To the Analysts thinking of Quitting: Here's The Survival Guide

Throwing this lifeline to be seen as a resource since I see an exponential rise of the "thinking about quitting" posts.

The Rationale:

One thing you definitely don't learn from your SA stint is longevity. 10 weeks is not enough to test your stamina and find out how the skis fit. You've spent 4 years in college circulating your schedule around free time. Hanging out, dates, dinners, going out: you build your time around what you want to do and when. The interruptions are classes, studying for tests, and other school related activities. In short, the main timeline is about you chilling out and the stuff you show up to is the important nuisance.

Suddenly you're out in the workforce doing banking and that model gets flipped on its head: the thing you sometimes thought about is now the main timeline and your chill time (and serious lack of it) is the "nuisance" in the timeline. You went from having to interrupt your chill time with school/work-related items to having to interrupt your work for chill time. This later interruption is known as a weekend.

It started at a slow boil, but somewhere around the 5-6 month mark you've had a serious break in your interest in this job or an ability to handle it with no chips in the paint. This is commonly known as the 6 month wall. Unfortunately, it doesn't come served on a fleece Patagonia, and it certainly doesn't come in an email. It comes like an 18 wheeler. You have thoughts about your hours, what you want in life, who you are going to eat shit from, and who you want to be. If you're lucky, your team told you about this or you connected with a junior who did. It's the reason why we all tell the interns who get return offers to go back to school and enjoy every minute of senior year. After your senior year, you will never seem to have the time to do that things you want to do ever again. Most analysts go through this in some form or another.

The Fix:

This summer we had an intern who was way out of their depth, and this clearly was not for them. One of our MDs (who is one of the best guys I've met in this business) gave our intern the best analogy I've heard to date about this. They verbatim said to the intern "banking is like your girlfriend telling you she wants to spice it up. When she first says it at dinner, it sounds like your life is about to change forever, but when the gloves and the latex come out, you realize there's no going back".

Right now you're at the turning point when there's a lifeboat in sight. However, that's not a real fix. Here's the fix:

Understand you and every vested 1st year is going through this.

The first thing you establish is a routine that's your own. Every Friday night you go for the large poke bowl with that extra unagi sauce you like at that place around the corner with a cold stella. That's your time. Tell your GF/BF that every Saturday you're going to do something weekly and stick to it no matter what it is. Maybe go for a 30 minute run 2-3x a week. That's your time when the headphones go in. Do not break from this 1 thing. Do it religiously and don't let anyone violate it.

Lean on friends and family.

Seriously, get your friends on the phone and pull it together. A drink every two weeks with your close friends to vent and have a laugh pulls you a little closer back to the median. Don't pigeonhole away from them.

Make it a game.

Right now you're in a two front war. You're fighting to be a good analyst and you've just decided to attack your own mind. Like banking, this war is all about inches. One more day. One more week. One more month. Set benchmarks and small victories to win. Gain that territory back. This is the hardest part because you're in the literal trenches for hours on end, but how you look at that time is solely up to you. You can hate it or look at it with the war paint on, either way it's only 3:15pm. I'm not telling you to be a hardo. Instead, acknowledge pain and pleasure come from the same neural region in the brain and you can literally rewire your brain.

Don't believe me? Next time you stub your toe or get a paper cut, instead of saying ow and swearing, double down and tell yourself this is good. That you like the pain. I learned this in some BS psych class in college and I was genuinely floored at the difference it makes. David Goggins also wrote a whole book about this exact idea. Make this a game you can have small victories in and one where you change your outlook

Meditate 10 minutes a night.

But don't just think about nothing. Think about the kind of life you want (what car you have, where you live, who you live with, and how you live). Now think about what kind of money you will need to do that. Banking is the avenue for that lifestyle no matter what kind it is. You want to buy a small farm in Idaho? Stay until you're a VP3 and you got it. Nantucket dreams? Strap in buddy. Remember that by leaving so early on, you are sacrificing dreams, comp, and a life you haven't even thought about.

In closing, yes it's hard. No it's not going to be fun. Nothing worth having is. You won't wake up tomorrow with an affinity for this job if you already lost it and are on the outs mentally. However, you can contain it and learn to live with it. Don't believe me? Look at the covid cases right now in China vs the United States. China went for total elimination. The US said we'll live with it (more or less). Who is better off right now? It's the identical principal. The callouses of today will make your stronger. Best of luck.

Comments (31)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
2mo 

Thanks for this. Good motivation. The Goggins book I've read and it really does change you. 

  • 3
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
2mo 

Needed this. Thank u

  • 4
  • Analyst 1 in AM - FI
2mo 

Not in IB, but still very applicable to me. Needed to hear this - can really attest to the "make it a game" logic. Has always worked well!

  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
1mo 

Moving to NY is tough when very few people from my non-target are in this city. Also tough to meet people when you're working all the time.

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in ER
1mo 

Great survival guide for the analyst years but after seeing my MD and VP's lifestyles, it seems naive to think your life gets much better than alternatives.

Last time I checked, seniors have just as little autonomy over their lives as their 1st year analysts. Instead of living in PowerPoint and excel, they're constantly on the road, wired to their blackberry mobile checking for incessant emails from clients, worrying each night about deal flow and their EoY bonus to support their lifestyle creep. Sure, they have bigger wallets than us but not enough to afford them true financial independence or even an uninterrupted 2 week vacation in "Nantucket" - let alone 12 hours.

As far as NYC goes, the cost of living completely erodes any idea of "true wealth". With entry-level 3 bedroom apartments north of $2.5mm and tax brackets pegged at 50%, the mental gymnastics needed to support those grueling work weeks are quite high.

Yes on paper the money is great, but not so much on a relative basis. A fraction of your comp made in any other city would be enough to afford a relatively similar lifestyle AND actually have time in your day to appreciate the one life you have. 
 

Eventually, you are going to reach a threshold where you are quite literally getting paid to not experience your life - yet not paid well enough to just hang up the cleats "after you make VP/MD…" because NYC requires generational / international wealth for that.

For these reasons, the appeal of working that high six figure job in IB is only good for (1) paying off student debt / learning about finance at the start of your career, (2) gaining work experience to land a more sustainable job, or (3) allowing you to be a comfortable (yet not financially independent) NYC resident long-term

Overall though I agree this is a great post and helpful for all analysts looking to get by their 2 year stints before they take the redpill and get out of this carrot-dangling rat race of a profession.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
1mo 

Where in this post did OP mention anything about MD lifestyle? I don't think any MD would argue with you that both their life and comp were better than an analyst. Certainly not saying it's just sitting at a desk barking out orders and heading home at 4:45 but it's also not being expected to leave at 12 and be on call at 2:30. 


Where did OP mention NY? For 2.5mm you can score a sweet loft in SOHO, where are you looking brother? 

Why is your response a subconscious explanation to yourself that you secretly hate equity research? You explained how bad banking is bottom up yet touch on nothing positive about it. 

  • Associate 1 in ER
1mo 

Check out this new listing I found on StreetEasy https://streeteasy.com/sale/1633704?utm_campaign=sale_listing&utm_medium=app_share&utm_source=ios&utm_term=db431bd67baa45e

3 bedroom 1500 sqft condo in SOHO: $3 million. And this is standard.

NYC is the default for IB and finance… just painting a more vivid picture of how expensive everything is and how you're high comp doesn't necessarily afford you as much as you'd typically think.

Next time, go ahead and ask your seniors where they live and then Google the apartment, complex, whatever. It's not hard to find out this info.

1mo 
monkemode, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Completely based and 100% correct. Struggling to justify sticking around for more than 1 year now in T2 Consulting. Its been 6 months and this job consumes my life. I already completely stopped being proactive so I don't get handed extra work, but I still do all my tasks when asked, even at midnight just to keep my job. So messed up. I need a stable job with humane hours.

It seems as though even the most self-aware coworkers are still sippin that kool aid and don't acknowledge the long hours.

  • NA in IB-M&A
1mo 

This is very helpful for people who want to grin and bear it, but please people, do not let this job ruin you. I have found that there is nothing more important than maintaining your mental and physical health. If you are about to reach a break point, talk to your staffer and seek help. A few days of no sleep + high stress can cause you to make some poor decisions...

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
1mo 

Delete

  • 1
  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
1mo 
 this war is all about inches. One more day. One more week. One more month. Set benchmarks and small victories to win. Gain that territory back. This is the hardest part because you're in the literal trenches for hours on end, but how you look at that time is solely up to you. You can hate it or look at it with the war paint on, either way it's only 3:15pm.

Excellent advice for life in general.  

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
1mo 

What do I do if I just suck and have zero motivation to not suck? Keep sucking?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
1mo 

Bump

1mo 
illinois122, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Another key ingredient...carve out at least an hour of physical activity at least 5-6 days a week. Whether this be a walk, some time on the treadmill, whatever. Don't let this job ruin your physical health. Anyone tries to give you pushback? When Barack Obama was in office he was able to set aside at least 45 minutes to work out, 6 days a week. If he was able to run the United States of America and still find time for that, I guarantee whatever deliverable some miserable VP is hounding you about can't be that important...

  • 4
  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
1mo 

Completely agree and believe this applies at any level. Make the time for some exercise and light weight lifting to stay healthy. Also try to eat as healthy as you can without depriving yourself. If you're working a lot but in good shape, you'll be A LOT happier than if you're working a lot and have gained 20 lbs…

1mo 
Goya Beans, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I just finished a stretch where I've been working non-stop for a month and through the thanksgiving holidays, so this post is coming at a funny time. Even though I have plans lined up next summer, and I'm technically "on my way out", I can't say I didn't have the occasional "I should just fucking quit" here and there.

Something that has been helpful for me is to, in the good times (be that when I'm having a good night with friends or being with family), think about the last time I was on the ledge (when I want to quit or think that the shitty project that I'm on will never end) and how irrational it all was. I've found that it's always the expectation and anticipation of future "bad times" that kill my mental, but if I just stay in the moment and take the job (the good and the bad) as it comes, it's liveable.

On a sidenote, I don't want to turn anyone off from pursuing a career in banking or whatever, but don't let these coping mechanisms mind control you into thinking that this is as good as it's going to get, and they should suck it up because the grass is never greener elsewhere. Be that having toxic managers or unrealistic work expectations, stay grounded on the fact that a lot of this industry is built on a cycle of abuse and material therapy– see this job clearly for what it is, get your ducks in a row, get the fuck out.

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

  • 7
1mo 
BoutiqueAsc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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