The Accidental Investment Banker : Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street
Jonathan A. Knee had a ringside seat during the go-go, boom-and-bust decade and into the 21st century, at the two most prestigious investment banks on Wall Street--Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. In this candid and irreverent insider's account of an industry in free fall, Knee captures an exhilarating era of fabulous deal-making in a free-wheeling Internet economy--and the catastrophe that followed when the bubble burst.
Populated with power players, back stabbers, celebrity bankers, and godzillionaires, here is a vivid account of the dramatic upheaval that took place in investment banking. Indeed, Knee entered an industry that was typified by the motto "first-class business in a first-class way" and saw it transformed in a decade to a free-for-all typified by the acronym IBG, YBG ("I'll be gone, you'll be gone"). Increasingly mercenary bankers signed off on weak deals, knowing they would leave them in the rear-view mirror. Once, investment bankers prospered largely on their success in serving the client, preserving the firm, and protecting the public interest. Now, in the "financial supermarket" era, bankers felt not only that each day might be their last, but that their worth was tied exclusively to how much revenue they generated for the firm on that day--regardless of the source. Today, most young executives feel no loyalty to their firms, and among their clients, Knee finds an unprecedented but understandable level of cynicism and distrust of investment banks.
Brimming with insight into what investment bankers actually do, and told with biting humor and unflinching honesty, The Accidental Investment Banker offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the most powerful companies on Wall Street.
If "investment banking" gives you visions of stodgy New York geezers harumphing and gufawwing in a black-suited gaggle, Knee's look at high finance in the '90s will change that. A thumping ride across deep waters, Knee evokes the precarious, risky thrills courted by businesspeople great and small. Smart, clever and unfailingly articulate, Knee made, in the nineties, a seemingly sensible career choice: to become a startlingly well-paid investment banker among prestigious big boys (names are named) at Goldman Sachs, and later Morgan Stanley. Clear-eyed enough never to give his whole life over to banking-as did many of his colleagues-Knee maintains a reporter's sense of detachment, observing how the decade in question turned into an economic house of mirrors as money-guzzling dotcoms bloomed and withered, playing havoc with long-established rules and mores, nurturing an era of incompetence and brawling, veiled in the traditional pseudo-gentility of a privileged profession: "The goal was to do deals, generate revenue, and be noticed. ... whatever the cost, particularly when someone else bore that cost." Are bankers the "greediest people in the world?" Is an MBA one of the "poorest educational choices?" As the book progresses, these questions take on the quality of a whodunnit mystery, in which not only is everyone a suspect-almost everyone is guilty. Funny and knowing, this business memoir debut should appeal to a wide swath of business veterans.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
July 30, 2007
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