Losing "The Edge" Post-IB
Left IB after an extremely sweaty year and joined a strategic finance role coming up on a year as well. Really desired a semblance of WLB after working 18 days consistently leading to the move. That felt nice for a while but now it makes me more anxious knowing that I was accustomed to working at a level and pace and learning ability far higher while in banking and feels like I'm losing it while working a more "normal" job now, especially while seeing my analyst class move onto PE. In terms of the work itself, I really enjoy following the markets which was at least tangentially part of the work in M&A and miss that being on the corporate side. It's getting to the point where I almost miss banking more now and would rather do that but obviously would be extremely difficult if not impossible in this job market. Has anyone else gotten over this feeling, or is it a sign of another not great fit? Maybe a different financial services job would've been a better fit but unsure what possibilities there are after a corporate job. I've talked to people who mention getting into more hobbies and other activities but its still not as satisfying as going all-in on one thing the way you do in a career.
I left banking in 2019 after about a year and a half FT on the job. A lot of people think I'm crazy for saying this but I do miss the intensity of it - I got a real kick out of doing work at an incredibly fasted pace with complete focus. The hours sucked yeah and I wouldn't go back but there's definitely part of it that I miss.
One of my VPs at the time had done a few years of banking -> MBA and did a summer in finance at Big Tech. They came back to banking after bschool. Why? "Operating is boring".
I'm not sure if I have any great advice, but A) getting back to a higher paced job might be the move for you or B) get really into a physical hobby like running or cycling and you can channel that energy into something else.
Yeah I never thought I'd say I miss it but it definitely set a standard for how I expect work to be and the level I want to perform at. I thought that would serve me well in a slower role where I can stand out easier and while it is true, I miss pushing myself how I used to. I had a VP with a similar story, having left banking for a corporate role and then went back because he felt it was too slow.
I did think if a higher paced job again would make sense for me. Not sure if banking again would be the answer (both whether I want it and / or if I can break in again). Outside of a faster paced corporate, not sure what path there would be to a more intense finance job from my current position either. I did try the hobby route too - was very into powerlifting through college and I definitely workout much better these days than in IB but it hasn't quite made up for it.
What did you end up doing after you left?
I experienced something similar, but decided to stay in my good WLB role and invest the extra time in building relationships and hobbies.
The reason why you and I "missed" IB is because our brains were craving the same dopamine hit that only a career like IB could give. Human beings crave fulfillment (i.e., dopamine), which could come from cheap sources like social media or from healthy sources like work. I'd definitely recommend reading up on the subject.
I think the answer is to just find another dopamine source aside from IB. IB likely wouldn't be great idea since you didn't like it the first time around. Better alternatives would be trying to be a rockstar and rising up the ranks of your group, or pursuing hobbies that actually take a lot of effort (e.g., not video games or drinking, something more like bodybuilding, powerlifting, combat sports, marathon running, etc.).
I started boxing and lifting weights seriously and it cured that itch to get back to sweaty hours. I also started dating someone and spending more time with friends/family which I found fulfills me wayyyy more than working until 3AM on a bake-off we'll ultimately lose.
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
Thanks and I do agree that I ended up getting fulfillment from working really hard which I didn't even realize at the time. I do have a drive to perform well and move up in my group but if the whole culture is fairly lax and laid back I miss having that external motivation too. I mentioned above but I Was very into powerlifting and getting back into it as well as some other sports (trying to get into boxing) but the more "well-rounded" approach hasn't been filling that itch either. I am closer with my family again which is great but also realize that most of my friends are all in busy jobs and at best would see them once a week or every other week.
I think Green_bananas hit the nail on the head. That being said, don't feel like your career is over and there's no path back...there is. You're still young and if you were a good analyst, banks would welcome you back. I'd use this time to see if you enjoy the corporate job and use the free time productively to research other professions + hobbies. Personally, after IB, I moved into a lower stress PE gig in order to explore other career opportunities (e.g. getting involved with startups through VC, community groups etc.). After exploring, I had much more confidence in the path I wanted to take (hedge fund) and I think I'm in a better position than some of my peers who stuck it out in 1 or 2 roles post-graduation. Enjoy the freedom, but be deliberate! Don't waste your 20s doing stupid shit.
Thanks man - definitely spending a lot more time reflecting on career now. My biggest concern is that most other financial services related jobs will be hard to break into from my current role and that I've lost the credit from IB I've had. Even breaking back into banking is probably quite tough let alone in the near-term economic environment. I don't want to try to make another move in haste but also cognizant of being stuck in corporate becoming more likely the longer I stay whereas I'm sure everything was open in your position having both IB and PE roles. Just wondering if you've seen anyone in my position make a move back from corporate to financial services? Trying to learn from others' experiences but haven't seen many people make the move on Linkedin outside of getting an MBA.
Ignore my title. On phone so excuse some typos as well. I've done IB, PE, ops, MBA, public markets investing. Here's the good news - your roles so far have allowed you to discover a few aspects that you really like / dislike in your work/life. I'd encourage you to continue to reflect on this more. From my read, you disliked the hours IB required. You also dislike your current role, but I'm unclear on if that's the lack of intensity or just lack of interest in the work whatsoever. You do realize that you like following the markets. If you worked a market-facing role for your current hours, do you think you would still be bored, or would you love your work and appreciate still having the time to pursue hobbies? Keep pushing on the pros/cons (plus your strengths and weaknesses) and try to start solving for a career that matches along them. For example, if the answer is something market facing, would you rather be doing research all day and suggesting pitch ideas to others, in an investing seat putting capital to work and taking on risk, following rates and talking credit markets with corporates all day, etc.? DCM, ECM, ER, LO, HF, etc. Consider the day to day of these roles and a career in them and match that along your pros/cons from your deeper reflections. Talk to people.
if you start narrowing these down I'd be happy to chat more on path to a given role.
I think there's still an avenue for you to get to a variety of roles where you follow the markets (and would therefore enjoy the work more based on your stated interest) while having a better WLB than the one that pushed you out of banking. Just get to it before you spend too much time on the corporate side. You can create the career/life you want if you are intentional.
Thank you very much for the thoughtful response - Your read is pretty spot on and I can elaborate on some of the points:
My hours in IB were tough but I would say it was more the unpredictability and always "on-call" nature of banking than the pure hours. The constant 3-4ams sucked, but never knowing whether I could make Friday night / Saturday plans or even just having that time to myself to recover and recharge after grueling weeks became tough. At the time, I thought I completely lost my interest and ambition in finance and went fully "work to live" 9-5 type job. After this experience, it did turn me off of client services, transaction-based work.
With my current job, I think the dislike is more lack of interest in the work, but the lack of intensity compounds the problem. I could probably do nothing for an entire day and people wouldn't notice. If I cranked like I did in IB, I could do several days worth of progress on a project fairly quickly and then just hangout without question. With my extra time during the day I'm just following the markets and keeping up with M&A which is making me realize hours aside, I liked the actual work I was doing before more. I don't think leaving financial services broadly was the right move for me now. I have a close friend that left banking at the same time for a public investing role and works not that many more hours more than me (maybe 9-6:30, no weekends), but I imagine he's very engaged through the entire day and loves talking about his work and thinks about it all the time. That makes me believe its more about lack of interest in my work and perhaps a 9-5 (or even 9-7 or 9-9) where I was engaged the whole time making the day fly by like in banking is more the desire than just working past midnight again for the sake of it.
Being quite frank as well, I think the fairly steep pay discount and slower progression with both comp and career has something to do with it - knowing that I am very much capable enough to work harder and have a more ambitious career path. My friend above drastically cut his working hours from banking but still makes about the same comp with similar progression so he didn't lose anything there. Money definitely did not make me happy in banking but there is a bit of regret on plateauing on that potential early on in a very slow corporate role when there's a much wider middle ground than I first thought within financial services.
Taking all of this into account, I have so far come to the thought that a role involving public markets would suit me best. I think private market, deal-based work (IB, PE, private credit) will always have the unpredictability and always on-call nature. Whereas the stress and unpredictability of private markets stems from moving a process along, I think the "stress" of competing in a theoretically efficient market to find value (vs. private market deals coming from senior relationships) is a much more interesting challenge. A former coworker suggested I look into ER and it does seem like a great path. Hours seem manageable dependent on your analyst with some earnings sprints but still not banking with pretty good earning potential. Developing an industry expertise through company and industry research, valuations and meeting management teams, companies and conferences all sound very appealing based on everything I've written above. It was a path I just never learned much about in undergrad and don't know anyone personally in it but will try networking just to start learning more. I've looked into some of the investing roles on the public side too - I think I may be a bit too risk-averse for the hedge fund world but of course there's a lot of variation between SM / MM and all the different strategies. On a similar end, I did look into public roles in credit which could be a good way to be on the public side in a less volatile way. I did also look into LO and had interviews at one of the top ones but I know its a very competitive space with very low turnover. From my understanding, going into ER would keep the door open to an investing role on the public side in the future so it does seems like the mix of engaging work and progression potential for me.
As you mentioned, I do get worried about spending too much time on corporate and losing any chance left back towards financial services but also trying to balance that with a job hopper connotation if I try to pursue something too soon.
If you're open to private markets, I think a direct co-investment team would do well for what you have described in terms of thought provoking intensity and better WLB than banking / being a lead sponsor in PE.
This is very, very normal.
It's the reason guys with $$$ in exits keep working.
It's enjoyable, you learn a lot, and for some of us, it's probably healthier than not working.
Its funny because when I was getting grinded in banking, the idea of not having much to do sounded wonderful but I definitely see why its not all that great, especially for the personalities that go into these finance jobs in the first place.
I left consulting about two years ago after spending my first 7 years doing M&A and Strategy at a Tier 2 to join a MM PE portfolio company as a Director
On the outside, everything is pretty awesome - I'm a high-performer and was promoted to VP within two years, TC is $325k+, equity package will be well into 7 figures by the time this thing exits (way higher than initial projections), the first 6-12 months in the role were pretty hard, but my WLB is pretty solid now (mostly driven by flexibility, not hours)
Not sure if I'm a masochist, but I really miss parts of the consulting grind - the people, intensity of projects, career mentorship (both upwards and downwards), new projects, etc.. Most importantly, sometimes I feel like I don't operate at my full capacity because we don't have the same deadlines, the bar for "high-performance" is lower, and I wonder if I'm slowing up a bit. I've done some research and sounds like it's hard to get back on that treadmill once you're off
Due to the nature of these things, I have no choice but to ride this out through all liquidity events, but sometimes I do wonder if I made the right choice...
Not sure this is helpful, but you're not the only one going through this. Good luck
When you say hard to get back on, do you mean in landing similar jobs again or wanting to go back? I have been thinking too about other paths but feeling kinda stuck now
Thank you everyone for all the great answers. I have a lot to think about in terms of lifestyle but I think one thing for sure is that the corporate route generally was not the right choice for me and some sort of valuation / markets facing work was definitely way more interesting to me but being burned out changed my perspective. To try and plan some sort of move back to financial services for the longer haul (whether an intense job or not), would the best route be an intermediary step like trying to break back into banking? The ER suggestion above is really interesting and I've also thought about family offices - but I imagine both of those and anything else would be tough from my current role. Really trying to avoid an MBA if possible due to cost. Realize this market is terrible and want to avoid "job hopping" but need to balance not getting stuck in corporate too long before it's too late to move.
In a similar position but still in IB and deciding if it makes sense to jump to a corp dev / strategy role. Obvious pros are improved wlb and flexibility with schedule but am very concerned about it being too relaxed as you described (not to mention the huge comp discount). I'm pretty burned out and could benefit from a more relaxed schedule. I also don't want to close doors to better wlb investing opportunities down the road (co-invest, secondaries, or early stage) - not a straightforward decision and sounds like you can get pigeonholed.
Yeah I wasn't interested in PE or other investing at the time - thought it would've been generally similar wlb but there definitely are better wlb options if you like. Only advice I'd give is don't make a decision in a burnt out state and if you're leaving, make sure you're running to something and not just away from banking. I came into banking with the idea that I'd leave for corporate eventually for wlb, but ended up making the decision a lot earlier than expected because of my group's hours. Looking back, I don't regret leaving but if I wasn't burned out I probably would've spent more time learning about other financial services or investing opportunities outside of the traditional buyout PE stuff.
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