'It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know' As Frat Boys Dominate Wall Street
As students vie for 2014 internships, Bloomberg finds a fraternity-based network whose Wall Street alumni guide resumes to the tops of stacks, reveal interview questions with recommended answers, offer applicants secret mottoes and support chapters facing crackdowns. Despite apparent crackdowns on cronyism, nepotism, and fraternism; it seems nothing has changed as "secret handshakes" and the fraternity pipeline helps undergraduates beat odds three times steeper than Princeton University’s record-low acceptance rate... "People like people who are like themselves," notes one recruiter, seemingly proven by the fact that JPMorgan employs 140 Sigma Phi Epsilon members with BofA and Wells Fargo even more.
Conor Hails, head of the University of Pennsylvania’s Sigma Chi chapter, was in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom last month for a Barclays Plc (BARC) recruiting reception. A friend pointed out a banker from their fraternity. Hails, 20, approached with a secret handshake.
“We exchanged a grip, and he said, ‘Every Sigma Chi gets a business card,’” Hails recalled. “We’re trying to create Sigma Chi on Wall Street, a little fraternity on Wall Street.”
As students vie for 2014 internships in an industry where 22-year-olds can make more than $100,000 a year, interviews with three dozen fraternity members showed a network whose Wall Street alumni guide resumes to the tops of stacks, reveal interview questions with recommended answers, offer applicants secret mottoes and support chapters facing crackdowns.
The fraternity pipeline helps undergraduates beat odds three times steeper than Princeton University’s record-low acceptance rate
Fraternities retain influence in the face of scrutiny by parents, politicians and police for binge drinking, hazing and at least 60 deaths in the U.S. since 2005.
The largest U.S. banks say they are meritocracies and run diversity programs to shift an industry that once only let women onto the New York Stock Exchange floor as clerks during wartime shortages. Goldman Sachs added 10 women last year to a partnership that had one when CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein was elected to it in 1988.
“There obviously has been much progress since 20 years ago,” said Siegfried von Bonin, head of Dartmouth’s Alpha Delta chapter. “But the reality is that it’s still very much a male-dominated culture.”
Fraternity members who went to work for Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. said they were sent back to campus on recruiting trips, where they could tap people from their houses for interviews ahead of other candidates, some more qualified. One said he would sometimes invent endorsements to send to bosses that didn’t mention fraternity connections.
When alumni don’t reach out, fraternity members know how to find them. Von Bonin, 21, asked two at one of the world’s largest banks for interview advice, he said. They taught him to describe the benefits of the firm’s U.S. growth, fast-paced environment and training program.
That national fraternity has sent almost 3,000 men into finance, according to resumes on LinkedIn, which shows no other industry employing more than 1,800.
...“People like people who are like themselves,”
...“I wish I did have more networks,” said Emily Hendrix, who plans to graduate in May after three years at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. “It would maybe make finding a job a little easier, a little less stressful.”
“You tend to think of an institution in a structured way, but it’s actually a big organic entity,” Urwin said. “Driving any kind of change that gets at the culture in an organism is hard because it tends to return to the original form, if you don’t maintain that consistent pressure to drive that change.”
JPMorgan employs 140 Sigma Phi Epsilon members, according to an article on job preparation in the fraternity’s magazine this year. It shows only Bank of America and Wells Fargo employing more.
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