After graduation, Sykes started his hedge fund, which he said made record profits for three years, until 2007 when the financial world began to crumble.
"I think every one of us knew for a very long time that this system was damaged. ... It's all about greed and self-interest," he said.
"The financial crisis has definitely made more people a lot more cynical. Everybody is scarred from this," Sykes continued. "But hopefully, they'll remember these scars so when the market does recover, they might think twice" about buying a home based on credit cards.
Since most of the compensation on Wall Street came in the form of share options, Harvard University professor Niall Ferguson said, risk was built into the system.
"People at Lehman Brothers and other institutions had an enormous incentive to do anything -- anything that pushed up the value of their share capital. And it led to some very risky decisions," Ferguson said.
Stiglitz said Wall Street has become a big casino with an enormous amount of excess risk.
"We've allowed these [financial] institutions to get so big that they're too big not only to fail, but too big to be managed and almost too big to be saved," he said.
Now the government is cracking down on executive compensation and the new rules don't sit well with Sykes.
"I would not go back into finance right now," he said. "People are looking over your shoulder. Wall Street is distrusted more than ever. There's going to be more regulations than ever."
Teddy Weisberg, who's been trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for 40 years, said the same emotions have driven investors and traders as long as stock exchanges have existed.
"When it comes to stocks, there are two basic emotions -- fear and greed -- that are what's driving a lot of motivation of customers," he said. "You can change ground rules, but you cannot legislate human emotion."
Weisberg's son Jason and grandson Morgan said they are looking toward a brighter future.
"The floor is still the hub of capitalism," said Jason Weisberg, who is also a trader.
"Looks pretty fun and I want to do it," Morgan Weisberg said of the profession of his father and grandfather.
"Depending on Morgan's timing," Jason Weisberg said, "There's still a good chance it will be booming again."