It didn’t matter that Citigroup paid Amy Wu Stratton $450,000 in 2021 — her most lucrative year ever — to work with some of its biggest private equity clients. It didn’t even matter that she was on track for a promotion that could double her pay.
After almost 16 years in banking, she was ready for something new.
“I was just so tired of it. It wasn’t making me happy,” said Ms. Stratton, 45, a former director in a Citi division that worked on financing and risk management for deals. A job she loved had become a hamster wheel, she said — an unfulfilling chase for more money and promotions.
“You don’t have time to breathe,” she said. “The pandemic slowed me down and made me take stock.”
Up and down Wall Street, droves of bankers are changing jobs — switching banks, moving to investment firms, taking equity stakes in financial technology companies or cryptocurrency start-ups — and sometimes getting out altogether. Pandemic-inspired ennui, blockbuster profits and a war for talent across the industry has accelerated the job churn at the country’s big banks.
“People are exhausted,” said Alan Johnson, the managing director of Johnson Associates, a Wall Street compensation consultancy. The ranks of those earning $10 million or more will grow amid competition for top performers after a bumper year for earnings, Mr. Johnson said, but “money doesn’t always make you happy.”
Ms. Stratton left Citi in June, moved by social upheaval: the Black Lives Matter protests, the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and an increase in anti-Asian attacks. She and two partners are developing a website, myasianvoice.com, for Asian women who are focused on careers and social impact.
It was an obvious choice, said Ms. Stratton, a Chinese immigrant whose Upper East Side co-op and Wall Street rewards had already exceeded her humble upbringing in a rural village that lacked running water.
“I was so happy to get out of that thinking of always having more and more,” she said.
Itchy feet have forced big banks to open their wallets: The combined compensation costs the nation’s six largest lenders rose 12 percent to nearly $178 billion in 2021.
Goldman Sachs gave special stock awards to about 30 top executives and some 400 partners to help retain them. Bank of America bumped up salaries for thousands of senior and midlevel investment bankers and handed out stock awards to …….