A bright student this week contacted me via facebook and asked for help in locating a job. He is a senior finance student. I think I helped him fall asleep, either tiring him out or giving him some bigger picture ideas to ponder.
The young man told me he was feeling scared, having invested in a degree in finance. I told him that there was little preventing him from going forward with this preparation, but that the old bastions had changed hands. I told him instead of working for Merrill, he would perhaps be recruited by BofA for a stint in new hybrid investment operations.
But finance students deal with the here-and-now, so I told him to keep his chin up. Even since we talked, the overnight intrabank lending rate has come down. (He contacted me about a week and half ago, in the heat of the meltdown).
Personally, from my view, when big banks don’t ‘trust’ eachother, then they may not be admitting what’s really bothering them — the fact that they might not have the cash to lend. When banks lack funds to guarantee deposits, they will keep the lights on by any means neccessary. And with the EU, US, and other governments rallying to provide liquidity and purchase bum assets, they may get the succor they demand in time.
But I also told him to look inside himself, and ask where the economy was going. The IT industry had to come to this hard conclusion in the early 2000’s. We knew the dream of the dot-economy was evaporating, as we expected it would, given the business models in startups. There was no parental figure to intervene and save the venture market for startups, and the ability to spin the venture into an IPO was collapsing. The novelty of the era had waned.
From there, IT people and computer scientists reintegrated back into organizations with an ‘e’ focus. Insurance companies, financial entities, and multinationals all planned dot-com ventures. The skill base learned from the tech revolution was required across the economy. Also, world-class talent left startups and merged into new web 2.0 firms, who knew how to monetize operations, and come up with a profit. Google is the hero of this moment-in-time.
What I can tell folks leaving finance, leaving school for finance, and looking to implement their skillset, look to the emerging facets of the economy, who will need you. Banking will be full of tumult, it will require more visibility, public scrutiny, and it will contain stalled incentive packages. But companies on the move will be where individuals motivated by equity and payoff will go; the video game industry experienced this two years ago, and right now, in the purview of an america without a reach in Iraq, the solar, nuclear and wind economy is set to roll.
If ever america was sending its best and brightest into a battle for the future, it is now. The alternative energy industries will pick up increasing responsibility for the nation’s power grid. And if the US may be pushed from Iraq without Barack Obama’s presidency.
I simply submit the idea that there is, and will be, more opportunities inside the economy besides Wall Street. The business fundamentals of industries related to energy, beyond carbon, have never been better.