“The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess” by Turney Duff

c.2013, Crown Business
$26.00 / $31.00 Canada
320 pages



Your bankbook feels fatter these days, and you sleep better at night.

The market’s back up. Stocks seem healthier. Investors are trading again, and they say that everything you lost in the Great Recession is back where it belongs.

That’s not entirely true, though. You lost a lot of courage over those years, and that may never return. In the meanwhile, you spend your money with fingers crossed – and if you read “The Buy Side” by Turney Duff, you’ll keep ‘em that way.

Turney Duff fell into Wall Street by accident.

Hoping to be a journalist, Duff moved to New York City to find a job after college. When no one would talk to him, he turned to his uncle, who used business contacts to set up job interviews at ten Wall Street firms.

Duff’s instructions: to say he wanted to be in sales.

Not completely aware of the nature of the jobs for which he was interviewing, Duff loved what he saw when he toured each workplace: attractive, cool people in big rooms filled with energy and big money. He was hooked and, within days, had a job as a Private Client Services assistant at Morgan Stanley.

At first, he floated between trading groups, answering phones, writing down information, ordering lunch, and trying to get along with “crazy” brokers. He worked his way up to a permanent assistant position, then to office trader. There, he learned industry shorthand, and how to do the paperwork, figure out averages within seconds, and how to utilize his networking skills.

Later, at another position with a different firm, he was allowed to trade and learned to make money. He also discovered the perks that came with the job: lavish dinners, parties, alcohol.

At his next job, he learned to accept free tickets, vacations, and cocaine.

Loving his single life, Duff spent his nights partying and his days making billions of dollars for his firm. Sometimes, he didn’t bother to go home except to change clothes – even when he eventually fell in love and became a father.

For some thirteen years, Duff led the kind of life he’d never imagined, making the kind of money he’d only dreamed about. Then, the stock market crashed.

And then, so did Duff.

Much like the proverbial wreck in the road, it’s hard not to keep looking at “The Buy Side.”

Throughout much of his book, author Turney Duff makes life on The Street seem fun, almost like a real-life frat movie with real-life fortunes that anyone with guts can grab. We’re invited to a party here, at which excess is almost mandatory.

Throughout this wild-and-wooly frenzy, though, readers will feel an undercurrent of something out-of-control and dangerous. We see the headlights. We know what’s coming. We can’t do anything but read.

I was very bullish on this book, and I think that anyone with investments will like it, too. If you’ve ever traded or wondered what life on The Street is like, “The Buy Side” is a book you’ll be in the market for.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.