A Wall Street Banker Turned to Comedy for Happiness and a Career Change
This is Part Three of a four-part series examining how a Wall Street banker decided to leave his career in finance and take a leap of faith into stand-up comedy. Part One can be found here, and Part Two can be found here.
In the fall of 2011, I was sitting in a meeting with a large investment bank, which for the last several months had been undergoing a very dramatic shift in its business model, from trading equities to a series of complex, multi-trillion dollar derivatives. The change was being driven by the financial crisis, and the investment bank had been having trouble keeping up with the demands of the new business. The executives were getting worried that a lack of focus and a dearth of innovation in its trading operation might mean that the bank would need to go it on its own. But their efforts to start a new venture, the sort of thing I had done for less than three years, had thus far failed.
In the meantime, the bank had made the decision to expand its investment banking division, which had always been the second-biggest part of its business. This move posed a serious challenge to the bank, since its trading operations no longer seemed to be in a great position to compete with its much larger investment banking division. It was, in some respects, even a competitive disadvantage. It had become clear that we simply couldn’t support that new division with its own talent and infrastructure, and in the end, we couldn’t even support it with the capital it needed. But there were other options. The bank’s executives were reluctant to cut back on our traditional business, and they believed that if we could be brought into it, we could help it compete for clients and get a much-needed innovation boost from the big banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup that were doing the bulk of its trading business. Our main job would be to do the market research and then offer the advice.
They were thinking