34 year old day trader to investment banker

When I left high school I decided I wanted to try day trading. I graduated in the top 5% in high school and got accepted to McCombs and Mays A&M. I knew I didn't have the elite quantitative skills to be an trader at a top prop firm or hedge fund, but I figured I could day trade, or at least try to. I'd give it a year and if it didn't work out I'd go to college. My grandfather left his grand kids about 60k each for college and whatnot, so I used half of that to day trade with while I took classes at the local CC. Over the last ~14 years I've built up a net worth that is now ~$7 million. No wife, no kids, no attachments, etc.

Since 2015, I've gone back to UT/Mays and I earned a BBA in Finance, Accounting and I've also been lucky enough to get into some great business schools (Wharton, Columbia, Booth, Darden, McCombs, Jones, Ross, Fuqua). Someone whom I truly admire, Robert F. Smith, got his MBA in his early 30s and became an associate at Goldman, but maybe he's an outlier? How difficult is it to break into investment banking at 34 when I finish my MBA? I have no prior experience (other than day trading, owning some real estate, and building my own investment portfolio), but I want to end up in venture capital or private equity as a principal/partner. Will internships be hard to come by for me in business school? Are my aspirations unrealistic?

Any insight will me much appreciated. Apologies for any spelling/grammar errors, I'm trading right now.

Comments (24)

Most Helpful
May 3, 2019

Not trying to be a dick, but you have 7 million dollars. why in the world would you want to go into IB.

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May 3, 2019

Lmfao seriously. Imagine having $7m dollars yet purposely choosing to become an analyst monkey working 100 hour weeks cleaning up powerpoints and getting berated by your VP/MD.

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May 3, 2019

Lol seriously, $7M but OP wants to be a PPT and Excel bitch?

May 3, 2019

you're going to really find yourself questioning why the fuck you're telling an analyst he needs to align left logos more properly. you're also going to have a hard time listening to your VP tell you that you need to "tick and tie these numbers. let's compare apples to apples" when you have the networth of both him and his boss put together.

do yourself a favor and skip IB. use the MBA as a platform to meet the right people so that you can get into a VC fund immediately. you're clearly a smart guy. there's nothing that IB will teach you that you won't pick up on your own.

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May 3, 2019

While I agree with the above posters, if your ultimate goal is to work at a buyside shop or similar, having a couple years of IBD experience will not hurt your chances and will likely do the opposite. It will provide you with experience in a more structured environment than you experienced just day trading and will validate your background to potential buyside employers. No-one is going to check your trading statement to verify how well you did so having some reputable experience on your resume will help back that up.

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May 6, 2019

If he goes in stating he has made ~$7M trading then yes, they absolutely will check his statements. As they should.

However, I have to agree here. A HF taking a swing on a random successful day trader is a much riskier proposition than hiring a BB analyst who pulled in ~$7M.

May 3, 2019

Going from being an entrepreneur to sitting in an office 75 hours a week is going to be an overwhelming transition. I suggest that you continue to find ways to deploy your capital rather than your labor, as you're most accustomed to this and have been successful.

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May 4, 2019

Even if you did decide to get into IB, which I strongly advise you against doing, you're not going to get into PE. It's a different career trajectory and one that is extremely rigid.

I can't speak as much for VC but you don't need to do IB to get there. Work for tech companies instead in product management roles or strategy.

May 4, 2019

I get the rationale for wanting to go into investment banking given you feel you have no real experience, but if you have $7MM sitting in the bank, just skip IB and start your own VC fund! It would be easier than you think I to start angel investing on your own, and I've known a few guys who've attended HWS and successfully raised VC funds while in business school.

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May 4, 2019

also would probably be easy to start a search fund if he went to one of those top schools

May 9, 2019

It would also be pretty easy to lose 7mm in a startup vc fund with no underwriting or fundamental research experience.

I would actually look into opportunities in equity research or fixed income research. That might play more into your experience in markets, your desire for fundamental research experience, and it would help you gain an understanding of a longer-term investment horizon than day trading.

May 5, 2019

Mid 30s guy here. A few thoughts.

  1. True props to the OP for his trading skills and for generating that net worth. That's just awesome. If you haven't already, give yourself a pat on the back. Seriously.
  2. Why do you want to go into banking? What's the end game/what do you want to get out of it? A prestigious name? Some kind of network? Excel/ppt skills? Hopefully you have a concrete answer to this question because you'll be spending a lot of your time/energy doing mundane tasks and dealing with people who have a lot less money than you and are younger and probably dumber than you.
  3. On the "lack of quant skills" if you have made $30k into $7m over 14 years, that's over a 47% compounded annual return. You are CRUSHING HFs/Prop Shops. I do not know your strategy or if its scalable or what your biggest drawdowns were, but if you have some track record (ie. broker statements) why not put some of that money into an account, set up a vehicle and raise some capital to start YOUR OWN SHOP? If you can make even a 5th of the return yearly that you claim and can back it up, I am sure there are a lot of shops who will take a look at you (if you want to work for some man that is). This is all of course, assuming that you want to stay in trading.
  4. You have no commitments and money. Do you have other hobbies/passions/causes that you want to pursue? Why not set aside some money and time to really try those out and maybe you will find another path or something that you want to do/spend your time on. It's a big big world out there.

TLDR: Congrats on making serious dough. Why IB? Can you answer that question? Why not set up your own shop? If you have other passions, why not set aside money and chase/try those?

Good Luck

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May 5, 2019

What do you hope to accomplish from banking? Is this just a means to an end? A check the box step you feel is necessary?

Or, are you hoping to learn more about the nuances of private company investment?

May 5, 2019

I personally worked with a friend who started as an MBA associate when he was 33 years old and he made it to VP at 37. I also worked with another person who started banking pretty much at that age, so it is definitely possible. Also, I know people that with no prior banking / PE background went to B/S, then IB and after 1.5 switched to PE.

That said, you do not want to do that. This is not the best use of your time, skills and capital.
I echo the people before who said that it would probably make much more sense either to stick with public investing (and you can keep doing it while obtaining your MBA if you are interested in the cultural / learning experience) or trying to setup your own shop.
Honestly, you have the capital and your best shot is probably to find another like-minded person who has the skills / experience but has no capital to start the venture now. Probably an MBA would make sense for this networking aspect as well.

Banking is just a huge waste of time, same with MF PE. You do learn things but you will be spending the 6 years after your MBA to literally do XLS and PPT for other people, with the risk to be burnt out in a year or so, while compromising on your income, brain work and quality of life.
I am supportive of the MBA (if you feel you need it / it would make you feel better just go for it) but definitely not supportive for the IB. Just do an internship during your MBA and you will realize how your skills can be better deployed somewhere else.

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May 8, 2019

What alternatives do you propose to him? Clearly the dudes smart and you don't need to spend 2 years in school to gain technical chops.

Curious what you propose to him to do now instead of IB if his end goal is to do PE/VC?

Btw: I support the advice to skip banking as you're wasting time refining ppt/excel skills that are meaningless

May 5, 2019

Kudos to you @yellowbird . This is a really impressive narrative. Although a lot of value has been provided in the responses, especially by @Jamoldo , if I were in your place I would've thought about the following:

  1. I would've networked my way into a search fund. SGSB has done great work in keeping a track of the industry and according to their 2018 report, most search fund operators start at a median age of 32 - so you are definitely in the right ball park.
  2. You have had a very successful investment history for a prolonged period of time. Even if you faced high volatility, I am sure there is a decent amount of edge you must've had in getting those returns in last one and a half decade. If I were you, I would've leveraged this investing experience, the social validation received by getting a MBA from a revered school and potential capital - to get on board with a small search fund, which has a decent performance history.

I understand that your experience has been in public markets and search funds are all about private markets. That said, I believe it is a difficult time for someone to start a new hedge fund. I guess, this is just a matter of preference.

By any means, you should avoid getting into the IB-PE cycle, unless you are absolutely bonkers about it. Two or three years spent at a search fund where you will see how value is created by turning around companies, would be definitely a more valuable experience than the first two years of IB - especially for you.

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May 7, 2019

I can see why a person would do this, I just don't think I would bcoz working with business makes want to start a business. More often than not, you find entrepreneurs who are way less smarter than you running businesses - which makes it a clear path for anyone in IB to want to do that. But you don't have to go through that since you have run your own business. I think you should be very focused on doing your MBA whilst starting to expand your current business or venture out into other businesses. You should hire an IB analyst to take care of the easy and boring stuff like excel and spreadsheets and marketing and focus on making strategic decisions - that's where your true skill I think (and judging from your track record) lies. Focus on the plan - and if you really want to be a smart ass with the sheets - take the financial modelling course and upskill yourself. That is my advice - very cheap one at that - a man with $7m can only do so little to fund himself for that. Keep learning and keep growing.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

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May 7, 2019

To actually answer OP's question, the hardest part will be convincing interviewers that you're interested in the job for the long haul (which it doesn't sound like you are). Banks are fine with renting analysts for 2-3 years before they move on, but MBA associates are a different matter. If I were interviewing you for a FT associate role, I would be very skeptical that you were committed to a career in banking and would have a hard time extending an offer.

You can help yourself by getting your "Why Banking?" story right and aggressively networking with recruitment teams on campus, following up with them frequently via phone and e-mail afterwards to reemphasize your interest. You want the recruitment teams to be able to say about you that you must be actually interested in working at Bank X, despite your non-trad background, or else you wouldn't spend so much time following up.

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May 7, 2019

but why

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May 7, 2019

You've already made it. I have a sneaking suspicion that Robert Smith (assuming Vista guy) didn't have $7.00MM when he went to GS.

May 7, 2019

Just start a PE fund.

May 8, 2019

lol

May 8, 2019
Comment

My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

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