You Need to Get Out - Rant, my experience for 5 years in IB

To whom it may concern,

I know this forum is full of young ambitious professionals that are either planning to break into IB or already working there, and I don't plan to discourage any of you, in fact if you want any tips on how to break in or how to break into the Buy Side I am happy to give them to you (I would rather you ask tips about how to get out though). On the contrary, I think that knowing that what you are doing is insane and there is light at the end of the tunnel is better than normalizing it. So I will speak about my experience, how I hated every single day of it, why did I still stick around for 5 years, why bonuses are random political bullshit, why protected weekends was the worst idea ever, why you should not let anything that happens under this concrete and crystal jail get under your skin and affect your self esteem, about the profound hypocrisy of all actors in this industry with a few words for useless HR and the sociopath MDs. Oh and also I will be politically incorrect and speak the truth about equality policies. And at the end I will speak about my experience in PE, why there is light at the end of the tunnel and why it may all be worth it.

Not an easy short read, don't care if no one reads it through the end, I just need to get it out at once and don't want to leave out any thing of what I have to say.

My background and path, to get it out of the way

I studied Business Management, did a Msc in Finance and then followed the typical Summer Internship to Graduate path. I was working for 5 years in IB in an industry group in London. My intention had always been to work for a couple of years in IB and then break into the Buy Side. So why did I stick around for 5 years? Well because turns out every single person working at IB has figured out they want out and the preferred exit option is the Buy Side, so there's like a funnel effect and every PE position has so many applicants that even though I had experience in IB and the CFA sometimes recruiters would not even get back to me, they have every position open in PE overbooked with similar profiles (oh and also I happen to be a white male which does not help, more on that later).

All of this coupled with the fact that during Covid the recruiting market stopped, set me back on my plans. First year I was thinking "ok too soon" and turning down some recruiters, second year I was in interesting deals so thought "this is interesting for my CV will open lots of doors, let's hold" and then third year you start realizing that it may be easier to break into the Buy Side if you have less experience than more, because PE firms prefer to recruit Analysts rather than Associates. So that's my background out of the way and my first tip: look for exits from minute one, do not wait, start contacting recruiters as soon as you get in.

Life at IB: Acceptance is the only way to cope. Accept it is the culture, and that it is broken, accept it will not get better, accept you can't fix it or improve it.

Before getting in, I had heard the typical stories and spoken with people that had worked in IB, and I was thinking "surely it cannot be that bad, I am sure people like to exaggerate and brag about the long hours and they talk about a peak as if it was the norm, it cannot be".

But it is, the average of hours is working past midnight, which means the earliest you can expect to leave is after dinner (I have never had dinner at home in 5 years or could count the days with my fingers) and if the average exceeds midnight means you can expect to work until 2-3 am for a couple of days a week, the occasional all-nighter and suffer a complete lack of respect for your weekends.

On top of that, it is completely impossible to plan ahead, you may be staffed suddenly on a project or pitch on a Thursday that will mean all weekend working. That's what struck me on the first few weeks of working, it is not that a project heats up and there is a peak and then you have to work impossible hours, an MD may decide to do a pitch for a meeting and there is already no reasonable time to prepare it, from when a project starts it may already be on overtime, like starting a football match at minute 90. Thursday afternoon: "hey let's prepare this pitch, send me a draft today, by the way the meeting is on Monday at 12pm".

Some of my colleagues could bear it better than me, I don't mean they did higher quality job I considered I always delivered and I always put all my 5 senses and effort on everything I did, but for example when there was a quiet week (not very often) some of my colleagues were saying "well it feels good to get out at 22h" and I had a resistance inside of me "no it is not f*cking OK, people finish their jobs at 18h every day, working from 9am to 22h is still a really freaking long day". And no, just because "you knew what you were getting into" does not make it ok either, because this is the common response you will get if you ever complain to anybody.

Yes, we all know what we are getting into, we are not stupid, but it is just really sad that really talented and motivated young professionals go into this industry and are treated this way. Also MDs will tell you "well it is what it is there is no other way of doing things". Of course there is! Because most of the work we are doing is not productive or relevant. The pitch was ready for client facing at the second iteration, the other 15 iterations shuffling slides around, changing titles, footnotes and creating more useless slides were not necessary and a waste of time.

The most inefficient way of working devised by mankind

My VP once told me: "in IB the laws of physics and time no longer apply, work does not decrease with time, it increases". And it is absolutely true, if you have 3 days to do a pitch you will finish it in 3 days, but if you have 10 days, you will be working on this pitch for 10 days (without it being a higher quality) it is just that your MD will keep tweaking it and creating more slides just because we have time. I have never seen a pitch that gets done in 3 days and shelved if the meeting is in 10 days, I have always ben amending the materials until the last day, if not the last hour and printing in a rush.

In the worst period, I was working consistently 3-4am and did an all-nighter before catching a flight in the morning to go home for Christmas, when I arrived at the airport my girlfriend looked at my face and asked me if I was coming from the war.

Most analysts or associates will tell you that sometimes their day would look like showing up in the morning, sticking around for the day and then at 18h before leaving, the MD gave them a bunch of comments on materials that had to be turned for the day after, so that you were scratching your balls most of the day and then you have to work until 2-3am, just because the MD could not care less.

If the hours are not long enough, the facetime culture will do the rest

It even gave me almost a claustrophobic feeling. Work is uneven so chances will be that some days you will be done in the afternoon. But even if that is the case, nobody will leave before 22h which means that you get home tired and just go to sleep, your week is only working basically, you stop watching series, reading books and enjoying anything in life.

I can guarantee you that if you start leaving at 18h in the few days when you are done there is going to be shit chat in the office and your bonus will be affected.

But also, there is the figure of the Staffer, every week you are supposed to fill in a sheet with the projects you are working on and the hours you are doing, if you worked over the weekend, etc.

Obviously, everybody will overstate the hours they are working, so this is completely useless and the Staffer instead checks who leaves early. So Thursdays are the Face Time Day, because you do not want to get staffed into something with the weekend approaching, so sometimes you'll just stick around past midnight or at least until the Staffer is gone. It was almost funny to see everyone waiting for 5-10 minutes after the Staffer left and then suddenly 4-5 people would start packing and leaving.

Also MDs like to staff you directly and you can't say no. There was this particular MD that would leave every day at around 18h and sometimes would drop a task on the first analyst or associate he saw at the desk before leaving. So it became a thing that most analysts would watch out and when this MD was grabbing his jacket they would go to the toilet or to have a coffee just not to be around their desks until he was gone.

So I remember that face-timing was even worse than working, because I felt trapped and claustrophobic, staring at the screen and wondering what am I doing with my life.

It was really funny that after Face Time Day (Thursday) all the people that stuck around until midnight on Thursday, would then leave for beers relatively early on Friday. And then the ones staying were the ones that really had work to do. So you could tell who was sticking around not to be staffed and who was truly working.

The email that made 4 people quit in 3 months in a team of ~10 juniors

There was a period where one of the teams was quite busy, spoke to one of their Associates. So if they were working until 3am they would feel free to show up at 11am the next day, and if they were done at 18h they would leave and try to get some sleep.

Well then an email was circulated to all juniors saying that this was unacceptable, that they could not show up so late and that some MDs had complained that they were still in the floor and some analysts or associates were leaving before them.

After 3 months 4 people had quit, one of them my friend, who told me this email was the needle that broke the camel's back.

So I realized everything is about culture and what it is assumed to be normal hours

After five years, if I had to say what is broken in IB I would say it is about the culture and what is assumed as normal. If the 'normal' was to work bearable hours, like to finish every day at 19-20h for example, you would consider an analyst is at overcapacity if he is working consistently until midnight every day. And so when the team is at capacity they would need to hire more or just do less pitches or be more efficient until everything trended to everyone leaving at 19-20h again. Problem is an analyst working every day until midnight and having free weekends is considered an analyst with plenty of capacity to take another project. So the alarms don't sound until somebody is working every day until 3am and has not had a weekend in 3 months, only then they may consider not staffing him on anything else for a while.

I always felt that I was the one who saw that this was not normal, that saw the Emperor had no clothes. (You know, this tale for kids where the Emperor asks his tailor to come up with increasingly better clothes designs under threat of death, and when he runs out of ideas tells the Emperor his latest design is yet his best, some clothes that only smart people can see or something like that. And whenever the Emperor goes through the streets with no clothes, all the plebs pretend to see him wearing clothes so as not to appear dumb amongst others). I felt like I always had this resistance to pretend life and culture at IB was normal, resistance to acknowledge that the Emperor was wearing clothes.

Protected weekends are a joke, it is just that it is not a funny one

I said before that I always felt at a disconnect, I always failed to normalize it in my mind. And protected weekends are just an example. One would think that this rule had to be aimed at not working over weekends. Well, in reality what they meant was 1 protected weekend per month. And the absolute joke is, it wasn't even that, the "weekend" was protected from Friday at 8am to Saturday 0:00h, meaning Sunday was still fair game, and that is the one protected weekend you got per month!

So that's what I meant before, the bar was so low, and the disconnect so high between what would be an acceptable work life balance and what MDs thought it was, that no wonder there is such a high rotation and loss of talent. Because even their maximalist work-life balance initiatives are so crazy that even if they worked it would mean working 3 out of 4 weekends. Crazy and unacceptable.

On top of that, the protected weekend was just making things worse, because if you had work to do, then it meant Sunday was a nightmarish day, sometimes I would just prefer to do some work on the protected Saturday, just so that it did not mean Sunday working until 2am. If they gave you a protected Saturday, it would just be assumed that Sunday was a work day, you would be expected to be answering emails and doing work at least from 9am.

By the way the worst I ever did was work the 4 days of a jubilee that were holidays until past midnight and apparently we had been told by the MD the meeting was on the next day after the jubilee and it wasn't, we still had a week to go he just wanted to see some progress on the materials.

Clueless HR put a warning on interns' badges lol

One year HR had this initiative of recording the intern times of getting in and out of the office, with the intention of sending MDs a red flag report. There was a red flag if an intern worked past midnight and over the weekend. Of course on the first week virtually all interns got red flags, my MD received a report with like 20 red flags. Instead of fixing it, HR decided to remove this initiative. This shows you the disconnect: HR do not know (or do not want to know) how bad things are.

A few words for HR

Dear HR departments at IB banks, you are the most useless and hypocritical people on Earth. I am tired of you coming and giving talks about diversity and inclusion and useless trainings when we have had some Analysts having to ask for 3 months leave for serious anxiety and depression problems, and you never talk about that and pretend they don't exist. You are truly useless and evil, because you know what is going on and do not care. You leave every day at 17h and spend the whole day doing coffees, you would not be able to stand a week doing the hours an analyst does. You can shove your diversity trainings up wherever, and do not dare come and talk about mental health and wellbeing. You are cowards and have never stood even a little bit in front of an MD that is treating his analysts like slaves.

In a really tough period, where a lot of juniors had left, literally 80% of analysts in my team in 1 year, HR scheduled a call with only analysts and associates. It was meant to be just a cheery "check in" to see how everyone was doing, no real agenda. People started really telling them what was going on, and the face of the HR lady was of surprise "err... ok... we did not know it was that bad... this was just meant to be a check in not to discuss all those problems, we may need to address this differently in another forum...". Obviously nothing was done and none of those calls ever scheduled again because they felt it was "bad for morale". HR are experts in burying their heads under the sand.

I spoke with all the analysts and associates that had left, and they all said the hours were unbearable in their exit interviews. They were all told that feedback was appreciated. The feedback was probably written directly on toilet paper already.

But why do MDs not care? Isn't it better for them to retain talent?

Because the incentives are not well aligned. MDs care about making money, period. And there isn't any part of their bonus that is dependent on talent retention.

Also, they feel that "they also had to endure that" and because most of them are sociopaths think that it is fair that the younger generations have to endure it too. The only thing is current MDs endured all of that when the salaries were crazy high, nothing compared to where they are today, adjusted for inflation.

There was this Director that was literally left without juniors (they all quit under his rule). He was doing a particular sector for a particular region and in a year 5 juniors working under him quit. It was a guy that would reply to your emails with more comments past midnight and in weekends. You truly did not have a moment of peace if working for this guy. But he was probably getting bonuses in the millions and analysts and associates were getting peanuts in comparison.

The year where all juniors under his command quit, to the point he had to drag juniors from other teams for the existing projects, he was promoted to MD.

See why I say nothing will change and the culture is broken? What should have happened: ok mister X you did a great job but all the juniors under your command quit and explicitly stated in exit interviews it is because of you. We should let you know that the bank takes talent retention very seriously and your bonus has been slashed in half, and that you would have been promoted otherwise but you will when you manage to keep 70% of your juniors for a year. Instead, obviously none of this happened, and he was promoted and given a fresh batch of juniors to torture, "more coal to the furnace!".

The argument of "don't worry just go through the storm in your analyst years it gets better" is not true

Associates get it a little bit better in terms of hours but you will still do long ass hours. And most of VPs I was working with were staying past midnight as well and working over weekends. Also, you get a lot more responsibility so your work is also more stressful. Yes you could be the guy that delegates everything but it is not so easy. And also with the high rotation of juniors, everyone has to step down, so Associates and VPs need to do slides and models again because their analysts just quit. Or if you are given less trained or worse analysts then you have to work more. And when you are a Director you already have targets and have to bring business or you are out. MD may be the promised land but at that point you probably have been through hell for 15 years or more, totally not worth it. You can make serious money elsewhere and enjoy your life and what you are doing at the same time.

Bonuses are unfair, political and just bullshit

I was 2 years rated as strong, 2 years as average one year below average. There is still the top rating and the worst rating which I never had. And I can tell you that on years where I was rated worse I was probably better at my job and working harder. The thing is, it just depends partly on the projects you work on, on the work you do the last month before ratings (is all the MDs will remember) and whether the MDs you work with are vocal on the ratings panels. Sometimes VPs will attend and I was friends with one that told me how things went. Also as senior associate I was on analyst rating panels.

So basically one year I was rated as strong because there was one particular deal that closed recently and was a good one, everyone had it in mind, it was mentioned in the panel and then when the time came it was mentioned I had worked in this deal. Someone told me that I should get some work done for an MD that was close to retirement, was doing country coverage and was just doing few things that were a bit niche and every once in a while grabbed a junior from my team to help him. Turns out because he was an old cat he did not mind to speak his mind on the panels, and when they had decided to mark me as average he vouched for me, so they upgraded me to strong. In reality I only ever did a pitch for him and a model, but it was recent. I may have worked super hard for younger MDs that were just doing politics in the panel and obviously would never have a polemic opinion or contradict a more senior MD or the head of M&A.

And on the year I was below average it was one where I worked the hardest and was more experienced so the work was higher quality, but I just wasn't in any important deals that closed and the VP told me they literally needed somebody to fit in each category and I won the inverse lottery. Can't complain because there may have been years where I got better than I deserved, it is just random, don't overthink it.

The explanations they give you as to why you are average, below average, or above average are just bullshit anyway, there are no real objective yardsticks. That's why people get so mad on bonus day, because they generally tend to be below expectations without good reasons.

When I was in the Analyst panels it was just like that, more or less you knew who was good but then there was a lot of blur in between the ranks and it was like "ok we are done" and then "no sorry there are too many on average we need to pick two more for below average" and then we would just decide based on a 1 minute conversation and normally if a senior vouched for one he would be untouchable, even if he worked closer to Associates and VPs.

Equality and inclusion policies are just unfair and repulsive, a couple of stories

I have had two situations where I witnessed on first hand what HR is doing and it just makes me sad. I really hate the unfairness in it. It is no secret that they are trying to get more girls into banking and also they want to favor different ethnic backgrounds. The correct way of doing it would be to go to universities and get more girls interested in applying. But instead, they do it in the worst possible way, trying to fix the house from the roof. So if 90% of applications are from guys and 10% are from girls, they try to force as close to 50-50% recruiting as they can. So that inevitably means that a guy that is a 7/10 as candidate may be out and that a girl that is 5/10 or worse may be in.

And this goes against girls, because Associates know that and when giving the choice they will prefer to work with a guy, they know just that by natural selection he had to be better in order to get the offer.

As Associate, you participate on the recruiting process and do interviews and case studies. They have no shame in admitting and differentiating that the decision process is different for male candidates than for female candidates.

I once had to do a case study with a girl (minority background as well), she did not have a finance background and she only did 2 out of 10 questions correctly, and it was because I coached her into the answer because I was overall nice in the interview, giving clues, etc. but she just did not have a clue.

I told HR the results, and then they sent me an email saying that if it was ok for me they would recruit the candidate anyway because she did well in motivational interviews. Then I obviously asked why if she clearly failed the case study and they told me well if you want you can issue a "veto" there is a process for that and bla bla. I didn't, but I told them to never ever pick me up to do a case study if the decision was already taken. Then the email chain for candidates on which I was copied continued, and they said no to a guy that did 6/10 questions correctly.

The girl did not finish the internship, first had like a burnout because they were asked to do their intern project on top of their work and she didn't know how to do a model, and then just gave up. During the case study she had told me she just 'wanted to try banking', so that's what you get if you try to hire from non-financial backgrounds, but this is the new obsession by HR.

I also was in a discussion as to which interns to make an offer to. There was a really good intern I had worked with and I was super surprised that he was placed in the 'doubtful' bucket. Interns need to do a final project and present to a panel of directors at the end of their internship, usually a merger case with a valuation.

So apparently this year HR had decided to put interns in pairs, and this guy had been paired with a girl that had no idea about finance (not the same girl I was referring to before), in a training she asked what 'depreciation' was. So the guy panicked about his offer and did all the project by himself. Apparently the girl complained that he had not been collaborative and let her do anything or something like that. And here we are in a room with HR and the team discussing who gets the offers, and the lady is a clear 'yes' while the guy is on the edge because of what he did. I had to vouch for him and I told them if nobody wanted to work with him I would take him on every project. Finally, both got the offer. They came back next year as graduates, the girl left after 6 moths because she did not want to do banking, and the guy was recruited after a year by Goldman Sachs, while our bank was 2nd tier, so was obviously one of our best analysts. It is a true story, I promise.

I really don't understand how shareholders of banks allow HR departments to do that, they are simply destroying shareholder value by trying to hire underperforming candidates. Just because they have this obsession with different gender, different ethnicity and also now apparently also different background in terms of studies (so if you studied finance you are also negatively discriminated for some reason).

It is not about the hours and social life, in the end you realize you are hurting your physical and mental health

I think if it was only for the hours, it would be bearable, but you realize after some time you are hurting yourself. You have back problems, you get less in shape because you don't have time to go regularly to the gym, you have less time for social life, and in general you become dull because during the week you can no longer enjoy watching a match with friends, going for some drinks, watching a series, reading a book, etc. Your life is working and praying that you will have a few islands of rest and time for you on the weekends.

There is a particular call sound that old Iphones have as default and whenever I hear that sound on the metro or the street it still gives me chills to this day (a year after) and almost 'war-like flashbacks'. And every analyst or associate working in IB will understand what I mean. You are always on edge that you will receive a call over the weekend or so.

At some point I lost a lot of weight when there was a deal on execution. I had the usual problems sleeping, etc.

Nothing worse than the average though, this is something everybody endures at some point in IB.

So why don't you quit?

A while ago I wrote a comment on the FT similar to this post and the replies weren't precisely understanding.

"Well you chose it, you knew what IB was like"

"You are getting paid a lot"

"Why don't you quit?"

It is not so easy, there are sunk costs. Obviously after getting into IB, which is tough in itself, and enduring all this suffering, you just don't want that all of this is in vain. So most people keep enduring it because they are waiting for the right exit opportunity.

I really didn't meet any junior that wanted to do this for life. Well maybe one guy, but because everything he cared in life was about money and status to an extreme. But for the most part, everyone was doing it for the exit opportunities.

I would not recommend quitting without a job, because when you are jobless, your market value in terms of recruiting goes down, unfortunately.

The happiest day of my life

On my last year in IB I was getting desperate.

I thought that I had missed the train because most recruiters told me I had it more difficult because I had too much experience for what most PE firms were looking for. Doesn't matter if I told them I was willing to step down in terms of my seniority in order to break into the Buy Side. I was miserable, going to sleep at 2am, waking up at 7am to do interviews every day and doing case studies over weekends. I lost various offers but a particularly good offer on a small PE firm I liked on the last round because in the end they went for a more junior candidate.

I thought about quitting, because it was truly getting unbearable to do the hours and, on top of that, the interviews and case studies. I did a lot of them so for a few months this was my life and it was seriously affecting my mental and physical health.

And one day, out of the blue, the same PE firm for which I had done the process a while ago, the one that ended up hiring a more junior candidate, called me back and asked me if I was still interested. It just took a few more informal conversations and I had an offer on the table.

That day I took the DLR (in London is like the metro but goes on the surface too) and everything was bright, the sun was shining and it was beautiful. I knocked on the office of my boss and told him I had something important to say. Compared to how many days I had dreamed of this moment, it was quite cold and uneventful. I told him to just get on with it, that there was 0% chance I would accept any counter-offer and that we could skip this step. And he was just polite, said he was sorry to see me go and actioned everything with HR. I set my things in order and that afternoon I was on gardening leave already. God, the beer I had next to the river tasted like sweet nectar from the gods.

The buy side is really the promised land, so there is light at the end of the tunnel

So a year or more has passed, and it all seems from another life. I have never been happier with my professional and personal life. I work at a small PE firm in London, which has a great culture and is full of people that really like and enjoy their work, unlike the bitterness floating in the atmosphere in IB. Everyone is treated fairly, there is no bullshit work, and everything I do is relevant work, a lot of financial analysis and analyzing companies from the investor point of view which is what I love to do. My hours look like until 19h every day mostly, we are allowed a couple of days of work from home if we want to, and i rarely work on weekends (and if I do, it is on my own accord or because there is an important execution). Salary is ok, not stellar, but I got carry. I get less cash bonus than in IB but I have huge upside if things go well, could make much more money than in IB in reasonably probable return scenarios. And there is an objective yardstick to measure it. But you know what? Even if I didn't make comparable money, I would not care.

Of course there is the usual weekend, the usual busy period, I am not saying the opposite. But when it's there, it is because we are closing a great deal, of which I receive carry by the way, and it is completely worth it. Not because I am doing the 20th iteration of a stupid pitch changing comas and footnotes.

What can I say, I now value my time like no one else, I feel blessed for finishing my day, going to the gym, having some dinner at home or going to the pub to see a Champions league match, reading a book, watching Netflix... I am enjoying my days and the workdays, every day is beautiful, not only waiting desperately for the weekend and praying I will have some free time.

Was it all worth it? Well I like to put it this way when somebody asks it: I think I did the correct thing and I would do it if I were you but "I" would not do it again, if that makes some sense? Meaning I would probably still tell my younger self to do it but I cannot think or conceive of enduring this again. I would probably also tell my younger self to start looking for exit opportunities from day 1 though, in retrospective.

Last piece of advice: do not let your years at IB lower your self esteem or sense of self worth

In my current job, what I mostly receive is praise, positive feedback and encouragement. Whenever I put a bit longer hours for a period, it is recognized and not given for granted. I love what I do, much more meaningful job and I actually use my brain.

Instead in IB all the feedback you receive is negative. Even when you get a strong rating, the feedback is focused on what you could do better. The fact that you risk your health and your social life is given for granted and nobody ever says thank you or will give you a pat in the shoulder for that.

And in some instances I got treated like shit for very unfair reasons. Sometimes I thought I was doing a bad job when if I look in retrospective it was because I would receive bad instructions and guidance on what the seniors wanted, spend a week working on a pitch that then would be nothing like they wanted, and be almost shouted at for no reason. Or because the deadline would be totally unreasonable.

In this environment, and when you are getting rejected from job applications, there will always be the tendency to think that you are not good enough, they will try to make you feel like you should be thankful that you have the job at the bank. When you get some perspective though, you realize you are part of a valuable talent pool in society and that people with good financial knowledge, problem-solving abilities, diligent, with integrity and hard-working are not so easy to come by. And that you should know you are worth a lot, and that even outside PE or the buy side there are a broad range of opportunities you can pursue, from tech or Corporate Finance at a company, that are many times better than a career in IB.

To my IB analysts: on leaving drinks you bastards almost made me cry when you told me you were grateful for being treated well and sheltered from some of the bullshit. I always tried to stay true to what I believed and to do my small part to stop the wheel, although it is impossible, it is rotten from the inside.

If you read until the end, thank you. And I hope you will always be the one that sees the Emperor is wearing no clothes.

 

I actually found that quite interesting to have an inside perspective from an ex-IB (although it's not new as I'have read books, interviews etc about the culture).

And your perspective was quite deep, and elaborate with actual exemples.

I am myself in commercial banking, trying to lateral to IB.

Still interesting.

Thanks!

 

Where is the 19h and 22h used? Never come across it before.

Thanks for the write-up. It is sad how downhill the career path is now in London.

 

Yeah, I am aware of people scheduling interviews like 15:00 GMT or whatever. However, I have never seen 15h.

Anyway doesn't matter - I was just curious (I am not even American and also work in London).

 

Thankfully I left IB a while back so now have the time to read this. Well said. So accurate it’s scary, and gives me unwanted flashbacks (especially the sound of your iPhone notification for a new email from your MD with fresh comments at 3am). I could not do it again, but would also tell my younger self it was worth it based on where I am now.

 

Thankfully I left IB a while back so now have the time to read this. 

haha yeah guys sorry for the long post I did it more like a therapy, don't expect many people to read it through but thanks.

So accurate it’s scary, and gives me unwanted flashbacks (especially the sound of your iPhone notification for a new email from your MD with fresh comments at 3am)

Or the recurring dream about not having sent something, or dreaming about spreadsheets. We discussed it one day in the office, as well as the iPhone sound thing, and almost everyone had had it.

 

I read that. Man I am just starting into IB as a 31 year old
lol. I want to say I am scared, but my dreams are that of buy side so I need this experience.

Kudos to you for enduring that! Real eye opener!

 

I hope my post does not discourage you, you will do better if you know what you are getting into it and, if you are stubborn, you will make it to the buy side I promise.

 

Was wondering what your London PE firm like in terms of DEI hiring?

Are smaller firms more understanding & not wanting to push that sort of stuff (and just be based on merit), or does it spill over from the bigger banks?

 

Small PE firms absolutely don't care about DEI.

All this push comes from HR departments, and small PE firms have no HR department, externalize all the recruiting.

Also it continues to be allowed in large banks and PE firms because of shareholder control being diluted. Otherwise I find no reasonable explanation, because everyone knows what is going on.

Owners of PE firm closely monitoring their fund will not allow this to happen, because it is in their own interest to recruit the best talent.

A fund needs to get to a decent size until they would have a full fledged HR department. Until then, no DEI bullshit. They will just hire the best candidate.

 

Not that simple, LPs in a PE fund ask about DEI initiatives and allocate capital accordingly. Every player in this industry is beholden to who gives them capital, and unfortunately 95% of the money on Earth cares a ton about DEI because we all have deemed it as acceptable and desirable from a cultural and societal point of view (at least in the Western world).

 

I hope that you are able to leave soon.

My intention with this post was to convey that what you are feeling is normal, and a lot of us have been through the same. It is easier to endure if you think in those terms than if you are second guessing why you feel lost or that you are wasting your time.

But remember that you did that for a reason and the exit opportunities are great.

My only advice is that you assume that looking for this exit opportunity will be like a second job and that you start doing it methodically and with all your will (which may be difficult because there is no time or energy left, I know).

And would also recommend to have an open mind and not just focus on the obvious Buy Side opportunities. Some colleagues are doing very well and having great work-life balance working in Corporate M&A jobs in companies, for example.

Hope it gets better mate!

 

Wow got bombarded with private messages asking for advice on how to break into the Buy Side.

As I told you guys and for everyone's benefit, what worked best for me was mainly recruiters. While networking is beneficial and by all means don't stop doing it, I feel that in London this is what works best, small PE firms will externalize the recruiting so most of the interviews I got, if not all, were through head hunters/recruiting firms.

Look for job opportunities in Linkedin or wherever and then contact the recruiter directly. They also give you interesting insights on your profile and on how hot the market is at the moment.

I could probably recover an Excel I had with contacts from various recruiters (in London) if anybody is interested, send me a PM, happy to share it.

 

Could you expand on how to approach contacting the recruiter directly, say, on LinkedIn? I am in AM at a BB (GS/MS/JP) and have recently made the realization I'd like to lateral to IBD, this is something I've thought about doing but have been unsure about how to approach. Cheers!

 

The part about how HR deals with diversity recruiting is the most interesting part. Can you plz highlight that part ? The other parts are too long, most people already know about those stuff.

 

Please realize HR only exists to protect the firm and its image. Outside of orientation and recruiting, any real interaction with them is probably going to be negative or an exit interview (could be negative). If a situation comes up (i.e. haressment or someone says racial slur). They don't really care about the transgression or the person targeted. They care about the impact to the firm (i.e. someone speaks to the media about harrasment at the firm as it creates a spotlight on the firm). A bit high level but thats how I view them. Not bad people, just a job that has goals/incentives that are not aligned with most employees.

 

You’re the type of guy to think it’s “Fuckin’ Eh” instead of Fuckin’ A

 

Below is a Summary of this man’s book. Enjoy friends.


The author, a former IB professional, shares a candid perspective on the harsh realities of investment banking. They express dissatisfaction with the industry, highlighting issues such as grueling work hours, unpredictable bonuses, and the challenging transition to the Buy Side. Despite intending to leave after a couple of years, the competitive job market and overqualified candidates made the exit difficult. The author advises early exploration of exit options and emphasizes the need for acceptance of the industry's culture, acknowledging its flaws. The narrative also touches on the impact of the COVID-19 recruiting slowdown and sheds light on the author's decision-making process during their five-year tenure in IB.

The author provides a detailed account of the challenging work environment in investment banking, emphasizing the demanding and unpredictable nature of the job. Long working hours, often extending past midnight, are the norm, with little regard for weekends. The inability to plan ahead, sudden project assignments, and constant revisions contribute to a sense of inefficiency. The author critiques the industry's work culture, expressing frustration with the perceived lack of productivity and relevance in many tasks. They highlight the impact on personal life, recounting instances of extreme fatigue, all-nighters, and the pervasive facetime culture that extends working hours beyond necessity, leaving little room for personal enjoyment or relaxation.

The author continues to expose the challenges within investment banking, describing the impact of office culture on work hours and bonuses. They discuss the influence of "Face Time Day" on perceptions and how staffers prioritize those who stay late. The author shares an email that led to four people quitting in three months, highlighting the importance of cultural norms in the industry. The concept of protected weekends is criticized for being minimal and practically non-existent. The author expresses frustration with HR, calling them hypocritical and ineffective in addressing mental health issues. They argue that MDs prioritize profits over talent retention due to misaligned incentives, contributing to a high turnover rate in the industry.

The author shares a detailed account of their experience working in investment banking, highlighting the toxic culture, long hours, and unfair practices within the industry. They discuss the flawed bonus system, biased HR policies, and the challenges of maintaining physical and mental health. Despite the hardships, the author eventually finds a fulfilling role in a private equity firm, emphasizing the importance of valuing one's time and self-worth. The narrative serves as a cautionary tale for those considering a career in investment banking while encouraging them to prioritize their well-being and seek meaningful alternatives.

 

Ran it through again…

The author, a former investment banking professional, candidly portrays the challenging realities of the industry, criticizing factors like grueling work hours, unpredictable bonuses, and the tough transition to the Buy Side. Despite initially planning to leave, the competitive job market and overqualified candidates hindered the exit. The narrative touches on the impact of COVID-19 on recruiting and details the author's decision-making during their five-year tenure. The account exposes the demanding work environment, inefficient practices, and the impact on personal life. The author critiques office culture, the bonus system, and HR policies, emphasizing the industry's high turnover. Eventually finding fulfillment in private equity, the story serves as a cautionary tale, urging others to prioritize well-being and explore alternatives.