Is it possible to take uninterrupted vacations as a senior banker (VP+)?

Have heard that VPs/Directors tend to be on multiple deals at any given time. Due to seniors never being off a deal and the role they generally play in deals, how is it possible for them to take uninterrupted vacations? Can you get another VP/Director to plug into your role for, say, a week?

What about Managing Directors? I’d expect that since they source deals, planning vacations might be a lot easier. They could just not schedule any calls/meetings on a particular week and if you’re not executing a live deal, they should be home free (caveat that this would impact their bottom line since more calls/meetings -> more deals -> more fees). Are these assumptions wrong?

Would love to hear input from senior bankers. Would also appreciate if you’d specify:

  • American vs. Euro vs. Asian firm
  • Full Service vs. Boutique firm
  • Coverage vs. Product group

No, not possible to completely unplug. All of my MDs are taking calls to some extent on vacation from my experience at a BB.

I am a D in an EB... I find it impossible to take real holidays off. August / christimas might be the only time where it is possible although one of my client received a CIM on the 23rd of December with bids due mid-January and a Zombie deal had a bid due on the 31st... At the end, we managed to handle it without much work over the period but I couldn't switch off.

Otherwise, my boss takes 2-3 weeks off between January and July... but he is on calls and always active...

It is really not easy to take holidays, it just never stops...

Most Helpful

No regardless of firm, and honestly even in other industries/9-5 jobs an MD can't completely disappear for a week or two weeks without checking emails or taking calls. It comes with the territory of being senior - imagine you're a client trying to reach the team lead and it takes them two weeks to get back to you. A different VP/director is not going to be able to help a client they don't know, you can't pick up context and client knowledge in one week. Even analysts filling in for each other for a week is tough because of lack of context.

Not to say you're sitting on the laptop all day by any means, and it does take some time to figure out a balance, but should be prepared to check email once a day (maybe spending 30 min/day responding to emails) and join any important client calls (shouldn't be more than 2-3 a week that you have to join). Even as an MD, the calls are driven entirely by client schedules, not your own. 

I can only speak to my experience (which isn’t that of an MD) but I know of MDs who had good VPs under them that allowed them to get away for 2-3 weeks and, while they absolutely needed to keep their phone on them, they only really did 1-2 hours worth of work a day. There are some things that an MD just needs to deal with. They can’t totally disconnect. But I know of MDs that absolutely can take vacations and are able to be meaningfully “off the clock”

Can't fully unplug on a 1-2 week vacation but it isn't as bad as it sounds. I have no issues checking emails for 10 mins in the early AM and at night - you get used to it. I see most MDs carve out 1-2 hours every morning for important calls if needed while blocking off the rest of their day. Unless there is a massive fire drill that requires your immediate attention - you're really only "working" from your phone for max 1 hour in the morning.  

Fully unplugging as a senior in ANY large corporate is almost unheard of.  The CFO of Roku isn't taking a two week uninterrupted stretch where they do zero work.  The flipside to that is that there's much less volatility in general.  An analyst might be able to unplug for 5 days straight but the other 360 days, he/she is on call till past 12am (not saying you have to work until 1am every day but generally expected be responsive)

It is 100% possible to disconnect for a week, probably not 2 though. The problem with IB is the mentality of everything needs to be done right now for no reason, the false sense of urgency. Anyone who thinks they can't get away for a week has put these limits on themselves by either not having enough trust in their team and/or has an inflated ego and thinks they are more important than they actually are. My MD is able to get away and enjoy his vacations because he trusts my Director and I, my director is able to do the same because he trusts that I can handle everything when he is out, and my vacations consist of going off grid for a week where being connected isn't an option and my Director picks up the slack when I'm out.

Plenty of senior bankers are able to disconnect outside of maybe answering a handful of emails in the morning as some others have mentioned but it typically requires having a good team they can trust.

Lots of good stuff posted here already.

It depends on team setup and seniority:

As a VP:

  • probably the best level to switch off. Hopefully there is a half capable associate who can act like s grown up with D/MD and even client, and D/MD are decent enough to pick up a bit during your time off. If deal is active or bespoke work, expect to spend some time reviewing / commenting…
  • as a D / MD, the comments above apply. When your client calls you, he calls you, not the standard.

What will vary with the culture is the definition of urgency & willingness of the team to cope without you.

Frankly, if you’re still in the IB industry past the VP level, you’ve made your peace with it. It’s the same for the banker, for the PE principal or partner, for the corporate exec…

In a corporate, at these levels, it’s the same. I check emails, get on important calls which need my attention. Can be as hood or as bad as the time dictated.

I recently spent 2 hrs on a call at midnight a Friday to review a deal doc with C-level officer. He had a breakfast meeting the next morning, and was flying out afterwards.

Corporate execs are the same - if you’re managing a $1bn business, you’re never fully off. Your attention - approval can be needed anytime, and there isn’t always delegation of authority.

Does the same apply to MDs in S&T/senior traders in other roles like physical commodities?

No. Expectation is that you are on.

The tradeoff for fewer long nights and slightly better hours at the VP level and above (vs. associate) is that you are plugged in and on top of things and able to check work, answer remedial questions, respond to clients if needed, etc.

Although depending on projects you can get by responding to emails and just generally paying attention vs. strapping in and working 18 hours a day. Very deal and team dependent but uninterrupted vacations are unlikely.

That said, you can definitely find breaks throughout the day and let people know you might be less responsive than usual.

Honestly, I hate to say this, but if you love what you do (or appreciate how much you are getting paid) won't be able to switch off even on a vacation. You would be caring too much about what is going on, because you are an extremely accountable person and you don't want to fuck up.

It's a sad reality. Maybe I'm a workaholic, but I really can't completely take my mind off work completely. That being said, it's also because I absolutely love my career and what I do, so work is almost an addiction. It's almost like stress is a comfort zone. I suspect most deal junkies are like that.

The flipside though is that I do make my friends and family unhappy sometimes for not being able to unplug fully ever. And, it does take a toll on my mental and physical health. It's certainly not healthy.

You choose your poison. I AM trying to do better though. It requires creating habits and setting certain boundaries. That being said, I don't think it's ever realistic to be "completely" unplugged if you are going on a one-week to two-week long trip. Maybe for a weekend trip, but I can't imagine being in the deal business and being off for 2 weeks. Literally impossible if you are on a live deal.

If you worry about whether you can fully unplug ever at VP or above positions, there are both positives and negatives. Good: you love yourself very much and you prioritize your mental health and other aspects in life. Bad: you don't love or care enough about your job. Not saying you don't care, but just not enough relative to the psychos that make it to the top in this industry. Finance hardos would probably say you are soft. You can never win, really.

To make it clear though, there is no right or wrong. It's perfectly and absolutely usual to want to fully unplug fully on a vacation. Our industry is just cut-throat and not normal/healthy. Making money and succeeding come with sacrifices.

Magnam perspiciatis suscipit adipisci officiis dolorem dicta impedit. Libero quia rem aut dolor.

Minus dicta molestias dolorum fugit. Iusto et itaque dolores hic velit laboriosam. Cupiditate est repellendus omnis earum quia cum. Quis veniam est odit recusandae aliquam eaque ipsum. Quia voluptatem quo cumque debitis voluptas explicabo architecto. Quam blanditiis iure totam ut autem voluptas sunt quia.

Voluptates nobis ipsam eum nemo ab inventore. Aut non ex aspernatur est adipisci laudantium officia. Ut dolores quia eveniet molestiae et reprehenderit.

Quis tempore veniam est vero pariatur voluptatem. Nisi veritatis aut distinctio recusandae. Eum quod aspernatur velit reiciendis voluptatem vitae reprehenderit quibusdam.

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres (++) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (==) 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • William Blair 12 98.2%
  • Financial Technology Partners 02 97.8%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • William Blair 04 99.6%
  • Lincoln International 11 99.1%
  • Canaccord Genuity 18 98.7%
  • Jefferies & Company 07 98.2%
  • Stephens Inc 11 97.8%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International 01 99.6%
  • Lazard Freres 17 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • Financial Technology Partners 06 98.2%
  • UBS AG 15 97.8%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (33) $392
  • Associates (160) $261
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $187
  • 2nd Year Analyst (101) $169
  • 1st Year Analyst (309) $167
  • Intern/Summer Associate (48) $167
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (225) $94
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”

From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”