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Part of why people go into banking vs. any typical "finance analyst" role is the lifestyle. However realistically, what is the point of having an amazing apartment, if you never spend any time in it. I mean I'm not going to rent a 5000/month penthouse if I come home every night and pass out on my bed.
How often do people have time to go to clubs and get tables, when you are working 80-100 hour weeks. From the time I spend as a summer analyst, most departments are not filled with the craziest party animals, many are quite nerdy/shy and/or int'l. (And after working in banking , your only friends will be bankers!). I know that a few groups have a much more "fratty" culture where people tend to be more social after hours, but the majority of groups are rather diverse, in all regards. One fellow intern tried alcohol for the first time at our company party, even after being in college for three years.

As far as I'm concerned, analysts and associates pretty much work the same hours, associates probably have a lighter load on the weekends, but any busy group, will have associates staying till midnight or later on a nightly basis. The only real lifestyle change probably happens at the VP level when your job role shifts towards bringing business in, weekends drop off, but in that case, you start traveling like crazy during the week.

...People talk about doing banking just until going to "buy-side", with less hours and equivalent pay, but unfortunately not everyone gets an opportunity to go to buy-side. For example, out of the twelve analysts in a group I interned with, only four got "legit" exit opps in PE/HF, 2 stayed on for a third year and are incredibly depressed, and the other six picked up general finance roles at typical companies taking a huge paycut, one guy went be a worker at training the street. Remind you that these guys had great deal flow and went to top schools! Even when you get to PE/HF, hours may be much less, but stress levels/responsibilities are sky high. Finnaly most places kick you out after two years, until you get an mba. FYI- getting into a top mba school is not easy!! Finally getting a PE/HF job after b-school is even harder because they are making a long term commitment to you, and the competition within each b-school is cut throat.

As far as prestige goes, first lets say that bankers will never have the prestige of doctors, firefighters, scientists, judges (not lawyers lol), and some politicians and other doing-good for humanity professions. Second, I don't think the general public has any idea the difference between banking and general financial analyst roles, girls certainly don't know the difference Most don't understand the difference between retail and investment banks, they think you work the same place where people deposit their weekly paychecks. not to mention the difference between back and front office, operations vs. IB, most think its all the same. ....And if you put prestige aside, then you can earn a great salary running a small business, for example- my 26 year old cousin owns two verizon franchise stores (running a cell phone store isn't rocket science) and makes 350K a year, hired store managers and now is working only 20-30 hours a week, real estate investing on the side just for fun because he doesn't know what else to do with all his extra cash, while his job is not dealmaking, he is happy and living the life, he has time to go out at night, and go out to dinner, have friends, hamptons in the summer, miami breaks in winter, int'l vacations, and when he goes to work everyday he is the boss. nobody to answer to.

My question is now that the "prestige" of banking is no longer there, the bonuses sure ain't what they used to be, and exit opps are harder and harder to get, ibanking decreases your chances at b-school due to the overabundance of ibanking applicants, and the lifestyle kills your social/relationship life.....is banking worth it? 9/10 of people are in it for the money, prestige, and so-called lifestyle, not because they like sitting in a cubicle staring at an excel spreadsheet.

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Comments (92)

  • ihatetaxes's picture

    OP - Screw the world. Do what makes you happy. I'm in IBD because I like it. It took 3 years of college for me to realize my passion for investment finance.

  • In reply to The Phantom
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    You failed to secure a damn FT job and talking about starting your own business.

    2009 was a tough, tough, year. A lot of people (I would argue a majority) who did not receive full-time offers would have received them if the economic environment had been stronger.

  • mango123's picture

    along the lines of what ihatetaxes said, for those of you currently working, do you feel that it's worth it?

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    Pussinboots' comment made me literally spit out my water.

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    Pussinboots' comment made me literally spit out my water.

  • shep's picture

    lg0718:
    You call doctors prestigious, I call them drug dealers/pimps with white coats.

    do you really believe this, or are you just making a point?

  • Bondarb's picture

    The chances of being very successful in any field are very long, by definition. This is true in banking, trading, verizon franchising, and anything else. When the economy is weak those odds get even longer both in banking and elsewhere. We all know that nothing is easy and that most people will go into a field with dreams of being the best and that the vast majority will be dissapointed a few years down the road when they arent.

    I do find that when people are succesful, as rare as that is, they rarely end up being so worried about whether the money is "making them happy" or what "the point of making more money is", etc. The whole cliche about the wall st guy that gets rich and then realizes that money cant buy happiness dosent really exist...i hear alot of younger people who are frustrated by the long hours and other negatives of the business saying things like that but never really anybody who has actually achieved success. That's not to say that money does buy happiness, but its just an observation.

  • basketballbanker's picture

    Money isn't everything, it just gets the most focus because of its flash and tangibility (ie $5 > $4 by definition). I think most people on these forums would give up half their salary if it meant being guaranteed finding a loving wife to start a great family--in other words a happy family with no divorces, traumas (like none of the kids dying prematurely), etc. It's these uncertain factors like having a great family and being of good health (not getting cancer at a young age) that we would like to ensure but of course can't. As a result, we search for certainty in our lives and find it in the pursuit of wealth, which banking allows us to do at a young age and with a somewhat level degree of certainty. Becoming rich is one of those things in life that practically no one would not want to become. It's the simple fact that (we think) more is greater than less, in this case more wealth > less wealth, so it seems obvious to pursue a high paying job even though this is not what might make us most happy (in the short and long term).
    At a young age, most bankers just think about getting into IB as a starting point known for its strong exit opportunities. In other words, we put gaining valuable work experience and wealth at the top of our lists, ahead of balanced social lives and sometimes even our health. Eventually though, in our 30s and 40s, we realize that somewhere along our priorities comes finding a wife and starting a family (for most of us, at least) and that simply working long hours, while it can still be our number one priority in order to become rich, is not enough in that now we have to decide which of the remaining parts of our lives are most important relative to our careers and how to rank them accordingly. And in the end, "life is what slips through the cracks as everything else going on in our lives passes by."

  • zbb's picture

    you mention prestige. i think prestige is subjective, and bankers think of their job as more prestigious than any of the ones you mention

  • spt10v's picture

    WSO should do a survey with a question for investment bankers to answer:

    How happy/sad are you to be an investment banker?

    A: too much work, no life, fuck this shit
    B: I'll stomach this for the exit opps/B School
    C: Makin bank baby$$$$$$, retiring at 35
    D: Love the prestige
    E: I love the content of the job

    perhaps same for trading as a comparison

    interesting views on this topic

  • lurker22's picture

    that poll would be answered by a bunch of idiot college kids on this board. the thread about "life of an IT consultant" is a good complement to this thread. things are always greener on the other side

  • In reply to hellonyc
    tandaradei's picture

    hellonyc:

    A lot of people have PM me regarding questions on what i'm doing and why i posted it, personally i have been put in a position where I must decide between three different career paths, and I now have to decide whether I want to head down the banking road. My summer experience did not result in a FT offer, however after much hard work/networking it did bring me to other opps on wall street as well as in industry.
    ...My summer experience at a BB was quite eventful where I got to see the best and worst of wall street, the worst being the layoffs, divorces, alcoholics, depressed, and cheating husbands/wives. When you see a grown man cry as he packs up his desk after a layoff as the whole floor watches in awkward silence, is something you simply don't forget. ...The best being the vip clubs, going out on our MD's yacht, and seeing and meeting penthouses and trophy wives/gf's. Its amazing how much you learn about people and their personal lives when you work with them 100 hours week, many senior members of my team were incredibly frank and open regarding their personal lives and happiness in this industry, especially while intoxicated. However sometimes I wonder if my experience was unique and most people do not see the drama that i did. naturally, this has led me to question my place in the whole profession, hence why i created this post.

    Did you not receive an offer due to market conditions, or was it fault on your side? I'm asking because you have a lot more experience than me, but before I consider it I'd like to know whether you have a grudge against the industry, that might bias your opinion.

  • M-001's picture

    He answered that question somewhere in this thread...

  • In reply to hellonyc
    milkman84's picture

    hellonyc:

    ...My summer experience at a BB was quite eventful where I got to see the best and worst of wall street, the worst being the layoffs, divorces, alcoholics, depressed, and cheating husbands/wives. When you see a grown man cry as he packs up his desk after a layoff as the whole floor watches in awkward silence, is something you simply don't forget. ...The best being the vip clubs, going out on our MD's yacht, and seeing and meeting penthouses and trophy wives/gf's. Its amazing how much you learn about people and their personal lives when you work with them 100 hours week, many senior members of my team were incredibly frank and open regarding their personal lives and happiness in this industry, especially while intoxicated. However sometimes I wonder if my experience was unique and most people do not see the drama that i did. naturally, this has led me to question my place in the whole profession, hence why i created this post.

    You just sound like a naive little kid. Wow, people are alcoholics. People are unhappy. People get fired. Guess what? This isn't unique to banking. Stop looking for "meaning" where there isn't any and just take opportunities as they come. You'll never be happy stepping back and thinking "What am I doing this for?"

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  • lindamas's picture

    My friends in consulting are even worse off. The ones in premed are miserable and 1 dropped out. Law school is horrible right now there are too many lawyers and people can't find any jobs (making 45k as a attorney). Stop complaining and being weak, this world is hard and nothing worth doing is easy.

  • In reply to M-001
    tandaradei's picture

    MC 002:
    He answered that question somewhere in this thread...

    My bad, thx.

  • gobstopper's picture

    Money at a high level has a very small increase in happiness. Look up some psych. studies about it.

    However, the skill set you get from IBD is very desirable for me and is what i'm after.

    P.S. That accounting job that was mentioned before may be forensic accounting. You can make millions if your well established in the field and can get contract work.

  • TNA's picture

    I think what needs to be kept in mind that there are plenty of people in this world who because of lack of education or necessity work 70-80-90-100 hour weeks in jobs which require uncomfortable working environments, physical labor and/or hazardous conditions. Banking isn't the only career with a lot of hours. At least people in banking have the opportunity to get handsomely rewarded.

    People decided to do jobs for all kinds of reasons. Whether something is worth it or not is entirely subjective and personal.

    To the person talking about all the bad stuff they saw in IBD such as drinking, adultery and lay offs, I say this, adulthood is a bitch isn't it. Who the hell is shocked at this crap nowaday. Please direct me to the bubble which you came from so I can vacation there. People get laid off and cry at footlocker. I am sure the nice little severance package they got softened the blow. I bet you wont see that guy getting food stamps or losing his modest home like half of this country.

    Apologize if I sound harsh, but common, this is how things are in any job and field.

  • Dude's picture

    How is being an entrepreneur considered being free? To do it right you have to invest and dedicate yourself for a couple of years at least. If the business is doing bad you put in more hours. And then you might still fail, without any exit opps.

    In BB banking, you can leave anytime for something else. After some years you might even stop working altogether. And you know what you will make when you start working.

    Besides. I like staring at excel sheets.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    ChimpProspect's picture

    "The whole point of working in investment banking is so you can save up money to spend somewhere OUTSIDE OF NYC. It's not to roll around in a Jag, buy your girlfriend stuff from Swarovski, and drop 3Gs at the Pink Elephant every weekend. (That approach is for suckers.)

    My goal is to retire with an 80-acre farm alongside Lake Michigan (perfect hedge against inflation, sovereign risk, and everything short of a foreign invasion during a 50-60 year retirement). That kind of view/covenience would beat most of the $10K/month penthouses in NYC, and it would only cost about $3-4K/month assuming a 6%/year cost of capital and relatively constant real estate taxes and maintenance.

    If you spend all of your money on "the banker lifestyle", you will be stuck in the city until you're 60. You don't want to be stuck in investment banking until you're sixty.

    Given the high cost of living here, my view is that people who can't delay gratification in New York City can't delay it anywhere. As for me, I will live in low-tax, low-rent Hoboken, spend my money at $5/beer bars, and focus on the day I'll be able to go sailing on Saturdays, do trackdays at on Sundays, and find a wife who enjoys doing both more than Tiffany's."

    Wow IlliniProgrammer - I was reading your response and just waiting for that - "oh, this is where we see things differently" moment. It never came. It's scary how similar our motives and pursuits are.

  • supertight's picture

    Working 70+ hours a week sucks no matter what you do or how much you make. Actors and pro athletes don't like to work that much. But it's much better to work those hours in an air conditioned room at a computer with other smart people than hammering or shoveling all day. And if/when you decide that you hate banking, people will look at your resume and instantly know that you're a smart, hard worker. And if you don't get a better opportunity out of it, you'll be a top applicant for business schools for having done it.

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  • didi2008's picture

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.----William Shakespeare

  • coffeebateman's picture

    --------------------------------------------------------
    "I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcom

  • In reply to didi2008
    Bondarb's picture
  • In reply to Mojito
    AnalystMonkey2769's picture

    I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought- GG

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  • mudkipz's picture

    "so i herd u liek mudkipz" - sum kid
    "I'd watergun the **** outta that." - Kassad

  • mudkipz's picture

    "so i herd u liek mudkipz" - sum kid
    "I'd watergun the **** outta that." - Kassad

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