Horrible Boss or is this Wall St?

Hello Everyone, I'll keep this short and sweet.

I took an ER job out of school (after running my own little ER biz). Working on Wall St is great, I'm learning a ton, I put in the hours and I'm on the front lines. Outside of continually getting up to speed, I passed my Series 7/63 within two months of joining.

My problem is with my boss. I'll keep this to two bullet points so you get the point:

  • Expects 5-10 years experience and doesn't realize I've been there for 4 months. Aka, expects me to spot things only he would, you get the point when modeling.

  • Is unhelpful. Instead of saying "hey this is wrong, this is what makes sense" in 1 minute, he will call screaming at 9pm for two hours. "you should come to me if you don't know something" is his go to, but how do you know what you don't know.

I love investing. I've been a relentless startup investor for years through HS and College with my own money and have done well. I enjoy visiting these companies (weeding through the 99.9% which are garbage, companies under $50M) and finding the best ones.

Long story short, I'm thinking about leaving to take a "normal" finance job or even work at a startup per say. This way I can breath and do what I love (startup investing) on the side.

Look lets be honest, If I wasnt doing the job I would have been fired a month in, at the latest. Also my boss is a seasoned vet which is why I dont understand why he would expect what he does (and no Im not messing around, I work 16 hours a day through earnings. Maybe not as much as you guys but you get my point).

As a middle ground I thought of approaching him and having an honest conversation about where I am, but I doubt that would go over well. Granted I took a job, no training, and am still here/getting up to speed 4 months in.

It would be hard to leave and see my friends make a ton of money, but lets be honest you can make a ton of money if you're good at your gig (my neighbor owns a few gas stations and is loaded). Over simplified here, but just the idea. At 23, I dont want to blow a good opportunity either.

Thanks for the honest advice.

Comments (71)

Feb 20, 2017 - 11:35am

I don't know a lot about working in ER, but I know that working with a boss like this is a pain in the ass. Is he the person that hired you?

And don't try to 'have a talk with him'. You can only do better and talk it up to make sure he notices it, or just leave. I would advise just staying calm and apologizing a lot. Tell him he's right and all that jazz

Feb 20, 2017 - 11:52am

Yea hes the one who hired me. Been on the ST for 30 years, knew I was coming out of school etc.

Worth staying? Would it be hard to find another spot in ER or a startup etc?

Granted I guess its better to have this on my CV than not...

Thx for your time.

Feb 20, 2017 - 1:12pm

Are you in an esoteric industry like semiconductors or telecom, or something easy to understand like retail or grocery? May explain some of your problems.

Feb 20, 2017 - 1:16pm

The former.

No training, was told to understand the 1000 row models, which I have been doing (went through earnings season). But if there is one thing wrong, its my fault.

Understood, but I hold my own but if one thing is off its war...

Hope that adds some color

Feb 20, 2017 - 1:18pm

It sounds like you are at a smaller shop correct? Maybe less training resources could also help explain your situation.

Do you have a more experienced associate you could try to learn from?

Feb 20, 2017 - 1:25pm

Had a similar boss during the Army. Those of you who know who I am also know who I'm talking about, and know that I am not bullshitting in the least when I say this guy was even more toxic than yours.

Unfortunately there isn't much you can do. Stay in CYA mode while looking for someone you click with better.

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Feb 20, 2017 - 2:18pm

It doesn't sound like it's a good boss, bad boss situation...sounds like a experience mismatch situation. He wants someone with more experience and is frustrated that you don't have it (yet)

I would suggest looking for something new and in the meantime try to ask as many questions as possible, don't assume anything, and don't repeat the same mistakes twice (ie take good notes when he's screaming)

On the plus side you will probably learn a ton more in this situation than you would in many others, it will just continue to be painful until you reach a certain threshold of understanding

Feb 20, 2017 - 2:30pm

Don't be a dick for a tick -

It takes two years to make it through banking in most roles...
It's really hard to put up with shit, I know I was there and most other people in this industry were there. Keep your head down, work hard and once you get your first promotion you are free to leave (it shows to people that you survived and are worth your salt).

Good luck - you'll feel like quitting a million time just don't.

Feb 20, 2017 - 3:50pm

I think in ER given that you spend all your time working for this one MD its better to just be totally open and have a conversation about it. If it goes poorly you can start looking. People can change but you have to let them know that they're acting irrationally. Even if it seems totally obvious to you some of these guys are so used to having a deep experienced team that they forget how to work with new people. Just my two cents.

Feb 20, 2017 - 4:42pm

Agreed. OP is stuck with the MD, and I absolutely wouldn't recommend taking a normal job just so that they can do their hobby on the side. OP should talk (calmly) to the MD, while also networking within the firm and elsewhere. For what it's worth, it takes longer than 4 months to figure out what you need to improve at.

"There's nothing you can do if you're too scared to try." - Nickel Creek
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Feb 20, 2017 - 6:01pm


Is it worth the conversation, though? I feel there's no way to spin it as '"hey do you realize I've been here 3 months and Im working my ass off".

I feel it would make it seem like im quitting - not sure if a candid conversation would help.

Granted boss is Black and White so maybe it would work...

Feb 20, 2017 - 5:49pm

It's not just you, nothing personal. Pretty much every associate / VP / staffer / MD I ever had above me in banking and PE was like this at one point or another, some better some worse. It is, unfortunately, it's just the way things go "on the street" as you say.

You can certainly bail if you're convicted this type of work environment isn't for you. However, there's something to be said for your long term career development by sticking-it-out through your 2 year program and rising to the challenge of finding a way to please your boss. Just my 2 cents.

Ace all your PE interview questions with the WSO Private Equity Prep Pack: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/private-equity-interview-prep-questions
  • 4
Feb 20, 2017 - 6:24pm

All the new guys bitch about their bosses. They'll understand when they have to review crap from shit nosed analysts/associates.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Feb 20, 2017 - 6:44pm

Grow a pair and stick it out. After a while you stop taking things personally and then the chirps become meaningless.

I'd rather spend my early years with a 30-year industry vet that's an asshole, than a nice guy that doesn't have much to teach me.

EDIT-Building character is good for just being out of school too.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
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Best Response
Feb 20, 2017 - 8:04pm

OP, I definitely sympathize with your situation as I have had my fair share of terrible bosses. It absolutely sucks and you dread waking up in the morning and taking a beating day in and day out. This MD may be your first A-hole boss and it definitely won't be your last. If you are looking for a constant slap on the back high five for a job well done Wall St isn't going to be the place for you. Granted there are many great mentors/managers in our industry but there are also an inordinate amount of pompous ass clowns that expect the world when your ability can only deliver so much. So before you decide anything, just realize that finance and the business world in general are full of terrible people managers.

When looking at my career and at a path where I am deciding on leaving on staying at a role, I have always had a two prong approach. 1) am I still learning and being challenge on my job? If it has become monotonous, 2nd nature, and I'm just a robot that does the same shit day in and day out it's time go. With only 4 months into ER i highly doubt you are at this stage. 2) Am I happy with the people I work with, is there a camaraderie and will my colleagues and manager go to bat for me come comp time, are they looking out for my best interest and career growth. Often times I would find myself happy in 1 but miserable in 2 and vice versa and what I do is I make my decision based upon balance these two things.

It seems like you are uber happy with 1, i.e. you love the technical aspect of ER, analyzing companies ect ect but with 2, your boss sucks a bag a dicks daily with the temperance of a 2 year old. So instead of leaving the industry and settling for support finance role stick it out for another 8 months to get a year under your belt. Most firms won't let you do an internal transfer until you've been at a role for a year and most external opps won't look at you after 4 months on a job as you'll be seen as flight risk who is an unhappy millennial that thinks a job is all cotton candy caramel apples. like I recommended, stick it out for 8 months, continue doing what you do and learning as much as you can and trying everything you can to make your MD's life as easy as possible but eventually it'll make your life easier if he isn't screaming at you. The support finance role will make you want to scratch your eyes out and I guarantee you'll be miserable in 4 months and then you'll be in looking for your 3rd job in under a year.

I'm not sure what it is but kids these days when the first thing they do when they get hit with a little adversity is to quit move on to something else, even though what they are doing is there life's passion. If it's your passion, suck it up, find the silver linings of a role, nothing is permanent in life and when a new opportunity presents it self, take the proverbial bull by the fucking horns and grip and rip it.

Talk to your manager mano y mano if you think it will help or at least make your life a little bit less miserable for the remaining 8 months but if the dude has been the ER industry for 30 years and is a rock start analyst, he aint changing his ways.

A mentor once told me that finding the perfect career is a life time of trial and error and anyone that expects to find the perfect career on their first job is either ultra lucky or has no ambition.

Feb 20, 2017 - 10:10pm

I'm in a strangely similar situation, in an esoteric industry with an experienced analyst who doesn't seem to understand that I'm fresh out of school. Luckily, even though he is a pretty bad manager, he's a nice guy (which seems better than your situation). Im sure most if not all his old associates were straight out of school so his expectations don't seem to make any sense.

I plan on having an early review-type conversation with him just to make sure I'm not shitting the bed, as he is very hard to read as far as how my overall performance is. Very humbling job that's for sure.

Feb 20, 2017 - 11:37pm

Been there and done that. My first job (associate analyst) in investment banking was in ER as well. I was covering 13 stocks at one time and my MD - the research analyst would yell at me every 5 minute over the phone. He did almost 10 years at DB and CS but was covering slightly different sector than what we were doing at this time. So I get what you mean.

A few things that I would suggest:

  • Look deep into yourself that what your boss yelling at you is legit > like you really suck > or was he trying to put you down? This will happen throughout your career and you will need to take a good handle on this.

  • If you suck > make a list of things that you need to learn from the job > i.e. 1) having a good corporate access to the companies that you are covering, 2) having the right group of investors that will invest in the stocks that you cover > in the end, that is exactly what your boss is paid to do > if you can't do that > you shouldn't complain much

  • if you were doing all the above > and your boss is still bitching at you > learn as much as you can and leave > the easiest exit is to move to another shop covering the same sectors

let me know if you have any specific questions.

Feb 21, 2017 - 7:44am

I work in strategic finance and it's the same situation. Been here 4 weeks and I've had to put together two 20 page decks with 5 mins of training. You're just expected to know everything in sink or swim environments

Feb 21, 2017 - 8:50am

I work in strategic finance and it's the same situation. Been here 4 weeks and I've had to put together two 20 page decks with 5 mins of training. You're just expected to know everything in sink or swim environments

To be honest, that's a pretty decent environment (ex the unnecessary shouting / lack of reason) when you compare it to being at a place where everything is over the top prescriptive. At least you learn something by giving it your best stab.

Feb 21, 2017 - 12:01pm

Very similar experience here. Enjoyed investing and the asset class focus of our research when I came out of undergrad but boss was very negative and would always lay blame at my feet for errors. Worked at a smaller boutique with just one senior as well. Came in green with a seasoned vet too. Fast forward four years of "taking it", I will say my background in finance is much stronger. Also, as you get more seasoned, the errors get minimized and if you actually make a mistake, it's easier to rationalize errors with a rational "judgement call" so hostile conversations with boss end. That being said, I have adopted a much more cynical, negative attitude on life and have almost completely lost interest in investing. Transitioning to an operating company when I complete B-school. As other commentators have said, if I could have gone back, I would have expressed my concerns in a rational, prepared dialogue. I also would agree that staying about a year will give you the benefit of skills without incurring some of the downsides. I would, however, avoid inertia and staying in the job (without addressing your concerns) at all cost.

Feb 23, 2017 - 9:03am

I have not taken the time to read everybody's response because the answer to this can be summarized in a few sentences.

This is not 'Wall Street' as a whole - this is the reality of life and your experience can be applied to any line of work. You can be an mechanic who just started, but your supervisor asks, "why the hell do you not know this yet?!?" Worse yet, you could be a nurse/doctor/etc and somebody really means, "why the hell do you not know this yet? Somebodies life is on the line"

No matter what - each boss you have will treat you different - whether good or bad. You cannot apply your one experience to an entire industry.

Feb 23, 2017 - 10:21am

grind it out. if he's still a dick after a full 1-2 years and you know you've made measurable progress, look for an exit.

Feb 23, 2017 - 2:43pm

Like shit and strawberry shortcake, Randy.

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Feb 23, 2017 - 11:26am

Feel like hes starting to invest in your development. Every added day you are there, the less chance you have of being fired and the more value you are to them/bigger hassle it would be to replace you. Think about as if every day you are there, it's one more point to you and one less poiont for your boss, in this game of work political leverage.

We're not lawyers. We're investment bankers. We didn't go to Harvard. We Went to Wharton!
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Feb 23, 2017 - 12:06pm
As a middle ground I thought of approaching him and having an honest conversation about where I am, but I doubt that would go over well. Granted I took a job, no training, and am still here/getting up to speed 4 months in.

this stands out to me badly. if this has been your situation, you should have already had this honest conversation with him. go out of your way to communicate with him, get him to sit down with you for 30 mins of his time and talk with him. seems like a communication issue, remember, you are both humans....

if this is your passion, don't give up.

can't you still do stuff on the side on your own while you are there as well? you haven't even been there 6 months gotta go out of your way to try and make it work for at least a yr.

also, understand that a lot of kids want the job you have, so be grateful for the opportunity and try to make the best of it

twitter: @StoicTrader1 instagram: @StoicTrader1
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Feb 23, 2017 - 5:50pm

Avoid doing anything rash - make sure you talk to a lot of people before you make any kind of move (including ultimately your boss if you need to) - and it would really be preferable to have something lined up. To date I have only heard of one example of a person leaving that soon after joining - 6 years on - the story is still playing out - so I still can't tell you whether its a good or bad choice.

Feb 23, 2017 - 10:45pm

Taking a lesser job to pursue your investing passion as a hobby on the side sounds stupid to me because you will be giving any opportunity of investing professionally down the road.

ER is an intense learning curve, you are working for literally a top expert in the world for your sector. Stay in ER, suck it up, continue learning, and transition after a year or two.

A career is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't shoot yourself in the foot out of the starting gate.

Feb 24, 2017 - 5:06pm

Gonna offer an opinion that I think is unlike the others.

Recognize that some people are just bad people managers. They're bad at understanding their own emotions, they're bad at conveying the message in a way that demonstrates social IQ. They get the message across, but they do so with a lot of "noise" too--their bullshit emotional problems ("I'm mad").

Just put your head down and work. Even people who are unfair in the way they make accusations are rational. At the end of day, MD probably knows he can't get better talent than you, if you've been truthful about your abilities. He may yell and scream, but at the end of the day he's not firing you over this shit, because the alternative is even more painful for him. You just have to get a thick skin and deal with his emotional bullshit because he can't himself. That's part of the struggle of being a junior in white collar professions.

This is business. The ability to respond to difficult personalities with charity and calmness is actually one of the greatest skills a businessman can cultivate--it will make you more of an asset to your boss. I have tamed historically asshole bosses by keeping this attitude.

Just don't lose control of your own cool, and when he flips out, keep it objective oriented: "I'm sorry", "what can I do next time", "how do we move forward from here".


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Feb 26, 2017 - 10:14pm

Analyst I worked under in FI research somewhat reminds of the above description.

Sounds like a mediocre analyst who is insecure about the fact that you are ahead of him than he was at his age, and may get poached by the buy side.

Just try and switch to another ER job.

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Feb 27, 2017 - 1:26am

Unfortunately a situation like that is not uncommon at all. The sell side is in a tough spot right now, and your boss has his own incentives. Namely he needs to put out the best product possible to compete with the 20 other places doing the same work, and justify his position. As such he will expect maximum performance from you from the start. It can be a shock at first but my advice is definitely dig deep and stick with it. Firstly as i say it is not uncommon unfortunately. Secondly the learning curve will be very steep and after a year you will feel comfortable with what he expects from you. After 2 years or so you will be able to try and apply that experience elsewhere.

Out of interest, can you elaborate on your "own little ER business"? Am intrigued - were people actually paying you for research despite you having no experience in the industry...?

Feb 27, 2017 - 11:01am

Sorry to hear this, sadly it's some of both (your boss is absolutely an idiot and this happens a fair amount on WS). In another life I was a Senior ER analyst with clout and dealt with a bumbling moron that was head of research for a few years. My situation was much different than yours BC I had enough support and experience to push back. He eventually left for some bucket shop which is where he belonged. Sometimes you get lucky and these types of guys leave but I recognize that is not helpful to you at this juncture.

Very early in my career, and not on WS but a much more professional, intellectual environment, I had an absolute jerk of a boss. I hated it and almost abandoned a very focused career I had worked my life to practice. I sought out other mentors in the space and learned what I could from them, I built relationships that helped me beyond my current role. I'm glad I didn't give up right away, bc in under two years I switched to another rotation and met one of my mentors that i still keep in touch with today. If you can tough it out for 1 year - do it and see about chasing other options.

I know this all sounds daunting at this point - here I am over a decade in and I can say with experience and seniority it does get better and you will appreciate and better vet your next work environments to try and avoid this.

Jan 29, 2018 - 10:43pm

I had a bad boss for a while.. I took her shit for 1.5 years thinking that I was earning the respect of other people at my firm for sticking it out when her previous two associates quit on her. The director eventually came to me and said they appreciate the work I've done and that they want to give me an option to switch to a diff group or stay... I graciously took the opportunity to switch groups and was laid off two weeks later.

No good comes from sticking it out under a bad boss.

Jan 30, 2018 - 1:30am

I had a bad boss for a while.. I took her shit for 1.5 years thinking that I was earning the respect of other people at my firm for sticking it out when her previous two associates quit on her. The director eventually came to me and said they appreciate the work I've done and that they want to give me an option to switch to a diff group or stay... I graciously took the opportunity to switch groups and was laid off two weeks later.

No good comes from sticking it out under a bad boss.

This is an unexpected story. What do you think happened? My only guess is that the offer to switch groups was a loyalty test, and the way to pass was to stay put

Jan 30, 2018 - 11:07pm

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