Is it okay to quit?

Appreciate there are a few posts like this but would really appreciate some advice. I went to a non target and spent a couple of years working random finance/corporate jobs before I decided I wanted to move into IB. After a lot of hard work I eventually lateralled to Big4 and then after another 2 years moved into IB.

I am about 6 months in and I hate it. I have been working until 3am - 5am (sometimes creeping up to 7am) 4 days a week (luckily I usually finish earlier on Fri) and working 3 out of 4 weekends. Most of the work I produce usually results in someone getting angry with me and telling me it is shit. As a result I feel extremely anxious, tired and fed up that I get to see my girlfriend for about 5 minutes every day when I eventually get into bed at 5am.

I desperately want to quit but I'm nervous that I am already on my 3rd job out of uni (graduated in 2018) and I only have 6 months experience in IB (albeit c.1.5 years at Big4 M&A) so I'm not sure what my options are.

  • Do I move to another bank and hope the hours are better? Seems like a risky move and even if I'm finishing 12am/1am I still never get to see my girlfriend

  • Do I move to PE/Corp Dev? Unsure if I have enough experience, I haven't closed a single deal and with my current hours there is no way I can do enough prep to get the job

  • Should I quit when I receive my bonus, use the time being unemployed to do some soul searching and prep for interviews? It seems very risky and I am worried that interviewers will judge me for being unemployed. But I don't want to stay in my current job and I don't have any time to prep given my current schedule.

Would welcome any thoughts on how to navigate this situation. Thanks very much in advance

Comments (16)

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jun 19, 2022 - 9:39am

I am always the person on these threads saying to just quit, it's fine... but in your shoes, jumping for a 4th job in 4 years is going to label you as a major job hopper and you will really struggle to get interviews. And quitting after 6 months is just too early to land well. Analysts straight out of college who didn't know what they were getting into get a bit more credit if they quit than someone 4 years out of school.

Definitely do not go to another bank and add yet another short stint to your resume. 12-1am would still be pretty good hours and it's hard to diligence that from the interview process. Not to be rude, but did you not know what banking hours were before getting into this?

If I were you I'd turn the effort WAY down, slow down responding and if a pitch isn't the next day / seniors aren't asking for a deck that night, just go to bed some of those times. PE is unlikely after so little time and your hours will be the same, corp dev may be a possibility but not at a large company. And corp dev hours can still be quite rough fyi... I would do some soul searching and figure out if you just want a 9-5. You need to stay in your next job for at least 3 years or you will really F up your resume, so figure out what you really want. Any connections at your first corp fin jobs that could help you get to corp dev at those firms? 

Alternatively if you are seriously done, ask HR if you can take some unpaid time off after your bonus - a long time like a month, two months. This will give you a break to go hard on recruiting without being unemployed.

Finally, can't forget about the market these days, wouldn't want to be unemployed and facing a long road of recruiting right now. It can take a long time (6+ months) to land something even in a great job market. Start applying and hope to be out by the end of the summer, take that unpaid time off if you need it, but really strongly recommend you do not quit right now.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 19, 2022 - 9:59am

Thanks, that is helpful and appreciate you giving an honest opinion. To answer your question, I knew banking hours were bad but I was sold 9am - 1/2am with a great culture, I didn't expect to consistently work until 5am+.

At this stage, I don't want to work a 9-5 but I am not necessarily trying to land a highly competitive and intense PE or Corp Dev job. I would be happy working 9am - 9pm for half the money. Given the fact I'm willing to significantly sacrifice brand name I was thinking I could get away with having an unconventional CV and quitting after 6 months, but I'm not sure on this

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jun 19, 2022 - 10:05am

Got it - I would really start applying now, focus on corp dev and also look into corp strategy. Corp dev is still pretty competitive to get into and being unemployed will be a non-starter for many of these jobs, even way down the chain of prestige/brand name. See if you can land something in the next say 3 months, ratcheting your effort way down at your current seat.

I understand your path, it can totally take a few jumps to get to IB, but you won't get to explain yourself to hiring managers when you submit your resume. They will be spooked by the number of short stints + the IB experience will be heavily discounted being so short. If you're still in the job you can say you want to do something with better hours but are waiting for the right opportunity, etc.

  • Principal in RE - Comm
Jun 21, 2022 - 10:56am

Yep. When you're working until 3-5am every day, just say you're overstaffed. Call it a day at 1 or 2am. Take time on the weekends. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 19, 2022 - 10:10am

Really helpful, thank you. Also hadn't thought about the option of taking unpaid leave, which would be a much better alternative to just quitting.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
Jun 19, 2022 - 10:36am

Holy shit, you're me last year. I also did IB as a 3rd job. My first 9 months I contemplated quitting every single day because I worked with huge assholes who despite my effort and sacrifices bitched at me and never gave me credit when things were done well. I felt unappreciated because I was capable of doing great analyses, building great pages and distilling what's important when it comes to the deal process, but here I was getting bitched out at 4AM over oxford commas. I worked until literally 5AM every night and Sundays, 100 hours a week regularly. I became pretty depressed and my physical health was suffering. I knew IB wasn't for me. I stayed put though because I had the same worries: that I'd be seen as a job hopper and I worried my interview story might not make sense.

I don't have a success story to share yet, because I'm still interviewing and trying to find the RIGHT next move and that takes time. Something that I didn't appreciate before is that you only have so many jumps you can make before you need to just stay put and get climb the ladder somewhere, and at this stage in your career you're expected to know what you want / not make rash decisions. It's a challenging dynamic to navigate for sure. On the one hand you need to leave (you made a mistake), but on the other, being under this time limit to leave unfortunately may lead you to another job that isn't a good fit. Think about the reasons that drove you to leave Big 4 / Corp Fin for IB to begin with. I'm guessing you felt a lack of progression, compensation, work stimulation, or both. Hitting the escape hatch into just any job that isn't IB could lead to that dissatisfaction again. You have to be patient in this next search and find a balance. Roles like CD / PE are very very firm-dependent when it comes to culture, WLB, progression. You need to have time to diligence and not just jump into anything that you'll have to quit again. Even a 9-5 job will take a toll on your mental health if your team is complete ass.

Having been in banking a year longer than you and interviewed, I can share some observations:

- I've seen people jump in and out with a similar profile as you, to other investing and CD roles, though they generally made it close to 1-year mark. It's not necessarily about years in each job persay if you have a logical progression that's easy to explain in interviews (e.g. Audit -> Transaction Services -> Banking, now I want to do PE as my 4th job). You need to craft your story carefully.

- Barring very logical explaination & doing at least a year per above, most people are definitely going to see this as a red flag on your CV unfortunately. Like 90% are going to ask and if they don't like your answer they'll ding you. What I've found is that after 1+ years of staying, the proportion of interviewers worried about this decreased a ton. Now it's more like 50/50 or even 60/40. 50-60% of interviewers didn't care anymore, though a good portion people still grilled me just for this and some dinged me. Part of this is because after staying a year and closing quite a few name-able deals under my belt (I had a crazy year and fortunately most of my deals closed), I can tell my story from less of a "this was a mistake now I need escape button" and more of a "why I did banking and why this experience complements my prior experience well". With 6 months it'll be a challenge to swing this kind of answer in interviews. Moral of story is try to stay til 12 month mark, you'll have a better shot.

- I'm guessing you're an Analyst. While it's hard to realize after 6 months (I was a tryhard pushover my first 6 months as I didn't have the landscape on politics), you have WAY more leverage than you think you do. There's a lot that you can do to tone down your work effort: e.g. be responsive to e-mails / chat but just take longer to do things; don't do things to perfection, just do it as fast as possible & let above catch mistakes (that's their fucking job); if you're at a large enough bank leverage offshore resources to do your shit and claim credit for their work; go to sleep at 12 - 1am and forget pings, if someone bitches tell them you had a firedrill for another deal that you needed to wake up for. My hours now are much more manageable because of a few things: i) I've gained tons of efficiency just due to reps, so maybe I can do a deck in 30 minutes but I'll still tell the VP it takes 4 hours ii) I avoided getting staffed with assholes/hardos since I knew who they were and avoid hairy sweaty deals; iii) I've developed a decent reputation from year 1 of hardwork and being amicable to people. YMMV but for me I've managed to make it manageable for myself.

Best of luck to you though, I know the struggle. It should get better and I'd advise to start passively applying now, but try to hit the 12 month mark & collect your bonus if you can, then let the real job search begin. It exponentially improves your prospects for your next job. At the end of the day though, of course if you feel like your physical health is being destroyed then health > job always, do what you gotta do. But that magical 12 month milestone is something to look forward to.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
Jul 1, 2022 - 9:00am

Not necessarily special but at 12 months you'll likely have closed deals and people give you credit for the exp unlike 6 months. It's still considered "short" though and people will still question you for "hopping" and "lack of commitment". 2 year mark is when the latter stops.

Jun 20, 2022 - 8:34pm
chihayafull, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Biggest thing that helped me cope was learning that being responsive =/= working all the time or starting on whatever task immediately. Once you get enough experience (tbh, 6 months is enough), you know what's truly time-sensitive and what isn't. With this attitude, you could be day drinking at brunch on a Saturday and respond to pings accordingly with no sweat off your back:

"Sounds good, can do around XX time/tomorrow/Monday" --> if they push back --> "I'm tied up for the next XX while, seems like for Y reasons the original timeline should work out and give VP time to review before the meeting....etc." If that doesn't work, you're stuck with a dickhead but you'd might as well try, it's not like you're ghosting, and if you actually do the work at some point there's much less concrete reason to complain.

Jun 21, 2022 - 11:41am
atlas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hang in there, or try to for a bit

There are useful suggestions above on slowing down and trying to assess urgency of work thrown at you. I think one thing you could put some thought behind is on how to decline or negotiate timelines for assignments. This is an art I seriously was lacking when I started, never knew how to say no without pissing off people...yet I survived long enough so you will too.

Plan holidays well in advance, put in the calendars and make sure the team is aware so you get 1-2 breaks in the 6 month run to comp.

Also, find someone senior (a nice person) within the team who can mentor you with the soft skills necessary to pull off these negotiations.

Finally, network within the bank, figure out teams that have a better life-work balance and try to lateral in, it's a lot easier that ways than quitting. You would be surprised how supportive people are.

It is very tough to get in esp. if you are non-target so do not leave the bone once you have it!

Jun 21, 2022 - 12:56pm
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would advise you to eschew most the advice you get from these anonymous accounts that will tell you to just quit / life is short / the lateral market is hot.

These types of responses are always from kids with little to no work experience. Remember, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

The first thing we need to know is what's the bank? At least name some competitor banks so we can understand what type of firm you are at and if the entire bank just has bad culture or you are in a bad group.

If the entire bank is rotten, then you need to start carving out time to look for a new gig. I know it's hard given your demanding work load, but you're going to have to sacrifice work product to make some time for yourself to look for opportunities.

Since you've been working so hard I am sure you will not to prepare for these interviews, rather speak to your deal experience, as the technical questions are likely things you do everyday.

The debt market is so frigid that I'm surprised you're working till 5am every single day. What exactly are you doing? Just making Hail Mary type pitches?

Contrary to the newbs who post about how grueling banking is, it's really not. People who post are typically the ones struggling and getting dumped on at work, so they are looking for an outlet to vent and commiserate with others. But the vast majority of us that work hard, but not insane hours arnt making whiny posts. Think about it, no one is going to make a post about how fulfilling and balanced their life is, right? So you're only hearing from the babies or the few kids who are legitimately getting slammed.

So don't bail on banking just yet. Many groups out there with normal seniors who want a well rested analyst and get no pleasure torturing a young kid. You're sweaty group is the exception, not the rule.

But again, it would helpful to understand what bank you're at and what exactly you are spending all your time on.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jun 30, 2022 - 1:56am

Not to hijack this thread but, OP, what were your reasons for going into IB? Is a 6 month stint better than no stint at all? Kind of a bad way to be thinking about this, but I was thinking worse case all you need to do is throw a 2022-2023 on your resume and no one knows the difference in a few years - you see this all the time on LinkedIn. 

How important is hopping a job after 6 months if it doesn't pan out like this? Similar yet different story here and don't want to make the same mistake if we shared a similar ("I just wanted to try it, it can't be that bad can it") mindset here. Coming from operations, landed an IB Analyst gig and Big 4 consulting gig. Ultimately looking to get to Corporate Development, Strategic Finance, or VC and hoping to do so through strategy consulting or banking. The banking role is clearly the straight and narrow and most relevant path here and I think the work would be interesting, but to be honest, don't know if I have it in me to run a 9a-1a Mon-Thursday, 9-9 Friday, and a full Sunday and if it'd be a good fit. Definitely not willing to do the two years but I think If I had slightly better hours than this i.e. 9a-11p I could run it for at least a year. But, if I got your hours, even if they were a bit better, or honestly got a random coverage group I have no interest in, I would have a pretty tough time as well - it's hard to imagine how much work is actually expected to keep you busy for that long every day. Is the 9a-1a truly the norm and is banking really this bad or worse? Is OP an outlier here? 

Reading these posts makes me feel like I probably shouldn't go down this route if I already have my doubts, but part of me also thinks it'd be interesting to try out in the hopes I land a bearable and solid group. A lot of skills I'd love to take away from IB but also if this job really is this tough, all-encompassing, and can actually affect someone's health if they aren't an IB or bust kinda guy, I'm going to have a tough time. Is it really that difficult to find another gig after 6 months and as long as you stay in the next role, is there really a need to slave away to the CV just to get to a year? I don't want to sabotage a shot at business school but it is a coveted job and I have to understand people would understand? The Big 4 gig I am looking at is pretty mediocre & irrelevant to what I want to do honestly, but I don't think it'd be too difficult to crush it and move into a Big 4 strategy arm then access the Corp Dev/VC/Strategic Finance ops from there if I paint the right story. This path obviously isn't guaranteed. I was thinking if it is as miserable as it is portrayed to be I make it till January 2023, log the 7 months (2 of which are training), and I find an exit better than Big Four and lock that in for a while. Is this a stupid way to think about it and am I the type who is about to get absolutely obliterated in this job? For me I'm kind of sold on the Ops experience I have + Banking background story but again if the whole 7 months and dip might cause problems I probably shouldn't even bother and try to just grind out the other path.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jun 30, 2022 - 9:13am

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