The most coddled generation that Wall Street has ever encountered is about to find out what it means to really go to work.
That is the word coming from the C-suites of the Big Banks — Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The CEOs of these firms made their bones back in the day when the price paid for a lucrative career on Wall Street was long hours while being screamed at by your boss.
Now they want to turn back the clock — even if that means getting on the wrong side of the influx of pampered millennials and Gen-Z’ers that they needed to hire during the long bull market. They won’t say this publicly, of course, but they’re secretly welcoming the looming economic and Wall Street deal-making slowdown as a way to reassert control over the woke masses.
The stock market and deal-making boom extended incredible leverage to a class of Wall Street employees brainwashed by woke college professors and administrators into believing any and all of their feelings are important and existential, including not wanting to work so hard.
Wall Street, despite its Darwinian rep, succumbed to the pressure, transforming itself into something like a college safe space because it needed entry- and associate-level bodies to process deals and trades, and faced competition for talent from Big Tech. That meant more perks for the grunts of the business (think stuff like free Pelotons on top of higher pay), flexible work hours and demands to work from home well after the worst of the COVID pandemic subsided.
It also meant accepting the mores of the new generation even if it meant lower productivity. Wall Street execs used to brag that they slept in the office under their desk when big deals were on the line. Now the up-and-comers embrace something known as “quiet quitting” where doing the bare minimum is the norm.
How’s that for Wall Street grunt work?
Associates’ fowl bawl
For my money, this pampering weirdness reached peak absurdity when a bunch of youngish Goldman lefty associates in Manhattan had a meltdown because someone had the temerity to order Chick-fil-A while working late on deal-making.
No, this wasn’t a fight over the health benefits of the popular chicken sandwich. As it turns out, the staffers were outraged that the then-CEO of the company believes in Jesus and is against same-sex marriage. Goldman management did an intervention to make sure those with hurt feelings could survive the trauma. (Goldman didn’t end up banning Chick-fil-A, thank God.)
But times appear to be changing again. The boomers who run the Big Banks — Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan, James Gorman at Morgan Stanley and David Solomon at Goldman — are said to have had enough, I am told, and will use the looming deal-making slowdown and recession to show the young’uns who’s boss.
With power shifting to management, last week Solomon began forcing all employees back to the office five days a week after Labor Day, the Post’s Lydia Moynihan was first to report. A companywide memo cited “significantly less risk of severe illness” while a spokeswoman cited the need to preserve the firm’s “client-centric business,” which is corporatese for “get your rear ends to work because you’re less productive on Zoom.”
As I first reported, Morgan Stanley’s head of HR issued a similar memo around the same time stating the firm is lifting its COVID protocols (i.e. testing and contact tracing) and asking employees to stop working from home because of productivity issues.
JP Morgan’s Dimon isn’t far off from making office work mandatory no matter how much the woke masses complain.
Ironically, it’s been the woke tech CEOs like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai who first began clamping down on the youthful angst. They were forced to demand better productivity measures because the economic slowdown hit their wallets first.
Now that Wall Street is bracing for declining deal flow and probably layoffs later in the year, Solomon, Dimon and Gorman are flexing their management muscles and will likely continue to do so in ways that will annoy their pampered masses who will have increasingly less bargaining power to complain and force management to cave.
And who knows? Sleeping under your desk might become cool again.
To tell the ‘Truth’
There’s lots of drama around Truth Social, former President Trump’s newish social-media platform designed to compete with Twitter, including questions about its business model, content and The Donald going nuclear on it in much the same way he used Twitter before it banned him.
One more bit of drama likely to play out over the next 24 hours or so involves its planned merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition corporation slated to combine with the platform and create a publicly traded stock. There’s an important Digital World shareholder vote, with a Sept. 6 deadline, to extend the length of time to complete the merger by 12 months.
Patrick Orlando, Digital World’s chief, says the extension will allow the company to sort out all that’s going on and hopefully return some value to shareholders. Digital World’s stock has fallen nearly 75% from its high of $97 in March.