Sunday, September 12, 2004

Broken (Stock)Brokers

Being a stock broker isn't all riches, happiness, and summers in the Hamptons according to the New York Times.

It's also quite stressful, leading to high rates of depression and suicides, especially when times are bad:
A survey conducted in 2000 - the only known study of its kind - concluded that 23 percent of a small sampling of male brokers and traders at seven of the largest firms on Wall Street suffered from clinical depression, a rate far above what was then the national average of 7 percent for men. And that was before the market fell by one-third from its record high, before Wall Street firms shed 30,000 jobs and before an explosion of investor lawsuits and arbitration cases.

All of this has led some experts to conclude that the rate of depression among brokers and traders is related more to the grinding pressures of a rapidly changing industry than to the vicissitudes of the markets.

"Brokers have little control over their jobs or the outcomes of their trades," said Alden M. Cass, a licensed clinical psychologist who wrote the study and now coaches Wall Street traders and brokers on coping with the psychological travails of their professions. "These frustrations can lead to a form of 'learned helplessness,' or a feeling that you are in a prison with no way out. Such feelings have been linked to levels of clinical depression."