Death of the Dinosaur
Former Merrill Lynch senior vice president Jory Berkwits knows the financial industry inside and out, and during his career he has observed how technological advances and regulatory reform have combined to transform modern investing. Yet, in spite of many benefits like lower prices, instant access to information, and an increased focus on investor protection, most individual investors don’t trust Wall Street. Some even think the game is rigged in the favor of huge institutions and hedge funds.
Berkwits’ dinosaur is a metaphor for the fast disappearing Wall Street “cowboy,” and the hold-no-prisoners culture he thrived in. Wall Street used to be an exclusively male world, ferociously competitive, and heavy on type A personalities, who were completely at home in a work environment where more was better, and most was best.
Some, but not all, of the elements that made Wall Street what it is are fading away. Boiler-rooms are out; professional financial advisors and money managers are in. Strict regulatory compliance is expected of even the smallest firms. Online trading has made investing more transparent and less costly for all.
Yet the trust gap between Wall Street and investors remains, and if anything, it has grown larger. How did it get there? What can be done about it? Who needs to step up? If you are an investor, you’ll want to find out.