Monday, July 19, 2010

A "new" generation of Mormons

MR recommended an article from the Financial Times last week about "The rise of a new generation of Mormons." Honestly, I don't see much new other than someone finally recognizing what already existed. On the other hand, that's pretty new! It's mostly a story of latter-day saints (LDS, our preferred moniker) being recognized by Wall Street and politics, largely for clean living and a work ethic. "for the first time in its nearly two-century history ... Mormons are moving from the periphery of modern American life to the very centre." Wall Street and politics, the very center? I dunno. Anyway...

Names they name: Utah's Democratic Senator McAdams, Nevada's Democratic Senator Harry Reid, former Mass. Gov Mitt Romney, the Osmands of yesteryear, Stephanie Meyer of Twilight, Glenn Beck, Stephen R. Covey, Gordon Gee (OSU Pres.), David Neeleman (Jetblue founder), J.W. (“Bill”) Marriott of Marriott International, and US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr. Some of the more entertaining quotes:
an investment banker in New York said, “I was at my final day of interviews at JPMorgan during my senior year in college. They took students from Princeton, Yale, Harvard, U-Penn and Brigham Young University (a Mormon university in Utah [and my alma mater]). I was like, ‘what the hell? BYU?’ Then I slowly realised how many Mormons there are on Wall Street.” The CIA has its eye out for Mormons, who, people say jokingly, ace the mandatory drugs and lie-detector tests. Blue-chip corporations are recruiting, too. And at Harvard Business School, female students note ruefully that attractive male classmates are invariably associated with one of the “three Ms”: the military, the management consultancy McKinsey or Mormonism.

American Jews and Hindus stand out in socio-demographic surveys for their exceptional incomes and professional accomplishment, but this flows not from growing membership, rather from heavy investment in education and, in the case of Hindus, successive waves of immigration by highly trained elites such as doctors and engineers. Mormon success is different: unlike Hindu immigrants, the newest LDS members in America – converts – tend to be poorer and less educated than those with longer heritage in the church. ... Perhaps the most telling sign that Mormon success springs from different roots is this fact: the church’s most successful members, in terms of education and wealth, are also its most fervent. In most religions, piety and professional success mix badly. Devout Jews earn less, and tend to be less educated, than their less-orthodox brethren. American Christian evangelicals save and earn less than those from more moderate traditions. ...

Smith says Mormons were rare on Wall Street when he first got a job in the early 1980s. But, as he puts it, “banks like nothing more than finding an undervalued stock. And Mormon graduates were just that: a stock which was cheaper to buy, and which over-performed.” ...
a managing director at JPMorgan, confirmed that BYU is now seen as a top source of graduate talent: “These students are bright, mature, well-educated, share our emphasis on adhering to highest standards of integrity, have impressive work ethic and are very team-oriented,” he says. “They fit extremely well with our firm’s corporate culture.”
They blame/credit the effects of serving a mission - work ethic, rigor, language learning, skill developing, ability to face rejection, independence, commitment to the things we sacrifice for, dealing with severe emotional strain, discipline, leadership training ... - with the economic and social rise. They also discuss networking between members of diverse backgrounds and the ability to more-smoothly transition to living in a new area:
McAdams tells a similar story, of first arriving in New York for graduate school: “My wife and I packed up a van and drove our stuff across country. When we showed up at our place, there were 15 people there to help us unload. We’d never met any of them before, but they moved us in and invited us over for dinner. We had an instant social network.” He found that this same church network also provided helpful connections, both within his own law firm and to other people in the same industry.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. Thanks for the synopsis. I suppose for those individuals who are in Wall Street and politics, it is the very center of their world. :) I also particularly enjoyed the that LDS employees are "cheaper to by" and yet still "over-performed!" I hadn't thought much before about the differences between new converts and long term members as also having aspects that were different between level of education and wealth. I'll ponder some more on that subject. Loved the info! Thanks!