Just two short years ago, top college graduates looking to land an investment banking job at one of the big firms might have expected a lavish night out at one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, tickets to Yankees games or limousine service to the VIP lounges at NYC clubs. Not anymore, reports Businessweek. Today’s grads will be lucky to get cocktails or even an invitation to an event.
Firms would conduct these “sell night” extravaganzas to pitch the benefits of their firm to prospective employees. Money was never an object. But in the post-TARP era, the big banks are loathe to appear wasteful or irresponsible, especially after taking taxpayer dollars. “The booze cruises, models, and bottle service are history,” says Alison Seanor, a managing director at Wall Street headhunter Glocap Search, who is quoted in the article.
Even many senior executives are hesitating to expense legitimate networking meals at fancy restaurants, to avoid calling attention to themselves. Some firms, such as Deutsche Bank, have issued clear directives to avoid activities such as visiting adult entertainment venues that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow in the past, but in today’s climate, would bring considerable press and shame.
The next generation of investment bankers is paying the price for sins of their predecessors. “Dinners these days, whether you’re a young prospect or a client, are so few and far between,” says Luis M. Yanez, managing director of Los Angeles-based investment firm Wellworth Capital. “Now it’s hard to get taken out for a burger, fries, and some beers.”
But with fewer openings for investment banking and trading jobs, none of the newer recruits is complaining. Even if they do manage to land a job, the thought that so many of their peers are without offers tends to dampen the celebrations. Interns and recently hired young traders are reportedly celebrating more modestly, with free appetizers at an Irish pub or visits to a Dave & Buster’s. Sell “night” has morphed into sell “drink” in Wall Street’s new, more toned-down environment.
What’s your take? Will we see a return to lavish wining and dining of prospective recruits as soon as the economy picks up? Add your comments below.