Wall Street doesn't attract wallflowers. Investment banks used to target the jocks, team captains and college club leaders and even back office or accounting jobs were not staffed by introverts. This is changing - the rise of quants and data scientists means that the nerds are taking over, and the top jobs that used to attract extrovert characters are now being filled by more thoughtful types.
The jobs that attract introverts, versus those that are generally filled by extroverts are not always obvious and are dependent what stage you're at in your career says Janet Raiffa, career coach, the former head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs and the former associate director of the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School.
“As you move up, you’ll be managing people, giving them assignments and supervising them,” she says. “Even in an operations or back-office role, you can’t be a boss who doesn’t like to talk to people and motivate your team."
But how do you know which job is best for your personality?
Senior investment bankers:
As you move up the hierarchy in investment banking, you will be dealing with clients, leading presentations and pitching against competitors. You are the face of the company, and there are certain expectations on what personality type you bring. This is not a role for an introverted person.
“They are communicating with key decision-makers at client companies, so they have to be polished and clear in their messaging,” says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
Sales and business development:
Rather obviously, those attempting to bring in the business should not be shrinking violets.
“On Wall Street, I see extroverts as more likely to be business developers,” says Jane Cranston, the founder and president of Executive Career Coach. “They tend to be more suited to large leadership roles, managing 60-plus people, because they have more presence and more relationships.”
“Some sales positions are basically just selling securities, whether it’s fixed income or equities, and a lot of folks have been successful in those roles by being outgoing,” Cohen says. “They like to entertain, they like to party, they like to have fun – they’re a people person – they enjoy being around people.”
Fundraising for hedge funds: The stereotype for this role is an attractive, loquacious woman with moxie.
“Capital-raising for hedge funds is about promoting a fund and getting investors to get excited about that fund, so it requires communicating with conviction and passion, but when you’re introverted, it’s tough to do that,” Cohen says. “Most are vivacious and outgoing.”
Private banking and wealth management: This role is responsible for cultivating relationships with wealthy clients.
“You have to socialize with ultra-high-net-worth clients and build relationships them,” Cohen says. “Wealthy individuals and families need to feel that they can trust you.”
“Private wealth is the one area I would most identify with extroverts, because there’s a strong sales component and a strong sociability component,” Raiffa says. “In a group of Wall Street people, you could pick out the private wealth professional – he or she would be the most charming and tell the best stories, because they’re in the business of getting money from people, which depends on person-to-person charm and an ability to build long-term relationships.
Technology liaison: This role is the intermediary between the technology division and the individuals who use tech to perform their jobs.
“You have to understand the needs of the user community with respect to technology, communicate that to the tech organization, get the tech team to build or modify systems or procedures that are tech-based and go back to their stakeholders and teach them,” Cohen says. “They need to be very comfortable working with people and establishing relationships with them.”
Investor relations: These roles typically represent their company to people across the financial markets such as institutional investors or the media.
“Extroverts are generally better in contact with the media – they have a better media presence, so they’re more likely to become a spokesperson for the firm or work in investor relations,” Cranston says. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do it better but they are more comfortable and appear better suited for it.
Junior investment bankers: – Longer term they might not make it, but junior banking jobs are not bad for introverts. They are glued to their computers for many hours a day. Sure, if they can find time for being social with colleagues and networking with senior bankers, then it can help their careers, but introverts often thrive given the types of tasks junior investment bankers are typically assigned.
“A lot of people start as analysts,” Cranston says. “There’s extroverts and introverts – who likes it more? Probably introverts, but it’s the dues you have to pay early in your career.”
“In the early stages of investment banking, social skills are not as important, but as you progress to SVP, ED and MD, you have to be able to pitch to clients and win business,” Raiffa says.
Research analysts, data scientists and quants:
While the traditional research model is under siege, both buy-side and sell-side firms can’t seem to hire enough data scientists and quantitative analysts.
“On the introvert side, data analysis is a good way to go, because it requires patience and an ability to work alone,” says Maya Hormadaly, mental health professional and executive career coach at The Wall Street Coach. “Once they’ve analyzed the data, they can present it after they’ve had a chance to digest it, so they typically don’t have to think on their feet.
“They have a rich inner world that they only share with the people they’re close with – they’re good at finding new things and presenting them, and they’re very thorough,” she says. “A lot of the best researchers are introverts due to their sense of curiosity and exploration that can really broaden your perspectives.”
Portfolio managers and investment specialists:
“Introverts often come across as being very private, so challenging for them to be out in the market promoting a product or service with passion,” Cohen says. “Investment roles can be a good fit.”
“Investing is broadly appealing, but the asset management side might be a better fit [than private banking] for the introvert, because it’s primarily internal and there’s not as much of a sales component,” Raiffa says.
Compliance officers and risk managers: Cohen says that sometimes it’s better not to be very social in compliance and risk because you often have to be a cop, and in those roles it is better to be respected than liked.
Technologists and operations professionals: The back office is traditionally the domain of introverts, and many are comfortable in the middle office as well.
“Introverts gravitate toward technology and operations roles where they’re setting trades but not dealing with clients or external people – they’re dealing with other divisions and doing back-office work with no sales component,” Raiffa says.
Accountants: Internal accounting, auditing and reporting positions at financial services firms typically require less interpersonal interactions that public accounting and professional services roles.
“Introverts are better on the technical side, not because of intelligence, but it’s because they’re more comfortable working alone,” Cranston says. “They can be very good leaders but they tend to do best in smaller groups, in particular when the workload is not that diverse, for example, a software development group, accounting team or another cohesive division.
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