For Wall Street Bankers, the Thrill Is Gone

More rules and less risk-taking make jobs seem pointless
Illustration by Johnny Ryan

Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose. Then a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit derivatives trading at Jefferies Group, was making his Muay Thai kickboxing debut at the church on June 22. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he says. “Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions—and I enjoy taking risks,” says George, who headed investment-grade credit-default swap trading at Deutsche Bank before he joined Jefferies last year. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.”

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