Wall Street moves to Dalal Street… Is that right? How nice!

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Rather than layoff middle-rung executives, banks like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have been moving their middle men (and a few women) to the Middle-East or South Asia – most often to Mumbai, India’s financial hub. The ‘fortunate few’ may have been relocated by their company, while numerous others who were already laid off after the Bear Stearns debacle have been fielding calls from greener pastures farther-off East – Hong Kong, Singapore, and even from way down South – Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It is indeed ironic that numerous highly educated new immigrants from India, living in the US, struggle for years on end before they can find suitable jobs with six or seven-digit salaries in finance or marketing. The commonly held belief (excuse) is that new immigrants take away jobs from locally educated youth. In truth, neither is their education, nor is their experience recognized in the US, which continues to discriminate on the basis of color (Shh… I shouldn’t have said that!). One only hears about the success stories of folks in Silicon Valley and the generation that arrived as engineers or doctors 30-35 years ago. Nobody cares (nor dares) to speak the unpalatable tales of hope-filled new immigrants who arrived in the US with the same big dreams, but in the late 90s or in the 21st century.

Middle-rung officers in the US would have had to toil for years before they earned promotions that would allow them the luxury that the senior management execs enjoy on Wall Street. But with this “stroke of luck” they will occupy the highest-ranking positions in Asia, Latin America and in other developing nations. Not only that, they will be highly revered in these nations, which tend to bestow respect, love and admiration on people who are sent by “headquarters”. Does anyone out in those nations question whether these newcomers will understand the local culture, or whether they can perceive the subtle nuances of the home-grown English dialect (Hinglish/Chinglish)? US companies will send them to India which will serve as their training ground! So what happens to those locally-trained youth who were aspiring for high positions? Those who were raised and educated in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kolkatta… their hopes are dashed or the field now gets ‘unfairly’ competitive, or seemingly just for the time being. (There are exceptions to this e.g. Goldman Sachs, who recruited from from the local pool of talent during the last 2-3 years.) But who knows, life can get rather comfortable for the expats… they may never wish to return to their mundane, dreary, hard life back in the US! To have to drive in the snow for hours to cover the miles before getting to one’s desk by 8.00 a.m.! (Hell, no, the middle-rung guys may not be all living in Manhattan just a subway ride away from work.) We’ll gladly accept the company-paid chauffeur-driven luxury car, luxurious ocean-view penthouse equipped with servants and servant -quarters, thank you! Wouldn’t you?

Well, dear wife, you may have to stay back home, but hey… do you see the silver lining? There’s a company-paid vacation to exotic India, every time it gets uncomfortably cold out here for you, or if you’re missing your spouse a tad more than you would if he was here!

For all those who’re not quite savvy yet about India or Indians – Dalal Street in Mumbai (Bombay) is the equivalent of Wall Street in Manhattan. In local parlance, “Dalal” means “broker” – a middle-man. But what does it matter, whether or not you understand India or Indians… they’ll embrace you anyways! If you’re Leaving Wall Street for a Job Overseas, welcome to Dalal Street!


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