WSO Conference 1.0: A Retrospective and Some Advice

Good afternoon, folks. I wanted to deliver a brief retrospective on the first ever WallStreetOasis Conference that took place this past Saturday.

First and foremost, Patrick and the rest of the team working behind the scenes did a fantastic job. I had reasonable expectations going into it, and found that my expectations were blown out of the water. Attendance was unbelievable, the keynote speaker was solid, the panels (of which I sat on one) were excellent and informative, and the audience was truly engaged.

Oh yeah, and the food was pretty solid, too.

Now that a few days have passed since the conference took place, I've had some time to digest and have some overarching thoughts and a little piece of advice I'd like to share...

First and foremost, it's pretty awesome to see how significantly WSO has impacted so many people.

I met a few other users who, like myself, have been on WSO for years. Like me, they've used the site for guidance and advice as they made their way into the field as summer analysts, to full time analysts, to the buyside, to b-school, and beyond. It's cool to see how helpful its been to so many over such a long professional lifecycle.

Alternatively, I met a ton of folks who just began using the site in the last three to six months. For one, I was pretty shocked that people interested in the field would just be hearing about WSO. Simultaneously, it illustrated that there is definitely serious room for this site to grow.

What continues to impress me is the tenacity with which prospective monkeys of all stripes approach their journey into finance. People from both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds attacking their goal with laser focus.

This is where my piece of advice comes in. Don't let your focus on a specific end-goal become a singular obsession. In other words, do not let your pursuit of one specific "dream" job lead to you miss out on other opportunities.

For example, I spoke to more than one person at the conference who currently worked in an equity research role. They really liked their jobs and seemed pretty interested in the public markets. However, they also shared the same desire to eventually move into PE. My advice to them may not have been the advice they ideally were looking for - it was to take some time and really give thought to why something like PE is their end-goal when they're already doing something they really enjoy.

They were far from alone.

I spoke on the Exit Opps panel, I just finished two years in MM PE and spent three in MM IBD before that. The overarching theme of my comments on the panel and to people afterwards was to do things for the right reasons. If you truly enjoy your job in equity research, then stick with it and dominate. Become an expert in your sector. If you work in a sales role and make good money and have a fun time, stick with it. If you really like working in banking, then don't move to the buyside just because it's what people do, do what makes you happy. Doing so, rather than moving into another field because it sounds good on paper, will pay major dividends. Both professionally and financially. Not to mention, it'll open different doors for you down the road as your reputation and knowledge base grows.

Don't make moves because you think it's what you should be doing.

As I said on the panel, people are too quick to fetishize exit opps. Yes, they play an important role in your career since you'll often look for new experiences. However, one should not look to them as the holy grail. And more importantly, one should try hard to keep their focus in the present, working hard and improving their skill set, while keeping a fluid plan for the future.

So, if you're already in the field or you're on the outside looking to break in. Take this advice to heart: constantly work hard to improve yourself, keep realistic expectations about what various roles are truly like, and have a truly fluid plan to follow. Don't let your singular focus on an end-goal, like banking or PE, get in the way of other opportunities that your hard work, networking, and preparation might lead you to.

Anyway. I hope this post didn't come off as too preachy. I just think it's important for folks to realize that there are so many ripe opportunities out there that to miss out on them because they don't fit to their "ideal" end-game would be foolish.

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Comments (5)

Jul 31, 2012 - 5:08pm
That_Aston, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The ONLY negative I have to say is that we had to wait too long to get in the Ballroom. No AC in the hallway=me sweating.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.
Jul 31, 2012 - 5:43pm
duffmt6, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post and thanks for taking the time to do the panel.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."
Aug 1, 2012 - 1:48am
Senvik, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very well stated. This fits almost exactly into my ideals and I'm proud of you for being so straightforward about this. If everyone trying to get into finance read this, we would have way fewer pissed off bankers hating their lives. SB for you.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." - IlliniProgrammer
Aug 5, 2012 - 4:55am
goodL1fe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Perspiciatis soluta aliquid temporibus atque id reiciendis et. Veritatis et provident voluptate quasi atque modi impedit.

Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
Brill: I blew up the building.
Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
Brill: Because you made a phone call.

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