WARNING : Do NOT enter IB (coming from a VP at a BB)

For the past 7 years, I have been working in M&A at a BB and can tell you this; it is never going to get better, not even senior banking. When I entered the industry as an analyst in 2013 many of the MDs and Directors were leaving the firm to go work at a young and growing fintech firm. This was undoubtedly the right decision since most of them are now clearing 500k, are working half the hours, and have an actual life(something no one in IB has).

Your life is going to suck

Back then, I thought that once I get to VP, the hours will get better and the pay will be better than any other industry, I couldn’t have been any more wrong. Most people will not get past the director, and everyone who is a director and below regularly works 80 hours a week. Even my MD was clocking in 80 hours a week, 30% of the time. When you are working this type of hours, you are not going to have a life outside of the office, and combined with the extremely high-stress nature of the job, your life is going to suck. Half of my coworkers are depressed and the others aren’t doing too much better.
Most people enter IB thinking that they are going to be making more money than they can anywhere else. This is what I thought too, but was dead wrong. A lot of my friends who entered tech after college are all making 400k-800k and are working 40 hours a week in a fun, low-stress environment where they are actually making things that matter. This is better than IB in every way.

The HF route is a great alternative

If you have a strong passion for the markets, then going down the HF route is a great alternative as well since you are having fun and making more money than IB. Young companies that are rapidly growing are a great choice too because you enter with a relatively low salary (100k-200k) but this comes with work that is actually interesting and very low hours. If you are able to choose the right firm then picking up that job can even eventually become a 5M check. Just keep in mind that you probably will not make that much money but as the industry is growing, the 200k salaries will grow as well. I am going to be starting a job at a growing fintech firm that specializes in asset management (has grown rapidly over the past few years and has a couple of hundred employees) this year as a machine learning engineer where I will be working half the hours and being paid around 200k with the chance(its a slim chance) of making potentially much more.

If for some crazy reason you do enter IB...

For anyone trying to enter IB or currently in a junior position, I strongly recommend that you do not join IB since you will not have a life and there are much better options where you will be making just as much(if not more) money while working half the hours in a low-stress environment. If you are still in college then there is still hope for you to be able to break into big tech and get a high-paying job with amazing WLB. If for some crazy reason you do enter IB, then just know that you are making the worst decision of your life, because that is what it turned out to be for all my coworkers and me. Don’t fall into the false reality that “senior banking is not that bad” or “PE is better” because both of these are nothing more than myths.


Did all your friends become software engineers? Or are some in other roles in tech? I’d love to join a startup/tech direct out of college but I don’t know how without being a SWE


Software engineering is definitely the most common path in tech but far from the only one. Many people become data scientists or machine learning engineers which also are high paying. If you are a finance major right now in college than I suggest you pick up as many coding related classes as you can, if you are able to become a great programmer and demonstrate your skills in a project, then it should not be too hard for you to get a seat at a startup.


I'm currently a CS and finance double major, but my internships lean heavy finance as of now. My plan was to go into IB and exit into VC / corp dev / startup after 2 years. Is this still a dumb idea, or will I be able to have a life doing that?

Basically, I'm willing to kill myself in banking for 2 years, but no more than that.


Business development and tech sales are good roles in tech. If you can join a pre-IPO company even better because your equity will multiply greatly over the years if the startup is successful. Browse crunchbase for a company in an industry/region you're interested in and for the love of God be passionate about the startup and what it's building or you'll hate it from the start. I'm at a seed funded company and the comp is pretty bad rn relative to IB but hopefully the equity will be great. I work an average of 35-45 hours weekly and have unlimited PTO with a 2 week notice. Most weeks I work around 35 unless we're doing something with our west coast peeps where I need to stay online until 6-7pm EST but even then I'll go workout or eat dinner after 5 so it's not "active working" just being on standby with my phone on the ready to DocuSign something or forward it to the right person.


Who told you that false information? The good fintech startups all pay you enough to be able to live comfortably and usually once the company starts gaining some traction you are going to be clearing 400k in no time. I know one guy who was in analyst with me quit to go work at a fintech startup  and last year when his firm was sold to a bank he pocketed 7M. His scenario was not rare at all and is actually quite common.


Yea sure. "The good fintech startups" Let's go professional like how all bankers do right. What % is that? How was earnings lately? Oh loss? Oh...........so why? How is that going to work? "gaining some traction". Define the traction. At what point of the "traction" ya think u gonna fly? And wow, 400k in no time wow. Your friend, had the right contacts at time of his leaving. He probably was planning for it 3-5 years. Connected with that startup founder who also want to exit. Connected both dots, got into the game just to make it happen. As you can see, his investment in connection paid off. N no its not learnt through coding and unfortunately no, not all startups are unicorns. Mostly go bust and are nothing but attention whores. Let's be real, right. Its important to stay grounded and not mislead the hopefuls who frequent the forum.


It really has not. Maybe on the retail front but B2B financial technology companies that are automating antiquated back end processes are doing great and generating sizable cash flow


key word: 'potentially' making much more. you are underestimating the potential for the company to not be successful. nobody is getting a big time salary for a low stress job at no risk. a startup might pay below market comp with the promise of comp bumps in the future once the company starts gaining some traction. that all sounds good but what happens if the company doesn't gain any traction, what happens if the company blows up. for every one of your buddy above who gets a $7 MM payday, there are probably many who get no substantial payday. I think that it is overly optimistic to say that your slow salary can easily turn into a $5 MM check. some might say that these kinds of promises of future success are a way to get suckers to agree to below market comp, and that falling for 'senior banking is not that bad' is just like falling for 'you will easily get a big payday at some point in the future by joining a startup'.


You are right on the money when you say that few startups will pay you the big bucks, but after a few years of experience most of the guys who arent absolute dogshit are making between 200k-350k which is pretty damn good for working in 35-40 hours a week. You said that there isnt any low-stress low-hour jobs out there that are high pay, but this is completely wrong. Software engineers in big tech are making 500k-1MM in a low stress, fun environment while working 40 hour work weeks. Also, there are way more SWE jobs out there than investment banking roles making it easier to break into as well.


Do you really think SWE just sit around the office and having fun all day while making 500k-1MM. No company (idc if it’s Apple, Amazon whatever) will pay anyone $500k-$1MM without getting that level of work out of them. I know friends who think wow IB people get paid $100k for editing PowerPoint I wish!! That’s the perception for everything when you’re on the outside. Once inside it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.

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This is honestly some pretty irresponsible advice you're giving to (mostly) impressionable college kids and analysts. When I read your post my takeaway is that you're a 29 year old who has held exactly 1 job in your adult like and you're burned out on it. There is nothing wrong with that, but as someone who bounced around a decent amount in my 20s, it sounds like you have a pretty clear case of "the grass is always greener" mentality. 

For every person who gets in early at a start up and cashes out 7mm after a few years, there are hundreds or thousands that bounce around from startup to startup that fail or are constantly scrapping along. There is a lot more firm risk with this career path that you're 100% ignoring. Also, the majority of people at fintech startups not clearing anywhere near 500k? Sorry, maybe the MDs/Directors are making that much if they're running the company, but that is not a great benchmark. I'm in my mid 30s and know a lot of people from undergrad, business school and banking who work at fintech and tech start-ups and practically none of them make more than a first year associate in IB. A buddy of mine was the 20th employee at a mobile payments company that now has ~300 employees and makes less thank 200k per year. The people they hire out of undergrad do not make 100-200k per year, more like 60. Sure, he's sitting on a good chunk of equity that'll be worth a few million if they ever do exit, but he's been in that position for 8 years and is ready to cash in. And that is a success story. He got super lucky to end up at one of the companies that had hockey stick growth. Most of them do not. You don't just show up, get paid half a million dollars a year then realize all your equity a couple years later and retire.

You think hedge funds are a clear winner over banking? It is possibly the most results oriented career path in the world. Sure, maybe they don't work 80 hours a week, but your under persistent stress to make smart investments and beat your benchmarks. Funds fail all the time, whole teams get cut, you can make all the right decisions and still have everything move against you and end up completely fucked. 

Sure, its a false reality that "senior banking is not that bad", there is no work life balance in this industry. But its also a false reality that you can work in big tech or at a start up or at a hedge fund and everything is universally better. All those careers have some very obvious risks and downsides that you're completely ignoring 


First off, I said that hedge funds are better only for people who have a strong passion for the markets(the type of people who read 10Qs for fun). Secondly, I can guarantee you that people in big tech are making loads of money and working few hours because I know many people who are doing that. Lastly, I was a little unclear by throwing around the term “startup”. I did not mean actual startups, I was referring to young tech companies that are decently sized and have an innovative product (usually something involving machine learning). I agree with you that most young fintech companies don’t pay too much but the ones involved in capitals markets or asset management definitely pay their machine learning engineers and data scientists around 200k as I am doing something similar to this right now. I apologize for being too vague with the term “startup” and will edit my original thread so that no young college student or analyst gets confused.


The reason you believe "most people" in tech make tons of money is that you are probably surrounded by the top x% of people in tech, given your own professional success. Most people in tech hit a ceiling around $250k-$350k. It's still solid pay for the hours and stress (lack thereof), but no where near the million-dollar payday you're claiming it to be.


You should go into the backup and look at the individual data points. Most people are in the $150k range for 1-3 years of experience.

There are also a handful of people who said they make nearly $800k with two years of experience so I could see how they data would be skewed.

Also look at the upside - only 3% of people in SWE get to the level where they’re making $800k (this is a footnote on the site you posted). What % of finance people will make $800k+? Definitely more than 3%


We have to be extremely careful about what kind of tech companies we're talking about here..

Some random mid-market enterprise shop in Nebraska might be paying $60k starting to new grads but any tech company worth its salt in a tech hub will be paying at least $100k to new grads. Even early stage series A companies will be paying that. Also you're completely neglecting the equity conversation with your comp numbers. Sure, you get a base salary (+ sometimes bonus) that caps out low but you also get exposure to equity that may have a meaningful chance at adding to your net worth if everything goes well.

People don't work at startups for higher steady comp, they do it to play the net worth lottery. If you want high steady comp any larget top tech company will gladly pay you $$$s if you get the offer 


Why the pure gamble when we have certainty. On an anological note, isn't it ironic, mankind strived for stability, exited the prey/predator environment from the forest, became civilised, n now urbanised & suffocated, turns to nature in the wild and imagines a life there as it were 000' years ago to "distress". I wonder at what point does someone come and point out the obvious and say, we should own up the distress part of ourselves. Because let's face it, its NOT SAFE out there, in the wild. We get HUNTED. BEATEN by bears, BITTEN by Lions, Pounced on by Leopards etc. list goes on. So yea, similar analogy: Why on EARTH, are we signing up for the lottery again, in the name of Tech/"potential networth" over banking/high finance. Like why?? Just cuz we "FEEL" excited? Thats like signing up for something that has 0 certainty.


Agree 100% with this answer. I know a bunch of Series B/C startups, where CFO/COO/CSO comp is $200k-$250k max, and those roles usually require 10 years of experience. Sure, you may have 1-3 points in the cap table. If the company exits you’ll get $3-5m. I’ve seen C-suits waiting 10+ years to get that $3m (i.e. cash $3m at age 45, because you need 10 years of experience to become C-level and 10 years to cash out). Financially speaking, IB has better expected value. And btw, $400k for VP at BB is low. VP1 is usually $450-500k and it goes up from there.


Maximizing your comp is a very narrow way of defining a successful career. I'd rather have lower comp but a job where my work is more interesting than rearranging logos...

Maybe finance gives you a higher expected value for comps over a 10yr run, but fuck me that sounds like such a boring career. Money isn't the sole reason people go into tech, unlike finance. Working with an energetic team in a fun office space, trying to disrupt or invent an industry is where a lot of the value is derived from. And ya, not everyone ends up at a tech behemoth, but thats the fun of being in tech. You probably have a 30-40yr career ahead of you coming out of university. Realistically, you can tell if the startup you're at is going to flare out within 1-3yrs. Which means you probably have a shot at winning the lottery quite a few times over your career - each time getting slightly smarter and slightly better at picking opportunities.


Yea, this guy has no idea how much people actually make at Series C level companies. A bunch of people making over 500k with ten years of experience? The founding teams aren’t making near that if we are talking cash. As a non-exec level person, you are making high hundred / low two hundred in cash even as a director/VP level person. Obviously your equity can end up make you a millionaire, but you have to go years with relatively low cash comp and win the gamble, which many don’t. 


IMHO, start-up players meant for the guys/girls who can really afford such a gamble right. I mean, maybe the sons/daughters of bankers/lawyers who have way more than 500k in the account p.a. hard cold cash as pocket money who is overzealous in "SHAPING THE WORLD OF TOMORROW". 

Proceeds to do something with not much value anyway.


In my BB VP years I was making about 400k

That’s just low. Our 2nd year associates more than that. When I was in a BB I made more than that as associate. You are not just underpaid (could be performance, could be bank), but also M&A teams at BBs act super cool but their hardo mentality for no good reason, lack of actual client connections, higher mix of douche bags and limited long term prospect make those groups a bad place to be after analyst years  


I suspect this is a big factor in your view towards banking, this is significantly below market. VPs at any reputable firm should be making high 400s as 1st year and up to high 600s as 3rd year. Even 2nd year associates at EBs or 3rd year associates at BBs get over 400.

Whether it's your own performance or potentially you were in a bad performing group that underpaid and overworked bankers. That number is a huge red flag of something else going on. I would also contemplate quitting if I was only getting 400k throughout my VP years.


Let me get this straight, you were an m&a VP for your entire career and now you're working as a machine learning engineer? As someone who studied cs in college, I have an extremely hard time believing that. 

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

What a pointless thread. Most college students don't go into IB with the intention of staying. Most see it as a stepping stone to go into PE/HF/AM/Corp-Dev/etc. where you do give up two years of your life to become a 'professional' and get that "IB" stamp of approval (particularly if you're at any BB/EB or even tier 3 bank). Yes the work is mundane (moving logos for the 50th time for a MP no one cares about) but ultimately when you're sending in your resume having "Investment Banking Analyst' stands out from all the other finance jobs when going for "high-finance".

There are also a lot of reasons why IB is appealing to a lot of college kids that don't have a particular skill-set but want to make $. You don't need a technical background (i.e. coding) or need an advance degree (MD/JD) to get into the field and make 6 figures right out of college. IB out of college is one of the most risk averse jobs for undergraduate students that is why its so appealing.You mention fintech as a good exit opp, well do you know what fintech people are primarily looking for? Software engineers (which most people don't have the skills) or finance/marketing/strategy/etc. individuals which IB puts you better than 90% of the other applicants. 

I'm not saying IB is great, it honestly sucks (getting out in the next 5 months) but your reasoning for why one shouldn't go to IB is pretty weak.


I have been occasionally using this website ever since I was in college and want to help young guys not make the same mistake I did


PE is not any better than IB, AM is a practically dead industry, and unless if you really enjoy trading then you will fail in the HF industry. You said that most people don’t have the technical skills needed for tech, but whats stopping them from developing those skills? This thread is more directed towards college kids who haven’t even started their career and can definitely develop those needed technical skills.


Kinda hard tho. Say I went to UofWaterloo for CS next fall, I would already be so behind, as kids have been coding since before 15 (survey half of Waterloo cs kids have been coding since before 15). So kinda fucked to get SWE jobs in cali


yes and no. similarly to how you can work in finance anywhere but the best market for it is NYC, same holds true for tech and SF. I'd say SF is necessary if you want to go to the start-up side, but for large cap tech it definitely isn't necessary. i'd recommend reading paul grahams piece on cities and ambition