). Mixing socially with one's peers becomes difficult if one is not maintaining a certain standard. This isn't an excuse for blowing the whole $2m every year but I think explains some of it. If I were making that much it would be seen as incongruous if I were living in a $300K house in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island.
 
If I were making that much it would be seen as incongruous if I were living in a $300K house in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island.

You've got to have thick skin.

"It is not about the money, it is about the game, game between people, and that's all its"
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
I think a lot of people go to wall street for money, but the question is what lies behind that. What do you want to do with the money?

Growing up watching my parents, I learned that it's always best to be in a situation where work is an opportunity- not a necessity. If you get a new boss that you don't like, if your pay gets cut, if your job materially changes, you want to be able to walk away and know that you don't have mortgage payments to make and you can keep food on the table. So for me, money has always been about financial independence. The ability to quit your job and spend five, ten years being a hang gliding bum in Utah.

The other thing is that it's like a game for me. Watching the accruals. Finding stocks that pay a sustainable inflation-adjusted 5% dividend. Watching $X go into my brokerage account every month and seeing my monthly dividends go up by $Y. Then watching $Y get reinvested and eventually having dividends cover Z% of my living expenses.

But the banking lifestyle isn't appealing to me. I do not need a 6000 square foot house in Connecticut where I write a check to Exeter every month and drive a porsche. Those things don't make you happy- they just make you jealous of the guy in the Ferrari and the next door neighbors with the 7000 square foot house. And then when the financial rug gets pulled out from under you, you're stuck with a home that has a ridiculous heating bill and crazy property taxes even if you've got the mortgage paid off.

Having more money and a more modest lifestyle means you can afford to take more risks, too. To go do that startup or quit your job and get an MBA.
 
I am reading this book at the moment and its relevant to this discussion.
 

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I think a lot of people go to wall street for money, but the question is what lies behind that. What do you want to do with the money?

So for me, money has always been about financial independence. The ability to quit your job and spend five, ten years being a hang gliding bum in Utah.

The other thing is that it's like a game for me. Watching the accruals. Finding stocks that pay a sustainable inflation-adjusted 5% dividend. Watching $X go into my brokerage account every month and seeing my monthly dividends go up by $Y. Then watching $Y get reinvested and eventually having dividends cover Z% of my living expenses.

But the banking lifestyle isn't appealing to me. I do not need a 6000 square foot house in Connecticut where I write a check to Exeter every month and drive a porsche. Those things don't make you happy- they just make you jealous of the guy in the Ferrari and the next door neighbors with the 7000 square foot house. And then when the financial rug gets pulled out from under you, you're stuck with a home that has a ridiculous heating bill and crazy property taxes even if you've got the mortgage paid off.

Having more money and a more modest lifestyle means you can afford to take more risks, too. To go do that startup or quit your job and get an MBA.

Financial independence is a subjective term. Z% is subjective as well. Z% is not a finite number either. it keeps growing with your social status. it is human nature.

Let's say, you have porsche, you want Ferrari. don't u?
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
Financial independence is a subjective term. Z% is subjective as well. Z% is not a finite number either. it keeps growing with your social status. it is human nature.

Let's say, you have porsche, you want Ferrari. don't u?
I don't have a Porsche or a Ferrari. I don't want them. They are wasting assets.

After food, shelter, a good mattress, and the basic necessities of presentable living, the only thing worth spending money on is a short walk to work and fun activities. If you have to work 80 hours a week, buying a Ferrari doesn't really make you feel better about it and only lengthens the amount of time you have to keep working 80 hours/week.

Financial independence is a subjective term. Z% is subjective as well. Z% is not a finite number either. it keeps growing with your social status. it is human nature.
I think conspicuous consumption is an addiction that we all have to fight. You want enough money to pay for all of your needs and most of the wants that make you and your family happy. When you realize this, you start realizing how much you were missing out on when you were spending money on Porsches or Ferraris. You make your next car a rusty Chrysler LeBaron convertible and go hang gliding more often or go to more soccer matches if you have kids. Life is too short to spend it chasing Ferraris. (Classic Mustangs on the other hand...)
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
is this really the case or people go to Wall Street for the money and somehow peer pressure is the main driver after you are in finance?
I think there's both cases, but my experience has been that peer pressure enters the equation well before actually getting into Wall Street. There's probably a bias there from me coming relatively fresh from undergrad.
 

mfegrad

CMU MSCF Alum
i'm liking this gollini character :)

growing up around nyc, it was pretty clear to me that the nouveau riche were the ones who spent like mad and felt the need to impress others. on the other hand, some of the wealthiest families in america (household names) drove their kids around in beat-up cars and dressed in sweats when they went to the grocery store. for some reason, people feel the need to announce they've arrived, and they do so by buying stuff (fancy cars, clothes, handbags, tvs, gadgets, etc.). it's really quite amusing to those of us who know better, and who realize that money != class.
 
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