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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:

Quote:
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?

Comments (87)

  • In reply to kimbo
    GOB's picture

    kimbo wrote:
    A wise man once said.. find something you like to do and the money will come.

    I get/buy the whole exit opp story but how valuable was the experience? Knowing what you do now, would you do it all over again? Perhaps some of you can comment on this.

    I haven't started my job yet.. But I feel like in a few years the most valuable experience will be my grasp on personal investing and recognizing value. I think these skills will be extremely useful regardless of my future jobs

  • papeete's picture

    Edmundo Braverman wrote:
    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:

    Quote:
    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?

    edmundo - I dunno it seems like people here talk about banking/drudgery vs. somethingelse/quality of life.
    iit's almost like you are so accustomed to risk-reward tradeoff that it's somehow warped into this other tradeoff between banking and poor quality of life. I fully support people getting out if they don't like it. life is short. then again, I personally have trouble thinking of other jobs I would rather do. The only ones that come to mind play close to squat.

  • UFOinsider's picture

    I do wish to add this - the overwhelming majority of people in life work menial, thankless jobs for which they are not paid very much at all. Being bored and tired in an office and getting paid $100K+ / yr as a 20 something kid isn't a bad start to professional life at all. In fact, it's a pretty damn good start, and remember that there really is an endless supply of kids who have never seen that kind of money who would gladly replace you without hesitating......

    Get busy living

  • In reply to MrDouche
    LeveragedFiend's picture

    MrDouche wrote:

    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.

    First, how is Wharton not too competitive?? Second, I think it's silly for you to make it seem like only 20 year old Harvard graduates can achieve success on the level of PMD at Goldman. Everyone else is just mediocre, right. Or I just don't get the joke.

    It’s no mystery that ass has always been tits’ greatest enemy... It’s almost like a Muslim-Jewish thing, but with tits and ass.

  • In reply to LeveragedFiend
    UFOinsider's picture

    LeveragedFiend wrote:
    MrDouche wrote:

    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.

    First, how is Wharton not too competitive?? Second, I think it's silly for you to make it seem like only 20 year old Harvard graduates can achieve success on the level of PMD at Goldman. Everyone else is just mediocre, right. Or I just don't get the joke.


    I think the username speaks for itself...

    Get busy living

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    papeete's picture

    UFOinsider wrote:
    I do wish to add this - the overwhelming majority of people in life work menial, thankless jobs for which they are not paid very much at all. Being bored and tired in an office and getting paid $100K+ / yr as a 20 something kid isn't a bad start to professional life at all. In fact, it's a pretty damn good start, and remember that there really is an endless supply of kids who have never seen that kind of money who would gladly replace you without hesitating......

    shhhhh. ufo... let them learn from their own mistakes. you are supposed to encourage them to quit
    duh. didn't you learn any game theory?

  • In reply to papeete
    UFOinsider's picture

    papeete wrote:
    UFOinsider wrote:
    I do wish to add this - the overwhelming majority of people in life work menial, thankless jobs for which they are not paid very much at all. Being bored and tired in an office and getting paid $100K+ / yr as a 20 something kid isn't a bad start to professional life at all. In fact, it's a pretty damn good start, and remember that there really is an endless supply of kids who have never seen that kind of money who would gladly replace you without hesitating......

    shhhhh. ufo... let them learn from their own mistakes. you are supposed to encourage them to quit
    duh. didn't you learn any game theory?

    uh, oops, YEAH! This job SUCKS, you all should go on strike.
    .
    I'm not helping, so I'm going to stop talking .now

    Get busy living

  • In reply to LeveragedFiend
    CompBanker's picture

    LeveragedFiend wrote:
    MrDouche wrote:

    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.

    First, how is Wharton not too competitive?? Second, I think it's silly for you to make it seem like only 20 year old Harvard graduates can achieve success on the level of PMD at Goldman. Everyone else is just mediocre, right. Or I just don't get the joke.

    I agree with LeveragedFiend -- how is Wharton even remotely note "too competitive." News flash to everyone - you are not as smart as you think you are! There are people out there in this world just CRUSHING it every day in all different walks of life. Government, Not-for-Profit, Energy, Chemistry, Medicine, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Astrology, and Linguistics, the list goes on and on. There are people in each of these fields that would make all of us look like chumps. Too many people think their IB/PE/whatever job entitles them to a spot at a top school before they've even put their name on the application. As someone who has done the IB/PE thing and is sitting on a 99th percentile GMAT waiting to hear from H/S/W, I'm scared to death that I won't even make the cut to get an interview.

    CompBanker

  • In reply to CompBanker
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    CompBanker wrote:
    LeveragedFiend wrote:
    MrDouche wrote:

    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.

    First, how is Wharton not too competitive?? Second, I think it's silly for you to make it seem like only 20 year old Harvard graduates can achieve success on the level of PMD at Goldman. Everyone else is just mediocre, right. Or I just don't get the joke.

    I agree with LeveragedFiend -- how is Wharton even remotely note "too competitive." News flash to everyone - you are not as smart as you think you are! There are people out there in this world just CRUSHING it every day in all different walks of life. Government, Not-for-Profit, Energy, Chemistry, Medicine, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Astrology, and Linguistics, the list goes on and on. There are people in each of these fields that would make all of us look like chumps. Too many people think their IB/PE/whatever job entitles them to a spot at a top school before they've even put their name on the application. As someone who has done the IB/PE thing and is sitting on a 99th percentile GMAT waiting to hear from H/S/W, I'm scared to death that I won't even make the cut to get an interview.

    You should do something cool like poke your eyes out and climb K2 or something to round out your application.

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

  • HFFBALLfan123's picture

    The grass is always greener.....Still talk to my college buddies who are so jealous that i actually have money to spend on whatever I want, and i am so jealous that they actually have time to do what they want. But if i were to have all the money i wanted and no career i am sure i'd get bored, just being content is all you can ask for in life. Stop comparing yourself to the Jones', someone is always smarter, better, and richer than you just like someone is always dumber, and poorer than you... If i could retire on a lake with a nice boat, car, pool, scotch and some good herbage at the age of 60 i will be the happiest man alive.

  • mike55555's picture

    Your current walkaway number may sound sufficient at this stage in your life, but a lot of people just keep spending more, as they make more. DON'T FALL INTO THE SPENDING TRAP!

    Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.

    -Niccolo Machiavelli

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    Snow's picture

    'Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize.'

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