Working 9-5 is Paradise

Congratulations, You Did It!

Although you attended college not knowing exactly what you wanted to do, you still came out of school introspectively realizing that only 3 things in the world are undisputed certainties: (1) death, (2) taxes, and (3) the fact that nobody gets rich working a 9-5 job. Nobody. Well at least, not anyone in a profession you deem respectable. In fact, aside from inheritance money, you believe "working long hours" is the only tangible difference that distinguishes the moneyed wunderkinds who summer in the Hamptons from the penniless runts who are left to barter for a week's rental at the Jersey Shore. 

This is precisely why you've had your eyes set on the most "tried-and-true", "risk-averse" career path to becoming a millionaire: Investment Banking. Thanks to a few Glassdoor salary searches and consultations from WSO insiders, you've serendipitously discovered that a bulge-bracket "Managing Director" clears more money than KPMG's entire Audit division, even in a down year. 

You are "War-Ready" for Investment Banking

And with IB's Analyst --> Associate --> VP --> MD compensation progression figures still freshly burned into your retinas, you begin to envision that grinding 70-100 hours each week "surprisingly isn't all that bad." Well, to be honest, you've never actually worked 70 hours before - let alone 40 - but you did stomach the pain of going to your 6-7pm BLAW 439 class twice a week for an entire semester. Not to mention, you can reference several instances back in the day when you religiously played Black Ops 2 Zombies tethered to your couch for at least 12 hours a day - both of which should count for something right?

Regardless of your experience working long hours, you can't help but conclude that you are battle-tested for IB, especially considering that virtually all of your peers in your student investment fund are also waltzing into banking - and you know for a fact that you work harder than most of them. After all, your one stock pitch outperformed the S&P 500 by 300 basis points. Of course, it was during the peak of a bull market and you were in the IT sector but hey, numbers don't lie. IB should be no problem at all. Plus, you also heard some MD at Goldman's extremely selective Virtual Insight Series say, "long hours build character" and you couldn't agree more. He must summer in Southampton, you figure.

It Even Has a Watermark

Flash forward to after college and you couldn't be happier with your outcome: you swimmingly managed to score a full-time gig at an elite boutique, thanks to your polished interview responses and "long hours build character" mantra that you borrowed from GS.

During the first month of your experience in IB, you undergo professional training for the FINRA license exams. So far, your schedule has been lighter than you thought, reconfirming your conviction that you are war-ready. Also at this moment, you can nearly stroke your eggshell-white business card titled "Investment Banking | Mergers & Acquisitions Analyst" in raised Silian Rail font that you will be issued after completing Knopman Mark's training course. You're hoping it features a watermark. Wait a second, are you Patrick Bateman? 

Instantly you rewatch American Psycho three times as you fantasize in your head that you and Bateman aren't all that different in life - besides all the bloodshed, rape, and midnight chainsaw action of course. God, the more you think about it, the more you'd love to be perceived as a refined and non-violent Patrick Bateman by your peers. Late at night sometimes, you even glance at yourself in the mirror and ruminate that you and Bateman look mistakenly alike, perhaps minus the chiseled abs and ripped triceps - but that will surely come in time when you make VP, you imagine. You are ready to join your team.

Modeling is Far More Prestigious than Selling

As you effortlessly pass your Series 7 and 79 exams, you take great delight into adding both these to the "Licenses and Certifications" segment of your LinkedIn profile, perhaps even alerting your network with a zealous update post of your own.

Drawing from your announcement, you are enchanted to see your inbox balloon with congratulations messages from your peers. In fact, even one peer from your non-target college named Kyle messaged you asking how you exactly studied for the Series 7. Kyle always had less of a drive than you in school and was never able to break into your extremely selective student fund - even after 2 attempts. You vacillate whether you should even respond to him at all, now that you carry such an elite title. You'd hate to associate yourself with anything particularly non-target right now but you figure it would be a great opportunity to show your career dominance over him.

After a brief conversation, you learn that Kyle is taking the Series 7 so he can be a Wealth Management analyst at a top bulge-bracket bank. You quiver in realization that such a top bank would employ people like Kyle. Quickly, to support your conventional wisdom that IB > WM, you take pride in confirming that Kyle will not be getting any financial modeling experience, but rather coerced to sell and cold-call prospective clients all day. What could be more non-target than having to sell for a living? Even better, Wealth Management only clocks in 40 hours each week! With these discoveries in mind, you can't help but speculate what New Jersey beach Kyle will have to settle for in the summer. "Probably Wildwood or Ocean City", you laugh contemptuously as you print out 500 more copies of your M&A business card.

The Working Man

After you finally wrap up training you are placed into your highly-coveted M&A group, a place that you've felt like you belonged your entire life. You are elated.

Then, almost as if you just recovered from amnesia, you suddenly wake up, open your eyes, and find yourself slaving away for 16 hours each day on PowerPoint and Excel. Your hair feels greasy and you've been planning to take a shower soon but you keep getting bombarded by "pls fix" emails from your MD at 12am. You also notice yourself feigning for a cup of coffee at least 4 times a day. That's weird. You never would've considered yourself to be a "coffee" person before.

Worse yet, neither your VP or MD look remotely as healthy as anyone in American Psycho and you're starting to question if you will ever achieve that six-pack like Bateman had. "I guess this is what paying one's dues feels like," you persuade yourself, "surely it'll die down after this live deal closes."

You Can't Spell Sell-Side Without the Word, "Sell"

Shortly after your second month on the job, you realize for the first time that your MD makes a living by selling his services to clients. Originally, you always thought an MD's role would be far more intricate than merely "client service" but you are disheartened to realize it might be more than just a coincidence that every single one of your M&A models has a wildly accretive valuation. Wait. Does this mean that you, too, are a salesperson? Just like the non-target commoners in Wealth Management? A rush of trepidation flows heavily down your spine. You feel the same as you did when you learned Santa wasn't real.

Then, to keep your mind at ease from the soul-crushing hours and your existential crisis, you begin to play Spotify as you work. Unsatisfied with your current library, you decide to throw it back and listen to an era of simpler times: early to mid 2010's playlist. Before you know it, you are in a nostalgic state of mind, reminiscing back to the days when your only problems in life were lasting until Round 20 in CoD Zombies or asking your parents if you could stay over your friend's house for the night. Man, to think you had all the free time in the world back then. Plus you had your whole life to look forward to. Now you're wasting your youth, or what's even left of it, churning out vapid pitch books for hours on end. Suddenly, as "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey plays through your AirPods Pro, you begin to sob aloud in the office, lamenting for better times.

Your bawling catches the attention of your MD, to which he sternly responds, "there's no crying in investment banking." 

Bye-Bye Banking

Just shy of one year into banking, your mind is made up. You are done with "high finance". You'd rather have your life back than be a puppet-headed MD having to meet annual revenue quotas or sell your soul endlessly bidding at auctions for portco's in PE. Plus, you're way too risk averse to try out a hedge fund so it's obvious by process of elimination that your best fit would be in corporate development.

Stamped with your EB resume, you feel you have your pick of the litter for "Corp Dev" positions. In your interviews, you often say that you'd "love to actually be a part of the company rather than just advising them." Well, as long as it means less hours at least.

Again to no surprise, each firm you interviewed with absolutely loved your polished responses and you're happy to sign an offer with a unicorn tech firm that just secured series B funding. The compensation package offered was a 40% drop in pay from your gig in banking, but your interviewers did cite that they "are taking over market share at an insane rate" and that you would have opportunities to receive sizable equity compensation just after 5 years with the firm. 

Can Corp Dev Cure Your Burnout?

Flash forward to 2 years into your Corp Dev role, you feel much mentally happier and healthier than you did in your stint of banking. Your actual role has been relatively chill and you've never found yourself in the office past 7pm even on the busiest of nights. You find the best part about Corp Dev is that you don't have to sell to anyone or deal with any clients. Very risk-averse indeed.

However, you can't help but dwell on the fact that you are making far less than your peers who continued on the IB/PE train. In an attempt to feel better about your decision, you begin seeking confirmation bias by posing the question, "Stay in IB or take pay cut in CD?", to WSO's prospects. Of course, you already made this decision 2 years ago, but you'd love to play out the hypothetical right now.

For the next 48 hours, your emotions trade up and down like the S&P 500 as you pensively analyze each discussion point from "Prospect in M&A", "VP in PE - LBOs", and "Other", giving bananas to the posts that support your agenda and subtracting from the ones that don't. Ironically, a user by the title of "Associate 3 in IB" audaciously claimed that "Nobody gets rich working a 9-5 job. Don't expect to live in the Hamptons if you're at Corp Dev/Strat," creating an unwelcoming sting to your ego.

Suddenly, without delay, your Post-Investment-Banking-Stress-Disorder kicks in as you tenaciously type back, "Wow, what a shame this site allows prospects to pose as 3rd year Associates. You clearly don't know anything about Corp Dev. I work 8-6 and my week gets even more intense on live deals – which is very common since my firm is highly acquisitive (think unicorn startup rapid growth stage)." Then, to solidify external approval, you decide to tally every user's viewpoints and realize Corp Dev is preferred over IB by 13-9, allowing you to log off and sleep sanguinely at night - although you still continue to check your post frequently to see any new insights, just in case.

Catching Up with Kyle

You now have reached the 5-year mark in Corp Dev. At this point, you can't help but feel a slight concern regarding your career advancement with the firm. Your pay has been relatively stagnant and the equity package they offered you this year only came out to be $30k worth of stock. Plus, you figure you'd got at least a decade more until you reach an executive level at the firm, and even then, you're not 100% sure.

Then one day, as you jump out of the office to grab some lunch, you run into Kyle, your former non-target disciple who works in Wealth Management. Immediately, you notice that Kyle looks in far better shape than he did in college. In fact, you almost would go so far as to say that he's similar in appearance to a non-psycho Patrick Bateman. Asking how things have been since college, Kyle informs you that they couldn't be better. With the help of a few wealthy family and friends as well as the art of selling, Kyle recently built his client book to over $200 million assets under management and is charging a 1.75% service fee. He said he's been working mostly 9-5 but some days only works until lunch, allowing him to get to his Hampton house by dinner time. Your face begins to melt. Kyle is a true wunderkind.

Kyle realized that he never thanked you for helping him out on the Series 7 exam so he offered to take you on an all-inclusive ski trip in Vail with his client next week. Unfortunately, you had to pass up on the offer, explaining to Kyle how busy you've been with modeling out a potential acquisition.

Working Your Way into that Elite 9-5 Gig

You leave your conversation with Kyle feeling worse than the swindled Winklevoss twins who went to Harvard with Zuckerberg. However, searching for vindication, you develop a vicarious epiphany that you too can be like Kyle and excel in Wealth Management. After all, you are confident that you can leverage your EB network to build a $500 million client book in no time - you're almost certain that your old MD has totally forgotten about that one time you vehemently cried your eyes out. Immediately, you start applying for roles at top firms but shockingly it's been tough to gain any traction since all of them are looking for candidates with experience in sales or client service - both of which you abundantly lack. You try impressing them with your sophisticated modeling experience and deal flow but they seem to appreciate it just as much as if you were an NFT creator. 

Yet, despite these hardships, your indoctrinated risk-averse way of life leads you to consider a tried-and-true plan of action: studying 300 hours for each one of the CFA exams. Having the charter, you believe, will be a sure-fire way for you to reach Hamptons-level comp all while clocking out before 5pm every day. There's no way you couldn't succeed in WM. You boldly change your LinkedIn to "Incoming CFA Candidate | Corporate Development Associate" as you begin to work and study arguably more hours each week than if you solely worked in banking.

Comments (51)

Funniest
  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Jun 7, 2022 - 2:05pm

The Master of Prospects and Paradise has returned. Thanks for the laugh 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 7, 2022 - 4:41pm

Read the first 3 paragraphs and holy shit these are hitting home. Another banger boys.

Jun 8, 2022 - 6:33am
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

ehhh, call me a crusty old fart but I'm not a fan of belitting other's career choices and painting mine as a 100% grass is greener situation. it's the perfect job for me, but I think the above is a little unrealistic and PWM is not for everybody. just like not everyone has the stomach to handle the market's ups and downs, not everybody can keep their cool when clients are losing money and still want advice and at the same time have the cojones to go hunt for new business. I'm not saying I'm special (I'm not), I'm just saying many people I've seen drop out of it have expressed these sentiments to me, the emotional weight of managing people's entire net worth can be a bit much for some.

$200mm AUM in 5y at 1.75% ROA is retarded. a good first 5y would be $50mm, a really good one would be $80-100mm, and average ROA will be 60-80bps unless you're an overcharging life insurance agent. also, you don't work 40 hour weeks until at least 5y in, so if kyle really did bring in $200mm in 5y, he was likely working IB hours or worse while doing it. when I was in ramp up mode it was probably like 50-70 a week most weeks, which ain't bad, but it's not 9-5 by any means.

to be sure, once you've made it, it's great, just wanted to be honest about the on-ramp because this forum has a tendency to over glorify everything, even the not so glorious and often talked down to field of PWM. all of that said, I'm glad OP has a favorable opinion on PWM, far too few younger people are going into the field and so we need attitudes like this if it's going to continue to grow. I think there's so much opportunity in it for the next 20-30y (structurally due to population trends, investable assets, technology allowing for scale), but nobody's willing to accept a $50k starting salary with an infinite ceiling and better WLB when IB analysts start at $100k or whatever these days

Jun 8, 2022 - 9:21am
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

thebrofessor

 all of that said, I'm glad OP has a favorable opinion on PWM, far too few younger people are going into the field and so we need attitudes like this if it's going to continue to grow. I think there's so much opportunity in it for the next 20-30y (structurally due to population trends, investable assets, technology allowing for scale), but nobody's willing to accept a $50k starting salary with an infinite ceiling and better WLB when IB analysts start at $100k or whatever these days

I'm one of the older farts on the forum but had an opportunity to work in PWM straight out of college. Even though the job market was terrible, I turned it down. My biggest hang up was "How am I gonna be a 23-year old grad telling a 50-year old guy who has built his own business about retirement and investments?"

I don't know. What are you further thoughts on starting young in PWM and that disadvantage? To me, it has always seemed like an industry where having a little age and gravitas helps and as a young person, you're inherently disadvantaged when its very difficult to get your book off the ground regardless of age. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Associate 1 in ER
Jun 7, 2022 - 7:59pm

Certainly offers the best WLB for pay.

Personally, if you enjoy helping people invest/manage money, I find it to be a win win.

Regardless, you're guaranteed to have good work life balance. From there you either kill it (IB-level comp) or you tread along making something ballpark to if you were in Corp Dev.

People get too spooked about the whole sales part of the job and lack of modeling experience. News flash is that not one high revenue senior position in finance besides maybe a HF requires modeling. It's all sales up top, sooner you realize better off you'll be

Jun 10, 2022 - 10:58am
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's funny how true this is. Once you reach the top of IB / Consulting / PE / Corp Dev, it all becomes a sales strategy. Even on the buy-side, you are almost always competing against one or more firms on any competitive auction process. PE firms and Corp Dev teams need to differentiate themselves and prove to the prospective seller that they are the right party to partner with for the short or long term (depending on PE vs. Corp Dev). 

Jun 7, 2022 - 10:18pm
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great write-up except for the PWM kid with $400 AUM. Sure, maybe that exists somewhere in 0.1% of cases. Probably, same as the 0.1% of cases where a corp dev associate ends up working for the next Facebook and IPOs for tens of millions in 5 years.

Jun 8, 2022 - 3:44pm
TimesNewMoney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Master of prospects, I'm pulling your strings

Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams

Blinded by me, you can't see a thing

Just call my name 'cause I'll here you scream

Master

Master

+1, Metallica kicks ass

Jun 8, 2022 - 12:04pm
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Another amazing post, so well-articulated and your level of detail is impressive. 

I realize the post is satire but for any folks considering corp dev thinking 'I'd really love to work a 9-5' I just wanted to mention that in my experience that is absolutely not the case. Everyone is ex IB / Consulting and the hours are more similar than you might think (e.g., 14 - 15 hour days not uncommon when on a live deal). This obviously depends a lot on the firm you're at. One other interesting data point is as you get more senior the hours don't appear to drop off much. 

  • Associate 1 in HF - RelVal
Jun 8, 2022 - 12:26pm

Thanks for the insight. I'd assume your work week during a non-live deal would be close to 40-50 hours then?

Also, how is the equity compensation typically packaged for each title? Would you expect sizable equity when you first join? How much as a % of total comp would that be? What does senior level comp breakdown look like?

I know it probably differs by firm and size but just curious to ask in your experience

Jun 8, 2022 - 1:34pm
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So I have worked on two different corp dev teams but neither were start-ups (I should've specified that in my original post). Therefore, no equity was optioned into either offer. One company was expecting an IPO and I was told I would be eligible for equity if that were to occur but they refused to quantify any amount when I signed. The IPO got pushed out by another year and I didn't like the way the company operated (I didn't have hope for their long-term success strategy) so I left long before the expected IPO date. 

Regarding hours, I would say 55 is probably standard when you are not on a deal. Once you hit Manager the hours probably average closer to 60-65, with director being more along the lines of 65-70. Just a couple data points based on my experiences. This is of course extremely firm dependent.  

Jun 8, 2022 - 7:46pm
thehopelesshopeful, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm currently considering going into WM but can't find much info on salaries post-grad. What should I expect?

Jun 16, 2022 - 1:57pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as an advisor, your salary is $0, pay is 100% commissions but not volatile like RE broker commissions. see my 4 parter on it for what various titles make at a BB

quick example, say someone has $100mm AUM, ROA 70bps, they have $700k gross commissions, payout will be 40-50% of that so $315k gross pay of which 10% goes to deferred comp so give or take $280k cash comp. to get to $100mm should take you less than 10y ($10mm new money a year on average + growth in assets due to market)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 11, 2022 - 11:38pm

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jun 15, 2022 - 12:20am

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Jun 16, 2022 - 10:29am
monkeyshitfeverdream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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