This idea doesn’t mean that there’s no value created by financiers, arbitrageurs, banks, and such. There is—to a point. However, it seems that more often than not professionals plying their trade in these endeavors seem to cross the line from addressing social needs and creating value to becoming parasites on society by transferring wealth through unbecoming and outright questionable practices.
So, perhaps we can strive to be more like George Bailey and less like Mr. Potter in our daily lives.
He opens the article by stating “when you start your career, you might think you’re setting out to change the world. But the world is far more likely to change you.” He then questions what happens to some of these young, well educated professionals who begin their careers in finance with a sense of idealism and hope to live a meaningful life.
These observations seem to apply to other careers, too, particularly in healthcare and education. For example, many aspiring doctors and ones early in their career have noble and caring ambitions; some of these same doctors eventually become disenfranchised by a system that is bureaucratic, inefficient, corrupt, and driven by greed.
Nevertheless, the article is brief, so we encourage you to read the whole piece as Lewis refers to several occupational hazards of working on Wall Street, including some often overlooked ones:
Anyone who works in finance will sense, at least at first, some pressure to pretend to know more than he/she does. [What one pretends to know is unknowable.]
Anyone who works in Big Finance will also find it surprisingly hard to form deep attachments to anything greater than him/herself. [People inside a big firm have no serious stake in its long-term fate; they can do what they’re doing at some other firm—so long as they maintain their stature in their market.]
More generally, anyone in Big Finance will feel enormous pressure to not disrupt or question existing arrangements. [The financial sector fiercely resists useful, disruptive entrepreneurship and market-based change. It also has the resources—monetarily and politically—to prevent these improvements from happening.]
In summary, he suggests that the intense pressure to conform, to not make waves, has got to be the most depressing part of life in finance for a genuinely ambitious young person. He also recognizes the opportunity—and need— for a Silicon Valley-style scorched-earth entrepreneurship on Wall Street right now.
I've talked previously about Gearin’ Up Bicycles, an early-stage nonprofit in which I’m a board member. It’s a phenomenal organization that combines a passion for bicycling and sustainable transportation with a desire to help those in need at the grassroots level: in this case, underserved and at-risk youth in Washington D.C. (scalable to other cities).
Gearin’ Up is gaining traction and support by generous individuals and organizations including Silicon Valley stalwart Salesforce.com via its philanthropic arm, Salesforce Foundation, and nonprofits such as Bikes for the World.
As a GenXer, I’ve been inspired and motivated by the founders: Millennials, social entrepreneurs, and athletes (bicycling, running, swimming) including our energetic leader (yes, she bicycled across the country) and chief bicycling officer (aka executive director/CEO), Katie Lupo.
So, if our mission resonates with you or your organization, then please message me, Katie, or Gearin' Up Bicycles (info@GearinUpBicycles.org) directly to discuss how you can get involved (volunteer/outreach, board/committee member, donor). You can also follow Gearin' Up on Facebook.
And, if our mission about advocating a healthy sustainable lifestyle via bicycling and helping underserved and at-risk youth doesn't align with your values – then contact us anyway and we can provide guidance on how you, too, can make a difference as a social entrepreneur (spoiler alert, to quote Nike: Just Do It!).
Adding a talented full-time CFO to manage a small or medium-sized company’s high-finances such as acquisitions, banking/investor relationships, strategic financial analysis/planning, and financial policy (including oversight of a controller/bookkeeper) is not cheap.
Now, let’s be clear: the important duties of a bookkeeper, accounting manager, and controller are not necessarily interchangeable with the duties of a CFO, as Janine Popick, CEO and co-founder of VerticalResponse can attest. The latter is where big picture strategic insights and analysis, competitive advantages, and proper policies are best formulated. It is where a finance guru seems to "think different," to reference Steve Jobs' statement.
Likewise, a quality CFO or Investment Banking Kiosk should be able to understand business models and value drivers, distill and communicate these concepts, and devise and oversee implementation of improvements (including financial/accounting policy and scalable systems). One alternative objective measurement to assess the latent talent of a potential CFO (or CEO for that matter) is to determine whether that individual is a good investor (this prowess is a direct relation to one’s ability to refine business models, assess competitors, and implement winning strategies/tactics), which is one of the rarest talents in the marketplace (less than 1% of professional investors can perform better than a common index over a 10 year period).
Nevertheless, how do some savvy Silicon Valley emerging growth companies leverage this talent affordably? Answer: Investment Banking Kiosks and Remote Contract CFOs.
Accordingly, here are the Top 4 Questions for owners/operators, boards of directors, and CEOs to ask to decide whether their organization can create value by using a Remote Contract CFO or Investment Banking Kiosk (Coventry League provides both, incidentally):
All this said, Coventry League would gladly provide counsel regarding the use of contract CFOs, investment banks, investment banking kiosks, and other business related initiatives. Of course, we can provide referrals or guidance to other firms and talent–since we may not necessarily be the best fit for each and every potential client.
So, please use the contact form or our direct email addresses (email@example.com) to request more information, receive a quote, and retain our services.
And, as always, Compete Like a Champion.
Below is a chart by Zero Hedge and Caterpillar (CAT)’s filings depicting CAT’s monthly dealer retail sales by region globally since 2010. The good news is market analysts didn’t suggest the downturn in global sales was a result of bad weather.
Here are ten words recently spoken by Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, regarding use of economic sanctions:
"You do not want to sanction anyone you depend on.”
And, below are a couple of illustrations/pictures – since they are often worth a thousand words.
When in doubt, follow the money. Accordingly, the recent confrontation between Russia and the Ukraine (and the West) has a lot to do about natural gas and energy, proxies for money. And, apparently, Putin and the Russians are not known to be lenient with buyers who get too far behind in paying their bills, as was the case back in 2009 when Russia basically shut off the gas to Ukraine and much of the EU. So, one can expect some form of monetary bailout for the Ukraine so it can pay Russia for past due bills and to assuage Russia's concerns regarding trade account delinquencies.
As such, below is a chart that depicts the reliance by Ukraine and Western Europe on natural gas provided by Russia. It seems, in this instance, Russia is holding all the good cards, as they say.
Nevertheless, Russia and Western Europe (especially Germany) have been circumventing distribution routes through Ukraine and Belarus since 2009, as the illustration below depicts (circa 2009; natural gas capacity in billion cubic meters – “bcm” – for the Nord Stream, Belarus Route, and the Ukraine Route).
Apparently, one would need more than 200x the amount of U.S. dollars and 6x the amount of gold to buy a ticket for Super Bowl XLVIII versus a ticket for Super Bowl I (1967).
Sources: Coventry League; Bloomberg; Zero Hedge
Large scale solar energy projects heated-up in 2013.
According to EcoWatch’s recent blog and Mercom Capital Group’s white paper titled 2013 Fourth Quarter and Annual Solar Funding and M&A Executive Summary, dollar amounts of projects financed increased from $8.7 billion in 2012 to $13.6 billion in 2013, representing a 56% increase year-over-year.
Below is a chart provided by Mercom Capital Group:
And, if you are wanting a little something to show your solar energy enthusiasm, below is a creative product offered by the T-shirt Guy (and, no, we are not getting paid in any way by sharing this link):