The Future of Banking, One Year Later


A year ago, Lehman Brothers, AIG and Merrill Lynch were going up in flames, while bankers and business school students gawked in horror.

Thousands of jobs were lost in the autumn of 2008 and the winter of 2009, as just about every firm slashed headcount, some very dramatically.

On top of that, Washington politicians piled on by decrying fat bonuses and a Compensation Czar was named to keep tabs on greed and excess.

Now, in the fall of 2009, all seems quiet and calm and there are growing signs that greed is poised to make a comeback.

While most financial firms are being cautious about hiring, some of the more successful banks are staffing up and making sure that their stars are getting compensated well.

The Crisis: 1 Year Later - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage
The Crisis: 1 Year Later - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

On the anniversary of the Lehman collapse last week, journalists and observers raised concerns about a return to the days of aggressive risk and reward – and many have pointed out that despite all the hand-wringing last winter, very little has changed in the legislation that governs the banking industry.


For the majority of us who work in other industries, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on. We all saw what happened to the economy at large when the financial sector caught the flu last year: the rest of us got pneumonia.

So we’re hoping for a balance, where rational, tempered success is the order of the day. If slow, steady health can return to our financial system and sane profits can be had through reasonable risk and fair reward, we are all the better for that.

So here’s to our friends in finance: may you enjoy success and live in interesting times – just not too interesting, please.

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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.

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