Imagine if these guys all left the planet …

“Why should a financial engineer be paid four, four times… to a hundred times more than the, uh… real engineer? A real engineer builds bridges, a financial engineer builds dreams. And when those dream turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.” — Andrew Sheng

Have you ever had a situation in a restaurant or a shop where you go, “Please may I speak to the manager.” This word “manager” we all understand. And nine times out of ten it is not the owner or the boss, but rather, someone whose job it is to deal with complaints, among other things. This person should be humble, a good listener, calm, and sincere. Their job involves looking after people in difficult situations.

What then is a hedge fund manager? This is no manager like in the previous example. Quite the opposite. This is a boss. Typically a smug and obnoxious character who has no clue about doing an honest day’s work. A parasite, who is gambling, with other people’s money. Yes, yes, I am generalizing, but I doubt I am far off the mark.

If you were stuck on a desert island with other people who would you want to be with? Financial engineers, hedge fund bosses, and other geniuses. Or, a chef, a builder, a doctor. Yeah, you know, the essential workers. A guy who works in a supermarket is someone I would rather be stranded with on a desert island than a money manager. Hang on … perhaps we will get lucky and suddenly Lloyd Blankfein will wash up on the beach. Then he can do God’s work for us, and then all be ok.

There have been a bunch of new podcasts recently that have discussed the “value of work”. Why do fat cats earn hundreds of times more than the workers? Corona is highlighting this greed like never before. It is also exposing the lack of purpose to it all. This expression “making the world a better place” is something I actually believe in. I have always thought that our work is meant to bring joy to others. To make people’s lives better or easier. To inspire people, to capture imaginations, to help people to embrace the journey. That to me is a result of meaningful work. Doesn’t mean this work is easy or fun, but it has heart and soul. And, yes, some work is simply about utility and we have to respect all workers, that are building roads, and packing shelves, and cleaning buildings. But hedge fund managers, I have no time for these blood suckers.

I have met many “money people” in my life. Most of them act so above it all, like they know something we don’t. From their attitude it would seem then that we should all be aspiring to be like them. Because they are all so smart and successful. Let’s think about this for a minute. If we are all financial engineers, asset managers, private equity guys, hedge fund bosses, then who makes the clothes, food, medicine, furniture, tech. Yeah, who then creates and makes anything? Who will then make the world a better place?

Some quick Googling and we have this about a hedge fund: An offshore investment fund, typically formed as a private limited partnership, that engages in speculation using credit or borrowed capital. A hedge fund is an investment fund that trades in relatively liquid assets and is able to make extensive use of more complex trading, portfolio-construction and risk management techniques to improve performance, such as short selling, leverage and derivatives.

This is gambling. Sophisticated, for sure. But this is all about placing a bet. Er, hedging a bet.

Hedge funds make money by charging a management fee and a performance incentive. But if they fail, the hedge fund guy is generally losing other people’s money. It is a proper hustle if ever I heard one. Imagine going to wealthy people and ask them to give you money and then you go off to a casino. If you win, you give them their money back, minus the management fee and performance bonus. And if they lose, well, they will always find some other guys who will write out the next cheque.

Yes, I am over simplifying things and yes, I am sure there are good money people out there. I even know some of them. But considering the state of the world now, and the current economic climate, I think we desperately need new role models. Check out a YouTube video of luxury properties in a big city, like NY or Paris, or have a peek at videos around private islands. Half the time these high-end apartments and exotic hideaways are owned by hedge fund managers. Is this what you want your kids aspiring to?

I have no problem with people making money. And for sure, I am all for celebrating successful entrepreneurs, who push the envelope and do something meaningful in the world. But professional gambling is not something I am inspired by.

Farmers, for example, work hard. I have some friends who run farms. We need farmers. They are essential. Without food we cannot survive. I don’t think though that we need that guy from The Big Short.

I am sure they have their place, somewhere, far in the corner, but I don’t think we need them on our desert island. Imagine if these guys all left the planet. Who would miss them? What is their purpose?

As the world now sinks further and further into the economic hole let’s pick up a phone and go, “I want to speak to the hedge fund manager.” Yeah, right. You won’t find these guys. When the going gets tough these mumsers will be nowhere to be found. Parasites like these are not going to do anything to help anyone.

If the garbage collectors go on strike we feel it. If the hedge fund managers stop gambling, er, working, who cares.

I am an artist and an entrepreneur.