Book Review: The Buy Side by Turney Duff

buy side

Rating: 4 / 5

Turney Duff wanted to be a journalist.  The fact that he ended up making millions on Wall Street is only outshined by his incredible downfall.  The Buy Side starts with Duff’s humble roots in Kennebunk, Maine, through his Wall Street beginnings at Morgan Stanley, to his time at the notorious Galleon Group and his life afterwards.

I don’t understand trading.  Not the ins and outs and even after reading this book, I still don’t quite understand how he made so much money, but I didn’t need a thorough understanding of the stock market, after hours trading, and insider trading to enjoy The Buy Side.  Duff broadly described what he did; just enough so you have a inkling of the industry, but not enough to be bogged down or bored by technicalities. Not being part of that lifestyle, I found it endlessly fascinating to read about all the schmoozing, the free meals, access to the hottest nightclubs and lounges in Manhattan, and trips to Miami and the Hamptons.  I loved reading about Duff’s time at Galleon Group.  Obviously, who wouldn’t be fascinated?  Just about everyone knows about Galleon Group and founder Raj Rajaratnam’s guilty verdict for securities fraud.  Reading The Buy Side, you get a front row seat to life at Galleon Group with its competitiveness, bickering, and backstabbing culture.

I was quite surprised (and pleasantly surprised) by Duff’s frankness and brutal honesty.  He is honest in how little he knew of finance when he started, in how much he made, in how he made his money, and with his drug use and self-destructive behavior.  He is also humble; although he made a lot of money for a few years, and helped out others in the industry, he is forthright in the fact that he does not have the typical Harvard pedigree or quantitative skills as his co-workers.  But he made up for that with hard work, putting in the time and effort to know the ins and out of the healthcare industry, and learning the ropes quickly.   It is readily apparent that writing The Buy Side was a cathartic process for Duff.  And while the tales of Wall Street excess are familiar, Duff knows how to write to keep the reader engaged and the pages turning.  The human element is what made his book better than other Wall Street books; Duff is great at expressing what he was thinking at the time, but also showing that he has learned from the experience and now is smarter about the choices he makes the consequences it has on others. The Buy Side runs the gamut of emotions.  Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is painful, often times it is shocking, but all around interesting.  Highly recommend.

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