Learn from My Mistakes

I've always loved this site because even when I was but a wee little lurker in college I could always come on here and hear about all the little details that finance professionals picked up and wish they had known earlier.

The big questions, like which offer to take or whether to shoot for an MBA or PE vs HF never get answered by other people at the end of the day... but where the most value-add comes from is those little things that actually make all the difference sometimes. And I've made enough mistakes in my 6-7 years to have a couple of my own, though I'm sure they're shared by plenty of professionals on the boards.

Now I'm in a giving spirit lately so I feel the need to pay it forward... either that or I need a way to entertain myself as I hide from yet another insufferable 5:00pm book club meeting my fiancee organized with her obnoxious friends in the city. I'll try and walk through my career from the last chunk of college up until now to keep things organized. This may come off a bit scattered and stream-of-consciousness-like though, so apologies in advance.

College

College was always a weird time for me, so I'll spare you the details of my adolescent awkwardness and just say this: most people have absolutely no idea what they want in college. As promising as a career in investment banking may have sounded to you since age 13 (as many of you make it out to sound like), you really don't know that's what you want with your career until you get involved in it, or until you've at least seen all the options available to you. You're incredibly bright if you're on this site and you have a good idea of what you think you might want, but you really don't know.

The world's your oyster, so don't limit yourself so quickly. I got my break into a well-respected investment shop simply by applying to everything I could think of and having them pick me. Like everyone else I figured I wanted to do banking since eventually I wanted to be an investor of some sort. I didn't even know these guys existed when they tapped me for an interview, but had I only applied to banking gigs like everyone else, I never would have had the opportunity. I chalk this up to dumb luck, as I had no idea why I applied in the first place, but I'm sure glad I did. The shortened version of this is simply to keep your options wide open early on - sometimes it's better to let the employer pick you rather than the other way around. You're still the one with final say, so why not?

Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat was what I'd consider myself coming out of college. I was beyond naive, and had no idea how to handle being a 21 year old kid with an actual salary for once in my life. This is a time in my life I think I'll always wish I could have back, because I definitely didn't do it right... reason being that I was way too stingy trying to figure out my finances and how to handle real life. I think I even had a spreadsheet outlining my expenses and an estimate for how much I would be able to spend on leisure to keep in line with my savings goals.

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory for me was entering the hedge fund world, pretty convinced I was the master of the universe now that I could officially tell people I worked as a "hedge fund analyst." This is my way of saying I was a retard. Nothing was different about me, I wasn't special, and it turned out the job I came from was 100x better than the job I left it for. This is when I learned again the importance of keeping my options open.

No matter what your job title is, there's someone around you dropping a big pile of shit in your bowl to eat. Eat it with a smile, but don't be content with where you're at, even if you're CEO. And in my case, never delude yourself into thinking you've got the best job in the world. I stuck around way too long at a job I hate because it was one of the hot funds to be at, when in reality it was an awful gig. I just kept kidding myself for almost two years...

Getting Comfortable

Getting Comfortable with myself and with what I wanted, as many of you know I finally ended up at a place I feel fit perfectly for me. And now that I'm settled in, I'm finding myself more and more annoyed when I'm asked about my job or about finance, the markets, etc. in a social setting. Once you settle down, you're job isn't going to be what consumes you anymore. It doesn't define you. And to be honest I don't even want to be master of the universe anymore. I wish I knew earlier that this is just a job, no different than anyone else's.

So when you get dinged, your life is not over, you shouldn't lose all hope, and you should move on to the next opportunity as if nothing ever happened. You know whose job I actually find myself talking about a lot when I meet them? The plumber. I love the plumber. A plumber isn't defined by his plumberness. He isn't master of the universe nor does he want to be. He just wants to fix the pipes, show off his ass crack, and get home to his wife... and that's all I really want anymore, just wish I had that mentality when I was coming out of college. Would have made things a lot less stressful, I'll tell you that much.

Some Comments

I'm hoping some of this actually makes sense. I read these ridiculous topics about freshman talking about their experiences "on Wall Street" and kids turned suicidal after not getting an SA gig and it just floors me that things get blown out of perspective like that. Then I realize I wasn't much different I guess...

I just wish I loved the plumber this much when I was 20.

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 1/19/13

Comments (117)

Jan 19, 2013 - 2:26am
moneymogul, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:
I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid.

I lol'd. This resonated with me though; I'm constantly thinking about how much money I should save and how much I want in the bank and by when.

Also agreed on the plumber. Having a job that doesn't define you and you don't really give a shit about is probably as liberated as you can get as a salaried worker.

May 31, 2013 - 9:04pm
zeroblued, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:
1. You're incredibly bright if you're on this site and you have a good idea of what you think you might want, but you really don't know. The world's your oyster, so don't limit yourself so quickly.
  1. I think I even had a spreadsheet outlining my expenses and an estimate for how much I would be able to spend on leisure to keep in line with my savings goals. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

  2. Once you settle down, you're job isn't going to be what consumes you anymore. It doesn't define you. And to be honest I don't even want to be master of the universe anymore. So when you get dinged, your life is not over, you shouldn't lose all hope, and you should move on to the next opportunity as if nothing ever happened. You know whose job I actually find myself talking about a lot when I meet them? The plumber. I love the plumber. A plumber isn't defined by his plumberness. He isn't master of the universe nor does he want to be. He just wants to fix the pipes, show off his ass crack, and get home to his wife... and that's all I really want anymore, just wish I had that mentality when I was coming out of college. Would have made things a lot less stressful, I'll tell you that much.

  3. I read these ridiculous topics about freshman talking about their experiences "on Wall Street" and kids turned suicidal after not getting an SA gig and it just floors me that things get blown out of perspective like that. Then I realize I wasn't much different I guess...

Jan 21, 2013 - 11:52am
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
marketbeater:
nice post

but I bet there will be lots of people reading this nice post and then turn their head back to "how can I get into IB" without really thinking if they fit in or like it or not

only life can make people change, and hopefully your post can do that to someone as well

Along with a couple other posters who had similar comments, I agree completely that it's nearly impossible to let go and not worry / not oversave / etc. when you're in the thick of it all. I made all these mistakes, and looking back I regret having made them, but perhaps they're unavoidable simply due to the nature of the kind of people who enter this field. Whether they are or not though, hopefully it can help some people at the beginning of their careers to at least have a bit of added perspective and not get too caught up, and hopefully they'll be happier because of it when they look back on it all.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 5
Jan 21, 2013 - 10:02am
midtowngal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When a low key baller starts to open up, you know it is the time to SB. Congrats on the WIN

I'm feeling like a star, you can't stop my shine---Ridin' Solo
Best Response
Jan 21, 2013 - 11:40am
design, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great advice, but I have one caveat. You are a "have", BH, and some of these "have-nots", myself included, will always wonder, even if we do find a career outside of finance that satisfies us, what it would be like if we managed to break into high finance. How would our lives be different (for better or worse)? I have to admit that it's flat-out retarded to get hung up over these what-if's, but we're only human.

As for the whole saving money thing, you don't need to tell me twice. I work in a BO trade support role at a BB right now, but the amount of money I've spent in the past 6 months on crazy outings with friends would make even some FO guys a bit queasy. Wouldn't change a thing, though. Those memories will last forever...unless I get Alzheimer's.

Jul 8, 2013 - 12:03am
JoeCamel, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great Post

Array

Jul 8, 2013 - 12:11am
madmoney15, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Uncharted Territory for me was entering the hedge fund world, pretty convinced I was the master of the universe now that I could officially tell people I worked as a "hedge fund analyst." This is my way of saying I was a retard."

What catalyst caused you to change your mentality? Was it just additional experience in the industry and being at the right fund?

Jul 8, 2013 - 2:31pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is front page quality for sure, where you at Andy?

Great advice for everyone, SB BH, thanks man

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Jul 11, 2013 - 10:03pm
AndyLouis, what's your opinion? Comment below:
D M:

This is front page quality for sure, where you at Andy?

Great advice for everyone, SB BH, thanks man

my content intern just let me know about this post, will frontpage it tomorrow

WSO Content & Social Media. Follow us: Linkedin, IG, Facebook, Twitter.

Jul 11, 2013 - 10:50pm
streetwannabe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great section about expenses. Even if you do try to save, at an entry level position, it still won't really amount to jack shit. I plan on spending every dime I earn until I know what the hell I'm doing with my life.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
Jun 17, 2015 - 7:29pm
roosvelt1984, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"prime" is very different for different people, mate. I'm almost certain my prime will be in my mid 30s. By 25, I had zero idea of what to do with my life (it was probably below zero, to be honest).

Jul 12, 2013 - 1:35am
West Coast rainmaker, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:
I was beyond naive, and had no idea how to handle being a 21 year old kid with an actual salary for once in my life. This is a time in my life I think I'll always wish I could have back, because I definitely didn't do it right... reason being that I was way too stingy trying to figure out my finances and how to handle real life. I think I even had a spreadsheet outlining my expenses and an estimate for how much I would be able to spend on leisure to keep in line with my savings goals. Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

This is something I've figured out in the past year. The quality of life differential from saving 10k salary per year and saving 0 salary is pretty massive when you are just starting out. When I graduated, my first impulse was to Suze-Orman it and scrutinize every possible expense. Turns out that's just retarded. I was saving 600, 700 per month...at the expense of living living like a grad student despite being employment. I was at least partly attracted to finance for the money. I don't go to work everyday so I can calculate whether the generic laundry detergent is cheaper than the branded with a coupon.

Jul 12, 2013 - 2:27am
watersign, what's your opinion? Comment below:

easy for you to say..you got a job at a hedge fund and have good opportunities...most of the kids on here won't get these gigs, they'll be lucky to wind up as book keepers at small to mid companies lol

alpha currency trader wanna-be
  • 3
Jul 12, 2013 - 3:20am
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am a fan of this. Silver your way.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Jul 12, 2013 - 10:12am
Take_It_To_The_Bank, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why don't you elaborate more? What exactly did you find off-putting about the slave process that a hedge fund analyst would go through? What do you do now that you are satisfied with? Hell, what sort of interests or activities outside of work do you partake in that you would say defines you or makes you happy?

Cause, we've seen a lot of these stories, but it would be great to outline the path you went through so that prospective bankers can try to emulate it if they wish.

Jul 12, 2013 - 3:43pm
OfficerGodzilla, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

I think I even had a spreadsheet outlining my expenses and an estimate for how much I would be able to spend on leisure to keep in line with my savings goals.

This hit home a little too hard.

Jul 12, 2013 - 11:03am
junkbondswap, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I call bullshit on the plumber analogy and your said desire to work in any menial labor or punch the clock type of job as I suspect that like most of us you are intrinsically driven to over-achieve in addition to being drawn in by the financial rewards. I also bet that the "plumber" wishes that he had studied harder in school or pursued something that he was more passionate about as I suspect that cleaning up shit is not his dream job (even if he runs his own fairly successful entrepreneurial business).

Jul 12, 2013 - 6:42pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you're completely missing the point of what I said. Re-read it and I suspect a second time through it will hopefully read differently.

And if that doesn't help, then please point me to where I said I wanted to be a plumber... all I said was the everyman is much more interesting to me now than all of the people in the rat race to "the top" that I used to value way too much. I'd rather sit and talk about his job than huddle around a booth at Tenjune talking about how shorting AUD is going to get me laid.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 3
Jul 12, 2013 - 12:55pm
streetwannabe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't think he's romantacizing the menial labor involved with plumbing, but more the simplicity of the plumbers existence and the labor itself. A plumber doesn't need to perform under the same premises as someone at a HF for example. When you're working with actual objects (read: blue collar work), your work is more tangible and evident, and perhaps perceivably more meaningful.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
  • 2
Jul 12, 2013 - 3:14pm
OptionsOpen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

An excellent book that reflects this perspective is Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford.

Awesome!

Jul 12, 2013 - 1:44pm
yeahright, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The post kept me grinning, can't believe I didn't see this in January. +1 BH.

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Jul 12, 2013 - 2:06pm
Pepper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Regarding person finances, ever since my HS intro accounting class, I've been using quickbooks to track my income, assets, etc, with stuff like depreciation included

I even budget my finances so that 50% can be expensed, 25% goes into my stock trading account and 25% goes into an emergency savings account

Too much?

Jul 12, 2013 - 2:25pm
Waymon3x6, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Pepper:

Regarding person finances, ever since my HS intro accounting class, I've been using quickbooks to track my income, assets, etc, with stuff like depreciation included

I even budget my finances so that 50% can be expensed, 25% goes into my stock trading account and 25% goes into an emergency savings account

Too much?

Way too much

Array
  • 1
Jul 12, 2013 - 2:47pm
prospie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a side note, I was recently told by a small-time commercial landlord that plumbers are the biggest pieces of shit you can possibly imagine.

Love the post, though.

Jul 12, 2013 - 3:34pm
righton1988, what's your opinion? Comment below:
West Coast rainmaker:
BlackHat:

I was beyond naive, and had no idea how to handle being a 21 year old kid with an actual salary for once in my life. This is a time in my life I think I'll always wish I could have back, because I definitely didn't do it right... reason being that I was way too stingy trying to figure out my finances and how to handle real life. I think I even had a spreadsheet outlining my expenses and an estimate for how much I would be able to spend on leisure to keep in line with my savings goals. Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

This is something I've figured out in the past year. The quality of life differential from saving 10k salary per year and saving 0 salary is pretty massive when you are just starting out. When I graduated, my first impulse was to Suze-Orman it and scrutinize every possible expense. Turns out that's just retarded. I was saving 600, 700 per month...at the expense of living living like a grad student despite being employment. I was at least partly attracted to finance for the money. I don't go to work everyday so I can calculate whether the generic laundry detergent is cheaper than the branded with a coupon.

This x1000. Of course, if you have student loans or credit card debt you should probably look to pay those down quickly but I would echo the above. The number of married guys that tell me they woudl kill to be 25 and single again at work is countless and not one of them has said they wished they saved more money at my age. As was said above, the incremental $10,000 saved at 23 versus the extra $200/week to spend is just not worth it. And spare me the 401K argument that you're giving up $500,000 in retirement because even if so I'd give up $500,000 of my $50M in retirement to have fun in my 20s and I hope you would too.

Jul 12, 2013 - 4:52pm
................, what's your opinion? Comment below:

+1

I especially liked the part about not thinking IB is the only job that can ever make you successful. I had that mind set coming out of school, and my dumbass was DISAPPOINTED because I 'only' got a job in private banking at a top BB (arguably the best private bank in the US, if not the world).I'm one year out of school now, and I am glad that I didn't get sucked into IB. I truly love my job, I love the people I work with, and I'm good at what I do. At age 22 I was able to gain my bankers trust enough to go into a client meeting and pitch an investment idea, and the client loved it. At 18, I probably couldn't have told you the difference between a stock and a bond. Sure, I may not quite make IB analyst money, but I'll make $100K at age 23 in a lower COL city than NYC (Chicago) working on average 60-70 hours a week. And I actually enjoy going to the office, and can see myself doing this for a long time. I seriously doubt I would be anywhere near that happy if I would have gone into IB.

Anyways, thanks for the post BH, it was definitely a good read.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.
  • 5
Jul 12, 2013 - 7:33pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

I think you're completely missing the point of what I said. Re-read it and I suspect a second time through it will hopefully read differently.

And if that doesn't help, then please point me to where I said I wanted to be a plumber... all I said was the everyman is much more interesting to me now than all of the people in the rat race to "the top" that I used to value way too much. I'd rather sit and talk about his job than huddle around a booth at Tenjune talking about how shorting AUD is going to get me laid.

Yessss I've been looking for a new quote for my sig

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
  • 1
Jul 12, 2013 - 8:12pm
NorthSider, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

This is probably the most important thing to drill into your mind before joining a FT job. It's unbelievable to me how many IB analysts freak out if they aren't making the maximum 401k contribution, living in a

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
  • 4
Feb 28, 2014 - 2:15am
wikileaks, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NorthSider:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

This is probably the most important thing to drill into your mind before joining a FT job. It's unbelievable to me how many IB analysts freak out if they aren't making the maximum 401k contribution, living in a <$1,400/month apartment and eating cheap meals every day. And they do this so that they can save $10-15k on their base salary - forget about bonuses, because they save every last penny of that. Even if you spent every last cent of your base salary in IB, you'd be saving ~40-50% of your total income, which - I assure you - is more than enough when you're in this industry.

Generally speaking, if you're squeezing out every last cent of savings when you're 23, every incremental dollar has the most meaningful effect on your quality of living that it ever will in your career. Putting away money when you're at the trough of your earnings potential and the peak of your life so that you can (maybe!) have a slightly more prosperous life when you're at the peak of your wealth and trough of your activeness is insane.

Interesting analogy - however the finance industry is very cyclical. I think this is horrible advice.

Jul 12, 2013 - 10:19pm
monkeyoasis, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

Great post, and wholeheartedly agree. Kind of to play devil's advocate, but really just to make sure kids here don't take this to an extreme, I would like to share another view.

My friend recently quit his IBD gig after a year because he hated it (and this guy, like many here, knew what he was getting into, he had 2 banking internships under his belt). You never know if you will be able to tolerate it until you do it. However, saving money played in his favor:

  1. He lived under his means, so the lifestyle difference after quitting was not going to be too significant. I know too many people, and I'm sure you guys know too, who get caught in a vicious cycle of living in a nice apartment, spending money loosely, and having a high maintenance girlfriend then turned wife. Some of them hate their jobs, but they prefer to continue with it rather than giving up the lifestyle they are accustomed to. The Investment Banking industry thrives on these people.

  2. The money he saved gave him leeway into starting his own company. Granted, he is not bootstrapping it or anything of the sort, but the money is enough for a few months' worth of rent and food, so he has his time to figure things out without feeling urged to get a job he might not be passionate about.

Well, that's just another perspective, take it with a grain of salt- my personal philosophy is to always maintain a balance. Of course, if you absolutely love your job as an analyst and do well in your performance reviews, then by all means, spend your bonus like a boss! Until then, just make sure no one makes you a slave for six figures and some fancy title like "Vice-President," but I'm just repeating the original post here. Cheers!

Jul 12, 2013 - 10:20pm
SirTradesaLot, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.

You actually think consumption smoothing is great. Consumption smoothing means you attempt to spend the same amount every year of your life. This would mean that those with high earning potential would spend all or more of their income in their early career. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumption_smoothing
Jul 13, 2013 - 1:29am
Mitt Romney, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NorthSider:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare. I'm sure someone will comment asking 'what about job security' and the million other reasons to save significantly early. Eat me, kid. If you're confident in your abilities as an analyst, you'll figure it out. Enjoy yourself while you still have time to.

This is probably the most important thing to drill into your mind before joining a FT job. It's unbelievable to me how many IB analysts freak out if they aren't making the maximum 401k contribution, living in a <$1,400/month apartment and eating cheap meals every day. And they do this so that they can save $10-15k on their base salary - forget about bonuses, because they save every last penny of that. Even if you spent every last cent of your base salary in IB, you'd be saving ~40-50% of your total income, which - I assure you - is more than enough when you're in this industry.

Generally speaking, if you're squeezing out every last cent of savings when you're 23, every incremental dollar has the most meaningful effect on your quality of living that it ever will in your career. Putting away money when you're at the trough of your earnings potential and the peak of your life so that you can (maybe!) have a slightly more prosperous life when you're at the peak of your wealth and trough of your activeness is insane.

wise words to live by I think a case can be made though for kids who come from poor backgrounds though i find that a lot of kids actually want to put the money away for their family

I'm not concerned with the very poor -Mitt Romney
  • 2
Jul 13, 2013 - 5:49am
Coconut1983, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not to sound like a douche or anything. Your post is great and has a lot of insight in it. The part about not caring too much about savings during your first years is spot on.

I disagree with the rest. It's always easy to say that kind of stuff once you have a great job or made a ton of money. Don't try to convince us that you would be a plumber if you knew.

It reminds me on a lower scale of people saying they regret working in finance because [insert random plublic BS reason] after making 20m+ pre-crisis.

I think a lot if us would like to be able to regret working in finance once succesful.

Jul 13, 2013 - 10:11am
John-KP, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have to disagree.

Saving early is important.

Because I saved and invested, my income from passive investments is now greater than the active salary of any BB IBD person at my level.

Jul 13, 2013 - 11:03am
Febreeze, what's your opinion? Comment below:
SirTradesaLot:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.

You actually think consumption smoothing is great.

Consumption smoothing means you attempt to spend the same amount every year of your life. This would mean that those with high earning potential would spend all or more of their income in their early career.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumption_smoothing

nice catch

Jul 13, 2013 - 12:28pm
NorthSider, what's your opinion? Comment below:
John-KP:

Have to disagree.

Saving early is important.

Because I saved and invested, my income from passive investments is now greater than the active salary of any BB IBD person at my level.

This is almost certainly false.

EDIT: Especially after reading this quote from another of your posts, "So now I need to work out if I want to stay here for a bit longer and save another mil or so..." lol.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
  • 2
Jul 13, 2013 - 12:48pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Febreeze:
SirTradesaLot:
BlackHat:

Well folks, let me tell you something... consumption smoothing is retarded. If you stay in this game for a handful of years, money will be the least of your worries. Live it up, because this is the one time in your life where you might actually have time to spare.

You actually think consumption smoothing is great.

Consumption smoothing means you attempt to spend the same amount every year of your life. This would mean that those with high earning potential would spend all or more of their income in their early career.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumption_smoothing

nice catch

That's really just missing the point... having "smooth consumption" over your entire lifetime is impossible, and taking my use of it literally isn't very helpful (like the people who interpreted my post to mean that I regret my job and want to work as a plumber...lmao). What I mean, and what someone means when they say consumption smoothing, is you would hold off on spending for something you really want to do/have just because you wouldn't meet your budgeting goals for the year or month or whatever while you're still young.

The idea is that the incremental dollar saved at age 21 has less utility later in life than the dollar spent at age 21, especially since the saved dollars for those first few years aren't going to be very big.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 3
Jul 13, 2013 - 1:01pm
sick_willy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post. Definitely agree and have found myself getting to that same point now (3 years out of school). I think the turning point (for me at least) is where you see your job for a job, regardless of what you do (PE, HF, etc) and stop defining your yourself by what your title or job is. It's helped me connect better with people because I'm not so preoccupied with what they do for a living.

Jul 13, 2013 - 5:37pm
LAIBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I like your wifes idea about the book club. In fact I always saw myself as one day doing something like that as a wife.

Jul 13, 2013 - 11:37pm
Febreeze, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:

The idea is that the incremental dollar saved at age 21 has less utility later in life than the dollar spent at age 21, especially since the saved dollars for those first few years aren't going to be very big.

I tried making this point to a friend of mine, and he quickly replied with something like "getting broke is fun, but being broke isn't."

I'm broke. He has a car that's fully paid for, and an apartment with 50% equity in it.

Either way, I'm content with not having to pause my life every time I buy bubble gum in order to input the cost into an expense calculator iphone app. I've seen the kid do this at a bar once after buying a drink.

He's also got a calculation for how much he's spent on presents for his girlfriend. She's even worse than he is.

Jul 14, 2013 - 11:58am
rickyross, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Someone already mentioned this, but I wanted to say it again because I know kids on here have a tendency to think in extremes. I don't think black hat is saying you should go for broke just for the hell of it. My view is that you should spend your money generously on things you want or need, but blowing a couple hundred on bottle service at 230 fifth is not my idea of money well spent (at least not every weekend).

I'm definitely on the frugal side for investment banking analysts, but that's partly because I'm a health nut so try to avoid drinking to excess too often. I've been in the game for a few years now and having a good chunk of change in the bank definitely gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of what I choose to do next.

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.
  • 1
Jul 14, 2013 - 12:47pm
sharkface217, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As an aside, we need more stories of guys who lateral out of the industry and then just clean up nicely in other fields due to our past experience (and comfort with long hours). That being said, doing something you love is important.

Great post, BH.

Jul 14, 2013 - 7:33pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ivedtara:

this discussion reminds of this song

that's like my favorite song so you're getting an SB

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 1
Jul 19, 2013 - 1:28pm
UTDFinanceGuy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great insight!

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
Jan 21, 2014 - 9:53am
ucmaroon47, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Take_It_To_The_Bank:

^^Somebody's a miserable investment banker

And so it goes
Jul 30, 2013 - 9:20pm
Take_It_To_The_Bank, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Meh, I'll take that over the pretentious posts here where a second-year analyst acts like he's made it in life and starts giving out advice to prospies on how to become successful. "Ask me anything I'm a 24-year old" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Jan 17, 2014 - 5:56pm
RepThyBananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You should organize the males to play poker while the females scream over each other (book club).

Rarely will any of my posts have enough forethought/structure to be taken seriously.
Jan 18, 2014 - 7:25am
hansemface, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would have given you a silver banana if I had one. I guess at the end of the day, it's about finding the sweet spot between ambition and gratitude for what you have.

Jan 20, 2014 - 12:46pm
Trueace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have a question. So how much work do you put in these days at improving yourself as an investor etc? Are you saying you've reached that point where you're saturated and kind of peaked or do you still have a lot of room for improvement? Are you still hungry to improve at this point? You're what, 8 years in now?

Jan 21, 2014 - 10:56pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Trueace:

I have a question. So how much work do you put in these days at improving yourself as an investor etc? Are you saying you've reached that point where you're saturated and kind of peaked or do you still have a lot of room for improvement? Are you still hungry to improve at this point? You're what, 8 years in now?

You never stop learning or trying to improve as an investor, it just doesn't happen. Nobody can learn it all in one lifetime, and anyone who thinks there's nothing left to learn probably hasn't learned much to begin with.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 1
Jan 22, 2014 - 2:25am
Trueace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks BH. No I understand what you're saying that you can never learn it all. I was just curious if you feel like you have kind of leveled out to where you're learning, but not jumping up and "sprinting" to work haha. Meaning, do you still have the fire in your belly? You know how Buffett says he feels like he's tap dancing to work everyday even at 80 years old. I would assume to a lot of people in the business.. it just becomes a job and not a true passion.

I am trying to break in if you haven't seen my latest posts. Will know in about a week if I'm going to a GS superday! Haha we'll see. Hopefully your brother has had some luck. I'm trying to go the route where I separate from the military, break in somewhere, then work on mba while working if I have to although I think they are somewhat unnecessary some employers don't seem to think so.

  • 2
Jan 22, 2014 - 2:08pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

He'll be starting his job search next quarter, I have all the faith in the world in him.

But yes - while I certainly don't tap dance to work because it's usually 5am when I'm heading in, I literally couldn't imagine doing anything else and I love my job to the point that it's in no way even something I consider a "job," it's just simply doing what I would have otherwise done with my day off, but doing it outside of my living room. People who fall into a monotonous grind mentality were probably not cut out for the job in the first place, and probably won't see a lot of success in the long run. You have to love this to be good at it.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 1
Jan 22, 2014 - 2:55pm
Going Concern, what's your opinion? Comment below:
BlackHat:
You have to love this to be good at it.

Nice humble brag...

But yea, I agree that's generally true for most things. Tough to do really well at something you dislike for whatever reasons. Although we generally like things we're good at in the first place, so it's kind of self-reinforcing and paradoxical.

Jan 22, 2014 - 10:48pm
Trueace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I appreciate it. I'm trying to sell myself to for a global investment research position or to work supporting the PMs at GS but we'll see. Still have a ways to go but just hoping for the best. Haha yeah that's right you're west coast so tap dancing at that hour would be rough but I hear you.

Jan 24, 2014 - 10:22am
mdk6c, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I love it when the more experienced guys like BlackHat speak up.

Outside of that, WSO consists of 21 year-olds begging for career advice and 23 year-olds penning their memoirs.

Feb 18, 2014 - 1:30am
WWW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

BlackHat, I'd really appreciate if you could help me out on this one: UG deciding between BB IB and BB buy-side ER (within AM). I know I would really enjoy the AM, but peers are a bit hesitant to share info on exit opps (which exact HF's, promotion and turnover, rate of firing bad analysts) and most tell me IB is better for working at a large HF. Also, there's a fair bit of stress involved with the unknown - that 3 years from now I find I'm a shitty analyst who makes bad calls and I'm unable to move to PE/VC/Corp strat/client-facing stuff. Do you have any advice? I'm more than happy to sacrifice the prestige that comes with a solid IB job for better mental health :) but I'm not sure whether IB stress is worse than AM stress.

Feb 23, 2014 - 11:56pm
BlackHat, what's your opinion? Comment below:
WWW:

BlackHat, I'd really appreciate if you could help me out on this one: UG deciding between BB IB and BB buy-side ER (within AM). I know I would really enjoy the AM, but peers are a bit hesitant to share info on exit opps (which exact HF's, promotion and turnover, rate of firing bad analysts) and most tell me IB is better for working at a large HF. Also, there's a fair bit of stress involved with the unknown - that 3 years from now I find I'm a shitty analyst who makes bad calls and I'm unable to move to PE/VC/Corp strat/client-facing stuff. Do you have any advice? I'm more than happy to sacrifice the prestige that comes with a solid IB job for better mental health :) but I'm not sure whether IB stress is worse than AM stress.

The easier direct hiring pipeline is the one that goes through BB IB, so if you want the easiest route, it's finding a reputable desk at a reputable bank, getting in with the right headhunters and getting moved through the pipe to the other side. From there you're a sitting duck and it's going to be a lot like baptism by fire.

The harder way, at least at first, is to work at a long-only or something and be supporting the investment decision process as a junior analyst or associate. If you go this route, you're going to want to build a deep network in your two years or however long you're there before you plan on leaving, and leverage your network as much as possible... just because it's going to be harder to get headhunters to go to bat for you. They're more comfortable with bankers and the more cookie-cutter your background the better your chances of getting a lot of visibility through the recruiting process. So like I said, you can do the headhunter game just as well, but leveraging your networks... maybe some analyst at an HF you fed an idea to and notice it getting bigger, shoot him a note or something, etc. There's no structured pipeline on this side like there is in banking, so it's not very easy to explain, haha. But luckily once you're actually on the other side, its an extremely similar skill set compared to what you were doing at your long-only and you'll have a nice healthy head start over the banking crowd, provided we're talking about a plain vanilla equity long/short strategy... no fancy stuff.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
  • 3
Jun 12, 2015 - 2:48pm
scottyblue44, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a recent graduate this post struck home with me. Getting a foot in the door is my priority now.

Jun 13, 2015 - 6:05am
Nomadchimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story. Something different this time. Well since you got to the position where you wanted and looking back at your experience what options would you have left for yourself for a second chance. And what would you advise to those who haven't had the opportunity to be where they want to be?

“It is our fate to be tormented with large and small dilemmas as we daily wind our way through the risky, fractious world that gave us birth” Edward O. Wilson.
Feb 26, 2017 - 10:39am
CPOMalley, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone that is currently between "college" and "fresh meat" this was a very inspiring read. I'm hoping to be able to live like a "financial plumber" in the coming years. Thanks for posting.

Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest in Monte Carlo and came in third. Now that's a story. This... is something else.
Feb 26, 2017 - 5:53pm
differentialequations12, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My first 6-8 months out of college I payed down all my student loans (10k), partied a bit, and saved a few grand.

Would do it the same way again.

Grabbed a $300/mo car that drives really well, a decent place to live, and it relatively healthy. Not a bad lifestyle.

Array
Aug 7, 2017 - 7:31am
mrcanuck, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Rookie Mistake - READ AND LEARN (Originally Posted: 07/07/2007)

Hey everyone, I work for a non-BB investment bank (think SocGen, HSBC, BNP, BofA). So here's something awful that happened to me on Friday while on a call. All of you who are interning/starting (rookies) need to read this and make a mental note of it.

There was a conference call scheduled at 1PM. This conference call was about an upcoming project that I was leading (obviously, as an analyst, the project I was leading was not overly important). Anyway, the office admin who scheduled it on Outlook never included a reminder! Usually, when you're scheduled in for something, the admin is nice enough to include a reminder 5 minutes before the event. I was spacing out while writing a pitch book/doing industry research and at 1:07 I got an angry email from the MD leading the call in NY. The email's subject was: ARE YOU PLANNING ON JOINING THIS CALL?

So that itself scared the living shit out of me. After that, the MD was discussing new trends in social media across North America. I had just finished doing fascinating research on it, and tried to interrupt him and say my point. Everyone else on the call (VPs, Associates) ignored me. And I ended up just shutting up. When shit like that happens...trust me you just want to roll into a little ball and talk to no one. Anyway, I didn't think that saying one line would be ridiculous, especially since it was something I was assigned to do...I was WRONG!

After the call, the MD called me from NY and (didn't scream, he was very well polished) told me that was the last time I would EVER interrupt him when saying anyting...enough said.

So I still feel like shit thinking about this. I've been doing a really good job so far, but that incident took a lot of cred away. You're probably all going to criticize me (I know), but shit like this happens,

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:32am
del_monte, what's your opinion? Comment below:

read and learn what?

you are just trying to make yourself feel better by transforming your mistake into advice...

lol

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:34am
Restructure This, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Tough break, we've all been there. I have a scar or two.

Just to confirm - this call didn't involve a client did it? I ticked off a client once. Once.

Keep going, you will survive this.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:35am
mrcanuck, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey, Thanks for the nice words. In regards to del_monte, the reason I wrote this post is to inform fellow monkeys. I wish someone had told me this before I got into it. I suppose one could argue that I am trying to make myself feel better by turning this into advice. But what's wrong with that...turning a mistake into something positive is probably the best thing I can do.

No, thank god it was an internal call. If it had involved clients...I don't know what I would have done. The worst thing is that petty shit like this can significantly impact bonuses.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:37am
opticalcharge, what's your opinion? Comment below:
mrcanuck:
Hey, The worst thing is that petty shit like this can significantly impact bonuses.

Yeah, I had something like that happen to me. They appear not to give a shit about consistent performance, but rather how you do the month before bonus.

I also have seen and been on the receving end of a lot of retaliation over the years, which is another short-fall of the profession.

Those are one of the many reasons why I'm trying to leave the industry after 3 years.... we'll see how I end-up. All I want at this juncture are consistently respectful people and I treat my junior bankers and interns like that and they seem to perform very well.

Simple mistakes happen and people ocassionally fuck up, but if it's consistent, then it's a problem, otherwise move on with life.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:36am
numi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

there's nothing wrong with what you're doing mrcanuck. definitely use it as a positive learning experience and move on -- just the fact that you are learning from your mistakes is much better than many others can do. i think you have the right attitude about this. (besides, as bad as you think you had it, remember that things could always have been worse)

​* http://www.linkedin.com/in/numicareerconsulting
  • 1
Aug 7, 2017 - 7:38am
Schumacher, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You needed a reminder?

No offense but I havent had the luxury of being reminded to do ANYTHING since I was in high school.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:39am
Restructure This, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Schumacher:
You needed a reminder?

No offense but I havent had the luxury of being reminded to do ANYTHING since I was in high school.

Do you work in a multi-task environment? This stuff happens. The admin did reminders in the past, plus he got engrossed in another project. Lesson was learned - don't depend on the admin, especially when you have MD visibility.

I definitely need reminders, and I use them.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:53am
BSD123, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Schumacher:
You needed a reminder?

No offense but I havent had the luxury of being reminded to do ANYTHING since I was in high school.

You're trying to tell me that you're reminder has never been set to "ON" in Outlook for a meeting request?

No offense, but my guess is that you aren't in the workforce.

-------------- Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot
Aug 7, 2017 - 7:41am
mrcanuck, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey Schumacher, Read Restructure This's comments. Imagine you doing research on a very, very specific area in global social media. You are talking to different research groups, calling VCs and ibanker friends for help, going through Google and responding to a steady flow of emails fulfilling all sorts of requests from different members in the bank. Before the 1PM call, I had several VPs emailing me with 'urgent' tasks that needed to be fulfilled. You are sitting at your desk, trying to do a good job and are thus thinking intensely about what you are doing.

Now imagine that the office admin ALWAYS includes reminders when she schedules you in for meetings. Obviously, from now on I will double-check, but sometimes slip-ups happen.

Does this help clarify things?

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:43am
-----, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Slip ups happen, give this guy a break. He's trying his best and it sounds like he did his research well even if he didn't quite understand what his role in the meeting was.

Way to go man, keep up the hard work and I'm sure you'll be fine. Atleast this MD wasn't in your specific office / group?

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:44am
eyedea, what's your opinion? Comment below:

so how do you stand out amongst other analyst? Does it even matter? And if your not standing out how do you get good recs for b-school, pe, third year stint, etc?

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:45am
montecarlo7, what's your opinion? Comment below:

don't worry about it. the MD had to say what he did say, to make sure you're in your place. he probably knows you just dicked up and it's a one-time thing, but he has to make the point clear. as long as you know that you have to talk up to your bosses, and they talk down to you, you'll be fine. it's part of the ibanking hierarchy..

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:47am
mrcanuck, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Westcoasting: You're spot on. I've only worked here for 4 months, and how the f*%@ are you supposed to know what to say and do. This is why I posed this topic. I work in TMT and everyone on the call was from that group. The two VPs on the call hired me from on-campus recruiting and really like me. I had only spoken to the MD for like 30 seconds before this. This is why I said earlier: "When shit like that happens...trust me you just want to roll into a little ball and talk to no one"

Eyedea: Frankly I don't know...a lot of people in the business will agree with me in saying that performance measurement is inaccurate at best, and a farce at worst. At my firm, the guys who really suck figure it out because they are staffed on terrible assignments with extremely menial tasks (think endless research, writing memos). They end up quitting. You'll always get a decent review unless you steal cash (or break laws, etc) from the firm so that's not a worry. I know a friend of mine who works for the Boston Consulting Group was politely asked to look for another job. After being staffed for months of really bad projects, he didn't figure out that he was basically in line to be fired.

Do other ppl have different experiences with performance reviews?

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:49am
Restructure This, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Eyedea - regarding standing out:

Raising your hand in a meeting is risky. Think risk and reward. You have to be ultra-sensitive to the people around you and listen a lot before speaking. Even then - you should still expect people to look at you funny like "why is the junior person making that noise?"

My opinion: to be outstanding as a junior, get a reputation for being reliable and delivering on time. This holds for any corporate environment.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:51am
Schumacher, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Well, I cant speak for NYC as I've never worked there but youre right, business in Tokyo was much more orderly.

This was both good and bad, though. Good in the sense that you knew what to expect everyday. Bad in the sense that if you got careless one day, you would be SCREWED. And the bosses would never scream at you. They would just give you the look of doom and then proceed to mind screw you.

Example: I'm in a meeting with 4 other co-workers and 2 directors, when all of a sudden the co-worker's phone next to me goes off. Embarrassed, he says "Damn, I told this guy not to call me now, I'm going to kill him!" The director glares at him and calmly says (in broken Engrish) "Maybe you should kill yourself."

The workload is also EXTREMELY heavy and a lot is expected of you. Luckily, the typical Japanese boss has one fatal weakness; baseball. Make it known to him that youre a baseball fan and he'll like you. I'm from Minnesota, and rumor has it the only reason I got a job was because one of the big-wigs in finance was a Twins fan.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:52am
Restructure This, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Schumacher:
The director glares at him and calmly says (in broken Engrish) "Maybe you should kill yourself."

LOL, that's icy-cold. I think I'd rather get screamed at than "mind-screwed".

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:54am
zonk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i think its pretty safe to say that you should never speakout on a conference call / client call/ meeting / anything unless you are asked a direct question. You will add more value this way - and as an added bonus by not opening your mouth - no one will think you are retarded.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:56am
zonk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i would say this applies to everything if you are in a junior analyst role. you probably dont know anything anyways.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:57am
aguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sed accusamus reprehenderit doloremque incidunt. Ipsum quasi nihil nostrum repellat.

Aug 7, 2017 - 7:59am
Jimbo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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In sunt facilis excepturi laudantium minima aliquid et. Ut porro reprehenderit inventore porro. Quaerat reiciendis ex repudiandae quidem voluptates cum qui. Et temporibus ut sunt et modi est sunt. Vero architecto est est similique aliquid et. Recusandae voluptatibus quo possimus doloremque earum fuga et.

Quo rem fugit voluptatem nostrum nam asperiores laborum. Omnis totam quia consequatur. Quia consectetur vitae sit perspiciatis accusantium quasi.

Facilis rerum dolor autem in impedit blanditiis. Officiis adipisci est ut vero. Assumenda cupiditate magni animi sapiente. Facilis ea eos ad hic. Fugiat qui perferendis illum quaerat. Aut cum deserunt quia itaque voluptates officia. Est magni quod sunt reiciendis magnam officiis est.

Aug 7, 2017 - 8:00am
buysideguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Quaerat vitae facere velit aut enim unde et. Quis voluptas ad blanditiis sit cumque distinctio. Aut distinctio rerum facilis tempore quasi.

Aug 7, 2017 - 8:01am
buysideguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Eveniet qui deleniti et iusto. Tempora natus architecto est quibusdam perferendis quia esse.

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