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8/30/14

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?

Comments (87)

2/2/11

soccerz30, if you are coming through Buenos Aires, send me a PM when you know your dates and we'll grab a drink. Already partied and made an ass of myself with another fellow WSOer a few months ago.

2/2/11

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.

In reply to kimbo
2/2/11

kimbo:
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

In reply to TheKing
2/3/11

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.[/quote]

I hope you find what you are looking for.

2/3/11

Edmundo Braverman:
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?

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.

2/3/11

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
2/3/11

MrDouche:

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.

In reply to Saccard
2/3/11

LeveragedFiend:
MrDouche:

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
2/3/11

UFOinsider:
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
2/3/11

papeete:
UFOinsider:
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 kimbo
2/3/11

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

I heard Mark Cuban say that the other day in an interview, when asked "What advice would you give millionaires trying to become billionaires?"

In reply to Saccard
2/3/11

LeveragedFiend:
MrDouche:

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
2/3/11

CompBanker:
LeveragedFiend:
MrDouche:

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

2/3/11

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.

2/3/11

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

2/3/11

Don't let the lifestyle increase as fast the spending!

2/3/11

Don't let the lifestyle increase as fast the spending

Sounds like Bernanke is counting on inflation.
2/3/11

The favorite part of my day is getting the "leaving" emails from analysts. IB might seem cool from the outside, but once you get into the trenches you'll realize that there is more to life than being able to use PPT and Excel without the mouse

2/3/11
2/5/11

It really blows my mind the gripping that people do about banking as an analyst. How hard have we worked to get these stupid fucking jobs. People weren't saying "the hours are rough and you'll literally sleep under your desk some nights (which isn't too bad long as bring a decent sleeping bag)," just to try to scare you out of applying. I could maybe see being disillusioned/caught off guard about the job if you're some savant 4.0 triple major from Williams that Goldman swooned out of going to Namibia with the Peace Corp. But other than that, you know what you're getting into, and if you're stupid enough to fake your way into a very serious two year commitment without ACTUALLY wanting to do it, go cry to a wall or some shit.

Yes it fucking blows when you spread comps all weekend for a client meeting on Monday that your director knew full well that it probably wasn't happening on Friday morning and asks for the turn-around anyway. But, keep in mind, an analysts job is one fold: to make the senior guys life easier (theoretically). In my mind, the minute I give my VP or MD the project they assigned, I could give a fuck whether it results in us as bookrunner for 900mm issue or they give it to their wife's for a pap smear, not my problem it's theirs.

You know who has the optimal personality for banking? That HR fuck Toby from The Office. He knows his hr shit, does a good job, and the only thing gets in return is to get shit on by a narcissistic, ill qualified, idiot of a boss (sound familiar?). His response is a shrug and then moves on with his day.

Last thought: a good mindset to endure anything shitty/awful in life is as follows...

2/6/11

+1 just for the vid, also for the post.

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 Stringer Bell
2/6/11

Stringer Bell:
It really blows my mind the gripping that people do about banking as an analyst. How hard have we worked to get these stupid fucking jobs.

Seriously, I would take anyone's place here in a heart beat. I'm pretty sure I have to go back to grad school just to ever hope of having a shot at FO, and it totally galls me when I hear a whiney 22 year old bitching about making $100K+ a year. Do you understand that the majority of people will never see that kind of money and how fast they run out of patience and sympathy....it's like hearing a rock star complain about being famous.

Ironically, Charlie Sheen isn't bitching. I used to want to party like a rock star, but now I want to party like him. But I digress.

When you are in your 20's and can realistically expect to retire at 35/40 if you so chose, you're doing pretty fucking good. And when even that is not enough, then consider that there are guys who don't have an easy time getting these jobs and will eat you alive as soon as they get in the door.

Get busy living

In reply to UFOinsider
2/7/11

UFOinsider:
When you are in your 20's and can realistically expect to retire at 35/40 if you so chose, you're doing pretty fucking good. And when even that is not enough, then consider that there are guys who don't have an easy time getting these jobs and will eat you alive as soon as they get in the door.

Let me play devils advocate for a minute. Maybe a lot of people feel like it's not worth it, but they don't actually realize that until after they get in and experience it. It's like their entire college career they're thinking "models and bottles" and then they get there, and realize the work is long, boring, and they don't feel like they have a purpose in life.

I still agree with UFOinsider though, people won't really feel sorry for you. So, if you really don't like IB, then don't do it. It's really that simple. No job, even a glamorous one, is for everybody. Do what you want to do, IB or otherwise.

In reply to CatsLHP
2/14/11

CatsLHP:
The favorite part of my day is getting the "leaving" emails from analysts. IB might seem cool from the outside, but once you get into the trenches you'll realize that there is more to life than being able to use PPT and Excel without the mouse

+1
In reply to samoanboy
11/3/12

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....

well whats the plan?

11/3/12

The sadest thing in my life I had ever seen was not some hurricane or the loss of a friend, but rather a washed out 42 year old single real estate banker who amounted to owning a shitty studio in the city and getting stood up on dates. I wonder how liquid he was?

11/3/12

You have good days and you have bad days. Could be age-related too.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

8/17/13

Why Retire? I never got this concept of retiring, or hitting a certain goal, and moving on. To me stagnation means death, and retiring and sitting on a beach with a big bank account isn't exactly the most pleasant thing in my mind, just not proactive enough. No, I'm not talking about working excel, and getting bitched at by MDs for life. But do none of you see banking as a career? I'm just curious, The deal experience, negotiating with powerful C level executives, and having the social, and interaction skills to really shift a business is something worthy, just look at guys like Rohatyn, Wasserstein, or Quattrone (even if it does take 5-7 years to fully get involved). Or After some decent experience, one could work at a smaller boutique with a few experienced guys , or move on to some elite boutique (Greenhill, Qatalyst) and still pursue banking?

I think- therefore I fuck

8/17/13

u guys are a bunch of pussy asses, being in high finance means i could afford biweekly 4somes with high priced escorts and models, what walk away number? r u squirrels or something, quitters, i totally lost respect to some of these senior posters

8/17/13

karypto:

The sadest thing in my life I had ever seen was not some hurricane or the loss of a friend, but rather a washed out 42 year old single real estate banker who amounted to owning a shitty studio in the city and getting stood up on dates. I wonder how liquid he was?

hes liquid in his pants

8/17/13

worklikeamachine:

Why Retire? I never got this concept of retiring, or hitting a certain goal, and moving on. To me stagnation means death, and retiring and sitting on a beach with a big bank account isn't exactly the most pleasant thing in my mind, just not proactive enough. No, I'm not talking about working excel, and getting bitched at by MDs for life. But do none of you see banking as a career? I'm just curious, The deal experience, negotiating with powerful C level executives, and having the social, and interaction skills to really shift a business is something worthy, just look at guys like Rohatyn, Wasserstein, or Quattrone (even if it does take 5-7 years to fully get involved). Or After some decent experience, one could work at a smaller boutique with a few experienced guys , or move on to some elite boutique (Greenhill, Qatalyst) and still pursue banking?

Bingo. You think you want to retire at 35-40, but you really don't. I like to be intellectually stimulated, I like to face challenges and problems and solve them. I don't want to do nothing and just travel around and eat good food. Sure, for 3 weeks a year that would be nice, but otherwise, that would be boring as hell.

8/17/13

I want to produce commercials like the Adidas Originals House Party. I want to flow with the best. I wanna play poker with Jeezy and Becks. I don't want to do spreadsheets. I want to be in the pool with lots of girls.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
8/18/13

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

8/19/13

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

8/20/13
In reply to Take_It_To_The_Bank
8/20/13

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

In reply to British
8/30/14

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