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mod (Andy) note: "Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from February 2011. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

Ask anyone who has been in the business awhile and he'll tell you that investment banking isn't all it's cracked up to be. The hours are long, the job security for the past four or five years has been pretty shaky, and there was that whole bailout thing in 2008 that basically turned investment bankers into lepers, conveniently blamed for all of society's ills. Some days you just want to throw in the towel.

Walking away from banking isn't common by any means. Let's face it: it's hard to get paid this much anywhere else, especially when you consider what it really is a banker does for a living. But sometimes the grind just gets to be too much, and some people just quit. I know, because I was one of them. Sure, things worked out for me in a big way before I bailed, but I'd promised myself before any of that happened that I'd pump gas for a living before I spent another year of my life trading.

I was 29 at that point, and had been in finance in one capacity or another for about six years. I happened to be in finance at a time when the game was rapidly changing thanks to the advent of the Internet, and I watched our once healthy margins disappear almost overnight. Suddenly I was being asked to work twice as hard for the same money. It's what prompted me to move from equities to commodities, where the information contagion had yet to spread.

Fast forward to today, and there's a whole new raft of issues forcing today's bankers to question whether they should consider something else. Case in point, I came across this article the other day. Its author is a 35-year old banker who is just fed up and throwing in the towel. He tells the tale of his early zeal for the business (he started in 2000), and how he worked his way into his dream job at a hedge fund. But then 2008 came along, and he now realizes that the job will never be enjoyable again. And most of his friends felt the same way:

Most of them had completely forgotten the joy of coming in to work. Anything stimulating or interesting was relegated to the past.

In time, I came to feel the same. I realised that I too didn't 'believe' any more. Knowing that we had reached a peak of product complexity prior to the crash and that new European rules would prevent the attainment of anything similar in future, my interest in financial services simply ebbed away.

Finally, and above all, I got fed up with the constant portrayal of bankers as society's villains. I've had enough. I'm turning the page. I'm not being pilloried any more. I'm off to do something different.

It seems the majority of our time here on WSO is spent trying to figure out how to get a job in finance. I'd submit to you younger guys that you might be careful what you wish for. There's no question that the money is great, relatively speaking. And I firmly believe that some guys are just born to be bankers, and are able to disconnect from the drudgery while they're at work. On some level I probably envy those guys. But for the non-robotic among us, the job often sucks ass.

I'd love to hear from guys who quit because they were fed up, but I doubt they spend much time here anymore. What do you guys think? Is this guy weak for bailing on banking? Or have you secretly considered it yourself? I was lucky enough to hit my walkaway number, but I'd have quit even if I hadn't. Does that make me a lesser trader? Or just a guy who realizes life is too short?

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Comments (87)

  • samoanboy's picture

    One of my favourite fantasies is based around getting the big bonus (will probably be in 2012 - fucking HWMs!!!) watching it glide into my bank account and then walking into the managing partners office, telling him he's a fucking idiot and then walking out of the office. I get into the lift, pop my headphones on, fast forward to 'good vibrations' by the beach boys and then skip down the street dancing with everyone I meet.

    414 days to go....

  • British's picture

    I don't think there's anything weak about wanting to call time on the game.

    Ignore the changing state of banking for a second: I think there has to come a point when you think to yourself, "Yes, I am earning a lot of money, but when do I actually get time to spend it all?" If I asked would you rather work 40 hours a week for 80k a year or 60 hours a week for 120k a year, I know what most people would say, but what about 80 hours for 160k or 100 hours for 200k? The starvation of personal time also forces you to make spending decisions where you end up paying a lot more for something just because it's quick while someone with more time on their hands can afford a better deal. Buying tickets for everything last minute is a lot more expensive than buying upfront; paying people to do your laundry and cook your food and clean your house; just taking the first good appartment you find rather than doing a little hunting. And did I mention higher-rate tax?
    The more you earn - the less the marginal value of the dollar/pound/yen is to you and that money is your time.

    That said, living in the UK at the moment, with the cost of living spiralling out of control and standards of service getting worse and worse, I often find myself wondering: how do people who don't work in finance even manage to live in London? Life must be pretty terrible.

  • LA_Duc's picture

    I have always seen finance as a springboard to something greater. Sure, people get trapped in the lifestyle. But I don't think it makes you a "lesser" person for hopping out of something you don't like. You have self respect. You want to do what you feel you should do, and sometimes that doesn't involve trying to make a bunch of money doing tedious work.

    Personally, I'm trying to get into banking to go to an ivy for business/grad school. I'm at a nice PAC-10 school in LA, but thats not what I'm aiming for. I want to gain skills so I can branch off elsewhere, and either be an entrepreneur, or make people think highly of me, and be placed in a leadership position of a business. Ask a bunch of guys in wallstreet at banks and a lot are working towards exit opps. Whether thats VC, HF, PE, or something completely different is totally up to their interests and desires.

    All in all, life IS too short. And walking away is respectable. I think anyone can agree with that. Unless you're a douche. Keep in mind two things : 1) I'm just about to get a SA position, so I'm not too experienced. and 2) I'm hammered right now.

  • englishtoffee's picture

    I quit this interviewing shit before I even started this mess - you know, to save myself the trouble and all.

  • AVPGuerilla's picture

    Love being a banker. I'll walk away when I hit my number - 25 - but that'll take a while. I find the work really interesting and challenging. And i like surrounding myself with intelligent, entrepreneurial folk.
    A lot of it has to do with whether the firm you're at is a good complement to your own strengths/needs. I'm fortunate to be at a pretty great shop.

    Give me a couple years and let's hope I still have the same sentiments.

    Step 1: Dream the Dream || Step 2: Live the Dream || Step 3: Rinse, repeat.

  • In reply to samoanboy
    mr_bigglesworth's picture

    samoanboy:
    One of my favourite fantasies is based around getting the big bonus (will probably be in 2012 - fucking HWMs!!!) watching it glide into my bank account and then walking into the managing partners office, telling him he's a fucking idiot and then walking out of the office. I get into the lift, pop my headphones on, fast forward to 'good vibrations' by the beach boys and then skip down the street dancing with everyone I meet.

    414 days to go....


    from someone who's burned a few bridges before... don't do it.
  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.

  • In reply to mr_bigglesworth
    Ben Shalom Bernanke's picture

    mr_bigglesworth:
    samoanboy:
    One of my favourite fantasies is based around getting the big bonus (will probably be in 2012 - fucking HWMs!!!) watching it glide into my bank account and then walking into the managing partners office, telling him he's a fucking idiot and then walking out of the office. I get into the lift, pop my headphones on, fast forward to 'good vibrations' by the beach boys and then skip down the street dancing with everyone I meet.

    414 days to go....


    from someone who's burned a few bridges before... don't do it.

    Agreed. Unless you absolutely despise this person, you never know how it could affect you.

  • tabthe's picture
  • weeds499's picture

    I hated my associate and MD - got a nice chunk of equity in a startup that is benefiting from absurd valuations. I work 60% of the hours I worked, with some nice liquidity on the secondary market.

    I actually loved the comraderie at the junior level - from eating dinners together or just going out to bitch about our associates. When you're married to the office, it means so much to enjoy the people around you in the trenches.

    The money was great, but as someone who isn't risk averse - for me there was no risk in banking, which made it a lot less challenging. To me - it was just slaving away for a pretty good paycheck for a 22 yr old - but no true risk/reward factor which I craved (and why a startup was a better fit for me). I also never realized why PE was all the rage - having some friends in mega funds and MM shops to clear that up for me helped, since I started out like most, hoping to jump to the buyside.

    The work in banking can be very exciting, but that usually represents only 10-15% of your day job from analyst to VP. That was enough to make me feel like Ron Livingston in Officespace.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    HarvardOrBust's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.


    Gotta enjoy the finer things in life. What satisfaction does money sitting around give you?
  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Otter.'s picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.

    Hah wow that one came out of left field - hang gliding is a capital intensive sport? What about golf? Or if you want to get really exotic you could sponsor a polo team, I forget what the number is but you have to own and maintain something like 20+ horses (don't quote me on that). Maybe I just don't know enough about hang gliding, but I'd imagine the only capital you're really putting at risk is human capital, i.e. your own life.

    Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

  • In reply to tabthe
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    tabthe:
    Whats a walk away number?

    30x my annual living expenses, including healthcare.

    Or finding a better opportunity outside the industry.

    from someone who's burned a few bridges before... don't do it.

    100% agree. It's ok to fantasize, but it's never good to make enemies.

    If you have a really nasty boss, *nicely* letting him know you've gotten an offer elsewhere and that you're leaving in three weeks is actually a pretty darned good feeling.

  • samoanboy's picture

    Walkaway number = PS400-500k... will walk away a long time before I have that liquid, money isnt all its cracked up to be.

  • In reply to tabthe
    David_Puddy's picture

    tabthe:
    Whats a walk away number?

    The amount of money it would take for you to "walk away" from work. It is enough to live on.

    "yeah, thats right" High-Five

  • In reply to Otter.
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Otter.:

    Hah wow that one came out of left field - hang gliding is a capital intensive sport? What about golf? Or if you want to get really exotic you could sponsor a polo team, I forget what the number is but you have to own and maintain something like 20+ horses (don't quote me on that). Maybe I just don't know enough about hang gliding, but I'd imagine the only capital you're really putting at risk is human capital, i.e. your own life.

    Well, it costs about $10K for training and equipment, so it's not exactly cheap but it's not polo either. You meet a lot of middle class and blue collar folks who are really passionate about the sport as well as a lot of folks who own their own businesses or work in finance/law/medicine to whom $10K is a chunk of change but not life changing.

    In NYC, hang gliding means you also need a car or access to a car.

  • In reply to samoanboy
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    samoanboy:
    Walkaway number = PS400-500k... will walk away a long time before I have that liquid, money isnt all its cracked up to be.

    You say that, but considering that financial advisors tell folks retiring at 65 to live on 4% of their savings, that's only PS20K/year, including healthcare- if you were retiring at 65. If you are retiring at 30-40, more conservativism is required. Hence, you're looking at more like 3-3.5%. So your walkaway number will only produce about PS17K/year in income.

    For genuine retirement, I think you might need double that if you want to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.

  • econ's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    It seems the majority of our time here on WSO is spent trying to figure out how to get a job in finance.

    ...and then later wanting to quit. QWSO.com anyone?

  • APAE's picture

    I'll quit the minute I feel any of the following:
    - I've compromised my morals
    - I cannot continue to work and still feel that I'm living a fruitful life
    - I hit my walkaway number

    Until then, I'll suck it up and deal with just about anything that comes my way.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • In reply to APAE
    Ben Shalom Bernanke's picture

    A Posse Ad Esse:
    I'll quit the minute I feel any of the following:
    - I've compromised my morals
    - I cannot continue to work and still feel that I'm living a fruitful life
    - I hit my walkaway number

    Until then, I'll suck it up and deal with just about anything that comes my way.

    Nice. We say we just have a number that motivates us to stop slaving away, but there are so many other factors that should come into play.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    samoanboy's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    samoanboy:
    Walkaway number = PS400-500k... will walk away a long time before I have that liquid, money isnt all its cracked up to be.

    You say that, but considering that financial advisors tell folks retiring at 65 to live on 4% of their savings, that's only PS20K/year, including healthcare- if you were retiring at 65. If you are retiring at 30-40, more conservativism is required. Hence, you're looking at more like 3-3.5%. So your walkaway number will only produce about PS17K/year in income.

    For genuine retirement, I think you might need double that if you want to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.

    Walking away does not necessarily mean retirement - just leaving finance...

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    dublin's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.

    I'm basically on the same page - money is useful to me inasmuch as it equates to freedom and security, not shiny toys. But I gather that many on this board (and in the industry) are rather more of the shiny toy afficionado variety.

  • In The Flesh's picture

    It depends on where you are in your career--obviously if you're still relatively young you have greater opportunity to move around and try some different things. Nobody stays at the same firm for their entire career. After I left my last internship (because most of the people there were jerks), my dad told me, "Look son, I've worked for like nine or ten different firms since 1980. You've got some catching up to do!"

    Just a college senior here, so it's easy for me to say this without any experience, but my philosophy is: if you hate it, then it's time to get out.

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In reply to dublin
    econ's picture

    dublin:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.

    I'm basically on the same page - money is useful to me inasmuch as it equates to freedom and security, not shiny toys.

    I couldn't agree with you guys more. I'd like to make a lot of money because that security allows a lot of freedom. I like the idea of taking a year off and traveling, just because I have enough saved up. Or, going back to school for a year/two and studying something like philosophy, computer science, and maybe even business. Most importantly, I'd love the money because it'd allow me to take some time off and start my own business, or join a startup, or try trading for a living, or any number of other professions/ventures that might make me incredibly happy.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    papeete's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Being a simple Midwesterner with a simple set of needs and never having understood the New York mentality of making $XK/year and spending nearly all of it.

    Money in a democratic capitalist society is the closest thing to pure freedom that exists. Why would anyone ever want to spend more of it than they need to? If you have so much money that you don't know what to do with it, either retire or give some it to charity. Maybe take up a capital-intensive sport (IE: hang gliding). But dropping $16 on a glass of wine at the Hudson Hotel probably isn't the way to do it.

    agreed

  • SAC's picture

    Quit Finance and do what ? Lets assume I hit the jackpot and retire at 35 - in 10 years, assuming life expectancy of 65, what would I do for 30 years ? I can only post on WSO so much. I think its better to find something I'm really passionate about - clearly Finance isn't it - and pursue that instead.

  • MrDouche's picture

    Eddie:

    Are you seriously going to tell me that banking money is great for anyone other than an MD in New York?

    Come on....

    Teachers in Kansas make more on an a purchasing power/hourly basis.

    Unless someone is hell bent on living in Manhattan and comparing it to a another Manhattan salary, that's the only way you could actually say that I'm earning more "all-in" without respect to hours.

    But that comparison only goes so far.

    Econ: start your own business. If you can break into banking, you can run a successful business... and no, that biz does not need to be the next earth-shattering innovation. I got out of banking at a young age and starting a really shitty biz-- and after a year had more than enough money in savings to live comfortably while getting a PhD for fun.

    Now that school is done I started a new business and it has really taken off. I enjoy it and make loads more than my friends who are now VPs and even some MDs at banks.

    Eddie: Banking sucks and the ROI only makes sense if you are super talented or you if think that having a net worth of 1 million at age 40 with a mediocre apartment and disappointing marriage is impressive.

    And all the NY bragging about restaurants and culture. I am still within distance of NY and have eaten at all 5 of the 5 star restaurants several times, drunk Petrus and all that crap. It's not that special and worth sacrificing your life and family for some salt, fat and grapes.

    Econ: Did you do a PhD? Send me a PM. I like the tone and scrappiness of your posts and might be hiring.

    I rich, smarts, and totally in debt.

  • samoanboy's picture

    Finance is dull, theres no two ways about it. The things that you think will be exciting when you start out, sitting with a senior partner at a top PE house thrashing out a deal and then going for drinks to celebrate etc become mundane extremely quickly....

    Teaching and having 8 weeks of holiday per year and feeling like you are contributing something is incredibly appealing to me at the moment...that and cocaine smuggling.

  • In reply to MrDouche
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    MrDouche:
    Eddie:

    Are you seriously going to tell me that banking money is great for anyone other than an MD in New York?

    Come on....

    Teachers in Kansas make more on an a purchasing power/hourly basis.

    Unless someone is hell bent on living in Manhattan and comparing it to a another Manhattan salary, that's the only way you could actually say that I'm earning more "all-in" without respect to hours.


    You've got a point, but when it comes to saving money for retirement, a thrifty person who's good at investing his own money can't do much better than Manhattan. You work 70 hours/week so you don't have time to spend it, but you get paid like you spend everything you make.

    If you can save 30% of your income working in NYC and intend to retire elsewhere, the picture starts to change. A schoolteacher in Manhattan might make 50% more than one in Kansas, and if both can save 30% of their incomes, the one working in NYC can retire 5-10 before the one working in Kansas if he/she is willing to move back there.

    There's also geographical arbitrage. For someone who doesn't work in IBD, nobody is saying you can't work in Manhattan but live in New Jersey or Brooklyn or even 5% income tax Connecticut.

    Eddie: Banking sucks and the ROI only makes sense if you are super talented or you if think that having a net worth of 1 million at age 40 with a mediocre apartment and disappointing marriage is impressive.

    And all the NY bragging about restaurants and culture. I am still within distance of NY and have eaten at all 5 of the 5 star restaurants several times, drunk Petrus and all that crap. It's not that special and worth sacrificing your life and family for some salt, fat and grapes.

    Econ: Did you do a PhD? Send me a PM. I like the tone and scrappiness of your posts and might be hiring.


    I don't disagree with you, but if I can retire at 35 back in IL (or better yet, Holland, MI) and shave 10-15 years off of the work I'd have to do at Google or Microsoft, working as a quant doesn't seem all that bad. And if I'm getting 5% alpha on my personal investments over the entire economic cycle, earning my money early counts for even more than it does the average individual.

    One day I will move back to Chicago or maybe the west coast of Michigan. But the money in NYC is still pretty darned good, and when I can probably make 7% above inflation on my investments during our current secular bear market, what's the harm in saving some more?

    Secular bear markets- like the one we've been in for the past 10 years and likely will stay in for at least another 5 if you buy into the 35-year-cycle- are the perfect time to save, save, save. Because there's a bull market coming just around the corner that you need to be prepared for.

  • StyleT's picture

    I think that as Humans we get tired of doing the same thing over and over again, unless we truly enjoy it (Marriage, our favorite hang out spot/restaurant, etc). Once you peak in finance, unless you love it, there is nothing else you can really do. For example, if you slave all through school (like me) and hoping for a shot and you get one and become a trader. Than you transition into HF. Then you do that and you work your way up as high as you can go. Unless you start your own fund (what I am planning to do), then you are basically stuck at the top. The Golden Handcuffs. Now if you enjoy trading and managing money, etc, then you are good and can live happy and spend money like crazy. If you DONT love it, you will probably at some point quit and do something else..That's just how it goes..

  • British's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    There's also geographical arbitrage. For someone who doesn't work in IBD, nobody is saying you can't work in Manhattan but live in New Jersey or Brooklyn or even 5% income tax Connecticut.

    How feasible/desireable is this as an option? I am currently living in London but am heading to the states soon to work in NYC. Is it worth adding the extra time to my commute to escape paying NY tax and NYC resident tax?

  • In reply to StyleT
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    ibdafuture257:
    I think that as Humans we get tired of doing the same thing over and over again, unless we truly enjoy it (Marriage, our favorite hang out spot/restaurant, etc). Once you peak in finance, unless you love it, there is nothing else you can really do. For example, if you slave all through school (like me) and hoping for a shot and you get one and become a trader. Than you transition into HF. Then you do that and you work your way up as high as you can go. Unless you start your own fund (what I am planning to do), then you are basically stuck at the top. The Golden Handcuffs. Now if you enjoy trading and managing money, etc, then you are good and can live happy and spend money like crazy. If you DONT love it, you will probably at some point quit and do something else..That's just how it goes..

    I really think you're underestimating two things in your example. For one, it takes (or usually takes) a long time to get to the point that you have 'no where else to go'. Not to mention the fact that you have to have significant drive and ability to reach that point which facilitates even more doors opening down the road. The notion of 'peaking' in finance is also an extremely difficult term to define. Sure there are big names that we all know but those people are far and away the exception. Realize too that MD's at GS can still 'strive' to be C-level execs.

    I don't disagree with your premise though but there are almost always ways to move 'up'. It just becomes a matter of diminishing return and motivation.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • In reply to British
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    British:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    There's also geographical arbitrage. For someone who doesn't work in IBD, nobody is saying you can't work in Manhattan but live in New Jersey or Brooklyn or even 5% income tax Connecticut.

    How feasible/desireable is this as an option? I am currently living in London but am heading to the states soon to work in NYC. Is it worth adding the extra time to my commute to escape paying NY tax and NYC resident tax?

    Extremely doable. My girl's dad lives in NY and takes a boat to Manhattan every morning which allows him to be 'live' or working starting at about 6 am. He works close to 80 hours a week.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    How feasible/desireable is this as an option? I am currently living in London but am heading to the states soon to work in NYC. Is it worth adding the extra time to my commute to escape paying NY tax and NYC resident tax?
    Everyone has a different answer on that. For me, I work 60 hours/week, and the extra 20 minutes on my commute is not really a big deal and saves me $10-20K/year after tax. If you are working more than 80 hours/week, it probably makes more sense to live within walking distance of work.
  • In reply to happypantsmcgee
    UFOinsider's picture

    happypantsmcgee:
    Realize too that MD's at GS can still 'strive' to be C-level execs.

    That's my whole point of coming here: 2-7 years experience in banking = 10-20 years of corporate finance experience. SO, I shave 10+ years off the treck to F500 CFO. [that's the plan at least....] PLUS you get more connected out the wazzoo more quickly than you can imagine. A lot of guys come to NYC to get their creative inspiration and the funding for it....Bloomburg is the most obvious illustration of this goal.

    I left a very simple, happy existence to come to the city, and in ten years I WILL be gone....hopefully richer than when I came, and hopefully I'll make a few friends along the way.

    Get busy living

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    UFOinsider:
    happypantsmcgee:
    Realize too that MD's at GS can still 'strive' to be C-level execs.

    That's my whole point of coming here: 2-7 years experience in banking = 10-20 years of corporate finance experience. SO, I shave 10+ years off the treck to F500 CFO. [that's the plan at least....] PLUS you get more connected out the wazzoo more quickly than you can imagine. A lot of guys come to NYC to get their creative inspiration and the funding for it....Bloomburg is the most obvious illustration of this goal.

    I left a very simple, happy existence to come to the city, and in ten years I WILL be gone....hopefully richer than when I came, and hopefully I'll make a few friends along the way.


    Mmmm, what makes you think it'll shave 10 years off becoming an F500 CFO? Most CFOs typically have been at the company in other roles for a long time. You might be a great CFO for a startup or even a midsize company, but I don't think an F500 company is going to hand you the keys to the vault because you spent 5 years building excel spreadsheets for M&A.

    If you want to be an F500 exec, start at an F500 company, work like crazy, and impress a lot of people. Most importantly, opportunities aren't just about experience but also about attitude and what you've been doing lately.

  • D M's picture

    I think that certain areas of finance are definitely fascinating and worth going all-out to get jobs working in those areas. That said, I believe you have to enjoy life. I made the decision to go to a state school ranked 60 places lower than the one I had the opportunity to go to because I like the location of the one I chose. It's the "soft" parts of life that make it worth living. Shit, if I'm working 80 hours or more per week, I want to be able to walk outside and take in a panoramic of snow-capped mountains, I don't know how you guys handle the steel jungle that is NYC

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    UFOinsider, if that's your goal then you really need to go read the thread by a guy named Harvardgrad08. He was in a rotational program at a F500 and gave some fantastic insight to the process and promotions etc.
    http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/the-other-ro...

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • Walkerr's picture

    I think it's all about striving to a higher goal. I guess in finance, there's always a higher goal. IB analyst-> associate -> PE/HF. There's always a next step. Untill you've made it partner at GS there will always be something better, unless your goal is something different ofcourse. I can imagine people having enough of all the striving and just quit.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Yes, but I think there needs to be a balance between dreaming about the next step and paying your dues.

    Dreaming doesn't get you into a role as an associate. Staying until 5AM to build that prospectus or getting paged at 3AM to fix some pricing issue for the CFO's office or going over that 10K and catching some minute footnote is what it takes. And then you just have to make sure you've marketed it.

  • TheKing's picture

    I get a good laugh when people come into threads like this who have never worked a day in their lives talking about "you just need to strive to be better. You need to focus on getting to that HF and starting your own shop."

    Look, dawg...you need to realize that there is a decent chance that you straight up won't even like this shit at all. I work in PE, which is fucking worshiped by prospective monkeys, and it's honestly more boring than my old IBanking job in many, many ways, and that was boring as shit, too.

    For real, I struggle with this every day, for so long I've lived my professional life as a set path with exit opps. That shit needs to come to an end quickly. The only true exit opp in life is death, so I'm starting to feel like there's no real point to sticking this out.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    ^^^ Hence why I believe in a higher power. :D

    In any case, that's a classic quote which is going in my sig. Let me know if I'm taking you out of context and/or if I can use your username.

  • MrDouche's picture

    "But the money in NYC is still pretty darned good," Illini: Are you serious. I'm completely unimpressed with someone pulling in 300k at 29 or 100 at 22. It might look good in Kansas, but its a joke in NYC.

    Are there people who think these numbers are impressive?

    Sure there are a few super stars who breezed through Harvard at 20 but the top 1% of people in investment banking/trading are not realistic examples. Just use your average schlub you barely got into a BB (or quelle horreur a boutique) and then went to somewhere like Penn for an MBA, which isn't too competitive. I don't see the makings of a PMD at Goldman living on the upper east side... just some guy with a mediocre house in CT who lives month to month and has to postpone having children so by the time his kids are in high school he's already 60.

    I rich, smarts, and totally in debt.

  • In reply to TheKing
    Ben Shalom Bernanke's picture

    TheKing:
    I get a good laugh when people come into threads like this who have never worked a day in their lives talking about "you just need to strive to be better. You need to focus on getting to that HF and starting your own shop."

    Look, dawg...you need to realize that there is a decent chance that you straight up won't even like this shit at all. I work in PE, which is fucking worshiped by prospective monkeys, and it's honestly more boring than my old IBanking job in many, many ways, and that was boring as shit, too.

    For real, I struggle with this every day, for so long I've lived my professional life as a set path with exit opps. That shit needs to come to an end quickly. The only true exit opp in life is death, so I'm starting to feel like there's no real point to sticking this out.

    Would love to see a post from you detailing the differences you've experienced firsthand.

  • In reply to TheKing
    papeete's picture

    TheKing:
    I get a good laugh when people come into threads like this who have never worked a day in their lives talking about "you just need to strive to be better. You need to focus on getting to that HF and starting your own shop."

    Look, dawg...you need to realize that there is a decent chance that you straight up won't even like this shit at all. I work in PE, which is fucking worshiped by prospective monkeys, and it's honestly more boring than my old IBanking job in many, many ways, and that was boring as shit, too.

    For real, I struggle with this every day, for so long I've lived my professional life as a set path with exit opps. That shit needs to come to an end quickly. The only true exit opp in life is death, so I'm starting to feel like there's no real point to sticking this out.

    I don't understand why people in your situation don't quit. And, yes I have worked an FT job where I contemplating jumping out the window every day. But I quit.. and am now a prospective monkey. banking and pe should grant you the opportunity to save up and move on to something else.... as in something where you feel alive.. Is it just a fear of the unknown ? there are so many spectacular things to do and experience, I guess I don't understand why people are caught up in a vicious circle where no number is ever enough..

  • In reply to MrDouche
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    MrDouche:
    "But the money in NYC is still pretty darned good," Illini: Are you serious. I'm completely unimpressed with someone pulling in 300k at 29 or 100 at 22. It might look good in Kansas, but its a joke in NYC.

    Well, again, whoever said those were my numbers and whoever said I was going to retire in NYC?

    Sure there are a few super stars who breezed through Harvard at 20 but the top 1% of people in investment banking/trading are not realistic examples. Just use your average schlub you barely got into a BB (or quelle horreur a boutique) and then went to somewhere like Penn for an MBA, which isn't too competitive. I don't see the makings of a PMD at Goldman living on the upper east side... just some guy with a mediocre house in CT who lives month to month and has to postpone having children so by the time his kids are in high school he's already 60.

    Or somebody who lives in Jersey City and scrimps and saves to sock away 40% of his income at the age of 25 so he can own his own farm in Kansas (or in this case, Wisconsin or Michigan) at the age of 35 and go be a missionary or whatever early-retired people in the Midwest do.

    I'm not pretending it's impressive. I will say it's a heckuvalot better than how I could have done at IBM or Microsoft and that by the standards of the world, I'm incredibly blessed. But some people will do better and some will do worse. All I know is that when the average person in Africa is starving, I consider myself incredibly lucky to make the kind of money that puts a roof over my head, food on the table, and keeps me insured. And in the end, everything turns to dust anyways.

  • TheKing's picture

    Illini, we've had some disagreements in the past, but I'm glad you like the quote. You are definitely not taking me out of context, though I'd prefer it if my user name was not used.

    Ben Bernanke, I've been contemplating writing a post dispelling the myth of PE and think I just might do that when I have time over the next week or two. Too many people literally masturbate to the thought of getting into it, many with little understanding as to what is REALLY involved in the job.

    Papeete, I agree with your post. I don't think i'm going to be doing this for too long, but you also don't want to leave when a decent bonus is nearly in your hands. There are smart ways to quit a job.

  • In reply to AVPGuerilla
    soccerz30's picture

    AVPGuerilla:
    Love being a banker. I'll walk away when I hit my number - 25 - but that'll take a while. I find the work really interesting and challenging. And i like surrounding myself with intelligent, entrepreneurial folk.
    A lot of it has to do with whether the firm you're at is a good complement to your own strengths/needs. I'm fortunate to be at a pretty great shop.

    Entrepreneurial folk?? Please dude, bankers are the most risk averse people out there and I would hardly call them entrepreneurial, and that's one of the reasons I am leaving banking. This post couldn't have come at a better time as I am leaving to go to an actual fast growing internet company, where I will actually learn a ton about running your own business and be asked to take on a lot of different important roles. Not stare at excel and powerpoint all day & night, where 85% of my work ends up being menial bullshit.

    I understand the appeal for some people, but I am getting myself out to do something I am actually passionate about before I get used to those golden handcuffs as so many do. Yes, I am taking a nice pay cut, but being able to go to work everyday and actually care is much more important to me.

    I look back and laugh at how hard I busted my ass to get a IBD job (went to a non-target) only to be so disappointed. So for all those prospective monkeys who are having trouble finding an IBD job...it's honestly not all that it's made out to be, especially by so many on this site, and there are plenty of other ways to make money, do something you like and have a better life.

    Anyway, to make all you monkeys jealous, I have about 4-5 months till I start my next job, so I will be taking a nice backpacking trip through South America!

  • dublin's picture

    congrats man - make sure to hit cruz del condor and machu piccho in peru - both are unreal. if you're a simon & garfunkel fan, touring the colca valley and hearing the original folk tune that inspired 'el condor pasa' is pretty sweet too

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    UFOinsider's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    UFOinsider:
    happypantsmcgee:
    Realize too that MD's at GS can still 'strive' to be C-level execs.

    That's my whole point of coming here: 2-7 years experience in banking = 10-20 years of corporate finance experience. SO, I shave 10+ years off the treck to F500 CFO. [that's the plan at least....] PLUS you get more connected out the wazzoo more quickly than you can imagine. A lot of guys come to NYC to get their creative inspiration and the funding for it....Bloomburg is the most obvious illustration of this goal.

    I left a very simple, happy existence to come to the city, and in ten years I WILL be gone....hopefully richer than when I came, and hopefully I'll make a few friends along the way.


    Mmmm, what makes you think it'll shave 10 years off becoming an F500 CFO? Most CFOs typically have been at the company in other roles for a long time. You might be a great CFO for a startup or even a midsize company, but I don't think an F500 company is going to hand you the keys to the vault because you spent 5 years building excel spreadsheets for M&A.

    If you want to be an F500 exec, start at an F500 company, work like crazy, and impress a lot of people. Most importantly, opportunities aren't just about experience but also about attitude and what you've been doing lately.


    I know someone who did this: BB IBD 3 years -> F500 at much higher level than the people who took the corpfin offer straight out of school -> worked his balls off for 5 years + MBA at night [on company dime] -> lateral transfer to another F500 -> works balls off some more for 4 years -> CFO. I'm missing a couple steps somewhere, but you see the logic.....

    Outside of finance and maybe medical school and the military, career paths are not so clearly defined and there is quite a bit more to upper level management than the ability to crunch numbers. Managing the relationships was tricky b/c they are extremely territorial, and some companies like J&J only deal with homegrown talent. But finance did open up a whole world of options besides PE/HF (which are really, really good options, I'm not knocking them). Who knows: 3 years ago I was a bartender, so this shit is a trip and a half for me.

    Also, if someone has any desire to start their own company, what better place to meet people who can assist down the road with the funding of a venture than in the heart of the financial district? There are many reasons to go into this industry. It is soul crushing work though, and I really don't know how some people do this until retirement.

    happypantsmcgee:
    http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/the-other-ro...
    Thanks man

    Get busy living

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