Toughest Job in Finance?

TL;DR: who do you think has the toughest job in finance? It can be an individual person past or present, a specific role, or a general section of the industry. I'm Interested in everyone's thoughts.

So I was reading the daily Bloomberg Economics briefing this morning, and the lead story was about the Eurozone missing its most recent growth estimate by a factor of half (growth was a fraction of 1%), and how Mario Draghi will react, and the balancing act he has to play with everything he does and everything he says publicly.

Now, I'm not a global macro guy; I'm an American who hasn't spent much time outside America and doesn't follow European events closely. But from the little bit I do have time to read, I can't imagine how tough Draghi's job must be.

You have Germany apparently having flirted with a recession lately. Italy is in trouble. France is as lethargic as ever but now there's political instability as well. Then you have Brexit on top of all that. You also have big cyclical demographic trends of people having fewer kids (which could turn your economy into the next Japan) and good luck combating those trends with expanded immigration policy because nationalistic sentiments are at their highest levels in decades worldwide. You have a trade war, Trump as POTUS, and other uncertainty elsewhere.

To my understanding, he's presiding over a monetary union without a proper fiscal union. We're nearing the end of a business cycle, but this one is also wrapped into the beginning of the end of a worldwide long-term debt cycle. All these countries/cultures have very different ideas about how much austerity is fair, how much people should work, what the government should and shouldn't provide, etc. And what's good for some countries monetarily at any given time is generally going to be not-so-good (or even downright bad) for others at that same time, depending on how their economies are doing. And this is a continent where a bunch of countries with different cultures are all jammed together and they have been at war with one another for most of human history, save for the last 75 years.

Icing on the cake: if you get it right, it's basically a thankless job and most of the masses don't even know your name, but if you get it wrong, a debt crisis ensues, a war may break out, and a bunch of know-nothing Monday morning quarterbacks will want your head because you didn't do they claim they would have done if they were head of the ECB.

Which brings me to the topic of this thread....what are the toughest jobs in finance? Who has a job that makes yours look simple and relaxing?

And I don't mean "tough" as in it's your first year in the industry and you're pulling all-nighters turning pitchbooks, but you know it will be better in a year or two.

I mean "tough" as in Paul Volcker trying to tame stagflation, Michael Milken fighting to legitimize junk bonds, or Bill Ackman doing quarterly calls with his investors while his Herbalife short bet was getting publicly pummeled on CNBC by Uncle Carl. Or those old school "open outcry" floor traders who were too long stocks on Black Monday in 1987 and walked into a bloodbath that ruined their careers in a matter of hours.

Or, without naming individual people and events, what are some specific roles, groups, specialities, etc. within the finance industry that you think are particularly tough?

Nominees can come from any era of Wall Street and any subsector of the industry. Interested to see everyone's responses.

Comments (43)

Most Helpful
Jan 24, 2019

This legitimately could have been asked in one sentence

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Funniest
Jan 24, 2019

"Pls fix. Thx."

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

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Jan 25, 2019

TL;DR

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Jan 24, 2019

Hedge funds. The probablikity of surviving are slim to none unless you can perform year and year out. It's a cold world out there.

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Jan 24, 2019

Indeed. To add insult to injury, anytime a decent shop closes, you'll have some guy who writes for Business Insider while secretly wishing he worked at a hedge fund writing a sky-is-falling article with a title like:
"(Insert Name) Capital Closes. Is THIS the End of the Hedge Fund Industry?"

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

    • 4
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Jan 26, 2019

Typical journalists, they remind me of academics. I'm sure if they worked hard and were smart they would make a killing in finance. But no they be pussys instead.

Jan 25, 2019

Any role in BO, simply getting up in the morning knowing you have to go sit next to 7-cat Deborah, who just heard Karen was getting a new kitchen installed, from compliance for the next 9 hours must be incredibly difficult.

Seriously - I reckon you're pretty spot on with head of the ECB, although I to be head of any failing/struggling economy or bank must be very stressful. But as a state not only do you have to make the finances work, but you also need to keep the people please because people are selfish and care only about the now, not the future (see Greece and now to an extent, France).

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Jan 24, 2019

Completely agree on the back office thing, or I guess any office job in general with that sort of culture. It would be way too emasculating. Before I'd work in an environment like that, I think I'd do a hard shift and become a semi truck driver or a construction worker. I'd rather do an honest's day's work for less money in a masculine role like that than sit around listening to a bunch of ladies gossiping about how "Tammi from Marketing has really packed on the pounds since she had a kid last year...." That would be a nightmare for me.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

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Jan 28, 2019

Funny enough, I work in compliance and there are more young guns than Deborahs. At my bank, anyway. I much prefer this over the construction work I was doing before.

Jan 28, 2019

That would be boring work, but simple and stress free. Heck, sometimes I yearn for the good old days of settling trades while I'm getting screamed at for inane issues...

Jan 24, 2019

And for sure, all of the heads of central banks have it rough right now. I just think Draghi's situation is by far the worst.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 25, 2019

Idk mine is pretty tough

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Jan 24, 2019

DJT says you're going loco.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

    • 1
Jan 28, 2019

Under appreciated

    • 1
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Jan 25, 2019

I second hedge funds, those are the major leagues and you are directly accountable for your P&L, it does not lie. Liquid markets are getting nothing but more efficient .....

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Jan 28, 2019
REPESailor2020:

I second hedge funds, those are the major leagues and you are directly accountable for your P&L, it does not lie. Liquid markets are getting nothing but more efficient .....

Somewhat disagree. There was a good story in the paper in regards to Bogle's passing. It said passive index strategies are becoming so uniform that active managers (think event driven hedge funds) should be able to clean up upon the complacency of the masses. Inefficiencies exist and smart financiers can pick up the slack.

If the active manager is worth their fee after this effort is another story.
I'll also add I do not work in a hedge fund and have a good feeling I would not be one to pick up said proverbial slack.

Jan 25, 2019

yes, it is like an iteration in excel until an equilibrium is found, funds move to passive index strategies ----> less efficiency ---- > more alpha ---- > funds move to hedge funds ---- > more efficiency ---- > less alpha but the bottom line with technology and the quants in the space, specialization is occurring, the iteration is speeding up and near completion, in the end there will be a few players who take advantage of the known inefficiencies that develop as indexing becomes too popular, that is it.

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Jan 25, 2019

being a notorious pharma bro is rough - 7 years in prison is a long time

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Jan 25, 2019

freeshkreli

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Jan 25, 2019

Any administrative role not because it's intellectually challenging but because it's not. Your soul literally wastes away until you have enough time in the fund to retire or get lucky enough to jump ship to literally anything else. No love or respect for those poor admin..

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Jan 24, 2019

Agreed.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 24, 2019

I would rather be very stressed out by a job that's pushing my limits with new challenges of any variety than be stuck doing "easy" thankless tasks all day.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

    • 2
Jan 25, 2019

Running a finmeme account hands down

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Jan 25, 2019

@famejranc Are you Mrs Dow Jones??

Jan 25, 2019

yessss biatchhh, the finance queen of Instagram, how'd you knowwww? what'd you think about my vedio explaining how the FEDS control interest rates?

Jan 24, 2019

The critics are brutal.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 25, 2019

I'd say any sort of department of finance/finance minister head role in emerging markets. And I don't mean EM like Brazil or Russia. I'm talking Zimbabwe or Mozambique.

Not too high, not too low

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Jan 24, 2019

I hadn't thought about that. That's probably the most dangerous in finance as well.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 25, 2019

I feel like you just wrote a short essay for Macro class that's due today and you turned it into a WSO question so we could comment on it in case it reveals the hangover-driven stupor in which you wrote it.

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Jan 24, 2019

SB'd. That was funny. No, I wasn't hungover when I wrote this post, but I was running on little sleep. I'll add a "TLDR" at the top of it once I get home later today; I'm not sure how to edit a post from the mobile version of WSO.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 24, 2019

I believe everything I said was factually correct, but the sentence structure and overall flow are both lousy and I can and should do better. It was inconsiderate of me to not put more time into making this question a more enjoyable read for everyone.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 25, 2019

No big deal man, I was kidding around myself. Will give it a proper read later today.

Jan 24, 2019

And I'm not a student. But I'm also not a global macro guy, and my particular specialty is as far removed from European affairs (and foreign affairs in general) as any asset class possibly could be.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 26, 2019

Back office hands down. Working there is like getting castrated with a toothbrush. Even the janitor calls me his bitch.

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Jan 28, 2019

CEO of Deutsche Bank

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Jan 24, 2019

Yeah, what a nightmare. There doesn't seem to be a clear path out of that death spiral. Anyone who can turn it around is CEO of the Decade.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Jan 28, 2019

The 60-year-old Polish janitor with bad knees who's there when you arrive and there when you leave and smiles and says hi to everyone whose only motivator is putting his kids through college so they can make posts about which desk jobs are toughest

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Jan 25, 2019
Comment
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