Large Cap PE is Institutionalized Slavery

Having to be available 24/7, being unable to disconnect from emails, live deals, not so live deals that still take the same toll, cancelled weekend plans, cancelled holidays, the emotional toll of having to socially manage said cancellations, diminishing social / romantic / sport / cultural life, inability to plan anything for fear of a live deal interfering.

All of it for high cash comp, which although ends up being spent "stupidly" as free time is scattered and unpredictable, and paper carried interest taking years to meaningfully materialize.

What has gone wrong and why would smart grads still engage in this?

PS: seeing threads being titled "how to train attention to detail", is that the sort of goal and accomplishment you want to tell your grandkids about at 70 y.o.? What has gone wrong?

 
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many similar threads on wso - assuming this isn't a troll, i'll bite. can't speak for others, but my reasoning below - everyone's utility curve is different. that being said, my firm is one of the more laid back MFs (not apollo).

1) i enjoy the work and am learning everyday. generally enjoy the people that i work with, both within my group and across the firm

2) i'm single, so no heavy romantic commitments thus far

3) came from a middle class / lower middle class upbringing. feels good to be able to support my parents with my income, and be on my way to making meaningful money, especially as someone that wants to stay in the city and buy someday in tribeca/soho/etc (for those outside of NYC, some of the most expensive neighborhoods)

4) whatever pain you speak of is temporary and lasts for a few years. when you're VP / principal / MD, many of the negatives that you outlined in your OP are not applicable, even across the worst-culture firms. if you're the type of person where you HAVE to live a leisurely / ballin lifestyle in your 20s and/or have no pain tolerance / ability to delay gratification into your mid-late 30s, yeah, MF PE likely isn't for you

5) putting things in context and looking nationally/globally (emerging/frontier markets), not many people are in my shoes, and many would kill to be in my shoes. my parents came to the US with <$100 in their wallet, and i'm genuinely grateful to be where i am. if you, say, grew up wealthy and are used to 3-4 day weekends in the hamptons every weekend where you have to completely unplug, yea, MF PE likely isn't for you

 

Solid input, but I think people should really think about your last point. So many people stay in roles that they hate because they tell themselves that they should be grateful to have that position. It's good to have a check on reality and remain grateful but you should be doing what is best for you under your own preconditions rather than thinking it could always be worse. 

The average kid in Africa would kill for a job at Burger King in the US. The average guy at Burger King would probably kill for a job at PWC. With that said, you should benchmark against YOUR options and not against the situations of people with completely different preconditions. You should be comparing your situation against other options within your reach (equity research, hedge funds, corporate banking, consulting, accounting, VC, GE etc.). 

 

completely agreed - people think deeply about the aspects of a job are the most important to them / their mental health. however, issue is, when you're in your early 20s, it's hard to know. and even within the same team, things can change very dramatically when you're more efficient, have built up some goodwill, have earned the trust of your colleagues, get more leash, etc.

and to your point, even within the PE landscape, there's a spectrum. there are MM/UMM firms that have drastically better WLB, if one likes PE-type work. the decision tree isn't just apollo vs corporate development at a F500.

 

I would seriously challenge this notion that somehow a happy person in an African village spending all day doing physical activities, hanging out with families, and playing sports and games is expected to want to "kill" for a wage slave PE job.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a first gen immigrant and lived with this mentality for the last decade plus. I sacrificed and deferred gratification in pursuit of financial stability and career success. But this is mostly because I grew up in a East Asian country where the culture was already heavily urbanized and everyone was programmed to want this type of prestige and "success". I think same goes for middle class kids in America, influenced by media portrayals and societal expectations. If the presumption is that your options in life are limited to "same, same, but different" grindy corporate jobs, just doing it in a bigger and better market (i.e. Wall Street) makes sense.

Having made choices and sacrifices that reflect this attitude in the last decade plus, I seriously question the validity of these presumptions in the first place. That somehow if I changed my station in life and got a pad in Tribeca (I have one now in Upper East Side), I will find fulfillment. Once you get it, then it's some other thing. It doesn't stop because there is no "there" there. 

In the movie "Wall Street", Bud Fox has this line about how he is only doing his racket on Wall Street so that he can ultimately get out of it and go motorcycling across China. Well... we all know what happens. You can go motorcycling across China for $10K, plenty of people go with nothing and figure it out as they go. So this type of thing is not the true motivation, but our brains are amazing at rationalizing our choices and actions in a way that makes us still feel like the protagonist in our own movies. It would be too depressing for any of us to admit that, while we clawed and nailed to this position out of motivation and drive, we find ourselves stuck in a certain social construct at some point and can't get out. That would be a lot of cognitive dissonance to work through. But I encourage everyone to stop once in a while and reflect on whether you truly are doing better than motorcyclist in China or an African villager or whatever else we tell ourselves to get through the day.

 

You’re right in reminding that everyone‘s utility curve is different and this is key.

Where I would disagree is:

1/ seniors (think senior principals) do not seem to enjoy the job anymore, I can appreciate the excitement back in the days when track where shorter but the artificially long tracks that are now industry standard make the job very repetitive after a few years

2/ the decision of which life partner to settle with will come and choices are i) pick in the very limited pool of people who understand and agree with said lifestyle, or ii) pick regardless and constantly have to justify/ apologize for late nights and weekend work. Am raising this because I don’t see the pace quieting down once VP / Principal but might be firm specific

Ultimately where the PE industry nailed it is in maintaining the prestige aura around a lifestyle that, frankly, many people consciously decide against. I think this reckoning comes later in one’s career which explains why people still rush into it although it is obvious that it’s banking 2.0

 

I'd echo this. VPs / Principals still have their weekends blown up and are 'on call'. Sure they may be able to sign off at midnight and let the ASO grind on something until the sun rises, but also add in the fact that many of them have kids or other more important priorities and that may not feel as good.

I'm bias as I left PE, but one of those main reasons is because I saw my seniors had equal or only slightly better WLB than me and I truthfully didn't want their life, so why grind for that.

But... you can also leave the job so the 'institutionalized slavery' is a bit much. Worst case you run out the clock until your bonus hits, which does suck from personal experience.

 

Currently an analyst at a US BB and this further confirms what everyone is telling me, that large-cap PE is just banking 2.0. Personally, I am looking to switch careers to consulting / corp dev / strategy / growth equity where the WLB is much better. Comp will be lower but I don't have any expensive habits. I could do everything I want and still be able to save plenty even on a consulting / corp dev / strategy / growth equity salary. 

In my opinion, you need to have very concrete goals in order for IB or PE to be worth the horrible WLB. For example, if it is extremely important for you to have a certain apartment, a certain car, being able to afford visiting expensive clubs every weekend etc then it might be worth paying the prize of devoting 80+ hours a week to making that cash. To me, I've realized that it's not worth sacrificing my personal interests, my relationships and my wellbeing for some incremental cash because I simply don't care that much about being able to drive a Ferrari vs. a Porsche or having a nice apartment in the best neighbourhood rather than in the third-best neighbourhood etc. 

 
Controversial

Difference between you and a slave is you can leave and don’t get whipped physically. My ancestors came to the US as indentured servants and were beaten and whipped in post slavery US as effective slaves. You can quit tomorrow. 

 
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Difference between you and a slave is you can leave and don't get whipped physically. My ancestors came to the US as indentured servants and were beaten and whipped in post slavery US as effective slaves. You can quit tomorrow. 

I’d love to hear the perspective of those dropping monkey shit on a purely fact-based post. You hate the job? Find a new one. 

 

Don’t be so literal minded you miss the point.

of course the dude wasn’t claiming he was enslaved. He was grousing about job demanding too much.

Your response makes you sound like a real piece of work.

 

perfectionists with a need to be seen as successful and low risk tolerance. don’t want to do anything novel or create anything but want to be paid well. Ie. myself.

 

Not even close to slavery. There’s plenty of slaves in today’s world (and a large amount are children/teens) and none of them are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and get to go home and decompress every night. So would suggest you never compare finance to slavery again.

On the real though, under MD you’re effectively compensated for your time and availability. In large cap PE orgs, you’re paid a whole lot for it and your MDs and partners are going to get a return on their investment. Doesn’t make it right but that’s the deal you sign up for. If you don’t like it then you can leave at any time and go down market or to a corporate where you can have more control over your time and receive commensurate compensation.

 

People act like this job is rocket science which amazes me. From a prestige stand point but also difficulty of work. Maybe my perception is just not the norm but at a large MM and WLB is much better than previous role, less facetime culture, and better pay but it’s not glamorous. Just like any other price job. You’re required to problem solve more and actually use your brain instead of processing data and sending out requests but the perception many have formed based on the few firms with terrible cultures is overblown. And if you do happen to be in a miserable experience at a firm with bad culture, just leave.

 

Agree, the job is fundamentally easy which is why hours are so long.

Jobs requiring more bandwidth and raw intellectual power do not come with 12+ hours of work per day.

 

People act like this job is rocket science which amazes me. From a prestige stand point but also difficulty of work. Maybe my perception is just not the norm but at a large MM and WLB is much better than previous role, less facetime culture, and better pay but it's not glamorous. Just like any other price job. You're required to problem solve more and actually use your brain instead of processing data and sending out requests but the perception many have formed based on the few firms with terrible cultures is overblown. And if you do happen to be in a miserable experience at a firm with bad culture, just leave.

True but 95% of these super filtered people (top school grades bank) can't hack it so not sure how to reconcile the two. And I mean that in that they're just not sharp enough (clear from their lack of grasp of analysis or tactics etc) and not that they can't work hard enough 

 

Sir, slavery is illegal. If you feel this way, just quit your job. You are a free man. Don’t let your Soho $7k/month rent be your slave master.

 

People on this site acting like their decision to work a demanding job that automatically puts you in the 1% is equivalent to slavery is comical.

Can’t take anyone seriously when they act like this

 

Comparing it to slavery is def way overblown (you are compensated extremely well, have perks most of the other working class don’t have, etc.). That being said, you are correct that the lifestyle is horrendous. It ultimately comes down to whether you are so driven by money you forgo WLB and/or love the job that it was never about the money. In my experience, the latter was less than a handful of people. 
 

I also disagree with one of the comments about it getting better as you get more senior. True you have people underneath to do your grunt work - but then you are responsible for investment decisions or sourcing or portcos and if anything goes wrong, it’s on you (or if you’re a partner and you don’t close x number of deals in a year that are successful, you’re out). 
 

As that saying goes, “there’s no free lunch.” And less work means more stress on actual execution. 

 

You know what I never understand from these cry baby threads?

Wtf else you gonna do if you’re supposedly in mega fund PE and hate it?

Like is google or Amazon waiting in the wings with a mid six figure, 40 hour week job? If you don’t find the cash to work ratio appealing, just bounce already.

We get it.

People in finance in losers and have no balance in life, but you’re the different, you’re in finance but the money doesn’t enchant you and you want more from life lol.

 

Super immature post - yes, the job is 100% on at all times role because you are being paid top 1% income as a 25 yo without a differentiated skillset.  It's at will employment, which you can take or leave, and it's a big world out there with a lot of other ways to make money.  Calling it slavery is insulting to actual slavery, which still exists in many parts of the world. 

 

You are a complete loser. Slavery is FORCED upon you. Working in PE making >$500k for 90hrs/week is not forced on anyone. Don't like it? Quit, you'll find PLENTY of jobs out there making $200k+ for having prior experience in it. Or don't do it, plenty of six-figure jobs with under 60hrs per week even within finance or in other fields like comp sci 

What a pointless Gen Z post 

 

Eh yeah the job sucks but you get paid a ton. The only way you would get paid this much in your 20s is for a job that objectively sucks from a work life balance. “Slavery” is a bit dramatic. If you hate the work, then take a paycut for a 9-5, which many do. Complaining about it gets old though

 

I think any highly compensated role you are either working long hours and on call or there is a high degree of risk/pressure to perform (hedge fund, business owner). Whether you decide to forgo exploring life outside of work (building lasting friendships, hobbies) or earn lots of money in your lifetime is a decision..

 

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Here's the thing, you get paid A LOT of money in an industry where you don't have to be particularly smart to succeed in. You just have to be very hardworking and tolerate a terrible WLB.  Your ability to put up with 90 hr weeks and all that comes with it is what sets you apart. Most people aren't willing to do this. I sure as hell am not. I value my leisure too much. 

I went to a target, but I didn't study finance, instead I became an engineer. I work as a civil engineer for the government. I barely make it into the six figures in terms of salary, but I effectively work like 2 hrs a day on a 9-5 hybrid schedule. I don't respond to pings after 5 pm or before 9 am. I don't do any work on weekends. Most of my day is spent goofing off because the expectations are very low and people are very dumb here. I love my life. I stay fit, have all my childhood friends, have a loving wife and kids, and own a house in a decent neighborhood. I even have a business that I tend to during government work hours because the job is made for retards and is too easy for me. 

Sure, I might make less money than shithead 20-something analysts in NYC, but who cares? I still make more on my own than most US households, and don't struggle to afford anything within reason. 

Working in PE is a choice you make and you need to understand the tradeoff. You are paid for your time. Stop complaining or go get an easier job. 

 

I find finance fascinating from a lifestyle perspective. It's like the exact polar opposite of how I like to live my life, so I use it as a benchmark to compare experiences. 

I grew up in NYC and went to Penn. Graduated with a 3.95 GPA in civil engineering. Was surrounded by finance my whole life. But I'm a lazy genius. I like to work less than 20 hours a week, if possible. I get bored easily and don't like repetitive busy work. I like variety. I like working with real, physical things, not imaginary numbers and silly models. My life couldn't be more different from the average finance professionals'.

So I went to work for the government where I could do nothing and get paid well with great job security and benefits. This let's me enjoy my family, and let's me engage my hobbies. I can build and design whatever I want on the side, and run a business for fun instead of for a living. 

But finance continues to interest me, the way an alien planet would. I love the stories, the memes, the coping in the face of adversity. The personalities that exist are really fun, compared to my boring and dry coworkers.

 

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