Burnout - What Comes Next?

All -


Would love some advice on paths that can be taken post-PE. I did my time as a banker, moved on to the Promised Land, and I have made a few realizations over the last few months.


I spend most of my time thinking about how to feel happy. As a college student, I thought that professional success was a means to achieving what I considered my ideal future. Today, I don’t believe that climbing the ladder in this industry and happiness can be mutually achieved. At least not for me.


Everyone knows that this industry is tough before trying to break in, but I don’t believe it is possible to realy grasp what you get yourself into until you’re there. The lost relationships and friendships; perpetual stress and late nights that chip away at your mental and physical health; being mentally absent at important personal events or physically absent altogether.


We all deal with these issues (some better than others). In my situation, I’ve come to realize that the incremental knowledge absorption and the nice all-in comp no longer outweigh the cons that come with the job.


I would like to hear what those with similar experiences did when they finally made the decision to opt out of this rat race. It is a daunting step to take and I am beginning to weigh my options carefully, as I am aware that straying from this path may mean never breaking back in. It would also be great to hear about how your life has changed pre- and post-decison.

I am currently contemplating a few different ideas - listing below for anyone in the same boat. It would be great to hear others’ perspectives on what else could be a consideration.

  1. B-School

  2. Acquire / build a small business

  3. Take a pay cut, work remote and focus on a side hustle on your own time

  4. Take ~6 months off to travel and focus on myself before making a career-related next move


 

Hey there,

I totally get where you're coming from. The finance world can be a tough nut to crack, and it's not uncommon to feel burnt out. But remember, it's not the end of the road. There are plenty of paths you can take post-PE, and it's all about finding what makes you tick.

  1. B-School: This is a popular choice for many. It's a chance to take a breather, expand your network, and potentially pivot your career. Plus, based on the WSO dataset, many who went to b-school for this reason came back to PE. But be aware, burnout can happen again, so it's not always the panacea.

  2. Acquire/Build a Small Business: This could be an exciting venture! You'd have more control over your work-life balance and it could be something you're truly passionate about. But remember, it comes with its own set of challenges.

  3. Work Remote and Focus on a Side Hustle: This could give you the flexibility you need right now. You'd have more time for yourself and to explore other interests. But, make sure the pay cut won't cause you stress in other areas of your life.

  4. Take Time Off: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a step back and focus on yourself. Travel, explore new hobbies, or just take time to relax. This could give you the clarity you need to figure out your next move.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here. It's about what works best for you. And don't worry about straying from the path. Your skills are transferable and highly valued outside the "high finance" world. You just have to sell them.

And remember, it's not just about finding the ideal job, but what each job gives you - experience, network, skills, etc. So, take your time, speak to people, meditate, and let your intuition guide you. You've got this!

Sources: burnout / moving forward, Anyone want to share success stories for comeback from severe burnout early in career?, Midlevel Burnout, Interesting (Post-MBA) Exits from Banking

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 

Hey bud, hang in there.

In case this is helpful at all: I work at a global MF with lots of internal transfer opportunities. Soon after I had my first child, I switched roles internally from a private side role (PE/PC) to a public markets role (trading). Consider that as an option.

It’s the best move I’ve made from a work life balance perspective. I work market hours, don’t work weekends, have dinner with my family every night (haven’t eaten in the office in years), and can plan my weekends (eg trip to the aquarium) without worrying about random requests on my weekends.

The most accretive part of all this - which you may be interested in - is regaining control of my time. I am not interested in doing last minute conference calls or getting an “urgent” request on the weekend. Experience has taught me that very, very few things in our industry truly require blowing up someone’s weekend/weekday nights: most things can wait until Monday or the next weekday morning (your deal will still be there the next day and not a penny of profit would have been lost).

 

Sorry - what do you mean by trader? 
 

I assume you kind of meant more public markets investing but just wanted to check as candidly, I always thought trading (like bank desk) was interesting and a better skill set match for me

 

That’s right, public markets investing. Could be anything from equities, credit, derivatives, commodities, etc.

Depending on your background, some trading desks will be easier to transfer to. If you covered P&U, energy or infra in PE for example, then your skillset will be more relevant for an energy equities or credit desk.

 

Analyst 1 in IB-M&A:

Yeah avoid buying a business if you're already burnt out my guy


This isn’t constructive.

To be clear - for me, the burnout comes from living on someone else’s schedule. I still have the capacity to go without sleep and grind my ass off, no problem.

What I don’t have the capacity for is living to serve my seniors, bending myself at a moment’s notice and constantly having work on my mind because I don’t get to decide when it will come up.

As much as most of us Monkeys would hate to admit it, we’re extremely intolerant towards risk despite developing a skillset that equips us to manage it. This is why we stay complacent in a salaried employment - it pays well and the downside belongs to the firm, not to you.

I’ve always wanted to roll the dice and take a big risk. Now, I am assessing what that risk may look like, and weighing the freedom I would gain against the potential financial penalty (or gain) that would come with it depending on how well I execute.

I have yet to grow the sack to do this, but the point of this thread is to gain some inspiration in a moment when all isn’t rainbows and butterflies.

 

Analyst 1 in IB-M&A:

Yeah avoid buying a business if you're already burnt out my guy


This isn’t constructive.

To be clear - for me, the burnout comes from living on someone else’s schedule. I still have the capacity to go without sleep and grind my ass off, no problem.

What I don’t have the capacity for is living to serve my seniors, bending myself at a moment’s notice and constantly having work on my mind because I don’t get to decide when it will come up.

As much as most of us Monkeys would hate to admit it, we’re extremely intolerant towards risk despite developing a skillset that equips us to manage it. This is why we stay complacent in a salaried employment - it pays well and the downside belongs to the firm, not to you.

I’ve always wanted to roll the dice and take a big risk. Now, I am assessing what that risk may look like, and weighing the freedom I would gain against the potential financial penalty (or gain) that would come with it depending on how well I execute.

I have yet to grow the sack to do this, but the point of this thread is to gain some inspiration in a moment when all isn’t rainbows and butterflies.

He's just giving his opinion how is it not constructive lol? Do you want everyone to just agree or what

 

I did #3, highly recommend. Life is a lot more fun when you can travel and workout and still make good money and working for yourself makes you feel free. But keep in mind it will make it much harder for you to ever get back to an investing role. 
 

If optionality is what you want - bschool is the right move but remember your financial position will deteriorate and it will take a few years to recover from that investment (which increases the likelihood you return to PE). 
 

I would not buy a business - you only ever hear about the success stories. My friends who did search funds either failed to find a business or those who bought one feel like it’s a noose around their neck. 

 

Can’t share too much to avoid doxxing myself, but I would recommend you think about side hustles as how do I make $5-10K (or even $1-5K) as time efficiently as possible and then build a portfolio of those streams of income. Collectively, they become meaningfully additive. Building a portfolio of e-commerce products that make a small amount of money each is one strategy that has worked for a few folks I know. These things take time to figure out and it’s hard to have them tee’d up and ready to go before you leave PE unfortunately. I just gave myself the goal of $1 of outside income within 6 months of leaving finance and I met it. 

Life now is a lot more fun though - I think a lot of people in finance forget that you only get to be young once and I’d rather take my middle ground between work and life and get to enjoy being young, wild, and free working fully remote while making $250-300K vs staying on the path and making more money and continuing to feel repressed after years of doing what you’re supposed to do and not what you want to do. But that’s just me - I’m sure others would have very legitimate alternative viewpoints that are worth considering too. 

 

why? i would think its actually the opposite. The expected value of vc backed entrepreneurship is probably way higher than doing a search fund or regular SMB, but you only have limited shots at doing either.

 

Personal anecdote in case helpful:

I was in a similar spot, completely burned out and just sick of the people I was working with after 5 years in PE.  Decided to quit and take control of my journey again.  I traveled for 9 months, rekindled an old passion of mine, did a bit of freelance work for a friend's startup, worked on a "family project"... and my physical and mental health improved dramatically.  Most importantly for me, I detached my professional success from my personal wellbeing for the first time in a decade. 

Having spent a lot of time thinking through next steps, I decided I wanted to join a hedge fund (ultimately got the exact job I wanted) - I actually enjoy investing but hated the project-based nature of PE that can relentlessly consume months of your life at a time, the amount of time wasted on "process" and how my role was increasingly focused on managing process as opposed to investing.  Recruiting in a shit market and without a job was a challenge in itself but you will be competitive for a wide range of roles if you decide to go down this path based on your profile... I got a ton of interesting looks despite the market being terrible.

The most important lessons for me were:

1. If you take time off, do a range of things... it's a great time to try random stuff, which may help provide clarity as to what you want to do longer-term and will make it easier to spin your experience (if you need to)

2. Be able to articulate why you left - of course there are some clear push factors, but when you feel like you've figured out what you want to do, focus on the pull factors of pivoting to XYZ industry and using your time off to crystallise a plan and go all-in on xyz

3. Make sure you jot down all of the important info pertaining to your deals (or print stuff before you leave) - if you want to get back into a related field (i.e., corp dev, VC, GE, etc.) people will immediately want to figure out if you know what you're talking about / were fired and knowing your deals inside out will be an even more critical box to tick.  Not being in the seat for X months / not having access to files in preparation for your interview won't be a viable excuse

Good luck with your next step!

 

It funny how people buy into this matrix that you have to go to school to be involved in private equity or investment banking. I only graduated high school with a 2.1, no college and was on drugs.Today I have a portfolio of 13 companies doing 80m+ in revenue.For anyone who's thinking of doing this it's possible I did it don't listen to the haters. They just don't believe they can do it. That's the difference between a worker and entrepreneur. 

David Rockefeller said he would rather have a nation full of workers than thinkers. Let that sink in.

 

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