How Many of You Are Actually Happy?

I thought this would be an interesting topic given the various threads on people burning out with IB / PE etc. So, how many of you are actually happy and enjoy this career? Honestly, I don't enjoy this job and have come to realize I can live very comfortably on $150-200K a year. Leaving the industry within next 12-24 months once economic situation improves, either corporate development or real estate. Want 40-50 hours a week, weekends free, and the occasional big paycheck every few years. In special sits in UMM / MF.

Comments (84)

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Sep 18, 2022 - 12:37am

Quite happy. Enjoy the job and am working with a good team. Have my issues with the economics and fewer junior resources than ideal both of which are being worked on (have had multiple convos with the partner eg offering me a second junior of my choosing and some other fixes). I have accepted 3 months of the year are fully written off on 80-90 hour per week sprints but outside of that it's chill maybe 50-60 hours tops. Admittedly have always enjoyed investing and do admit this is one of the few fields that's aligned with my economic goals 

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Sep 19, 2022 - 2:15am
CrownRuler

Sounds like a great WLB, was wondering if you're at a LMM/MM/UMM

UMM+ but wlb is not quite as good as you're taking away from the message. 3 months are literally totally written off including weekends. Working till 12-1am every day during the week no time to have lunch even. If you can stomach that then yes the rest of the year is very bearable because I can lean on the associates (who admittedly get worked). 

Funniest
  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Sep 19, 2022 - 8:08am

Writing off literally one-fourth of your life every year and this guy's response is, un-ironically, "Sounds like a great WLB". 

You can't make this stuff up.

Sep 19, 2022 - 7:41pm
CrownRuler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When banking is 70-90 hours constanly, that feels like a huge upgrade. VP in banking was clocking 70-80 all year round. --- Literally 50-60 hours for 9 months is good. I've done a job that is exactly like the above. sprints during deal mode around 80-90 hours and worked both saturday and sunday and 60 hours outside. Even directors literally grinding all weekend. Then again, maybe I've only worked at sweaty groups and thought that was the norm, myb if so

Sep 19, 2022 - 7:29pm
iggs99988, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Quite happy. Enjoy the job and am working with a good team. Have my issues with the economics and fewer junior resources than ideal both of which are being worked on (have had multiple convos with the partner eg offering me a second junior of my choosing and some other fixes). I have accepted 3 months of the year are fully written off on 80-90 hour per week sprints but outside of that it's chill maybe 50-60 hours tops. Admittedly have always enjoyed investing and do admit this is one of the few fields that's aligned with my economic goals 

That awkward moment when junior resource doesn't realize he's the junior resource :D 

Sep 18, 2022 - 12:40pm
throwawaybadabing, what's your opinion? Comment below:

General sense of diffuse misery that sometimes oscillates to extreme emotional pain seems to be the norm

  • 4
  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Sep 18, 2022 - 1:26pm

Curious as to why you don't enjoy the job - could you elaborate? I personally like the investing / dealmaking aspect of it, and I find that having people around that I generally like helps tremendously. Like the poster above, I'm fine with the fact that certain months of the year will be written off during deal sprints, but that's alright for me - I still get plenty of my weekends (vs back when I was in ibd).

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 19, 2022 - 10:18am

I am currently fucking miserable.

However, that is entirely my fault, and has nothing to do with my job. Not looking for hugboxing or anything, I am simply mentally not well and don't know how to fix it. My job is great though, T2 bank, decent pay, decent WLB, great team, interesting deals, good prospects, I really cannot complain, and can count myself very lucky in this economy.

Sep 19, 2022 - 11:47am
nycmadison, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is generally caused by a lack of identity outside of work. If your life is work, eat, sleep, repeat, you're going to be miserable even if you like your job. The solution is always a more active social life and meaningful hobbies/interests outside of work. 

Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in PE - Growth
Sep 19, 2022 - 10:49am

The marginal utility of money from $250k to $400k just never made sense to me. It ends up being an additional ~90k on top of post tax ~190k. If you aren't an idiot your rent/ mortgage shouldn't be more than 6k a month. I.e. a million dollar home with a 30 year mortgage should be less than that. So that's 72k leaving you 100k for insurance/ other expenses and just general life existence. Kids are where it gets a little messy, but if you can bank 15k a year, that's 270k by the time a kid is 18. The key is just not spending a ton while you are pulling in that 200-250k in your late 20s/ early 30s and childless. Like pay 2/3k in rent and have 160k post tax, post rent, income. Bag like 100k of it and put it in the S&P. 
 

The retardation I see is people just living way beyond their means then needing to have a job that you work all the time to be able to afford it. Don't get a second house in the Hamptons and live in a smaller house in a great neighborhood and try to take vacations more prudently and you can get the best of both worlds.

  • Works at Goldman Sachs
Sep 20, 2022 - 4:12am

The marginal utility of money from $250k to $400k just never made sense to me. It ends up being an additional ~90k on top of post tax ~190k. If you aren't an idiot your rent/ mortgage shouldn't be more than 6k a month. I.e. a million dollar home with a 30 year mortgage should be less than that. So that's 72k leaving you 100k for insurance/ other expenses and just general life existence. Kids are where it gets a little messy, but if you can bank 15k a year, that's 270k by the time a kid is 18. The key is just not spending a ton while you are pulling in that 200-250k in your late 20s/ early 30s and childless. Like pay 2/3k in rent and have 160k post tax, post rent, income. Bag like 100k of it and put it in the S&P. 
 

The retardation I see is people just living way beyond their means then needing to have a job that you work all the time to be able to afford it. Don't get a second house in the Hamptons and live in a smaller house in a great neighborhood and try to take vacations more prudently and you can get the best of both worlds.

Ugh I guess I'm retarded I want a 10m penthouse plus a Rari, Michelin quality chef to cook every meal, yacht etc. :( I'm gonna have to grind for so long 

  • Associate 2 in PE - Growth
Sep 20, 2022 - 11:13am

That's not the marginal utility of 200k to 400k, is it?

Totally different making f you money/ if there's a path to serious generational wealth there's very different calculus than being a 400k 100 hour a week slave. What you described you likely can't do making 400k or climbing a PE latter unless you create your own fund.

Sep 19, 2022 - 11:26am
IntlBaller, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Used to be very miserable in IBD but now very happy in a SWF. Working 40-50/week, no weekends, tons of holiday, doing cool, global deals, time for hobbies, low tax, lots of sun, great travel launchpoint, clearing 300-400. I don't live in a prestigious place but couldn't care less. Enjoying this life now, could do it for a while. Happy to discuss more if interested. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 19, 2022 - 10:56pm

I think he's saying SWF = Sovereign Wealth Fund

  • Prospect in PE - Other
Sep 20, 2022 - 6:28am

How many YOE? Also guessing this is in the middle east?

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Other
Sep 20, 2022 - 10:48am

LP world is where it is at. The true masters of the universe.

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
Sep 21, 2022 - 5:21pm

Very interesting! What's your day to day like, you are now mostly doing coinvests and primaries I presume? Do you feel somewhat limited because of this in what you'd like to pursue next should you choose to move on? Current PE Analyst also considering going to a SWF in 1-3 years, but a little concerned about these points.

Thanks a lot!

Sep 28, 2022 - 12:07pm
IntlBaller, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm in the directs team and so look mostly at direct deals where we are the lead investor. Though we have done co-investments and look at a few opportunities when they come up (maybe 25%). Of the handful of deals I've closed so far, 70% of them we led on, hiring bankers, all DD folks. One of them had co-investors that tagged onto us. 

It's quite broad though, which I really like given the vast variety of what I see. For example on any given day, may be executing or analyzing any of the following: potential minority investment in a private company, a structured credit investment, IPO cornerstone (though rare, mostly focus on private), co-investment in a buyout, etc. etc. 

Always minority though and within a sector team so get to dive in on sector dynamics across all structures and types of investments.

It is limiting to some extent i.e. I'm not going to be a buyout investor after this. I'm of the view that sometimes you have to close some doors to advance to the next. With this move, I solved for a better network, solid platform that is geo-agnostic, WLB, significantly better well-being etc. I've always thrived on uncertainty so knew the traditional path was never for me.

Sep 19, 2022 - 12:10pm
FlashyKaptain, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I was in the same position you're describing (although IB, never did PE) and was on average unhappy / slightly depressed, and occasionally miserable.

I made the move that you're describing (same comp range, same hours) and have had absolutely no regrets. Not a hyperbole, I quite literally mean that I have not once regretted leaving my previous job lol. I understand it's different for everyone but man, I don't see myself ever going back, even for meaningfully higher comp.

Having more free time gave me much better perspective into what's important to me and I think that's been a contributor to the improvement in my happiness. Also, and I may be more sensitive to this than others, but my mood takes a severe beating when I don't sleep enough. Having the time to exercise, rest properly, etc. has been awesome.

Lastly, and something I for sure under-estimated, is that when you go from ~80 hours / week, super high stress environment to a more regular ~50 hours, better control of your time, autonomy, etc., you'll be surprised at how much more creative you will be and more enthusiastic to take on new projects (whether at work or outside of work).

For me that has meant investing in real estate, starting a few side hustles, etc. that I would have never had the time (or desire) to undertake previously. Although none of these represent meaningful cash flow at this time, and certainly can't replace my job, it does make me feel good to know that I have less of my future banked on one job / one employer.

Good luck to you!!  

  • 8
Sep 19, 2022 - 12:50pm
Bigbodybugatti, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm super happy because I work in real estate at a HNW family office where I barely ever work over 45 hours a week. Pay is on par with IB when you adjust for COL, good exposure to deals and I can co-invest already as a junior analyst. Meanwhile the kids in my summer analyst class are hating life right now and look like zombies- not taking my offer in NYC for IB was the best decision I ever made. Don't follow the herd kiddos

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Sep 19, 2022 - 11:34pm

Wildly depressed.  Just going to keep my shit together for another few years before I hit my number, which is probably lower than most on here, and move off the grid.  Taking it slow in the middle of nowhere, doing plenty of hunting, and being checked out of the corporate world before I'm 35 seems like a good remedy for what's ailing me.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Sep 19, 2022 - 11:47pm

Work in the private market investing arm of a large LO AM. Love the work, stability with size, great pay, and family-friendly hours. Can't complain tbh. 

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Sep 21, 2022 - 12:00am

This. Alts within diversified AM is the hidden gem. Moved from MF to this type of role and my happiness 10x'd immediately. 40hrs/wk. Launched a side hustle that nets me $100-200k. Actually took a pay raise from MF as I negotiated hard to demonstrate the "value" of having a pedigree guy like me at a lesser brand AM lol. Love my life

  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Sep 22, 2022 - 9:02am

Are you the referring to the Oakhills (T Rowe) / CarVal (AB Bernstein) and the like?

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 20, 2022 - 12:31am

Curious as to what OP's and other people's thoughts are about grinding it out and retiring as early as possible (assuming you have a goal of $3m net worth - I come from a low COL asian country) vs. taking a more chill job but working until you are older

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Sep 20, 2022 - 9:07am

Retirement-type money in PE will have to come from carry - and it's a long road to actually seeing meaningful realizations given the the time horizon on most investments + the fact that you aren't getting really meaningful DAW until you have larger allocations and across multiple funds.  Most people that make it there either have a true love for the job or are disgustingly competitive and probably not going to just retire early. 

Sep 20, 2022 - 4:12pm
corporateguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A word from an old man (36). I am very happy but some food for thought:

I started in bulge bracket banking and went to a Mega Fund but frankly was burned out after a year of PE and the 2 banking years and left to corporate development. 

My first year in PE I took home $190K (2010-11). When I left to Corp Dev I went to $100K and trust me that drop hurt more than I would have imagined and actually made me regret quitting the PE fund. Particularly when I went to bschool and did not have comfortable money to afford it and had to borrow while if I had stayed two more years at the fun and grind it out, I'll probably would have been better financially. Now I was not miserable due to this and while I regret it and wish I had made a different decision, the key to remember it is a job and $100K afforded me to live very comfortably and the 40 hours work week allowed to make those two years some of the most fun in terms of dating, travelling etc.  Now again I still wish I had maybe not quit but ultimately my goal was to differentiate between total happiness and job/career /money satisfaction especially when you are not living paycheck to paycheck.

Career has had some up and downs after that but fortunately that after bschool I have been above $200K, paid loans quick and finally had some success with a liquidity event in current company. Now I am very unlikely ever going to pull $1M plus like some of the other guys here but can live very comfortably with where I am and have really enjoyed the past few years because of the great work life balance and relatively low stress of work (add that I have no kids, never been marry and still enjoy online dating). Now no one can say if making more money would make me happier and in all fairness I also wonder (though maybe I would suck at PE anyways). 

Point is that worry about your career but try to see it as one of many ingredients in happiness especially because most people in this forum are already unlikely to be those living paycheck to paycheck. 

Sep 21, 2022 - 12:14pm
PeRmAnEnTiNtErN, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I totally get the differentiate between total happiness and job/career /money satisfaction - but, I think that can be really hard if you are having a tough time at work.  

Sep 21, 2022 - 5:39pm
corporateguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That is very true and frankly it is not easy. During my first time in corp dev I had some issues as the head of the group for whatever reason was not a fan of me even though my direct managers were very happy with performance. The combination of the boss not being a fan and the lower cash comp made it hard to be happy at work. However, I found joy in other areas and a need for an exit (MBA for me). I am mindful that it is different if you are older, mortgage, family etc. but just to keep perspective that it is only one component and that is a component that always has a solution even if that solution is to swallow your pride and find any job to pay the bills.

Given market and my role in middle management I know I am a candidate for the chopping board in this recession and obviously I would be devastated and might need to swallow my pride and find any job to pay bills and while i won't be happy it would not completely control my happiness. 

Sep 20, 2022 - 4:49pm
GilgaChecks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Come to the dark side (Real Estate Private Equity). Most the associates/VP's work 40-50 hours max and enjoy the transactional nature of the job. I just started as an analyst and really enjoying the wlb even though the associates are throwing all their deals at me (I'm the only analyst on my team). Pay is solid too. 

Sep 21, 2022 - 2:41pm
NuclearPenguins, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really a variety of factors, not ranked in any particular order:

  • Lower comp - this one is obvious. Yeah sure if your equity hits you could be rich, but that's such a toss up
  • Startups aren't all sunshine and roses in terms of hours. Hustle mentality is real and I didn't love being paid 35% less for only working like 5-10% less (though to be fair I wasn't at some super chill SaaS company, mine was more operationally intensive and a lot more complicated of a business model)
  • Quality of talent you work w/ is a lot lower and can be really frustrating at times - might come off as douchey, but it's the reality. And I'm not just talking about like how "smart" people are, but also work ethic
  • I miss the external relationship aspect of investing more where you're constantly interacting w/ people outside the business vs. only working w/ the same people internally all the time (other than during fundraising really)
  • It was really cool to dig super deep into a single business and focus all your time and energy on one thing instead of jumping around from company to company / deal to deal, but after a while that got old for me. The incremental insights just weren't as interesting to me as constantly being exposed to and learning about different industries and business models like in PE (and talking to different people per point above)
  • Realized that CFO track wasn't what I wanted long-term. Sure investing also involves a lot of less glamorous tasks, but some things in the corporate world I just never want to do again and have literally 0 interest in (the idea of having to do another annual budgeting process makes me want to shoot myself, anything involved w/ audits, etc.)
  • Started getting bored and felt I was really plateauing from a learning perspective. Yeah investing is process oriented and you often follow a playbook for each deal, but at least you're hopefully learning about a new business with every new deal for example. Doing a 3rd budget cycle for example I don't feel like I would materially get anything out of it at all for instance

Edit: If there's any interest on this happy to do a more fully fleshed out Q&A post

  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Sep 21, 2022 - 1:41am

@nuclearpenguins - Same situation here recruiting to go back to PE from a startup. I was miserable as well but going back knowing what I want from it with different parameters.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 20, 2022 - 10:06pm

Not really. I just got A2A at a MM bank that is not the best on the street. Want to get into buyside research --- HF, LO, Mutual Fund, etc. --- but haven't had any success yet. Pay is below market, and I don't find the job fulfilling at all. Creating pitchbooks all day seems like a waste. 

Sep 22, 2022 - 8:33pm
curiousgeorgee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The difficulty in getting a buyside role as a senior analyst and associate is brutal. Severely underestimated it and find it so frustrating seeing all these 1st years get interviews while you're a black sheep.

Sep 22, 2022 - 8:33pm
curiousgeorgee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The difficulty in getting a buyside role as a senior analyst and associate is brutal. Severely underestimated it and find it so frustrating seeing all these 1st years get interviews while you're a black sheep.

Sep 22, 2022 - 8:33pm
curiousgeorgee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The difficulty in getting a buyside role as a senior analyst and associate is brutal. Severely underestimated it and find it so frustrating seeing all these 1st years get interviews while you're a black sheep.

  • Intern in ER
Sep 22, 2022 - 3:53am

When u realise u dont need much to be happy - all u need is Wharton UG, GS TMT, Blackstone associate, HBS, then start your own MF. Oh and complete side quests along the way like CFA, MFin, tech startups. Just 8 things to do in your whole life - that's not a lot is it?

  • Associate 1 in CorpStrat
Sep 22, 2022 - 11:18pm

I was on my way to PE but decided to move to Corp Dev/Strat to have more time with my family and hobbies. Full transparency, I HATED IB, and didn't think I'd find investing particularly interesting either. Work at F100 now - where I put in ~30 hours per week, and across side hustles, bonus, and base, clear about ~$250k (about $200k comes from my job, and I don't include stock that hasn't vested yet), although I live in HCOL. I went from thiccc (not in a good way) to 11% bf, got my youthful skin back, and smile all the time. Never have worked during, or even thought about work, on the weekends/holidays. 

This is not to spook anyone, but my personal "wakeup" happened when I realized I wanted children a little earlier, and want to be actively involved in their lives. Around that same time, my former girlfriend lost her life in an accident at the age of 24, and my best friend, who was just one year younger, was attacked by a shooter who specifically shot him in the spine, causing him to lose the use of everything but his arms and face. I caution people who want to "trade away" a vast majority of their lives, especially their youth, because you never know what the future might bring, and it may not all be positive.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 22, 2022 - 11:49pm

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