“External signs of success are more important in finance”

Former banker Claudia Kraaz recently interviewed several personalities about the importance of success. She discusses her findings in an essay for finenews.first. Have a successful and fulfilled life. Who wouldn’t want that? But what does that even mean?


This article is published on finews.first, a forum of authors specializing in economic and financial topics.


The definition of success has as many meanings as there are people. Many associate success with external symbols. For others, personal accomplishments are more important. This raises many questions. Are those who link their happiness to external factors happier? What should be the bar of success? To what extent is each individual responsible for their own success?

In some fields, such as sports and partly science, success is measured by achieving certain times, making the podium and accurately measuring efficiency. In other areas it is about judgment, as in the arts and – to some extent – ​​business.

Is an entrepreneur more successful when their business makes more net profit than any other in its industry in a given year or when it consistently ranks in the top five over a longer period and extended? When it comes to personal success, the answer is simple. It is both fulfilling and leads to long-term satisfaction, even happiness.

“The need for more can become compulsive”

The effects of an external success can be both positive and negative. Being too strongly oriented to external factors may imply a possible dependence, even addiction, to status symbols and the need for constant reaffirmation. The need for more can become compulsive, as can the feeling of never being satisfied with what has already been achieved. Any sense of success is fleeting. Additionally, numerous studies have indicated that people who base their success on external factors are not necessarily happier.

From my long experience in the financial sector, I would even go so far as to say that external success is more important than in other sectors. This may be because money itself is at the heart of all activity.

Status symbols, such as having a high position in an established hierarchy, a nice car or a villa are even more important in finance than elsewhere. But these symbols are temporary at best, especially in times of uncertainty like the ones we are currently experiencing.

“Studies show that the satisfaction resulting from higher compensation is not sustainable”

At the same time, I also see that less tangible values, such as the ability to find meaning, achieve mental balance as well as psychological security, have gained prominence in finance in recent years. Companies have realized that employees do a better job when they get enough inner satisfaction.

Studies show that intrinsic work motivation is three times stronger than extrinsic incentives. Other studies show that the satisfaction resulting from higher compensation is not sustainable.

Young Gen Z employees place less value on external success and more value on other factors. They are particularly driven by flexibility and sense. The culture of the financial industry will need to change accordingly, particularly if it is to attract and retain talented employees.

“You are more successful when you do what you love”

I also know from years of experience that there is no one common form of success that works for everyone. Everyone is different. They have different characteristics, backgrounds, values ​​and life goals. All of this has a decisive influence on how each person individually defines success and what they strive for. And all of these perceptions are subject to the aforementioned social change, which is constantly evolving.

The people interviewed for my recently published book “Erfolg! Erfolg? Auf Spurensuche in Gesprächen” (German only), among them Pepe Lienhard, Yuri Podladchikov and Simona Scarpaleggia each success defined very differently. But having a purpose was important to each of them. Because if you do what you love, you are more successful.


Claudia Kraaz started her practice, Stress and Balance, as a freelance executive and stress coach nearly eight years ago. Previously, she spent 13 years in senior positions in corporate communications, including as Head of Communications at Bank Vontobel and as Deputy Head of Communications and Global Head of Media Relations at Credit Switzerland, responsible for advising the CEO at the time. Oswald J. Gruebel on communications issues.


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