Wall Street has long been plagued by a very special type of communication problem: All too often over the last couple of decades, the words and images Wall Streeters have transmitted electronically have come back to bite then in the, umm, assets under management.
You know what I'm talking about. Henry Blodget calling a stock a P.O.S in an email. Libor traders slapping each other on the back for rigging the rates via instant messaging. S&P analysts rating cows. Goldman's Fabulous Fab trying to impress a girl by saying he would be the only potential survivor of the coming CDO collapse. The list goes on and on.
Those are the more famous instances. There are far more obscure—and arguably less important—instances of Wall Streeters blowing themselves up with help from the Internet. There was the Goldman associate who set up his own blog and was fired for lifting Bloomberg screenshots. Another Goldman associate was secretly a famous sportswriter at Deadspin. A trader at Fortress was fired for emailing a well-known Wall Street blog a picture of one of the firm's traders asleep at his desk.
Somehow Wall Street never seems to learn the lessons of these moments. Be careful whom you email. Stay off the work email account for social conversations. Watch what you say. Things that are jokes in context are the stuff of criminal indictments out of context. (Hint: Text messages from your personal phone are still somewhat safe).
Perhaps the pressures of Wall Street—as well as the loneliness of long hours—are such that it is inevitable that they'll turn to electronic communications to blow off steam.
Suddenly, this summer, many seem to have found that Snapchat is the best way to do this.