[Ed: Dammit! I thought this posted a week ago! Stupid internet.]
Well, the wordplay would work a little better if I was on the French Riviera instead of the Riviera Maya, but you get the idea. Using a plot device I picked up from serialized television and hour-long reality shows, I dropped the cliffhanger last week: will the jackass ex-banker go back to being a jackass banker? This, despite having talked so much shit over these last nine months? How am I to determine the best course? I learned many things from the Ross and Rachel courtship, but one of the most important was how a good Pros/Cons list can help rationalize a tough decision.
One thing I thought would certainly hold when I started this gig is that banker pay would drop, and drop dramatically. Foolish thinking. One thing about working on Wall Street – you are relatively close to The Man. The Man controls all. While many people complain about how The Man is fucking their world, I forgot I was once in the unique position of benefiting from The Man and how He moves about the world. I thought dudes who were making $800k would quickly become dudes who are making $2o0k – and that is not big money in NYC. Not gonna happen – looks like things will be close to where they were back in 2007. Sure, banker pay will have a greater stock component – the TARPies are forced to take it and I’m sure the non-TARPs are gonna jam that shit just because they can – but whatever.
I’ve talked a lot of shit about becoming a barista or whatnot, so let’s check out some scenarios.
Barista – I’m not 100% sure what the ‘Bux pays, but they do pony up for health insurance, which is nice. (I’m currently using the tested “alcohol kills bad stuff” approach to health care.) I’m sure it’s not this much, but let’s assume it’s $20/hr and I work 40 hours weekly. Let’s also assume I work someplace awesome and tax-friendly (Florida?) and my cost of living is $2.5k/month. These are pretty optimistic, obviously, and I’m ignoring any benefits from my existing cash and my awesome trading prowess (-12% last week!). Take home is $32kish (I’m doing this math in my head after 6 margaritas and a bottle of wine, so don’t take this to a mortgage broker or anything). At the end of the year you have about $2k left, but you probably don’t take a lot of negativity home with you every night.
$250K Corporate Job – This is the big one that all bankers talk about when they are bitching about how shitty their bonus is gonna be: “Fuck this shit, man, I’ll just go to Unilever and take one of those $250k, 36 hours per week corp fin jobs.” Only problem? I’m pretty sure those jobs don’t exist. I have a bunch of friends that work at large, productive companies and they generally seem to bust their asses. Not sure on the pay either, but I suspect $250k is a smidge high. Maybe a few smidges high. But for shits and grins, lets imagine there’s a company (Yellow Tail would be a great fit) willing to pay $200k/year for my mergering, acquiring and leveragizing skills. Fuck it – let’s assume that this Yellow Tail gig is also in Florida at a sweet 30% tax rate (prob not gonna happen because I think the blended federal rate would be greater than that for $200k but stay with me for argument’s sake). Take home is therefore $140k and obviously one would have greater cost of living, let’s call it $5k/month. Bank $80k and probably work pretty fucking hard.
Return to the Sith – Let’s assume I have to “take some years back” since I’ve been out of work, and fall behind the schedule of my B-School mates. Will make less immediately and won’t be promoted as quickly, but also not responsible for revenue generation in the short term (which is a serious stress generator). Maybe I’ll make $60ok – with $200k coming in the form of equity grants that could well be worthless. (The traders reading this, I realize, are asking why anyone would even go to work for a pittance of $600k? Look, my gamboling nature prevented me from trading for a firm – I’d have made Jerome Kerviel look like the kid in your dorm who maxed his credit cards to bet on the Rams. Go fuck your (rich) selves. Just kidding – by the way, I might need to borrow some money soon.)
So throw the $200k in stock out the window, call it $400k in cash. Boost taxes to 50% and cost of living goes to $100k in NYC. Still comes out $100k liquid. A job I’m familiar with – and there is some upside potential to both that $600k figure and the dire prospect of stock being worthless. Dammit.
CON: I’ve been consistently burned by making decisions based solely on monetary concerns.
When I was deciding on my military path, the fact that submarine service paid a $3,000 bonus was all I needed to hear. Sign me up. Granted, given my fucked up hearing (balanced by my incredible vision) I could never have been a pilot (the only people that I’m aware of that stay in the Navy, because being a pilot is apparently just like Top Gun). Also granted, I would have fared shittily in any segment of the military, because I’m really not wired that way (don’t like to wake up early; pear shape not a good fit for uniform). But still – $3k – I could pay back all (some) of the money I’d borrowed during my Academy career and still buy a fuckload of tacos! Went down that path and I was fucking miserable for the next five years. I would’ve hated being a surface guy, too, but I’m pretty sure that $3k came back to fuck me over 100-fold.
Staring massive student loans in the face at B-school, I used a similar approach. What’s the lowest-risk way to make a decent amount of money in a short period? Investment banking? Never heard of it. Read what? Monkey Business? Okay. Shit- they made a ton of money, that sounds awesome (completely disregard the point of the book).
Now I am a Trogger (trademark pending), sitting here (albeit here is Playa Mujeres, Mexico in a room with a hot tub, plunge pool and horizontal and vertical showers) wondering WTF. Did I mention that I was down 12% last week? Blip, I’m sure. Although Halloween has caused a virtual storm of people reading my take on candy bars, I am suddenly left considering considering a return to the non-virtual world. Apparently, money is necessary to fuel a lifestyle rife with vacations, gambling and drinking. Although, when working, you don’t really have time for all that stuff. Total catch-22.
PRO: Investment Banker is a slightly more socially acceptable occupation than Trogger (trademark pending).
A recent ranking of the most despicable people in the US (Source: Skadooch Research LLC) in descending order (that means lower is worse):
691. Guys who never kick in enough for lunch
692. Chris Kattan
693. Creepy ventriloquists
694. Investment bankers
695. Guys with clipboards who “just need a moment of your time”
696. Pigeon Rapists
697. Doonesbury enthusiasts
699. Puppy euthanizers
700. Guys who claim “Sully” Sullenberger is not a national treasure, just a pilot who did a great job in a tough situation
Do not enjoy them.
To be continued,