Brain Drain Wallops Wall Street

It's not just the firings: others are leaving for safer jobs
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2009 3:16 PM CDT
In this Sept. 15, 2008 file photo, a Merrill Lynch office is seen in New York. Big banks like Merrill are losing talent to small upstarts, retirement, and other factors.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)
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(Newser) – The financial crisis is reshaping not just the landscape of Wall Street, but its face as well, reports the New York Times in a look at the hemorrhaging of the Street's top talent. Layoffs aside, finance's best and brightest—arguably the same daring risk-takers responsible for the recession—are seizing the chance to retire early, or more often, fleeing federally overseen big banks in favor of more cash and opportunity at smaller boutiques.

One advisory boutique touts the 100 bankers it's lifted from flailing banks since the crisis began. “We are attracting people from Merrill, from JPMorgan, from Bear,” says another. “I’m not talking the second tier. We have the cream of the crop.” And one professor sees a silver lining in the changing scene: “If the risk-taking spreads out to these smaller institutions, it is no longer a systemic threat. Innovation is spreading out, too.”