Anyone else fed up with the banking/finance industy?

THEBLUECHEESE's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 727

Happy Monday everyone.

It'd be good if we keep this discussion amongst those who have actually been there and done that (i.e. no high school/college students)

I thought I'd start a topic that perhaps a lot of you think about but don't bring up often enough - Is anyone else fed up with the banking/finance industry as I am? Background on me: 2 yrs of working as an IBD analyst in M&A about to become an Analyst 3 - closed a couple deals, been through soul-crushing hours, made so many sacrifices - learned a TON (I do NOT regret my experience at all) - as I'm sure a lot of you have.

The longer I'm working in my 80-100 hour week job the more I'm realizing that this industry just isn't what it used to be. I know what I signed up for - the hours, the sacrifice, dumping of work by associates, Fri night staffings, etc. But when you add it all up, is this really worth all the trouble, relative to how the industry was before? Does anyone else feel they want to change industries or do 'something completely different' with better stability, still better pay and etc.?

Here are just a few examples of what I mean by 'relative' to what it was before:

1) Bankers are ridiculed by the broad community. Other than those in the finance circle you will wow no-one with your job at GS/JPM/MS working as an investment banker. This wasn't really the case pre-2007

2) Pay is down across the street at all levels, and not improving (bases up, bonuses down)

3) Regulation is making it harder for banks to squeeze a profit. Market conditions aren't helping

4) Layoffs in bunches every couple weeks and months hence NO job security (I've seen my analyst friends who were laid off)

5) The smartest no longer flock to Wall Street; they work at tech and media firms (the first years and interns I've mentored recently from ivy league schools starting in banking are dumb as rocks, though not all ofc)

6) Sure there's the buy-side, but the chances of you being on partner track and moving up are so slim unless the firm has a track record of doing that. You'll pretty much be kicked out

7) The people around you that you work for are miserable human beings that will try to make you feel the same

8) Hours have perhaps improved, but not by much. My banker friends and I recently looked at photos of ourselves from just a few years back and realize how poorly we've aged not to mention how much time has flown by with no memories (just work, drink, sleep - rinse and repeat)

9) Perks? Benefits? What's that?? Do I even have time for these things?

10) Banks used to be at the forefront of innovation. These days they're always playing catch-up vs. the tech/media firms

Anyone else feel this way and just want to leave finance for a high / steady growth corporate with better hours, still good pay, amazing perks/benefits, and some sanity at work? Why be on the 'path' when you can actually BUILD A CAREER?

Discuss. I understand I may get a bunch of MS but want to have an honest discussion with the WSO Community.

Cheers

Comments (84)

May 2, 2016

Where are you headed after your IB stint?

May 2, 2016

I think outside a select few nascent industries in bubbles or up-cycles (tech / fintech), pay has been flat or down across most of the economy for probably at least a decade. And starting a successful business as an entrepreneur today is harder and more competitive than it's ever been in the US. Where else are you going to make investment banking level money on a risk-adjusted basis?

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May 2, 2016

This

May 16, 2016
iggs99988:

I think outside a select few nascent industries in bubbles or up-cycles (tech / fintech), pay has been flat or down across most of the economy for probably at least a decade. And starting a successful business as an entrepreneur today is harder and more competitive than it's ever been in the US. Where else are you going to make investment banking level money on a risk-adjusted basis?

Pay is up drastically in consulting (which is probably the closest analogue to banking in undergrad/mba recruiting) the last decade or so. What's great is, even if this is a bubble, it's a pretty risk free bubble - if consulting declines, it means f500 firms having decided to do more things in-house, in which case they need to hire ex-consultants.

May 16, 2016

The pay isn't really comparable though, even after adjusting for risk. I'd say consulting wins out in lifestyle and benefits, but I don't think upside is nearly as high.

May 2, 2016

I'll reiterate what I've said before. It's still a good place to start, but have no plans to stay. Take that head start and use it to jump into something awesome. The long-term prospects are garbage.

May 2, 2016
Mephistopheles:

I'll reiterate what I've said before. It's still a good place to start, but have no plans to stay. Take that head start and use it to jump into something awesome. The long-term prospects are garbage.

Would you mind sharing you story? It seems you're a senior associate, so I'm curious what has kept you around all the years if the long-term prospects are poor. And outside of the traditional finance exits, what are some of the awesome things you are suggesting?

May 2, 2016

I generally agree with you, but judging from some of your comments, it seems like you entered the industry for the wrong reasons (money and recognition). If you want people to "appreciate" what you do, you should have become a doctor for MSF.

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May 2, 2016

I've been working in finance for almost 2 years now (graduated in 2014). I think overall, I am just fed up with having to trade my time for money. When I served for 4 years I felt the same way pretty much as I do now. Not enough freedom, essentially being a corporate slave. I just want to be free and am working on ways I can be free to pursue things I love and not have to trade my time for money. I'm pretty convinced I will be out of the corporate world within the next 2-3 years as soon as I have a nest egg. Love trading and the stock market and have for a long time and as soon as I have a big enough egg, I will trade independently. =)

All that being said, I am extremely grateful for the job I have now and am being paid a lot more than the average college grad. I just know I can't be doing this for longer than 2-3 more years and ideally, the sooner I have my egg the better.

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May 2, 2016

OP - you forgot to mention how much money you jave been making while at all this. Please do a full disclosure.

May 7, 2016

..

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May 7, 2016

It's still pretty impressive for someone right out of school, and people pursue the track for earning potential and exit opportunities not first year analyst earnings. Latter statement is just completely false. Most people do not end up staying more than the average 2-3 year stint. Most leave for PE, corp dev, HF, B-school, or other industries entirely (startups / tech). Not sure where you heard that there is a lack of exit opportunities after IB, but that's completely wrong and is actually the very reason people join in the first place.

May 2, 2016

Yeah I'm pretty much done. I'm going to do my own thing or work in product management. There are way too many ways to make money for me to sacrifice my health and age, in an industry I enjoy but don't really love.

Thankfully the industry gives me the opportunity to pivot into a variety of industries

May 2, 2016

I've pretty much decided that after 2 years I'm done. The industry sucks for long term prospects in regards to how it affects your health, family, friends, etc.

May 2, 2016

Is consulting any better? Do you have any friends @ MBB?

May 2, 2016

you need to get out. buyside is a lot better.

May 2, 2016

Just to add another perspective, totally agree with you that the industry is not what it once was regarding pay, but would second another poster who said you got in it for the wrong reasons.

First you need to distinguish between finance and banking specifically. Working at a bank right now is really tough and combining that with the horrendous banking lifestyle means almost no one will be enjoying the day to day of their job save for the guys who just fucking get off on deals.

I would also argue you can't be happy in high pressure finance roles unless you actually enjoy your job. It's a very specific career path that takes a certain type of person and natural to see a lot of people realize it isn't for them. Would distinguish on buy side though where you get to take a lot of responsibility and see investments through from beginning to end. Obviously a different type of stress but for me a lot more fulfilling of a career.

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May 2, 2016

To answer a few questions that were directed towards me: Struck out on buy-side interviews, so have been looking into corporate roles at various tech/high growth firms. Pretty burnt out having to make work my life so I don't even know if PE is right for me in that sense

I have no idea what my old posts say but money and prestige is part of the equation for pretty much any and all wannabe investment bankers. I'm no exception. To be honest, I do like the job itself and am able to find some enjoyment in creating pitchbooks and building financial models. However, the lifestyle, the culture, people, the banking and regulatory environment, and etc... all those things I mentioned make for a pretty shitty job overall

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

May 2, 2016

ALL this is fine but please tell us your salary range.

Maybe you didn't get to Ferrari level but did you hit $150k all in?

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May 2, 2016

Was going to chime in but then realized the "no high school/college students" part.
Anyways best of luck OP! I'm sure you will find something soon - it just needs to happen once.

May 3, 2016

By the time I was done with my analyst stint, I needed the fuck out. Currently work in the 'non-prestigous' part of the finance world and it's lightyears better - people who tell you that you need to work ~100 hours a week to make 200-300K are simply those people who are afraid to leave themselves.

I now work ~50 hours a week and make ~200k - I know that's a bullshit/low amount of money for most people on this forum, but , at least at 24, having the time to spend my money has made all the difference in the world. Plus, now I can actually help my friend with the startup I invested in - 10 hours a week is a commitment I can make now.

May 3, 2016

this.

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

May 3, 2016

Where do you work?

May 4, 2016

So, I work at at a HF Fund of Funds at keeps a very low profile but manages ~25bn. The partners make a point to pay above market (for FOF) and keep analyst work/life balance reasonable.

Sorry I can't give more specifics (small company, so I'd get picked out of the crowd pretty easily if someone cared to look).

May 3, 2016

50 hours for $200k? That's awesome. Do you mind if I ask what type of role you are in?

May 4, 2016

As I said to the other guy, I'm at a FOF (do stuff with our direct co-invest as well), but one of the more blue chip names in that industry.

I'd echo everything BlackHat said in this post if you want a more fulsome answer - http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/life-at-a-to...

May 3, 2016
The Stranger:

By the time I was done with my analyst stint, I needed the fuck out. Currently work in the 'non-prestigous' part of the finance world and it's lightyears better - people who tell you that you need to work ~100 hours a week to make 200-300K are simply those people who are afraid to leave themselves.

I now work ~50 hours a week and make ~200k - I know that's a bullshit/low amount of money for most people on this forum, but , at least at 24, having the time to spend my money has made all the difference in the world. Plus, now I can actually help my friend with the startup I invested in - 10 hours a week is a commitment I can make now.

Dude 200K at 24 is not low by any means.... 99% of people on this forum will not hit that.

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May 3, 2016

I think what you need, is a vacation. This will help a lot and you can do soul-searching.

Worse comes to worse, find a decent gig for 35-40 hours weekly and pursue your hobbies/interests until it works out.

Gotta pay your bills, right?

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May 3, 2016

S&T at least offers a better work/life balance - no weekends and a predictable schedule. Only downside is the long-term prospects aren't stellar at the moment..hopefully they improve.

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May 3, 2016

Sounds like you got in for the wrong reasons, but if you don't like the job or the lifestyle then obviously there's no point staying. If you like the job and are just burned out, then take a vacation to think things over. I've spent 2 years in banking and am about to become an associate. I'm a little burned out, but really like the job. I'm taking a 3-4 week vacation before I start as an associate to recharge.

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May 3, 2016

I'm a year in, and I'm on my way out. I hate banking, I hate my firm, I'm ok with the people, but I'm fat, tired and miserable.

But I've learned a TON. And for that, I'm grateful.

May 3, 2016

Admittedly I'm now a student again, but more the MBA type and I've got a bit more time and life experience under my belt than most as a former combat officer.

These things do suck in a lot of ways but I would be heavily cautious of the "actually have a career" argument. I've seen people come in here romanticizing the military when it's simply not the way people think it is.

In the military, you rotate regularly. This means that you WILL go back and forth between "front office" jobs where you're leading troops and "back office" type jobs where you're managing processes or specific support functions.

Here's what I did in one job where I was the second in command of operations for a battalion (consists of four companies so about 500 people): I'd get up at about 4:30-5:00 AM to get in the office at 6:00. MOST people were here for training, I was typically in morning briefings or getting ready for work that officially started at 9:30. I'd then spend the morning reading pushing out everything from those meetings, reading new information published by higher headquarters last night, updating unit calendars, and pushing out what information I could. Then I would spend the day frantically trying to write orders, which closely followed a specific format, and even things like a single line indented wrong out of these documents would get my ass reamed by an extremely risk adverse supervisor. I was responsible for making sure EVERY mundane task assigned to my unit by higher headquarters was completed. The catch was these tasks had to be completed by units led by 9 officers who all outranked me and were busy trying to take care of more pressing matters to make sure their own asses didn't get reamed by command.

The best part? I'd usually get done around 2-3PM (with a lunch break maybe one day a week).....and then since my supervisor was both an extreme micro manager and in meetings I'd end up twiddling my thumbs until around 6PM, at which point I'd get revisions about 6:30 and have to push them all out during the evenings.

If I was lucky I'd get 6-7 hours of sleep with 5 days a week worked. Doesn't sound so bad right? Not until you take into account that this was the approximately HALF of the time that we were in our offices and not out training in the middle of nowhere with a busier pace, no running water, no cell service, shitty food, and no beds or hygiene services.

All of that would have been great if it was for a purpose(it wasn't, we were propping up corrupt local officials in Iraq and Afghanistan). Hell, all of that WAS great when I was lucky enough to be working with great teams. When neither of those is the case it starts to suck ass very much and very rapidly......and you're doing it for a fraction of what an investment banker makes, in shitty run down towns in the middle of nowhere.

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May 3, 2016

OP, I'll tackle your example list because I think the way you listed them shows that you didn't get into this for the right reasons.

  1. Who gives a fuck what people think about your job? The girls you're trying to impress at the bar? Seriously, going into a job for the ability to "wow" someone is so misguided it's insane.
  2. I'd disagree that pay is not improving based on my and my peers experiences over the past few years.
  3. Fair point.
  4. If your firm is laying off analysts, you should think about jumping ship anyways. Analysts are cheap labor, they should almost never be getting canned.
  5. Is this really a bad thing? Do we really need the smartest people aligning PowerPoint shapes for 80 hours a week? Banking isn't rocket science. Also, almost all first year analysts and interns are dumb as rocks when they start. It's just a matter of how quickly they can get up to speed and figure out how things work.
  6. Buyside has always been a narrow path - people on here will have you believe that 75% of the BB analyst class is moving over to PE each year which just isn't true. In addition, there's nothing wrong with not making it to partner. You still have a great skill-set that can enable you to make mid-six figures and up in the corporate world.
  7. Sounds like a culture issue.
  8. No shit, did you think that working 80 hours a week wasn't going to age you? Also, I think you're romanticizing the free time that other people have. Most people I know who work 40-50 hours a week follow a work, gym, eat, watch TV, sleep schedule most work days. They don't have a ton of money to travel, and have trouble saving money to build up a nest egg.
  9. What perks or benefits did you think you were going to get? Outside of a few tech unicorns perks and benefits are largely so the company doesn't have to pay you as much, which is the complete opposite of the investment banking business model.
  10. Since when? What bank was known as a key innovator? It certainly hasn't been that way in years.
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May 3, 2016

Fair points. My responses below. I disagree with those who think I went into this for the 'wrong reasons.' I come from a super non-target, cold called and cold emailed my way into every job and internship I've ever had, have had so many rejections only to relentlessly continue pounding the pavement to get a banking job, majored in finance (not some random liberal art major like english or history), knew what I was getting myself into, etc.

  1. I care. I take pride in everything I do and who I am. I care about MY brand, as I'm sure you do. If half the discussions during political debates are how terrible bankers are and candidates are winning votes rallying around those kind of things, it's a bit more difficult to take pride in what you do. If you claim don't give a damn what others think about your jobs at all, you're probably lying to yourself
  2. Have to disagree with you here. Even the pay during 2008 in some cases were better, though not all
  3. OK
  4. This is such a myth that analysts never get cut. It happens, though rare. More frequently if the firm decides to strategically exit a certain product/industry group. Either way, it still happens at times
  5. I think a reason people go into this job is to be surrounded by smart, hard-working individuals. So no, we don't need rocket scientists, but you're gonna learn the most from the people you surround yourself with (imo)
  6. Agreed. It's something to consider, not a reason to stay away
  7. Highly group dependent
  8. Again, I think you assume that I entered this profession to have models and bottles all day/night. I don't disagree with your statement, but when candidates no longer prioritize being money as the #1 factor coming out of college, this is something to think about.
  9. See #8 and beginning statement.
  10. OK, I stand corrected here

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

May 3, 2016
THEBLUECHEESE:

Fair points. My responses below. I disagree with those who think I went into this for the 'wrong reasons.' I come from a super non-target, cold called and cold emailed my way into every job and internship I've ever had, have had so many rejections only to relentlessly continue pounding the pavement to get a banking job, majored in finance (not some random liberal art major like english or history), knew what I was getting myself into, etc.

1. I care. I take pride in everything I do and who I am. I care about MY brand, as I'm sure you do. If half the discussions during political debates are how terrible bankers are and candidates are winning votes rallying around those kind of things, it's a bit more difficult to take pride in what you do. If you claim don't give a damn what others think about your jobs at all, you're probably lying to yourself2. Have to disagree with you here. Even the pay during 2008 in some cases were better, though not all3. OK4. This is such a myth that analysts never get cut. It happens, though rare. More frequently if the firm decides to strategically exit a certain product/industry group. Either way, it still happens at times5. I think a reason people go into this job is to be surrounded by smart, hard-working individuals. So no, we don't need rocket scientists, but you're gonna learn the most from the people you surround yourself with (imo)6. Agreed. It's something to consider, not a reason to stay away7. Highly group dependent8. Again, I think you assume that I entered this profession to have models and bottles all day/night. I don't disagree with your statement, but when candidates no longer prioritize being money as the #1 factor coming out of college, this is something to think about.9. See #8 and beginning statement.10. OK, I stand corrected here

Good discussion here. I'll concede that you aren't in it for the wrong reasons, you're just burnt out and frustrated (which happens).

I think what you're seeing here is that there's more than one way to skin a cat. IB is a great way to start a career, and high finance will ensure that you almost never (if ever) have to worry about money, but it's not the only way to build a successful career over 30-40 years and be happy.

I know you care about your brand, but if finance interests you and is something you want to build your career around (i.e. regardless of your company's industry you will be working in a financial function) working as an IB analyst is going to be one of the best ways to start your career, and certainly a better start than an ad sales analyst at Buzzfeed or a product manager at Google. Also, "the masses" can't distinguish between the IBD and S&T functions at an investment bank - they don't understand what you do. No one has true vitriol towards a 23 year old working in a 100 tab Excel model at 2 AM.

May 4, 2016

Regarding people viewing your being an i-banker negatively, what percentage of the population actually knows what investment banking is? Definitely less than 10%, and probably less than 5%. If you tell some bar slut you're an investment banker, she doesn't know (or care) what the fuck that is, she simply sees the dollar signs.

While I can see how other people's negative impressions may add stress to an already stressful job, it's largely just ignorance anyway. I guarantee you most people with the "wall st sucks" mentality don't know what the fuck they're against or bitching about in the first place. Don't let the know-nothings of the world get you down.

May 3, 2016

Put simply, being an analyst was painful. You work long hours, the work eventually becomes quite repetitive, and you dont really have much freedom with your time. That being said, its definitely not that bad.

Are you continuously working 100 hours a week?

You are just inefficient. Either you are too slow, or you let yourself get shit on by your associate/senior. You have to learn to manage up. Learn to accept what work is critical in a deal and what you can push back on. You have leverage if you are a good analyst, learn to use it. Aim for a 10am-1am M-F with weekend work spread over 2 days.

Are you fat?

Learn to eat and prioritize the gym over the netflix show you watch when you get home at 2. If you go to sleep by 2, you can go to the gym from 8-9. Stop eating things that bring you think brings you joy in the day because you will stay fat if you order burgers from seamless every day.

Do you have a terrible social life?

Definitely your fault. Bars close at 4am in NY. You might not be able to have a healthy long term relationship, but you can still go out with friends and have a good time.

Feeling like work is suffocating?

Use your vacation days and dont be the pushover who just accepts all the work that comes your way when you are away. Learn to push back, shit still needs to get done and it will fall on your associate (or another analyst)

Always remember, good analysts are hard to find. If you deliver good work, your seniors will appreciate it and give you more freedom. Just dont be a pushover, or they will take advantage of you (and rightfully so)

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May 3, 2016
Cotton Eyed Joe:

Put simply, being an analyst was painful. You work long hours, the work eventually becomes quite repetitive, and you dont really have much freedom with your time. That being said, its definitely not that bad.

Are you continuously working 100 hours a week?

You are just inefficient. Either you are too slow, or you let yourself get shit on by your associate/senior. You have to learn to manage up. Learn to accept what work is critical in a deal and what you can push back on. You have leverage if you are a good analyst, learn to use it. Aim for a 10am-1am M-F with weekend work spread over 2 days.

Are you fat?

Learn to eat and prioritize the gym over the netflix show you watch when you get home at 2. If you go to sleep by 2, you can go to the gym from 8-9. Stop eating things that bring you think brings you joy in the day because you will stay fat if you order burgers from seamless every day.

Do you have a terrible social life?

Definitely your fault. Bars close at 4am in NY. You might not be able to have a healthy long term relationship, but you can still go out with friends and have a good time.

Feeling like work is suffocating?

Use your vacation days and dont be the pushover who just accepts all the work that comes your way when you are away. Learn to push back, shit still needs to get done and it will fall on your associate (or another analyst)

Always remember, good analysts are hard to find. If you deliver good work, your seniors will appreciate it and give you more freedom. Just dont be a pushover, or they will take advantage of you (and rightfully so)

Generally speaking, you have to pay your dues in the industry first, right? BigLaw has something like this to deal with regardless, safe to assume and the PE guys I know pull close to the same amount of hours despite everything.

As you go up in the income bracket, regardless if you own a business, or work for a job, the demand and hours increases. This is a reality. If you truly are miserable, find something that is not so demanding and allows more freedom (accounting, etc) that will not take a toll on yourself (and others). Many of my friends who left IBD for Startups works close to 50 hours a week, but are more happier. This does not translate into, "Get a job at a startup," by any means.

As Cotton E. Joe said as well, eat healthy/exercise, this is essential.

May 3, 2016

Independent of what has already been stated above, here are some thoughts from me. For reference, I am finishing up my second year as an analyst. I do M&A at one of the top EBs and work in one of the roughest groups at my firm. I do not say this as a badge of honor but rather out of frustration -- I've had notably worse hours than most of my fellow analysts within my firm as well as friends from college working at other banks. I am heading to a PE job this summer after my two years.

There are a lot things I have grown to appreciate at my firm -- most of them have been things I have realized in the past few months as my end date has become more and more of a reality. I've boiled down my two biggest positives from my experience to two ideas, culture and learning, which each have a flipside of also being the two things I will miss the least. I'll add one more preface -- this is my reflection from my experience at a bank. You may not agree, you may think I am conceded or cocky, but I have been through plenty to make me feel the way I do. I am not here for a @#%^ measuring contest to tell you how rough I have had it (a la "bro how many times have you had to clock 140+ hours?! Have you ever stayed at work for 5 days straight?!). These are simply some thoughts from someone who has given 110% for almost two years now and is glad to be parting ways with his current firm. I don't blame you for skipping over this -- it's long and includes a lot of things you've probably heard before (both good and bad). But they are my experiences and for the most part things I have never shared.

Positives--

  • Workplace culture. While culture varies at banks and even at groups within each bank, I have had the benefit of being in a group that is a close community. For instance, in my group senior bankers are relatively understanding of near-term/last-minute personal obligations (e.g., getting out to do things last minute rather than putting some wedding you need to go to on your staffer's calendar three months in advance). As a young employee, I suppose I don't have enough experience in the rest of the corporate world to say this in confidence, but my gut tells me that the close and often times "unprofessional" (I mean that in both good ways and bad) culture at a bank is very different with "regular" offices. I could see myself missing a lot of the positive qualities of that culture down the road depending where my career goes. The camaraderie among the analysts in my group during my first year is one of the few things that made my first year on the job bearable, and I doubt I could have had a similar experience outside of banking.
  • Learning (first six months). "Drinking from a fire hose" or "thrown right into the fire" take whatever banker lingo you see fit -- my ramp up as an analyst was very rapid and I found myself having the same responsibilities (live projects, etc.) as the second year analysts in my group within weeks of being on the job (I think this tends to happen more at EBs where groups are much leaner on a junior level). In hindsight, the amount I learned in the first six months is something I am very proud of. The key part of this though is "first six months" -- which will come up later in my "negatives" section. As a tangential point, with learning early on also comes the skill of time management -- something else that I learned a great amount of while an analyst. When I think about what I have had to juggle in the past (or still do) at any given time it makes me a bit more judgmental of friends outside of IB as they complain about what is keeping them "busy" at work.

Negatives--

-Workplace culture. When I first started recruiting for PE during the traditional period of my first year, I had a few lengthy discussions with a close senior banker at my firm regarding what that career choice may mean for me long-term. I remember at one point he told me, in so many words, "I don't blame you for what you are doing. I will say, if you stay here you will get used and things won't get any easier." Early on it became evident to me I was getting staffed on more challenging and higher quantity of work than most of my peers. Bottom line -- I got rocked hard and regularly faced horrible sprints for some last-minute fire drills because our group's senior team knew I was reliable and could get the complicated work done quickly and accurately. Weekend plans regularly blew up on me, I lost my girlfried over my job (after trying my absolute hardest to make time for her whenever I had it; although its not like I wanted to be going to Lavo with work people on weekends :P), and I had to cancel vacation plans three times during the summer of my first year. What really irked me was I was not planning and re-planning these trips while in the middle of live projects.
When our new first years came along, things didn't lighten up at all -- and it seemed like there was no real improvement in my work-life balance. Part of this is my fault for not pushing back more -- I wasn't out chasing nightmare projects but I also wasn't speaking up when I thought I already had more than equitable amount of staffings. Was it fair for me to get stuck with much more work, spending just as many weekends in the office as my early months while our first years were never around? Probably not. Could I have done more to combat this? I'm sure I could have at least tried. Our first years' performance is very disappointing from my perspective, and their lack of dedication just makes me more confident I made the right choice a year ago deciding to look for another opportunity in PE while the window is open. I don't mean to belittle any current associates, but the last thing a good analyst wants to do is become an associate who has to deal with terrible work product from an analyst who doesn't show the same dedication to his/her job after spending 5x too long to do it. And when I read about all this jazz about the same talent not coming into analyst jobs anymore, I feel better about not staying around as an associate.

-Learning. I went into IB for three reasons: learning, comp, and future opportunities. I was not a kid who has been lurking on WSO since freshman year of college, planning out a "BB -> Mega fund -> MBA..." career before getting a SA internship, but I placed a lot of value in the fact that two solid years as an analyst could make me a viable candidate for a lot of different jobs -- which is pretty cool when you don't have an entire career mapped out in college. I was also attracted to the field by the learning curve. I have always considered myself the intellectually curious type, and thought some of the complexities of analyses conducted at an M&A advisory group at an EB would be perfect for me. This held true for awhile as I learned new things on the job. After about six to eight months though, I started realizing how similar everything I did was. I wasn't inputting numbers into model templates, but I found myself building the same types of analyses over and over again, no matter how "company specific" we thought it was. I also got jaded, thinking all the mega-deal fire drills I got staffed on had a lower likelihood of happening than me winning the lotto. Most importantly, I reached a point awhile ago where I stopped looking forward to coming into work. It wasn't from the frustration of being overworked, but rather no longer feeling excited about the possibility of learning something truly new. And while there is always something to learn at my level from listening to senior guys in meetings (tactics, etc.), it wasn't enough "new" stuff to keep me happy. The past year or so has felt like a routine of processing the same types of requests over and over again that aren't intellectually challenging. I think some people find comfort it getting good at something and sticking with it, and that's okay. But at least at my level, and for the foreseeable future if I stayed at a bank (i.e., three more years as an associate), I simply don't find the work gratifying or rewarding enough for me to stay.

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May 7, 2016

This is extremely enlightening...

May 3, 2016

You'd have to be living under a rock to not admit that there has been structural change to the industry. What is yet to catch up is the cultural change. This may take a while, and in the meantime the employees caught in that transition will be getting a raw deal (as the decline in hours worked will be slower than the decline in pay).

Another thing that is important to remember is how royally screwed the global economy is, and has been. Like not to be a massive bear, but we will see a secular decline (marked by bubbles sure) because;
- The next generation of us have less wealth individually, and less potential for wealth given the state of debt (we can never leverage up proportionately), of regulation (floating of FX, rise of monetary policy etc) and overall lack of technological innovation (we have no equivalent of computers or interent - instead we are happy to prioritise making gimmicks, be it apps or random 'fintech' crap, proportional to true scientific and technological breakthroughs).

I mean the older days of excess are gone, not because of banks needing to make more money, tighter regulations etc, but because they ultimately used up all the 'excess' via giving the debt to generations further down the temporal road.

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May 3, 2016

Can you go into more depth by what you mean structural changes? And also, why it is you think our lives will be worse in the future? More just curious because you seem to have interesting ideas.

May 3, 2016

Structural changes
1) Basel framework (emphasising capital ratio efficiency) - this leads to trends in presence in asset classes, transactions and products (i.e. Commodities out, Asset Management in, advisory in, prop trading out etc).
2) 'lifestyle' changes - lower bonuses, higher base wages, more flexible and less working hours up to a limit. This is all operating in the context of the eradication of the 'career' and the rise of having a 'portfolio' of jobs based on skills (i.e. look at engineers, coders etc who are now essentially outsourced whenever possible because they're commoditised variable cost).
3) flow of talent - lawyers, bankers etc are being optimised away by those with better technical proficiency (the engineers are coming for peoples jobs, slowly but surely), that is there is a secular move away from practically doing things, to instead abstractly understanding 'things' and finding a way to automate it (i.e. open outcry exchanges, farming, even law and medicine is seeing this influence).
4) Less exciting 'economic' stuff happening. There is no great economic shift in favour of open markets etc. Instead it's trying to put out fires through greater centralised monetary control. We don't have another 'china' or 'Japan' as of yet (there are emerging players sure, but they aren't a China) - we just have the debris of Japan's economic expansion and soon the rubble of China's (if it's not managed perfectly).

Our lives are worse because debt isn't forgiven when a generation decides to retire. As an analogy, lets say your parents own a house, and you get the house when they die.
- But mummy and daddy decided to take out a mortgage to renovate the house on the understanding that it'd make life easier for them, and they can sell a higher value house in the future. But then your parents die before paying off the mortgage, leaving you with an asset that is encumbered with a large mortgage to pay off, lest the bank take it.
- Now generalise this to the entire society. This means the assumption for selling the house for a greater amount (i.e. inflation due to demand) is invalid, because everyone else is in debt as well (their parents also mortgaged their houses). This means you have to both work to pay off the debt, as well as accept a write down on the value of the asset. But the REAL kicker is this 'renovated' house is now another 30 years older, and is actually a pretty shit house for you to live in.
- adapating this analogy, the house is all major corporations and assets. They are overwhelmingly owned by Baby Boomers, who actually outnumber us, but they are only owned through virtue of credit and a bet on growth outpacing the interest rate required to be paid. When they die, the debt doesn't just dissappear, someone has to either pay back the principal, or write down the debt. And if everyone is doing this then asset prices generally will deflate. Thus baby boomers borrowed ot buy the new shiny thing, we have to pay off the shiny thing, and its not longer shiny. Finally in such a context, innovation and technological advancement won't flourish in this sort of environment. If all you're doing is paying off money then you are not innovating.

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May 4, 2016
setarcos:

... overall lack of technological innovation (we have no equivalent of computers or interent - instead we are happy to prioritise making gimmicks, be it apps or random 'fintech' crap, proportional to true scientific and technological breakthroughs).

Easily the dumbest comment I have ever read on WSO.

Spoken like a true liberal arts major. Stick to building DCF models and terminal value calculations.

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May 5, 2016

Richard, or should I call you Dick, maybe provide some constructive feedback instead of just bashing?

I think there is a decent amount technological innovation happening, particularly in biotech and machine learning / AI, but you can't deny that a large proportion of people going into tech are working on gimmicky trash in search of unicorns. The bubble is popping.

May 5, 2016

lol what? Liberal arts major? Assuming I'm even american?

So much rage from you for such little output.

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May 11, 2016
QGKZ:

setarcos:... overall lack of technological innovation (we have no equivalent of computers or interent - instead we are happy to prioritise making gimmicks, be it apps or random 'fintech' crap, proportional to true scientific and technological breakthroughs).

Easily the dumbest comment I have ever read on WSO.

Spoken like a true liberal arts major. Stick to building DCF models and terminal value calculations.

(Posted by a guy whose profile lists him as a student)

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May 3, 2016
Best Response
May 4, 2016

VP here at a BB, promoted from analyst to associate to VP with no MBA.

I have been in the business pre/during/post crisis. The changes have been profound and the wall street career path is no longer what was promised. In fact, if you ask me today if I would recommend you to become a banker, my answer would be no. Below are some of the biggest issues I see today.

Regulations and capital requirements are forcing banks to change the operating model. The top line isn't growing much so the only way to increase profits is to cut expenses or to be more efficient. No matter what they tell you, cost cutting or new efficiency initiatives just mean lower pay and job cuts. If the MDs are now working 5-10 more years, then there is very little opportunities for directors/VPs to move up. If you are not moving up then you are moving out. So the likely ending point for those who stay long enough are to be fired. Also when someone is fired, the work still remains, so the person who is left behind has to step up and do 2x (or 3x if half of your group is fired) of the work while getting 1x (or less than 1x) of the pay. Obviously the economic payoff with no job security (unless you are the last man standing) is not in your favor.

New incoming class analysts are mostly in it for 1 or 2 years. They have no real desire to learn and perform, their main object is to get to the next job. The performance level declines each class year. I wonder sometimes how these new kids graduated college with the intellectual level I am seeing. But at the end of the day, incompetence at the junior level just means more work and fuck ups to explain at the associate/VP level.

The brightest and most knowledgeable senior bankers are all leaving, they are going to boutiques, smaller shops with less restrictions, and becoming CEOs/CFOs. They see the end game here and are getting out as fast as possible. If you are still working in a BB, you are probably stuck working for someone who can't get out. You will be surprised to see how often a capable banker is being forced out, the reason is simply because their bosses do not want a capable subordinate beneath them which could potentially replace them.

The money is still good, but it is just not what it used to be and the volatility in pay is much higher. The banks are paying you what they think is the minimum for you to stay, rather than by your performance.

Benefits? Perks? Really? How dare would anyone wants more benefits in banking. Do you want your dry cleaning to be picked up in your office? You should be happy to have a job. I am hearing rumors of cuts to seamless budgets. The last time that happened was 2009 and morale declined by 50%+ post cut, I think seamless cuts get the least bang for the buck, the banks are better off just firing another MD.

If you are still trying to pick a career or if you are early in the life of a banker, think about where you really want to be in a few years. My best advice is this - don't stay or do it for the money, it's not worth it You are better off by doing something else that's interesting and pays enough. If you are doing it for the money, ask yourself why do you want to make so much money and for whom do you intend to spend it on? Maybe you should just spend more time with that person instead.

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May 4, 2016

Very true, but I would like to emphasize a point you made which is that senior bankers are going to boutiques and smaller shops to escape the low pay and frustratingly extensive amount of red tape at BB's. I'm a soon to be associate at an EB (direct promote) and over the past 2 years I have had a slightly different experience. Though the trend is obviously still for people to leave after 2 years, I think we have done a fairly good job of retaining analysts through higher comp and more responsibility. The one's who hate the job will obviously still leave, but we've been able to retain some good people who genuinely enjoy their work. This goes all the way up to the senior level, as many of our senior staff actually started as analysts. We don't have massive back office or compliance departments, so it feels like much more of an eat what you kill system. The downside is that because we're much leaner, we probably work more hours on average, but this is also reflected in comp, work experience, and exposure, so I can't really complain.

May 4, 2016
Vol Inversion:

If you are doing it for the money, ask yourself why do you want to make so much money and for whom do you intend to spend it on? Maybe you should just spend more time with that person instead.

Truer wisdom has seldom been said.

May 4, 2016

That last sentence cut me deep, sorry I'm going to have to use it but here's a banana for this amazing wisdom.

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

May 5, 2016

Can you expound a little on how regulations and capital requirements affect investment banking and the top line? I get how it can hurt S&T but am not quite making the connection on how it hurts the advisory side. Or is it simply that with the new regulatory landscape committing capital for financing of transactions is more difficult which makes winning and executing advisory assignmentsmore difficult?

May 7, 2016

There are so many ways it impacts the bank and I cannot pretend like an expert to illustrate them all, but you did highlight a big aspect about financing. The regulators are limiting the amount of leverage a bank can provide committed financing to, with the gray line now days around 6 times levered. This would prevent higher leverage deals that would have been the norm pre-crisis.

Aug 8, 2018
Vol Inversion:

If you are doing it for the money, ask yourself why do you want to make so much money and for whom do you intend to spend it on? Maybe you should just spend more time with that person instead.

This hit home for me.

May 4, 2016

If you are fed up after only two years, you are probably in the wrong place to begin with.

May 4, 2016

What does an IB second year analyst make at the BB? Like $25/hr?

When you look at the profitability of a company do you look at market cap or EPS? Market Cap is to salary as EPS is to hourly rate. An IB analyst has pretty poor profitability but great market cap. I currently work in a more "middle office" role and make a significantly larger hourly rate, yet a smaller market cap number. However I only work 45 hours a week maybe 50, but if I have to work 50 hours two weeks in a row I know ill get extra money for the heavy lifting.

In other words, there are roles out there where you can make an easy six figures and work significantly less. It all depends on your goal/end game. I am still trying to break into the AM/ER world even if it involves working more for the same level of pay, because that is where I want my career to be.

May 4, 2016

There are very few roles that let your "market cap" (to use your words) double after 2-3 years

May 4, 2016

You are 100% right but the thread was originated on the basis of happiness in the industry. My reply simply shows that one can make a great salary while also having a good life.

To use myself as an example, I see my friends and family often, take vacations throughout the year, sleep about seven hours a night, and snowboard and ski during the winter. All this while making a six figure salary. (I am mid 20s)

That being said I am earnestly working towards starting a career in Asset Management, even if I have to give some of that up. My entire point sums up to, you have to enjoy the job or it won't be worth it.

May 4, 2016

I was got fed up very quickly. The job is bullshit. No skill involved literally just spending as much labour time as possible to get that pay cheque. Pretty clear why people jump ship after a year or so, not many people find this shir interesting.

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May 5, 2016

If you can feed yourself and have a place to sleep at night, it is better than what most people have these days. Yeah, you may hate it, or get bored with it. But, factor in people that will never have the opportunity you have with the potential for growth, esp. in this kind of environment.

Then again, I am a simple man. Money or not, someone hired you and you are working there. I grew up dreaming working on Wall St someday, so I am on the other side of the fence.

To be frank, I would not mind being at the office at 9-10PM with an ordered dinner then have to contemplate if I can afford to eat dinner or save it for lunch the following day. Those were rough days.

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May 5, 2016

Add another vote in the "QGKZ worst WSO member" column lol

    • 2
May 5, 2016

Yep QGKZ is a pretty toxic poster from what I've seen. Very little substance accompanied by lots of flaming. Glad to see people finally calling him out.

May 6, 2016

"The smartest no longer flock to Wall Street; they work at tech and media firms (the first years and interns I've mentored recently from ivy league schools starting in banking are dumb as rocks, though not all ofc)"

True that...my first year analyst does not know how to calculate FCF...

May 6, 2016

Not knowing technicals does not make someone dumb...

May 16, 2016

I think the better word is unprepared. If one plans to work in IBD, one is expected to know such basic stuff. It helps everybody.

May 6, 2016

Did you not ask them this during interviews? I got this at every bank that I interviewed at.

May 6, 2016

I was one of the people walking out of lehman holding everything I had in boxes in 2008. Left nyc & the industry altogether after that. Now I'm an hr consultant ~120k. I do my own vc on the side for another 100k. I work 35 hours/week from home. The grass is greener on this side. I actually know my kids now. Blood pressure back to college levels. Not constantly constipated. Liver enzymes almost back to normal. Fresher air, less noise, less taxes in Texas.

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May 6, 2016

Come over to internet marketing. I was going to join the military to be able to pay for grad school so that I could waste my life away earning a shitty $200k/year. I've been in IM for only half a year and I'm already pulling a steady $40-50k/month at 22 years old. Compared to some of the guys I know which pull $10-20M PER YEAR, I'm still making petty scrub money. The best part is that I can work from my laptop anywhere in the world. Don't waste your entire life working 100 hour work weeks as a Wall Street pleb.

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May 7, 2016

Ok I don't have all the answers, but my personal answer after 32 years of fucking around (even my Ivy years were a huge fuckaround) is: work on passive income, build a business, invest, amalgamate (it means coalesce right?) everything into something of a small financial empire that will provide the lifestyle you want. One thing I did right on my path so far: no wife, no kids, no mortgage, no huge bank loans.

May 8, 2016
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May 17, 2016
Aug 8, 2018