Why Wall Street Went Astray: Eight Ways to Humanize Finance

by Steve Denning

Why did Wall Street go astray? For most of the last several centuries, bankers and financiers were the pillars of society, the bastions of morality, the people in society that everyone respected. Of course, there was the odd rotten apple in the barrel, but by and large, bankers were trusted and looked up to. Yet over the last few decades, Wall Street has become almost a synonym of evil. What went wrong? What can be done to restore the financial sector to the level of respect that it once enjoyed?

This week, I talked about these issues with Harvard Business School finance professor Mihir Desai, on the publication of his intriguing new book, The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2017). I’m a big fan of Desai’s work and wrote about his pathbreaking Harvard Business Review article in 2012 (“The Incentive Bubble”) here.