Greed is good – Jason Trigg proves it
IF you were thinking about how you might make the world a better place your career options might include joining an NGO or charity. Going and digging wells in Kenya perhaps. Or working to develop treatments for Third World diseases. Or you could instead do something effective about it. After all, there’s no shortage of muscle in Kenya to dig wells and not all that many of us have the skills to develop new drugs.
Instead, why not try to make as much money as you can in the gory world of investment banking: then give it away?
Jason Trigg went into finance because he is after money — as much as he can earn.
The 25-year-old certainly had other career options. An MIT computer science graduate, he could be writing software for the next tech giant. Or he might have gone into academia in computing or applied math or even biology. He could literally be working to cure cancer.
Instead, he goes to work each morning for a high-frequency trading firm. It’s a hedge fund on steroids. He writes software that turns a lot of money into even more money. For his labors, he reaps an uptown salary — and over time his earning potential is unbounded. It’s all part of the plan.
Why this compulsion? It’s not for fast cars or fancy houses. Trigg makes money just to give it away. His logic is simple: The more he makes, the more good he can do.
He’s figured out just how to take measure of his contribution. His outlet of choice is the Against Malaria Foundation, considered one of the world’s most effective charities. It estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. A quantitative analyst at Trigg’s hedge fund can earn well more than $100,000 a year. By giving away half of a high finance salary, Trigg says, he can save many more lives than he could on an academic’s salary.
It’s actually rather more fun to be hanging out with the hippy chicks at the NGO. But this is almost certainly more effective: producing the wealth that saves people’s lives. And the thing is, while not all of us can do the actual life saving part, all of us can indeed go earn money to make it happen. In which case there might well be something to be said for this greed thing. Make as much as you can: it’s what you do with it that counts.