Why finance? Why now?

I’d been thinking: it’s good to be in a thing from the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I’m getting the feeling I might be in at the end. That the best is over.

                                                                                 – Tony Soprano

“Why go into finance now?”

Now that I’ve decided to set aside 2 years and plenty of $$$ on an MBA, I get this question more frequently than one might expect. Looking at the business landscape since the Great Recession, the industry seen as having the most “sex appeal” has shifted from finance to tech. My brother works at a startup on Silicon Beach here in Los Angeles, so I have observed the tech scene up close over the past few years. On several occasions – having seen the depth of my brother’s passion for his field – I have even wondered if I should pivot away from finance. Are finance’s glory days over? Am I getting in too late? Did I miss my window? Looking forward, could these financial institutions be the targets of disruptive innovation from companies in my brother’s field?  

It would be naïve to discount those questions just because I don’t want them to be true. As this article describes, years of attacks from politicians and the public have left large banks more timid, more conservative, and more wary of their public image. Putting aside the moral implications of Tony Soprano’s chosen profession, there is some applicability from his quote to my current situation. Is the best over?

Perhaps it is. But there is a flip-side: as more young professionals gravitate towards field such as tech (and away from finance), the ones who remain in finance will be those who are deeply passionate about the field. There will be fewer people working there solely for the paycheck, and more remaining for the work itself. As someone who wants to work with like-minded individuals who share my passion for finance, I see this as an encouraging thought.

Will aspects of the financial system be taken down by disruptive innovation? Of course. But the banking system remains the engine driving the world’s economic engine. When the tech world fell apart in 2000, a short recession followed. When the financial system collapsed 8 years later, the impact was far more devastating, illustrating the integral role that financial firms maintain… and I can’t wait to be a part of that system!

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