Today Christianity Today published my review of Kevin Roose's Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits. The book was literally hard to put down. As Roose unfolds the experience of eight young college graduates at the world's most powerful investment banks, he captures the reader with a haunting portrayal of work that in almost every way destroys a soul. If I ever needed motivation to build Denver Institute for Faith & Work, I need look no further. Here's the first part of the review: Only halfway through his first year as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, Jeremy Miller-Reed fell into a deep depression. The 100-hour work weeks and endless Excel spreadsheets he could handle. But his boss, Penelope, he could not. Penelope looked like Julia Roberts but had the personality of Genghis Khan. Junior analysts dreaded her wrath. After assigning a 20-page memo to Jeremy over her vacation, she returned to find a single page missing. "You had all week to get this right!" she screamed. That night, Jeremy went to the roof of his apartment, lit up a joint, and cried in the rain, thinking to himself I can't do this anymore. In college, Jeremy, like most young financial analysts, was bright, motivated, and had high hopes. He graduated from Columbia University, and in the summer of 2010 was excited to begin a career at Goldman Sachs selling commodities—oil, gas, corn, wheat, precious metals. Lured by a starting salary of $70,000, plus bonuses of up to $50,000, he rationalized that a two-year stint as an investment banker would be good experience for a planned career in urban design or politics. It was a common decision among his peers. At Harvard in 2008, 28 percent of seniors headed into financial services, and at Princeton in 2006, it was a stunning 46 percent. But for Jeremy, it was a decision that would haunt him—as it would the sorry cast of Kevin Roose's new book Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits. From 2010-2013, Roose, a business writer for New York magazine, shadowed eight freshly minted investment bankers during their first two years on Wall Street, tracking their stories. From starry-eyed interns to disillusioned, exhausted, and depressed spreadsheet jockeys, Roose's Young Money reads like a handbook for everything and anything than can go wrong with work. Moral Black Hole The work of young analysts is often mind-numbing. Most investment bank rookies spend days (and nights) creating "pitch books"—hundreds of pages of financial data for companies considering buying other companies. After hours of formatting cells, creating graphs, and producing Excel models, often pitch books would be blasted by bosses... (read more)
Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.