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Hey guys, serious question here I'd appreciate any input. I'm a sophomore fin/acct major and have been really interested in pursuing IB out of college for about a year now but am starting to question my ambitions. I didn't know what IB was until late in my freshman year and pretty soon after decided it was what I would shoot for, not out of any real appreciation/understanding of what IBankers actually do on a daily basis but more of the salary,prestige, and lifestyle benefits that came with the job. I landed a solid pwm internship last summer and I go to a good enough school to have a chance at an IB int, but over the last few months I've seriously began to question whether or not IB is for me and if the substantial amount of effort that I'd have to apply in order to even land an interview is worth it.

I've heard alot of people say that it really becomes a grind and that the hours are just brutal. Is the work that bankers do really enjoyable enough to sustain that kind of work environment? Is the money enough, or do you have to love what you're doing? Economics and the stock market interest me, but not to the degree where I read the WSJ daily or have a investment portfolio.I guess what I'm asking is if I don't really love finance, should I choose something else? Thanks

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Comments (13)

  • RKBanker's picture

    If you don't like finance, then you have acct to fall back on. I'm a finance/accounting major as well, and I find finance to be a lot more attractive than accounting. You go three routes in acct: audit, tax, advisory. Sure you might find your way into the finance industry, but the work in acct sucks. You don't get paid OT, and the salary gap between finance and accounting just gets bigger and bigger with experience.

    I thought about IB as well, but I feel it's not worth the salary and prestige (my opinion). You're gonna have a shitty lifestyle for the first couple of years you won't see the light of day until you're 24/25. So if you don't like IB, don't do it. There are plenty of other careers for you to choose: consulting, research, trading, pe, investment, etc...

  • TigerWoods's picture

    There are plenty of superficial bankers who likely had your views and landed jobs. It is likely, however, that many were not good at their job as a result of their lack of interest and exited after a year or two. If you want money, it is here, but I would never suggest you do anything that you do not having a strong interest in. Have you ever met anybody successful and genuinely happy who was not passionate about what they did?

  • moochies's picture

    Take Tiger Woods for instance he dominates everything.
    Golf
    models and bottles
    more models
    and more models
    with a super hot wife thrown in

    I don't think he could do all those woman without a little passion.

  • RKBanker's picture

    I would say passion for IB is very important. You will have to dedicate the next 2-3 years of your life to work that you probably won't see the light of day till you're 24/25. The salary is great, very prestigious, but kiss your life goodbye, until you're done with the analyst program of course. If you don't feel that it's right for you, I would suggest you start thinking about another career, maybe consulting, or trading, or investment. It's really up to you and what you would like to do.

  • numi's picture

    As with most things in life, it all depends on how you value the trade-off between doing something that will really jump-start your career, vs. doing something that you're intrinsically passionate about. Investment banking is an excellent place to start your career when you're not sure what else might interest you, as it's generally regarded as a prestigious job and a good way to learn basic skills. The work-life balance is unenviable, but at least it'll hopefully pave the way to other career opportunities with a better lifestyle or help you get into business school.

    But this is where I'll be providing an opinion that's probably different from many others on this forum. Read on.

    In my case, I can totally resonate with your point where you wrote: "Economics and the stock market interest me, but not to the degree where I read the WSJ daily or have a investment portfolio." I agree with you 100%, which may be a strange thing for me to say given that I had three years of experience in equity research and two years in private equity. True, it was a good way for me to build my career and gain some useful insights into the finance world, but it's not something I was passionate about.

    It took me a while to realize this, but fortunately I didn't *need* to be passionate about things at a junior level. I was able to get by because I worked hard and because I saw the job as a means to an end. But am I passionate about it the way that some of the senior professionals are? Do I love it the way that the most successful financiers do? No. I could go an entire week, and probably two weeks, without opening the Wall Street Journal or checking my stock portfolio at this time, and my life wouldn't change. I already know the kind of person that I am, and now that I'm several years out of graduation and getting into my late 20's, I know what really matters to me.

    Why am I posting on this forum still? Well, it's because I still work in finance, I like what I do for the most part, and I've met a lot of interesting people. As well, I enjoy sharing my little snippets of knowledge with people here and learning from others. It's terrific that people like you are thinking critically about your life goals, even while you're just a sophomore in college. I find a lot of people that tend to be introspective and very thoughtful about what matters to them in fields like investment banking and private equity. In fact, you'll occasionally hear that someone in finance can learn more in two years than someone else can learn in four years in another field -- that's not necessarily because you work twice as many hours than they do (though that's partially true), but one of the nice things about the field is that it does provide you with a basic foundation for other careers, and it attracts a certain group of individuals who, for the most part, do think about what matters most to them in life.

    Just to clarify, I say what I'm saying not because I dislike finance, but rather because I'm not excited by it the way I used to. I thought that working at an investment bank or private equity firm would somehow transform my life. In some ways it did, in terms of the people I met, where I moved in my career, and just being challenged and stimulated every day.

    However, in other ways the job did not transform my life. Although I earn roughly double what I did during my first job out of undergrad, there are certain things that haven't changed about me. I don't do valet parking, I don't buy bottle service, I still purchase most if not all my groceries on sale, and I still go for the girls next door with good family values that money can't buy. So, why do I keep grinding out the 70 hour work weeks? Well, I don't know, but it won't be for much longer -- and that's my personal choice.

    As for what I'll be doing in the next few months, I guess I'll keep doing the finance thing...I still have to put food on the table. But mostly, I'm looking forward to traveling abroad for several months, volunteering in some third world countries, and heading off to business school. I'm not certain what I'll be doing after graduation -- hopefully it'll be strategy consulting or business development, but it could be private equity again -- who knows? But the way I see it, I've done my time and I want to find something I'm more passionate about. And that's when the real fun will begin!

    At the junior ranks, it's not necessary to be passionate about what you do; it's possible to get by just through grinding, because you don't have that much accountability and most of the time you're paid to just grind. But, in the long run, I genuinely believe it's essential to love what you do, or you'll constantly be spinning your wheels.

    Best of luck to you and keep asking the right questions -- your curiosity will help prepare you well for whatever career you choose to embark upon.

  • Mayor Quimby's picture

    Great post. I think he perfectly put into words the attitude and mindset that many in the finance world share.

  • superconnard's picture

    Most bankers do not read the economist cover to cover coz they dont have time for that. It's normal that you find the ibd world quite weird from the outside; but once you're in, you'll adapt to it and you'll stay on if you really are career focused. you dont need to be passionate abt deals etc to succeed as ib analyst

    "What we can, we must; and because we can, we must"

  • weeds499's picture

    Definitley do not need passion, but it certainly helps. I think a lot of the "passion" people have for IB burns out pretty quickly in the first few months. I know I'm burned out 7 months in.

    There are definitley kids who are very passionate about banking though, who literally enjoy getting horrendous turns, coming in early Sat morning, etc. Nothing wrong with that, while they might be annoying, you have to give them credit for really being passionate about this stuff.

  • isic's picture

    since you've already done a PWM internship, why not choose PWM? the money is good (definitely not for junior but once you are a RM), and I guess if you are more passionate about it as compared to IB, you'll go far..

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    You can do it for the money even if you hate the job (I did), but it's a slog, brother. Think long and hard before you commit to something you're not passionate about. Again, it can be done, and it opened up a wealth of opportunities down the line for me, but I can't say I'd recommend it.

  • MrDouche's picture

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