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In general, I’ve always blindly accepted investment banking culture. The rules, the interview process, the face time, the mistreatment of younger employees. It never really bothered me…

That said, I am currently reading a fantastic book called “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” by Steven Levy. If you read this book, you will find out that Google has a similar elite culture associated with its workforce. Google only hires individuals from top schools with outstanding GPAs. As well, Google is notorious for extremely difficult interview questions. The company brags that it hires the best of the best… does that sound familiar?

But as you keep reading, you’ll notice a drastic difference between Google and the investment banks. Google is proud to let employees dress anyway they please. Employees are given every creature comfort imaginable including free food (with an in-house chief), massive gym and yoga center, etc. You even have access to a free car if you need to run an errand and butler service in case you prefer that someone else run your errand for you! The list of perks is endless.

Google also implemented a rule where employees can spend one day per week working on a “fun side project” of their choice. Believe it or not, Google News was created via one of these side projects! The employee can pick any project he wants without requiring approval from his managers.

Lastly, employees are trusted and treated with respect at a very young age. Believe it or not, the product manager overseeing the launch of GMAIL was just 22 at the time! Can you imagine being in charge of the most successful email program of all time at the age of 22?

Suffice it to say that Google’s stock price has significantly outperformed just about any index or stock in the North America (please don’t be a smart *$#* and write a comment below about the one or two companies that you found which outperformed Google since 2004…).

So I ask the following question: is it possible that the financial services industry hasn’t been as successful or innovative this past decade because banks hire top talent but subsequently force these bright, energetic, creative, ambitious individuals to focus on face time, dry-cleaned suits, and overpriced ties instead of actually maximizing their full potential?

Comments (11)

  • DM123's picture

    tkid3400: Just to be accurate, I wouldn't say "despite the $$$$$$"...... google employees who joined early on made serious coin because of their stock options...

  • marcellus_wallace's picture

    Why do you think Google's culture would fit or succeed in finance? Finance is built on a hierarchy and every emperor needs an army of really smart, hard working peons to help sustain their empire. You become the emperor by killing other emperors.

    Google may be looking for entrepreneurs and outside the box thinkers, investment banking is looking for the best highest paid corporate slave one could buy or mold.

  • iwa1409's picture

    Obviously you asked about IB but looking at finance more generally, some of the top prop shops have cultures similar to this...although you probably aren't going to get a butler service anytime soon.

  • seabird's picture

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