How would you explain prestige to a normie? I'm struggling to explain prestige to normies - like the difference between GS and a wealth management firm, Harvard and the CFA, Wharton/ KKR and a regular etc. Both the GS analyst and a WM financial advisor (in a mom and pop firm) PROBABLY have the same level of knowledge about finance, and the Harvard econ guy and the CFA charterholder (who works in a non-high finance firm and studied 'commerce' in a no-name school, that is) probs have the same level of knowledge as well. (within the same standard deviation that is).

But there's that prestige aroma that divides these 2 worlds apart, that transcends 'knowledge', etc. Find it hard to describe this to friends. My family isn't English-speaking as well too so there's that added language barrier cuz I can't use the word 'prestige'. I use the term 'worlds' rn (to describe the prestigious firms/ schools 'in that world', and the non-prestigious ones 'in that world')

If you look at MIT's MS/ PhD Finance program website, they say that upon graduating from the program, you'll 'speak the language of MIT' - I believe they're tryna convey this as well. You speak the language of prestige that is so hard to put into words to people outside this sphere - prestigious people pronounce it 'fuh-nance', non-prestigious people pronounce it fye-nance. 

If you pronounce 'fuh-nance' you are a prestigious tool

I also pronounce it 'ehkuh-nomics' or at least, 'eekuh-nomics'. It is the way.

Fama and Damodaran pronounce 'fuh-nance' btw

Real prestige is doing something unique or being unique (in a good way) which get people to respect you for that

IB prestige is thinking people respect you/are impressed by you while in reality vast majority of them DGAF

You can tell to your "normies" that prestige is about being among the top of what can be done (academic/job/industry) but for god sake let them live in the real world and don't corrupt them with that prestige bullshit because what matters to most people is who you are and how you act not where you studied nor where you work

Real prestige is doing something unique or being unique (in a good way) which get people to respect you for that

If this is the definition of prestige then every honest, hardworking person who contributes to his/ her family and society is prestigious. Because everyone is unique in their own way

I meant "people" as "most people" not only your acquaintances. I would define school and place of work/team as "brand name". Prestige would be more like "the guy who made it to MD while he was only 27 y.o." ; "the intern who spot a billion dollar mistake no one saw" or something in these lines

Prestige matters in regards to starting point and trajectory. Having a top name on your resume early in your career helps set the direction for future opportunities. It doesn't automatically make that happen as you need to perform. It also doesn't mean you can't reach the same heights without. However, having a top name and good performance tied to your personal brand matters. It just does. It signals future employers you were strong enough to get an offer and perform well at a industry leader who typically uses significant screening to vet employees. It at least gets you in the conversation. Then it's about you.

Prestige is a conservative term that reflects someone that is well-regarded in society. The reason why it's a conservative term is that it emphasizes a social hierarchy where one success is reflected often by professional accomplishments (contrary to the modern agendas that aim to push away social hierarchies and puts as more noble values equality, social justice, etc.). The fact that law, medicine, etc. are the usual suspects in terms of prestigious careers is because those were usually hard to achieve historically - only the educated (rich) could achieve those, not the farmers - so they were respected because they reflected intelligence, power i.e. connections, and also because of that power they could influence and shape society. 

Unfortunately, nowadays, prestige is starting to become irrelevant because (1) those careers are becoming highly commoditized - almost anyone with average intelligence has access to them - and (2) the "idols" of society are shifting from industrial titans, politicians, lawyers, doctors, etc. to TikTok stars, IG thots, and YouTubers; so prestige is losing relevance because nowadays one's professional accomplishments are strictly tied to doing what's fun and making money from what. In other words, prestige is shifted from raw power to monetary power (and altogether, frankly, many people don't even care about monetary power and instead prefer to #LoveLiveLaugh).

Finance is also regarded as prestigious because we live in a capitalist society where money is #1 (and you can finance political campaigns to get access to power or you can directly buy connections). In the past, finance wasn't prestigious because it was looked at as commerce and bankers were merchants. They were at the mercy of the court, the ones that had the connections, power, and influence. Among others, some bad news for the prestige whores: Your job isolated isn't as prestigious as a lawyer or doctor that can act on their own because you alone have 0 influence or power over anything, you solely benefit from the prestige label because of the company's name, which is the one that concentrates the connections and power of all its management and shareholders.

tl;dr: prestige = potential to accumulate power or influence society through one's profession and usually, because of the façade of the professional i.e. intelligence, expertise, connections, it also makes others dependant on him allowing him to influence the lives of those people

Reading your concern (KKR vs. AM) just answer that KKR is more prestigious because it has a huge influence in the finance and business world, people are extremely smart (+ come from good schools), and one builds great connections as an employee in this company. Those are equally valid for AM, but the mere reputation of working under the KKR brand is like comparing the influence of someone working in a regional Gov't office in Nebraska and someone working in the White House.

People who held prestigious jobs in the past weren’t more intelligent than everyone else, they were just born into money. That in and of itself means that they were handed their success more often than they actually earned it. This, however, isn’t too much different than now, where target schools reign supreme, and those very same targets are willing to take a bribe to let your kids attend.

Prestige is entirely driven by the desire to be in ”that” club.

Like a Ponzi scheme, if the “the club” can’t stand on its own merits, then it collapses (like many nightclubs with lines out the front). If it can stand on its own merits then it will create a situation where there is an “us” that helps each person over the “them” or “other”.

there’s different levels of these sorts of clubs, with varying degrees of effect over time (depending on its members etc). For instance at a team level, being at a high performance team is a sort of club as it fits the above criteria (think Olympic teams, Navy Seals etc). 

at a larger level you have companies and universities. In one sense it’s illusory, because it is dependent on how it’s members and non-members collectively identify (if Harvard were in Hawaii for instance, would that change anything). 

in short though - prestige is trying to draw circles around some groups of people over others. A lot of it is wasteful, but there are some seeds of truth in the circle drawing. 

chasing prestige is not a good thing because it’s, as mentioned before, more about what you personally bring to the “clubs” that make it impactful.

"Prestige is how my bank tricks me into a lower pay, even though a major reason I chose this professions was to maximize my income."


"Prestige is why I pay more for an iPhone even though Android is just as good."

If the only prestige you have is your bank brand then this is terribly sad. 

Make money, live your life, invest your bonus. Work hard, play hard. 

To put things into perspective - you maybe in GS TMT but that Midwest founder who sold their industrials business in the mid-market for $200m is probably going to have more wealth than you'll accumulate in your lifetime and create generational wealth for his family. You may think he is less prestigious in your absurd gen z banker view but the reality is very much different.

Tech & Media M&A - London

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