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4/24/12

I'm Asian-American. I see tons of Asians going into finance at the analyst level, and many who are Asian at the lower levels of PE firms (associate, analyst), but it seems to me that it's rarer to see Asians at the higher levels of PE or IBD. In my opinion, I think this is because it's simply harder for Asians in general to develop relationships with all you white folk who run the companies of this country (than for other Caucasians), and thus Asians tend to bring in less revenue.

Why this is so is possibly because people in general tend to get along better with similar people - others with similar backgrounds, cultures, and appearances. Another plausible reason is because of immigration patterns that led to second generation Asian-Americans being much larger now than maybe 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I can't seem to think of a single important Asian-American financier in the United States among the hundreds of important American financiers out there today.

One of my friends who worked at Goldman Sachs this past summer but decided not to accept his return offer told me one of the main reasons is because he thinks his chances of making it to the top are really slim since he is Asian. He decided to pursue a PhD instead.

What do you guys think about Asian-Americans in finance? Do you think I'm overthinking things? Is there potential for someone like me to be the Jeremy Lin of finance?

Comments (118)

Best Response
4/24/12

The funny thing is that I just had a counseling session with one of the WSO mentors last night and I actually brought up the same question. I am a South East Asian and so is the mentor. I have been working close to five years in Finance, from BO to MO and to FO. It is all the same. Based on my personal experience here are a few things that I would like to point out:

1. Meritocracy. Finance is based on meritocracy. You are either making money for the bank or you are not. In the end of the day, bottom line matters.

2. Don't play the victim card. You can keep blaming why you can't be a MD because you are Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, Woman, Old, Young, Veteran, went to target school with liberal art major, went to non-target school, and the list goes on. But what does it really accomplish? Nothing. Instead of complaining, you could have focused on getting something and going somewhere.

3. Play with the cards you are dealt with. Fine, you are a minority then look out for programs that can give you an edge like this one: http://www.seo-usa.org/Home. Join community groups within the bank or within the region that provide you a support system. Find people whom you can relate to and make them your personal and professional advocates.

4. Manage perception. Everyone is going to have bias and stereotypes against people whom they don't know. Instead of complaining about it, go out with them. Find topics that you can relate to them. After meeting so many people, I realize that we all wants the same thing: Happiness. Everyone of these people 1) love their families, 2) want to do something that they are good at, 3) want to be loved, get a gf/bf, get married 4) have a hobby/cause that they are passionate about.

5. You have to prove it all the time. In Finance, you can have a track record, but it doesn't mean anything. As you progress in your career you change role, company, location, you start from ground zero again. The main focus is trying to learn the business, work harder than everyone else, maintain a great professional relationship in the industry, always take a stand for your opinions, and make money for your group. That is the only way that you can move up. And everyone (White, Black, Asian, Woman...) have to do the same thing. Company promotes competent people, and not necessarily because you talk or look a certain way.

6. Your perception determines your reality. Finally, I am a firm believer in self-determination. I believe how we think affect how we are as a person. If you think of yourself as likable, intelligent and attractive, you are going to act this way. And when you act this way, people are going to view the same. That's why I believe that we can actively manage our perception by focusing on our inner self. As William Ernest Henley said in his poem, Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." And that is how I view and want to live my life.

Hope this helps.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

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4/24/12

Interesting. Asian-Indians, in comparison, tend to have little problem with the 'bamboo ceiling'. In fact, considering their share of the US population (0.9%), they've done exceptionally well. CEO of Pepsi, Citigroup, McKinsey, Deans of Harvard Business School and UChicago Booth, several of the top (not the very top, obviously) executives at Goldman, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Governors of two States, etc.

I personally think it has to do with the personality types of the East Asians who do end up going into finance. At my school at least, all are incredibly intense, focused, and of course smart. The Indians, in comparison, are all of that and also, crucially, laid back. Meh, just a theory.

4/24/12

How do you think Blacks and Hispanics feel?

Honest question btw, no trolling.

4/24/12

What an interesting question, though I was gonna say the same thing as seedy underbelly - tons of Indians who make it OK. Anshu Jain even made it big in a German, highly White setting...so I don't think there's firstly racism or latent racism as such. We all know brown people face a lot more racism than Asians...!

On the other hand, I think it has something to do with cultural/stereotypical strengths. Indians tend to talk more, be better at presenting than Asians, while Asians are more detail-oriented and excellent at analytics. Typically you find a lot of Asian CFOs for instance - those not doing a lot of customer facing work but still handling hugely important duties.

I think you should definitely keep going at your dream if finance is your passion. If you have strong interpersonal skills and are good at the analytical portions of your job, of which there'll be plenty, you'll be OK.

4/24/12

Tell your friend the PhD, that he needs to understand "sampling bias" before he writes anymore papers.

4/24/12
4/24/12

I remember reading this in an article somewhere but they attributed this to the simple fact that not that many minorities entered finance until the 90's. Even during the middle to late 90's many people who entered finance were still of the old boys club variety. Nowadays its quite common ( maybe more than common) to see an Asian in finance. Maybe after a decade, the vast influx of minorities who enter finance right now will move onto the MD level of the firm. Just look at people at Qatalyst,they have three Asian MD who went into finance around the 2000s and lots and lots of East Asian analysts and associates.

I think the bamboo ceiling is vastly exaggerated. Its not that uncommon either to see an Asian person in the MD level especially in the West Coast and there isn't a inherent bias against Asians in finance. As long as you can perform and you are sociable, you should be totally fine.

4/24/12

To be honest, I think AA policies actually hurt minorities in the long run. But I think that's a bit of a tangent.

4/24/12

I think you're overthinking things. There are a number of different Asian-Americans who are prominent in business that I could point to, but no amount would probably be enough (Stephen Chao and Jerry Yang are two that come to mind immediately; if you're looking for pure finance, how about Ping Jiang or if you're looking at dealmakers, the Greenhill MD who brought in the ATT/T-Mobile deal was Asian, and yes, I realize it fell apart). The point is that it's possible for an Asian-American to attain the highest level of business in the US. If the only reason your friend didn't return to GS was because of this, then I don't think he made a very good decision; there's no way the sample sizes we're using could be anywhere close to being statistically significant, and while I realize that's not how we make decisions in real life, I still think it's a very narrow minded view. After all, there's nothing that says that unless you make MD at GS by a certain age, then you fail at life.

Another point that's been raised is why Indian Americans tend to succeed more in finance than (East) Asian Americans, and I think this is a very valid question. It seems that you can extend this trend more generally to the entirety of the business world as well. My answer to this is that while both groups are traditionally associated with highly skilled positions (doctors, engineers, computer scientists), Indian culture is more embracing of business careers and aspirations. Part of this is because East Asian cultures place a huge emphasis on the group over the individual, meaning there is pressure to conform. While conformity has its advantages in some situations, in the corporate workplace, it's not very conducive to getting noticed and therefore promoted.

Additionally, this focus on the group's well-being also encourages risk-aversion in most East Asians; careers in medicine or engineering are viewed as 'safe' in that unless something really bad happens (i.e. losing your license to practice medicine), you're going to have a marketable skill that's in demand. On the other hand, business, and to an even greater extent, finance, is seen as much more risky; it's a foregone conclusion that recessions will occur, and that during these recessions, jobs will be cut. When my Asian roommate in college told his parents that he wanted to accept his IBD offer and not go to grad school, they didn't flip out per se but they sure tried to talk him into doing something more 'tangible'.

Anyway, the bottom line is that your race/ethnicity/gender/whatever doesn't define you. It's a part of your identity, but it's only as important as you let it be.

In reply to bbjhva
4/24/12
bbjhva:

We all know brown people face a lot more racism than Asians...!

Only in TSA security lines...

4/24/12

I think that what determines your long term ability to succeed in IB is your soft skills. My MD last summer wasn't a financier first and foremost, yes he was good at it, but he was a hard sciences PhD. His strength was his people skills. He had a great Rolodex, was a great networker and that's why he succeeded. A lot of Asian people I have known make incredible analysts, but lack in the soft skills that make you ultimately a good SVP/Director/MD.

In reply to seedy underbelly
4/24/12
seedy underbelly:

Interesting. Asian-Indians, in comparison, tend to have little problem with the 'bamboo ceiling'. In fact, considering their share of the US population (0.9%), they've done exceptionally well. CEO of Pepsi, Citigroup, McKinsey, Deans of Harvard Business School and UChicago Booth, several of the top (not the very top, obviously) executives at Goldman, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Governors of two States, etc.

I personally think it has to do with the personality types of the East Asians who do end up going into finance. At my school at least, all are incredibly intense, focused, and of course smart. The Indians, in comparison, are all of that and also, crucially, laid back. Meh, just a theory.

spoken like a true college kid.

wait til you work a couple of years boy and let me know how this theory of yours works in your life.

4/24/12

YOU'RE OVERTHINKING IT. ASIAN AMERICANS ARE OBVIOUSLY VERY AMERICANIZED, AND THE NEXT GENERATION OF ASIANS WILL HAVE MANY MORE PEOPLE IN HIGHER MANAGEMENT.
IN FACT, MY EX-GIRLFRIEND'S COUSIN'S BROTHER'S FRIEND'S DAD IS A PARTNER AT A TOP BB, AND I KNOW OF SEVERAL OTHERS THAT ARE GETTING THERE.

In reply to CHItizen
4/24/12
CHItizen:

the bottom line is that your race/ethnicity/gender/whatever doesn't define you. It's a part of your identity, but it's only as important as you let it be.

Amen

__________

4/24/12
goldman in da house:

Nevertheless, I can't seem to think of a single important Asian-American financier in the United States among the hundreds of important American financiers out there today.

Here's another notable Asian-American financier: Chinh Chu. Look up his story -- very fascinating.

In summary, he fled to America from Vietnam at a very young age (Vietnam War), learned good engrish, funded his own education at a NON-TARGET (for all you monkeys out there) as a door-to-door salesman/telemarketer, and became one of Blackstone's youngest senior managing directors.

Some years back he closed the Celanese deal -- the largest public-to-private deal in European history. He's now co-chair of their private equity division / serves on the exec committee.

Oh, and he owns the top penthouse in the Trump Tower. What a boss.

Sometimes lies are more dependable than the truth.

4/24/12

This question is full of stereotypes and bias.
Once you've grown up out of them maybe you might have a chance at IB.

In reply to seedy underbelly
4/24/12
seedy underbelly:

In fact, considering their share of the US population (0.9%), they've done exceptionally well. CEO of Pepsi, Citigroup, McKinsey, Deans of Harvard Business School and UChicago Booth, several of the top (not the very top, obviously) executives at Goldman, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Governors of two States, etc.

You forgot the Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank.

Although, I don't agree with your theory.

In reply to protectedclass
4/24/12

This:

goldman in da house:

One of my friends who worked at Goldman Sachs this past summer but decided not to accept his return offer told me one of the main reasons is because he thinks his chances of making it to the top are really slim since he is Asian. He decided to pursue a PhD instead.

Leads to this:

protectedclass:

Tell your friend the PhD, that he needs to understand "sampling bias" before he writes anymore papers.

Get busy living

In reply to melvvvar
4/24/12
melvvvar:
seedy underbelly:

Interesting. Asian-Indians, in comparison, tend to have little problem with the 'bamboo ceiling'. In fact, considering their share of the US population (0.9%), they've done exceptionally well. CEO of Pepsi, Citigroup, McKinsey, Deans of Harvard Business School and UChicago Booth, several of the top (not the very top, obviously) executives at Goldman, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Governors of two States, etc.

I personally think it has to do with the personality types of the East Asians who do end up going into finance. At my school at least, all are incredibly intense, focused, and of course smart. The Indians, in comparison, are all of that and also, crucially, laid back. Meh, just a theory.

spoken like a true college kid.

wait til you work a couple of years boy and let me know how this theory of yours works in your life.

Agreed..internship doesnt mean youve worked

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

In reply to Human
4/24/12
Human:

The funny thing is that I just had a counseling session with one of the WSO mentors last night and I actually brought up the same question. I am a South East Asian and so is the mentor. I have been working close to five years in Finance, from BO to MO and to FO. It is all the same. Based on my personal experience here are a few things that I would like to point out:

1. Meritocracy. Finance is based on meritocracy. You are either making money for the bank or you are not. In the end of the day, bottom line matters.

2. Don't play the victim card. You can keep blaming why you can't be a MD because you are Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, Woman, Old, Young, Veteran, went to target school with liberal art major, went to non-target school, and the list goes on. But what does it really accomplish? Nothing. Instead of complaining, you could have focused on getting something and going somewhere.

3. Play with the cards you are dealt with. Fine, you are a minority then look out for programs that can give you an edge like this one: http://www.seo-usa.org/Home. Join community groups within the bank or within the region that provide you a support system. Find people whom you can relate to and make them your personal and professional advocates.

4. Manage perception. Everyone is going to have bias and stereotypes against people whom they don't know. Instead of complaining about it, go out with them. Find topics that you can relate to them. After meeting so many people, I realize that we all wants the same thing: Happiness. Everyone of these people 1) love their families, 2) want to do something that they are good at, 3) want to be loved, get a gf/bf, get married 4) have a hobby/cause that they are passionate about.

5. You have to prove it all the time. In Finance, you can have a track record, but it doesn't mean anything. As you progress in your career you change role, company, location, you start from ground zero again. The main focus is trying to learn the business, work harder than everyone else, maintain a great professional relationship in the industry, always take a stand for your opinions, and make money for your group. That is the only way that you can move up. And everyone (White, Black, Asian, Woman...) have to do the same thing. Company promotes competent people, and not necessarily because you talk or look a certain way.

6. Your perception determines your reality. Finally, I am a firm believer in self-determination. I believe how we think affect how we are as a person. If you think of yourself as likable, intelligent and attractive, you are going to act this way. And when you act this way, people are going to view the same. That's why I believe that we can actively manage our perception by focusing on our inner self. As William Ernest Henley said in his poem, Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." And that is how I view and want to live my life.

Hope this helps.

Agreed

4/24/12

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

By the way, I'm based in Tokyo where the total number of immigrants is less than 1.5% of the total population. Of that there are a handful of us in finance, especially after the earthquake last year.

In reply to Human
4/24/12
Human:

The funny thing is that I just had a counseling session with one of the WSO mentors last night and I actually brought up the same question. I am a South East Asian and so is the mentor. I have been working close to five years in Finance, from BO to MO and to FO. It is all the same. Based on my personal experience here are a few things that I would like to point out:

1. Meritocracy. Finance is based on meritocracy. You are either making money for the bank or you are not. In the end of the day, bottom line matters.

2. Don't play the victim card. You can keep blaming why you can't be a MD because you are Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, Woman, Old, Young, Veteran, went to target school with liberal art major, went to non-target school, and the list goes on. But what does it really accomplish? Nothing. Instead of complaining, you could have focused on getting something and going somewhere.

3. Play with the cards you are dealt with. Fine, you are a minority then look out for programs that can give you an edge like this one: http://www.seo-usa.org/Home. Join community groups within the bank or within the region that provide you a support system. Find people whom you can relate to and make them your personal and professional advocates.

4. Manage perception. Everyone is going to have bias and stereotypes against people whom they don't know. Instead of complaining about it, go out with them. Find topics that you can relate to them. After meeting so many people, I realize that we all wants the same thing: Happiness. Everyone of these people 1) love their families, 2) want to do something that they are good at, 3) want to be loved, get a gf/bf, get married 4) have a hobby/cause that they are passionate about.

5. You have to prove it all the time. In Finance, you can have a track record, but it doesn't mean anything. As you progress in your career you change role, company, location, you start from ground zero again. The main focus is trying to learn the business, work harder than everyone else, maintain a great professional relationship in the industry, always take a stand for your opinions, and make money for your group. That is the only way that you can move up. And everyone (White, Black, Asian, Woman...) have to do the same thing. Company promotes competent people, and not necessarily because you talk or look a certain way.

6. Your perception determines your reality. Finally, I am a firm believer in self-determination. I believe how we think affect how we are as a person. If you think of yourself as likable, intelligent and attractive, you are going to act this way. And when you act this way, people are going to view the same. That's why I believe that we can actively manage our perception by focusing on our inner self. As William Ernest Henley said in his poem, Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." And that is how I view and want to live my life.

Hope this helps.

Best post I've seen in a while. SB

4/24/12

in ib, as long as u close, u can be a dog and still get to the top. in s&t, if u can be in the black all the time, u can be a pussy and still make it. either u make money or u don't.

stop trying to find excuses to why u didn't make it. god i hate asians who play the victim card.

4/24/12

I love how people get their panties in a bunch and silently throw monkey shit any time someone makes an innocuous observation on race that they happen to disagree with.

4/24/12

Listen, you're just perpetuating the stereotype of asians being pussies. Shut the fuck up and make money for the firm, and you'll make MD.

Continue being a pussy and you'll end up as some back-office PHD quant.

4/24/12

Honestly, I think that asians are too concentrated on becoming the smartest and most knowledgeable, believing that those skill-sets will bring the greatest success.

Obviously, if you bring in the huge money consistently for your firm, you'll move up. But, how many people can actually do that? Now, look at the people in management roles, I don't necessarily believe that they were all rockstars younger. They knew how to network, how to be friendly with the right people, and how to play some politics.

In the end, finance is a relationship business. Having the skills help, but at the top levels, all the people are smart and have the skills. The tiebreaker is how you get along with people.

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4/24/12

It's just cultural. Many Asians are introverted and frankly don't like to associate with those outside of their ethnic group. Perfect example: at my college, the Korean club kids literally only hang out with other Koreans, they make no attempt to branch out whatsoever with anyone else at the university. They don't integrate. Many Asians just put a premium on family and on academia but this clashes with the "jock" atmosphere of some fields like trading. It's tough for these people to reach high levels because they're not as good with developing relationships with strangers. They'd rather be working alone than working in a group atmoshpere (which I would too in most cases) and as a result flourish in that type of career situation than in one that requires more social skills than knowledge at high levels (i.e. Managing Directors, etc).

4/24/12

I hate to say it, but bulge_bracket raises a good point that I'm sure many of you notice: a lot of Asians stick together, especially my Korean friends.

I'm 2nd generation as well, but those who make excuses (especially regarding their ethnicity) really need to re-evaluate what they're doing wrong.

4/24/12

If you look around on LinkedIn I see many Indians get through to Associate, VP etc level. I also know many Caucasian people who get through. Its true to say however I don't see many other Asians get through.

BUT

I think if you work hard enough, and are pleasant to be around, no one will 'stop' you from progressing other then yourself. You are your own challenge IMO.

4/24/12

I agree with most of the points brought up - East asian culture vs Indian culture, etc.

One of the biggest reasons I believe is that Indians speak english as a 2nd language (despite the slight accent). Older East Asian-Americans have to overcome a language barrier (broken english) first.

Hopefully the trend is changing as the younger Asian-American demographic breaks away from the older conformist culture and adopt a more "american" attitude.

Nonetheless, you should become a baller and prove others wrong.

4/24/12

Robert Kiyosaki anyone...... ;-)

In reply to AlsatianCousin
4/24/12
AlsatianCousin:

I hate to say it, but bulge_bracket raises a good point that I'm sure many of you notice: a lot of Asians stick together, especially my Korean friends.

I'm 2nd generation as well, but those who make excuses (especially regarding their ethnicity) really need to re-evaluate what they're doing wrong.

I didn't want to say it (and I knew someone else would) but this is true. I had asian roommates in college for a year and they didn't even acknowledge my presence, or my guests, or anyone else on the floor for that matter. The few asians that do network tend to do just fine, and on the rare occaison I meet an asian at a networking thing, they tend to be a fucking boss.

Get busy living

In reply to TheMasao
4/24/12
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

4/24/12

I would say the primary reason why you don't see many East-Asians in the upper echelons of finance is as follows. Up until recently most Asian's on Wall Street were still first generation Americans (meaning sons / daughters of immigrants generally still born in Asia) who were raised under specific cultural norms to be good analytical employees that followed the rules, didn't speak up, showed respect for management, and knew their place - qualities that, for lack of a better word, don't show leadership. Hence because of this perceived lack of leadership many hit the "bamboo ceiling." It is mainly a culturally driven phenomenon...I think you'll start to see this change with time as this new generation of Asian-Americans begin to move into the workforce. They will have grown up with more American values and social skills that will allow them to move up the ranks in finance. I think if we fast forward 10 years you'll come to see Asians representing a more meaningful portion of management.

4/24/12

Anecdotal, but Asians were placed in very high levels at both banks I've worked at. The #2 person in my dept at both banks were Asians.

Also lots of Indians esp in the younger ranks.

Assuming you can speak fluent English and wear a proper suit, I don't see anything holding anyone back.

You don't want to throw a 'straight-off-the-boat' vibe - I have seen a few younger guys wearing obviously cheap, pastel-hued shirts and tons of man-jewelry mood-rings into the office...I do believe stuff like this might make people think you are not sophisticated. Wearing traditional dress is fine, but it must be done within the context of working in an American investment bank, not a sweatshop in Mumbai.

My guess is the younger-levels of these bank employees merely reflect the relatively new trend of Indians and Asians pursuing Investment Banking careers in the US.

4/24/12

Let's face it. Asians are still minority. 99% of white folks don't make it to the top anyway. Say, Asians were 3% of the whole finance population, the Asians who actually make to the top would be 3% x 1% =0.03% That's why you don't see a lot of high-level Asian Americans in the field. But there are a lot of extraordinary Asians in the business world: Jerry Yang, Andrea Jung, Li Lu, to name a few.

That being said, I do think there have been a couple of cutural factors playing into this. I have a friend who's 4th generation Asian American. Her parents, who were also born and raised in the US, are extremely successful. And she's essentially nothing different from a white girl. However, most 2nd generations I have seen grew up with very strict parents who place more emphasis on "going to Harvard" than letting their kids explore what they really want to do in life.

4/24/12

follow what you really wanna do = OWS.
now, how u like that

4/24/12

It has nothing to do with race, or the white man looking out for his own kind. It has everything to do with the culture that many of these Asians grow up in as foreign born or 1st / 2nd generation.

This will come off as a bit mean and stereotypical (stereotypes are around for a reason though), but Asians tend to be great with the hard skills but they really lack the soft skills. This can be seen all across Asia right now, and is no different for those here in the states. China specifically is having a hard time finding 'entrepreneurial' minded folks who are WILLING and ABLE to take a leadership role.

Just because your friend at GS can ace any problem in algebraic geometry, doesnt mean he is well polished and able to handle himself with a big time client. And the skill of being able to smooze is much more important then being able to do algebraic geometry. So, your buddy not accepting his offer at GS was fucking stupid... its skills he has to work on, not GS.

4/24/12
In reply to WestCoastDeveloper
4/24/12
Nobama88:

It has nothing to do with race, or the white man looking out for his own kind. It has everything to do with the culture that many of these Asians grow up in as foreign born or 1st / 2nd generation.

This will come off as a bit mean and stereotypical (stereotypes are around for a reason though), but Asians tend to be great with the hard skills but they really lack the soft skills. This can be seen all across Asia right now, and is no different for those here in the states. China specifically is having a hard time finding 'entrepreneurial' minded folks who are WILLING and ABLE to take a leadership role.

Just because your friend at GS can ace any problem in algebraic geometry, doesnt mean he is well polished and able to handle himself with a big time client. And the skill of being able to smooze is much more important then being able to do algebraic geometry. So, your buddy not accepting his offer at GS was fucking stupid... its skills he has to work on, not GS.

if that's his friend's mentality, he is better off escaping into grad school.

4/24/12

As more first generation Asian-Americans enter into finance, we should see a big change in this.

Also from my experience, Indians tend to be a lot more social and laid back than other Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) They seem to be a mix of the jock and nerd.

Top executive positions are less about analytics (what asians are good at) and more relationship based (what asians are not really good at)

4/24/12
4/24/12

Dunno about others but Indians have had a very businessy culture since time immemorial. Some of the largest Indian companies were also started by individuals (Reliance, Tatas, Birlas, Mahindra, Infy, Wipro and so on). Indians are also an entrepreneurial lot, evidenced by the thriving small businesses that dot the country. Plus Hindus have a goddess of wealth. And where is more wealth, on average, than in high finance? No wonder Indians tend to flock there.

4/24/12

^ Please don't bring fairy tales into this debate.

In reply to Macro Arbitrage
4/24/12
Macro Arbitrage:

^ Please don't bring fairy tales into this debate.

Understanding why people from certain culture might lean towards certain professions, and succeed in greater numbers than people from other ethnic minorities in the said profession, is fascinating. Trying to understand other cultures is not a bad idea. Globalization...remember?

4/24/12
Macro Arbitrage:

^ Please don't bring fairy tales into this debate.

^^^ I agree. Hope this doesn't turn into pro-Indian propaganda on WSO. And let's focus on working on our career rather than 1) complaining about the generation gaps 2) blaming the Asian education system and 3) highlighting differences among various Asian groups. You know what they all have in common? They are all in the past and there is not much we can do about it. Let us focus on what brings all of us together, which is we are all just "Monkeys" trying to make it big in the Finance/Consulting industry.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

4/24/12
In reply to IRSPB
4/24/12
IRSPB:

Dunno about others but Indians have had a very businessy culture since time immemorial. Some of the largest Indian companies were also started by individuals (Reliance, Tatas, Birlas, Mahindra, Infy, Wipro and so on). Indians are also an entrepreneurial lot, evidenced by the thriving small businesses that dot the country. Plus Hindus have a goddess of wealth. And where is more wealth, on average, than in high finance? No wonder Indians tend to flock there.

That is why they were colonized by an Island nation for several centuries and 90% of the population lives in poverty.

4/24/12

asian girls do pretty good oral

In reply to CaliforniaAssociate
4/24/12
CaliforniaAnalyst:

asian girls do pretty good oral

A wise man once told me about Asian girls: They can be attractive when it goes right, but when it goes wrong it goes horribly horribly wrong.

In reply to Gate_Crasher
4/24/12
Gate_Crasher:
IRSPB:

Dunno about others but Indians have had a very businessy culture since time immemorial. Some of the largest Indian companies were also started by individuals (Reliance, Tatas, Birlas, Mahindra, Infy, Wipro and so on). Indians are also an entrepreneurial lot, evidenced by the thriving small businesses that dot the country. Plus Hindus have a goddess of wealth. And where is more wealth, on average, than in high finance? No wonder Indians tend to flock there.

That is why they were colonized by an Island nation for several centuries and 90% of the population lives in poverty.

Why do you think the Brits came to India in the first place? They came to trade. After centuries of looting, no wonder the population was in poverty. 40 years of bad decision making leaders inspired by Soviet style socialism after independence didn't help either. The liberalization in 1991 let out out trading instincts that had been lying constrained under a control-freak commie govt. Things are changing, and hopefully the pace of change will quicken.

And no 90% is not in poverty. More like 30% or so. And rapidly falling.

Btw, a country like India holds lessons for America in what not to do. Too many rules and regulations screwed up the country. Sadly looks like America, slowly but steadily, is heading down the same path.

4/24/12

Gordon Pan will take over as head of Baird Capital Partners
Do Kim was a big shot at Merrill
Anthony Choe is a partner at Brentwood

Look harder. There are some Asian Americans who've made it high up.

In reply to whateverittakes
4/24/12
whateverittakes:

Gordon Pan will take over as head of Baird Capital Partners
Do Kim was a big shot at Merrill
Anthony Choe is a partner at Brentwood

Look harder. There are some Asian Americans who've made it high up.

.... and everyone else wasn't Asian who's made it high up? Not really, but the fact that you're listing individuals proves the point that it's relatively rare. You wouldn't make a list of white people who have made it high up. It's like when people say "Did you know that a black man invented peanut butter?" Yeah, but then you're saying people who weren't black invented everything in the world besides peanut butter? I know that's not the case, I'm just saying it's an inherently bad/funny argument to make.

I think we've all agreed it has nothing to do with race, it's just cultural. If you jibe with the culture of wall street, you'll have no problem. Being Asian in itself has nothing to do with it, it's the culture that's evinced by so many first and second-generation Asian Americans.

4/24/12
In reply to Gate_Crasher
4/24/12
Gate_Crasher:
IRSPB:

Dunno about others but Indians have had a very businessy culture since time immemorial. Some of the largest Indian companies were also started by individuals (Reliance, Tatas, Birlas, Mahindra, Infy, Wipro and so on). Indians are also an entrepreneurial lot, evidenced by the thriving small businesses that dot the country. Plus Hindus have a goddess of wealth. And where is more wealth, on average, than in high finance? No wonder Indians tend to flock there.

That is why they were colonized by an Island nation for several centuries and 90% of the population lives in poverty.

Way to pull numbers out of your arse.

4/24/12

why do i receive ms when recalling my own experience?

4/24/12

1.East Asians don't lack social skills, they lack Western-style social skills.
If East Asians tend to hang out with each other, it means they have strong social skills.

2. Indians almost all want to work in Western countries. No wonder since there is
so much poverty in India and no real opportunities.

3. Many East Asians return to their home-countries after studies. Ivy league schools
are very highly regarded in Asia, Bulge Bracket banks and Fortune 500 companies are not.

I'd say it is a mix of cultural differences and stereotypes. Westerners tend to feel threatened by
East Asians (Understandably). East Asians don't really care about Westerners because they
can return home at any time and be successful.

In reply to Quarterlife
4/24/12
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

I always get a kick out of monikers like "Asian-American" or the like. Its the equivalent of "I'm different, just like everyone else".

As well, I didn't know there was a country named Asia, and last I checked, most cultures around the region are not the same. Either you were born the the U.S., became a citizen or you are from somewhere else.

In reply to Macro Arbitrage
4/24/12
Macro Arbitrage:
seedy underbelly:

In fact, considering their share of the US population (0.9%), they've done exceptionally well. CEO of Pepsi, Citigroup, McKinsey, Deans of Harvard Business School and UChicago Booth, several of the top (not the very top, obviously) executives at Goldman, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Governors of two States, etc.

You forgot the Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank.

Although, I don't agree with your theory.

Potassium.

In reply to TheMasao
4/24/12
TheMasao:
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

I always get a kick out of monikers like "Asian-American" or the like. Its the equivalent of "I'm different, just like everyone else".

As well, I didn't know there was a country named Asia, and last I checked, most cultures around the region are not the same. Either you were born the the U.S., became a citizen or you are from somewhere else.

Yes, let's just act like ethnicity and race aren't an important part of one's identity...

Sure, no two cultures are exactly the same, but that doesn't mean that East Asians don't share similar cultural traits (for example, elder reverence, emphasis of group over individual, etc.)

In reply to Macro Arbitrage
4/24/12
Macro Arbitrage:

^ Please don't bring fairy tales into this debate.

Hinduism may be an odd religion, but there is indeed a Goddess of Wealth:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshmi

In reply to mrbeancounter
4/24/12
mrbeancounter:

2. Indians almost all want to work in Western countries. No wonder since there is
so much poverty in India and no real opportunities.

You really are a smart one aren't you.

In reply to CHItizen
4/24/12
CHItizen:
TheMasao:
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

I always get a kick out of monikers like "Asian-American" or the like. Its the equivalent of "I'm different, just like everyone else".

As well, I didn't know there was a country named Asia, and last I checked, most cultures around the region are not the same. Either you were born the the U.S., became a citizen or you are from somewhere else.

Yes, let's just act like ethnicity and race aren't an important part of one's identity...

Sure, no two cultures are exactly the same, but that doesn't mean that East Asians don't share similar cultural traits (for example, elder reverence, emphasis of group over individual, etc.)

As was mentioned, its not. If you can deliver, no one cares where you are from and what you look like. A toothless crack-whore from planet xyz could be hired at a PE firm if she's able to bring in money, dealflow and/or generate returns. That's the bottom line.

In reply to bbjhva
4/24/12
bbjhva:
Macro Arbitrage:

^ Please don't bring fairy tales into this debate.

Hinduism may be an odd religion, but there is indeed a Goddess of Wealth:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshmi

Odd religion? Well, that's rather redundant.

In reply to TheMasao
4/24/12
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

By the way, I'm based in Tokyo where the total number of immigrants is less than 1.5% of the total population. Of that there are a handful of us in finance, especially after the earthquake last year.

Come back to Asia? When was I ever in Asia? Are you fucking stupid?

In reply to Quarterlife
4/24/12
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

For real, and some idiot gave that racist shit a SB hahah.

In reply to TheMasao
4/24/12
TheMasao:
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

I always get a kick out of monikers like "Asian-American" or the like. Its the equivalent of "I'm different, just like everyone else".

As well, I didn't know there was a country named Asia, and last I checked, most cultures around the region are not the same. Either you were born the the U.S., became a citizen or you are from somewhere else.

Yeah, I was born in the U.S.

Is being African the same as being African-American? No. Is being Asian the same as being Asian-American? No, you moron.

In reply to TheMasao
4/24/12
TheMasao:
CHItizen:
TheMasao:
Quarterlife:
TheMasao:

Your core issue is that you're focusing on the wrong market. Come back to Asia. Don't think you'll find many successful PE firms run by us white folk.

In other words, stop bitching about what you don't have and take advantage of your opportunities.

He's Asian-AMERICAN, what do you mean "come back to Asia"?

I always get a kick out of monikers like "Asian-American" or the like. Its the equivalent of "I'm different, just like everyone else".

As well, I didn't know there was a country named Asia, and last I checked, most cultures around the region are not the same. Either you were born the the U.S., became a citizen or you are from somewhere else.

Yes, let's just act like ethnicity and race aren't an important part of one's identity...

Sure, no two cultures are exactly the same, but that doesn't mean that East Asians don't share similar cultural traits (for example, elder reverence, emphasis of group over individual, etc.)

As was mentioned, its not. If you can deliver, no one cares where you are from and what you look like. A toothless crack-whore from planet xyz could be hired at a PE firm if she's able to bring in money, dealflow and/or generate returns. That's the bottom line.

Nothing in your post suggested that you were speaking strictly within the context of promotions within the business world.

4/24/12

Is someone with white South African parents born in America an African-American? They're white, but they're parents are both from Africa. I report, you decide

4/24/12

just go to hong kong and you will be fine ;)

In reply to helpmepleasethx
4/24/12
helpmepleasethx:

Is someone with white South African parents born in America an African-American? They're white, but they're parents are both from Africa. I report, you decide

There was a White African who applied for an African American scholarship at his high school. He should have won the scholarship, yet his application was denied.

4/24/12

HK is sick. If you have Mandarin skills, whether you're White or Asian, just go there. HK may not be NY but it's financial markets are a lot more happening given China, there's terrific exposure, and the tax rate is 1/3 US'. Cash in.

4/24/12

to be honest, you shouldn't see working in Asia as "going home" or a sign of weakness, if you are a true paper chaser, just follow the money - everyone knows where the future lies, don't be too stuck with the "cultural upbringing" type of issue, or I am too white washed to go back to Asia. Tons of non-native people are working in Asia now simply because of better lifestyle, cash and opportunity.

If you are not a true paper chaser, oh wait, I thought I'm on wso

4/25/12

Just skimmed the thread but agree with what someone mentioned earlier that if you only hangout with your own race (Asian in this case) you will probably have a greater chance of being stereotyped with X,Y Z etc. Although, it is understandable, to hang out with those you're comfortable with, which is often your own race.

With that said, I think the personal limits you place on your self are far more powerful (limiting) in this case. Reminds how you will see a ton of Asian chicks with non-Asian dudes (usually white) but not so much the other way around. Why's that? It would be idealistic (I can't think of a better word at the moment) to say race doesn't matter, it does but it certainly (to a degree) can be overcome or you be a bitch and go get a PhD.

In reply to TOB2020
4/25/12
TOB2020:

Just skimmed the thread but agree with what someone mentioned earlier that if you only hangout with your own race (Asian in this case) you will probably have a greater chance of being stereotyped with X,Y Z etc.

True.

Also, Indians who are part of an Indian dance group = Most annoying yet true stereotype ever.

4/25/12

When someone brings up the White male Asian female issue, I always
wonder if they really find our women so attractive or if they just want to conceal
the African male White female issue.

4/25/12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cn0X7ymvQI

goldman in da house:

I'm Asian-American. I see tons of Asians going into finance at the analyst level, and many who are Asian at the lower levels of PE firms (associate, analyst), but it seems to me that it's rarer to see Asians at the higher levels of PE or IBD. In my opinion, I think this is because it's simply harder for Asians in general to develop relationships with all you white folk who run the companies of this country (than for other Caucasians), and thus Asians tend to bring in less revenue.

Why this is so is possibly because people in general tend to get along better with similar people - others with similar backgrounds, cultures, and appearances. Another plausible reason is because of immigration patterns that led to second generation Asian-Americans being much larger now than maybe 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I can't seem to think of a single important Asian-American financier in the United States among the hundreds of important American financiers out there today.

One of my friends who worked at Goldman Sachs this past summer but decided not to accept his return offer told me one of the main reasons is because he thinks his chances of making it to the top are really slim since he is Asian. He decided to pursue a PhD instead.

What do you guys think about Asian-Americans in finance? Do you think I'm overthinking things? Is there potential for someone like me to be the Jeremy Lin of finance?

AgainstAllOdds

4/25/12

Vikram Pundit (Citi), Anshu Jain (Duetsche Bank), Ajit Jain (Berkshire)

Two CEOs, and 3rd one is in the making, I can't believe race goes against Asians (atleast Indians) in finance.

In trading Asian representation is very less, but in IB it's not correct to say that you have the wind against you if you are Asian, there are many many very well off Asians in IB and PE.

4/25/12

I was thinking about this subject last night and I realized two things that I have learned since being out of college and working with Asian co workers and clients.

First, the Asian co workers we have in our office seem to only talk with themselves. They dont try to really get to know anyone else in the office or break out of their own click. Second, Asian clients almost ALWAYS ask to work with another Asian - Chinese only want to work with another Chinese, Korean with Koreans, etc.

I have specifically had my Asian clients tell me they want to only communicate / work with another Asian. And I know this is common throughout the industry and working with Asian clients.

Now, I understand that this is a cultural issue. But it is an issue that I have personally seen within the Asian communities. Just some food for thought.

4/25/12

I can speak first hand about the generational thing.

From my hazy memory of my time as an analyst in the 1990s, I remember out of an analyst class of around 80, there were around 10 Asian or Asian-Americans. The rest were white (American, European, etc.). And that was the late 90s when it was already changing - and I remember some of the Indian/Asian VPs back then who said that when they were analysts in the late 80s/early 90s, they were often the only non-white analyst in their entire year. And at the junior levels at the top tier PE shops and LBO funds -- almost exclusively white. In the last 5-10 years or so, that has been changing, and changing quite rapidly.

It will change as the influx of Asians at the junior levels in the 2000's eventually become MDs and partners in then next 10-15 years, and in fact there's already a LOT more than there used to be (even if it still seems like there's still relatively few).

I don't think it's a cultural issue at all - it's simply a generational one.

The Asian/Asian-Americans born in the 1970s who grew up or emigrated to the US at a young age were far fewer in number compared to the huge influx starting in the mid-1980s and beyond. If you think the numbers of Asians are relatively small even in a big city like Chicago, you can imagine what it was like in the 1980s when even in the large cities, you might as well be an alien from outer space because you may be the only Asian other kids have ever met.

As such, you'll see in the next 5-15 years more Asians in all facets of American life/culture/industry: in finance, media/entertainment, sports, and so forth.

It's more about numbers than culture. Especially when you're talking about Asian-Americans, and as those who were born in the 1970s have 2nd or 3rd generation Asian-American kids, you will see more numbers of Asians in all kinds of professions without any huge cultural barriers. Not saying there's no cultural/racial issues that come up (and there are, but that's another discussion entirely), but when it comes to workplace issues, it's really about numbers and generational differences.

4/25/12

interesting points, alex chu. how many of your asian american analyst class are MDs now?

In reply to melvvvar
4/25/12

Haha love the tag on this thread. Lucy Thai is indeed hot stuff

In reply to melvvvar
4/25/12
melvvvar:

interesting points, alex chu. how many of your asian american analyst class are MDs now?

What's the hierarchy at most BBs?

I've met a Chinese guy who just became partner at GS.

In reply to bigtool05
4/25/12
bigtool05:

Haha love the tag on this thread. Lucy Thai is indeed hot stuff

HAHA just noticed this

In reply to euinvestor12
4/26/12
EUInvestor11:

This question is full of stereotypes and bias.
Once you've grown up out of them maybe you might have a chance at IB.

I'd give you a SB if I could!

In reply to D0PA
4/26/12
D0PA:

Vikram Pundit (Citi), Anshu Jain (Duetsche Bank), Ajit Jain (Berkshire)

Two CEOs, and 3rd one is in the making, I can't believe race goes against Asians (atleast Indians) in finance.

Add Ajay Banga (CEO of MasterCard to the list). Also Deven Sharma (CEO of S&P before getting the boot for downgrading US' credit rating). Not sure if D&B is a proper 'finance' company, if it is, the CEO Sara Mathew is also Indian.

Here's an interesting article the success of Indians:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2...

4/26/12

Im pretty sure it's a numbers/time thing given that indians on average have been in this country much longer than east asians. you are jumping to conclusions way too quickly man.

4/26/12

I am Chinese American and the bank I worked for had quite a few Asian Americans, including at senior levels--mostly east Asians (Chinese or Korean), with a few Indians. I have experienced the sort of racism that the OP refers to in many situations, but never in banking. Maybe I was just lucky, but it was a refreshing experience.

The worst thing you can do is worry about it too much. Being so self-conscious will only reinforce the negative stereotypes. Relax, do good work, and be nice to people.

4/27/12
In reply to leonardneversleeps
4/27/12
leonardneversleeps:

to be honest, you shouldn't see working in Asia as "going home" or a sign of weakness, if you are a true paper chaser, just follow the money - everyone knows where the future lies, don't be too stuck with the "cultural upbringing" type of issue, or I am too white washed to go back to Asia. Tons of non-native people are working in Asia now simply because of better lifestyle, cash and opportunity.

If you are not a true paper chaser, oh wait, I thought I'm on wso

Agreed. That is the true hustler's mentality. Thumbs up.

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