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 '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 outperformed the S&P 500 . Of course, it was during the peak of a 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 .
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 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 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 . 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 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."
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 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 .
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 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 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 arguably more hours each week than if you solely worked in banking.