Time to hang it up...

It's been a hot minute since I've posted anything here...   Back then I was transitioning from a bulge bracket bank to a high frequency trading shop....

I bounced around some shops chasing the big paycheck.  Leaving the bank felt good and I was enjoying the big data challenges of an HFT shop.  I was tempted away to work at their arch rivals, but only lasted a year there.  They wanted a specific piece of my talent -- and when that project was done, the fired me.  Didn't matter too much as I walked away with a boatload of cash.

I mostly landed on my feet with another HFT firm in Texas...  Alas, that company turned out to be a real shit show!  As it spiraled the drain, the fund's owners were suing each other, people were getting fired with no warning, comms sent out an email late in the week that said that 20 people were getting fired on Monday (have a nice weekend)!.

So, I bailed on that.  Because of their ludicrous non-compete, I jumped back to tech and did the startup thing for a while, and then grabbed some Zuck Bucks from Facebook for a while.  Got out of there just before the stock collapse at least!

And finally did a year at a blockchain analytics startup... I lasted a year and realized it was time to hang up my boots.  I didn't have the energy, drive, or passion to continue.  And, despite the recession, I have enough Fuck You money to just quit.  So, I resigned last month, exercised my very cheap options, and am sitting back while others power that company forward.

I'm currently sitting in the back of the classroom at the local University of California... I decided to follow an early passion and go back to teaching.  It isn't lucrative, but it is fun.  I'm more invigorated than I've been in years.   When I leave here, I go home to my cool retirement house with its nice view, pool, and palm trees.  I think how I'll go flying in my awesomely fast airplane when the weather improves after these coastal storms blow through.

I'm doing a bit of side work (advising a small crypto trading firm with about $20M AUM, talking with some tech folks, etc..), but definitely not the at the pace I was doing at my peak.

It has been an awesome career, but eventually, you have to know when to fold it.

Best to all you apes!


Comments (12)

Grizzled Guru, what's your opinion? Comment below:


If you are looking for a target number, only you can decide what level of income replacement you need. I have a pretty fair chunk set aside for day to day expenses. I also have a variety of long term investments in real estate and start up stocks that may or may not boost that number.

Whilst the money is important, it is more important what you want to retire into. On what will maximize your life enjoyment

  • Prospect in S&T - Other

Could you describe your early career a bit more? Curious what you did at a BB and what do you teach now? Sounds like a very interesting lifestyle. 

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Grizzled Guru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Enlisted in the Air Force when I dropped out of college (parents were very disappointed to say the least).

Talked my way into grad school when I got out.  Doubled up classes and got a MS in Computer Science in one year. Then talked my way into a Ph.D. program!

Worked at a big national lab for a while, high performance computing, some work on a laser fusion code (one of the design codes for the big fusion announcement last month), and some work on nukes.

Went to NYC to work for an eccentric billionaire building a novel supercomputer... in a skyscraper... overlooking Times Square... who was (unfortunately) not Batman!

My final interview there was with the Big Guy himself... in his top floor office with the sun shining through the window highlighting the ball that drops on New Year's Eve.

We talked about many things, but we spent quite a bit of time talking about my early absolute schooling fuck-up.

Got the job there... the welcome email was sent to everyone starting that week (which was the supercomputer side plus the big hedge fund side).... It was  [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], .... and me with a gmail address (unsurprisingly, no-one with a hotmail or AOL address :-) )

At the BB, I worked on the Investment Bank side of the business.  Mostly backend work, some code analysis, some performance work.  Was OK (and lucrative), but not as fulfilling as I had hoped (but, then again, I could always go home and cry into my pillow made of money).

As for the fuck up, after a while, no-body cared anymore.  These days, it is only an amusing story of how I went off the rails and tried to fuck it all up.

Last week, when I introduced myself to the 300 students taking introductory C++ programming with me; I told them the story.  Both as a cautionary tale (fucking up is a big pain in the ass!), and as inspiration (even if you fuck it up big time, you can work your way out of it).   One student came up after class and told me that he is going to drop out after this quarter and enlist... wanted to know how I broke it to my parents.

The circle of life continues...

Grizzled Guru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks man!  

I found that work was a drag... I wasn't excited about it; even at a really, REALLY, cool blockchain analytic startup.

And I had all these things that I wanted to do: work on my landscaping at my awesome retirement house that we built during the pandemic, noodle around on some fun programming projects, get back in my shop and build things (I have a new airplane kit coming in April!), go out flying, travel, hang with my wife and chillax a bit.

All those things took time that I just didn't have.  Fitting some of it into a weekend after an intense week of startup work meant that I was exhausted at the end of the weekend/beginning of the work week.

Life is too short for that kind of bullshit!

The teaching thing is like 3 days on-site at the university (Clearly it takes more time than the 9 hours of classroom time and some office hours!), but the time outside that is unstructured.

I'm also going back to school to work on my airplane mechanic's certificate.  Hey, lifelong learning keeps you young.  No grade pressure, no time pressure; just learning new stuff and working with my hands.

WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Congratulations and love the winding road...you've been a part of this community for over a decade, so just wanted to say thank you.

Any chance you are open to coming on the wso podcast to share your wisdom? We can keep you anonymous if you prefer... 

Your story is very different from most of my guests (good thing). I'm at [email protected] 

Either way, thanks again! 

Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can I please only get normal replies?

Why do anonymous posters absolutely refuse to give numbers? We are finance minded people who work in an industry only for the money. We are not doctors or politicians or policeman. We are not in it to help society like other industries. We care about numbers.

So why can't you tell us you're number? Of course we understand that everyone is different and everyone requires a different number, but it's still fun to read and compare to people more successful than us. So why do people hate sharing the one piece of data we all really are curious about? It's not just you, every other post someone always beats around the bush and refuses to share salary or bonus or inheritance numbers.

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Grizzled Guru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The short answer is: It depends

 * On what lifestyle you want to maintain.  I choose to buy an expensive airplane, I would have a different number without that particular "dependent" on the payroll

 * On where you want to retire. I choose a big house in Southern California, if I wanted a ranch in Wyoming, it would be a different number.

 * How much buffer you want for economic swings (recession anyone?  pandemic?)

 * Do you want/need  to keep working (I tell my family that I'm "semi" retired... they call bullshit and say that I'll never retire, I call double bullshit and say retirement is a state of mind).

I knew an older gentleman who said that he only needed $1,000,000 because he felt that he could live comfortably on $40k/year (Great Depression Baby).

I'll tell you my original "number", the one that I used while I was at the BB:  $4.24 million  I made some ludicrous projections and lots of guessing and added some old fashioned windage and used that as a target.

The real truth is I don't quite know "how much" I have.  Well, yes, I have an asset sheet and the like, but several of my "investments" are moderately (real estate) to absolutely (untradable startup stock) illiquid.  I have one investment that is worth somewhere between $0 and $10,000,000 -- don't know yet, but could easily be anywhere in that range.  Ideally, for tax purposes, I'm hoping that this investment comes in about 5 years from now (so it will also be tax free -- always think long term guys!).

My decision to retire was much more driven by how I felt than by how much I held in the bank.  It was driven by the desire for "time" rather than for "money"

- - - - - -

If you are working in finance "only for the money," as you say, then you are probably doing it wrong.   People around you know this about you.  It is inherently self-limiting.

The real ballers in this field are the ones that work for something bigger. The thrill of closing a deal... The power that comes with absolute control of your domain.

I've have mentored a lot of people from finance and tech.  I tell them the same thing.  Find the part of the biz that you are passionate about and do that.  The money will follow.

Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

how do you become a teacher at a university after working in finance? I'd love to do it too.

Grizzled Guru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Cupiditate quo quia quasi non debitis ut commodi. Labore magnam reprehenderit sit et sint qui amet. Numquam impedit sapiente inventore nam. Quos ipsum eligendi eveniet aut deserunt ut est. Magni autem beatae expedita neque voluptatum iure.

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