Tech Startups Give Wall St. Run for Its Money

 

 

By PHYLLIS FURMAN

Goodbye, Wall Street. Hello, Silicon Alley.

The economic meltdown has been rough for the city’s financial services employees and with a new round of layoffs in the making, the road ahead is looking grim.

But for many young Wall Streeters, New York City’s bustling tech startup scene is providing jobs — and a shot at creating their own fiefdoms.

Jon Stein, 32, is one of those who made the successful leap.

The former senior consultant at First Manhattan Consulting Group launched Betterment.com, an online brokerage firm.

Based in Union Square, he now has 13 employees, six of them from Wall Street. The site, which went live in May 2010 has 11,400 users and is growing at a rate of 20% to 30% a month.

Here is what he had to say:

QWhy are Wall Street bankers moving into the tech startup world?

A Wall Street no longer holds the allure that it used to. Many Wall Streeters, corporate lawyers, and the like, are sacrificing salary in the pursuit of more meaningful careers.

They want to be building productive, next-generation products like Betterment. In my career as a consultant to banks, I saw an industry that needed serious reforming. Investing didn’t have to be that hard and inaccessible. Founding a startup created the best vehicle for genuine change.

Q Are more financial types making the leap?

A Five years ago, no one in New York was thinking about startups. Today, it’s a common conversation in every social circle, at every dinner, and the Wall Street types I know are curious about what it’s like to work for Betterment and other startups.

Many are disillusioned with their jobs, and want to build a better way. This is especially true for the younger generation.

Q Are the skills transferable? What does Wall Street bring to startups?

A Betterment needs smart people to continue to deliver on our promise to customers — and bankers are smart. Their analytics skills and ability to get things done can be applied to helping Betterment grow and deliver smarter investments.

Q What about pay? What do people give up?

A People sacrifice a lot. Typically half their salary or more. Payout odds are slim. Mostly, this is about doing something satisfying and making a difference versus making a fat salary but feeling like a cog in the wheel.

Read the Original Article

This article originally published December 17th, 2011 on New York Daily News.