27 and I have virtually no background in finance ;)!! I’m not doubting that jobs are not difficult to get right now, but I’m talking more about as a long term career. There’s way more variables involved in my outlook than simply bank layoffs (which could be teller jobs and people still use it as a sign of how terrible finance is right now), IB salary cuts, firms restructuring, et cetera.
I think the main problem is that people come out of school and want to get a high paying job no matter what it is. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of people with wall street jobs can’t stand it but love the money. Nothing wrong with that at all, but they are generally short-sighted and have no real passion for what they do. Therefore, it’s easy to give up or stay in a job you hate and be perpetually pessimistic on work, pay, and well life in general. A lot of these people are highly intelligent and can crunch numbers all day long, but they have trouble putting it all together because they lack the passion to do so.
Because these people are usually intelligent and highly educated, the average guy trying to crack in is dissuaded by just a simple forum post. A great example was a post I saw somewhere on this forum earlier today talking about finance being “an insult to human intelligence”. I’m sure he’s probably a pretty smart fella and may even have a ton of experience, but he obviously has no clue on how important capital allocation is for an economy. Though I hate how everyone loves to reference Steve Jobs, he very well may have lived out his days as a janitor if it were not for skilled capital allocators.
There is a herd mentality in every facet of life. As a result when the economy is soft and you have dunces, perceived as experts, on CNBC predicting an economic collapse and rockstars on forums who have a very narrow expertise telling everyone the good days are over, people will tend to believe them.
Finance always bounces back because it’s the backbone of business and has historically always adjusted with innovation of the broader economy. Everyone is worried because the economy right now and the contraction we’ve seen already. More analytical people may point out how something like 3D printing will completely alter manufacturing companies needs for capital raising, as well as eliminate middlemen type of industries, as a sign of the death of finance. They may be right but I’m fairly certain we would see finance adjust to it. Others who get off to anything Buffett/Munger say, will point out that Charlie Munger believes that finance jobs should be cut down to a fifth of what it is today (in 2011 I believe). People will just accept that as truth because Munger said it without considering how he came to that conclusion. Seldom does someone even consider the positives before they construct their rigid pessimistic view.
There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but the long run the opportunities have never been better. The Asia growth story has a long way to go and I don’t think that chinese ghost cities, despite how terrible the repercussions may be, will change the long term trajectory very much. What effects will a long term energy revolution have for the economy (and I’m not just talking about the gains we’ve made in the US in the past few years)? I could go on and on but it’s pointless because people won’t look past the present. Basically, my belief is that finance probably isn’t a good option for someone who just wants a high paying job right now, but to people who actually have a deep passion for it and can stick through it will likely do quite well over the long term.