Banking to Military

As the title suggests, I am curious to hear anyone's experience moving to a service branch from IB. I currently have a return at a top BB in a good group, though recently have had an urge to serve. My grandfather was in Army ROTC and it allowed him to go to Harvard, my cousin is in the Navy.  

I've always enjoyed being on and leading teams, and banking was a good fit in that sense. However, the more I get immersed into the corporate world, the more I hate it. I am a capitalist at heart, but I feel like there is more to life than working a job for the money, as banking entails. I'm 22 and feel like there is a biological clock on the number of years left when I could serve. 

20/20 vision and was a solid athlete growing up, though college beer has done a number on my physical health.

Any advice or info is appreciated. 

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Comments (51)

Sep 18, 2021 - 8:44pm

Not a personal experience, but have seen lots of bankers, particularly senior guys, having served in the armed forced. So there's absolutely a path, and a very strong network. I'm sure if you graduate from a solid school, serve for however long and go into IB you'll be able to land a job. 
 

Plus, in my opinion if you can handle the army I'm sure you can handle IB

Sep 18, 2021 - 8:55pm

Ah whoops. Read it backwards. But still, I think the same applies. Go for it, if they ask an interview why you can mention family, just the general urge to serve, and they will respect that. Plus, you have the previous experience. So I mean for me if it's something you always wanted to do, do it. It's a once in a lifetime experience. 
 

My dad and brother were in army, albeit not the American army. But they said it was absolutely worth it, and really helped them see and analyze problems in a different way. Sorry for the confusion in the first comment. 

Sep 18, 2021 - 9:11pm

My grandpa was in Japan and Korea - nobody except my grandma knew he was in Korea until we found out at the funeral. When I mentioned I was thinking of joining the military, my aunt mentioned my grandpa saying he had served enough for our family. I have a strong sense of patriotism and always get an urge to join the Army after watching war documentaries and finishing new books, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my current lifestyle.

Though the chance is extremely small, you can end up deploying and getting shot at. You can also end up in situations that can stay with you for the rest of your life (both good and bad).

There are other threads on here that discuss joining the military. It's a personal choice, and my only advice would be not to discount the pay you're sacrificing to join the military. You obviously have your shit together seeing as you have a return offer - I hope that regardless whatever decision you make that you enjoy life with no regrets.

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 18, 2021 - 9:47pm

Are you only interested in active duty? Going the National Guard / Reserve route is an option too. It's pretty rare for guys to do it-you see more in roles like S&T than you do in IB but it does happen in both

Sep 18, 2021 - 9:51pm

mswoonc is someone I think is part of the military/IB as well.

No pain no game.

Sep 19, 2021 - 1:19am

I did this. Wasn't in IB but nonetheless.

My story: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/qa-cfa-charterholder-who-left-fi…

Also: 

Wall Street will always be there. I joined at age 29. Wish I joined sooner. Age 22 is nothing - you'll be fine, and you got plenty of time to pivot back to finance later if that is what you want. I'm in my MBA program now.

Bottom line is it's your career and yours alone. You'll likely get a few confused comments or hater comments - pay them no mind. It's your life so live it like you want.

How I passed all the CFA Program exams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DUdnYkojtk&t=37s
  • 5
  • Associate 1 in IB - CB
Sep 19, 2021 - 12:56pm

So I take it you just started your senior year or have you already graduated and started?

Either way it's very doable, I did military (enlisted) to MBA to BB BO to BB CB and that was a very roundabout route, could have done it more directly if I'd known WTF I was doing during recruiting. If you got your foot in the door at a BB IB group then you clearly have a strong undergrad track record and with that plus military experience you'll have no problem getting into a top MBA program (on the government's dime) and from there into an IB associate slot 5-6 years down the road if that's still what you're interested in. All the more so if you're already working, officer recruiting can be a lengthy process so you can probably get a year or so as an analyst under your belt prior to shipping off, just make sure you stay in shape.

One caveat is that the military is...rapidly transforming. The current administration is actively trying to politicize the institution and the top brass are mostly supporting them in doing so. It isn't your father's or even your slightly older brother's military. That said I'd still recommend it depending on what you do (if you're going to join either go infantry with an option to try out for a special operations unit, or an MOS that gives you a security clearance plus either a language or some sort of technical skill).

Happy to answer any questions, I was Army but worked with the other services as well. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - CB
Sep 20, 2021 - 12:45pm

Not necessarily sudden as it's been going on for a while (when I was in, basically Obama years, the rage was hours every month of "don't rape people" training) but from what I hear from those who are still in it's gotten worse. Senior officers openly promoting critical race theory (that stuff trickles down), constant haranguing about "extremism" in the ranks, women in combat arms and even special operations, prioritization of advancing certain social agendas (ie transgender) over combat readiness, etc. Also not directly political but the Afghanistan fiasco did a number on morale in the ranks and the vaccine requirement is rightly or wrongly seen by many as an attempt to purge the military of conservatives. 

Most Helpful
Sep 19, 2021 - 2:42pm

Don't do it.

If you were going to serve, you should've done it when you were fresh out of high school, that way you could've gotten your full enlisted experience, grabbed the GI Bill on your way out, and had minimal lag in your college/professional career.

If you sacrifice a BB IB gig to serve post-college, you're going to be taking huge pay cut just to spend 4+ years of your life as Randall Weems. Sure, even O-1 pay is reasonable (compared to what enlisted chumps earn) but the pay/officer status isn't nearly worth the emotional toll of 4+ years of trying not to fuck up at your new job (that everyone E-2 and up somehow knows better than you). 

I'm telling you man, the military is a profoundly different world of suck that someone with your resume/opportunity shouldn't even consider.

You think getting a 1am pls fix email is bad? Try getting a call at 2am that you're reporting to Garrison Commander in 5 hours to answer for an E-2 in your unit [that you haven't even met] that just got caught trading TS TaskOrds for nudes.

At this point, if you're gonna serve, you might as well plan to retire from it. Jumping into an officer commitment for 4-6 years is just going to set back your actual career without giving you enough time to really make anything of yourself as an officer.

tl;dr:

Cherish It.

Sep 19, 2021 - 3:19pm

As former military myself, there is absolutely zero reason at all anyone would ever want to join in todays political climate. Pay is shit, work is shit, politics are shit and shoved down your throat 24/7, the mission is shit and America's role in the world is literally that of the bad guys. 

I say this as someone that seriously considered rejoining as an officer and applied for OCS, did the interview, security clearance interview, etc. All of it. I ended up turning it down and going to grad school instead. 

Sep 19, 2021 - 5:30pm

If you do really want to go to the military, I'd work for one full year at RBC, then join. When you finish your time in the military, get an MBA and return to the corporate world with the MBA + 1 year of IB. You'll be in a great spot. 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Sep 19, 2021 - 7:43pm

This is coming from someone who was enlisted for 4 years, deployed, and saw combat. I felt the desire to serve and think my time in the military changed my life for the better.

I think this is one of the worst times to join the military. Peace time is not a fun time to be in the military. Endless training and ceremonies to never do your "actual" job is draining for combat roles. I can see merit in someone wanting to do support roles and make a career out of it, but it's something I could never see myself doing. What I am trying to say is you won't fulfill your need to serve in today's military.

I also want to highlight some of the bad things about the military lifestyle that I wrote in another comment just so you are aware. 1) Military is a completely different lifestyle. There is no off the clock, you are always in the military. If you don't like it, you can't just turn in your 2 weeks. 2) There are a lot of leaders who are incompetent. Anyone who can do PT (physical training) will get promoted even if they are dumb as all hell. You can't get fired in the military, so these bad leaders just get moved around and never leave. 3) It is hard if you aren't single with no kids. I personally didn't have a hard time since I was single the whole time I was in, but most people I knew in the Army had relationship troubles. Cheating is rampant for both sides. Seeing that has made it hard for me to have trust in my S/O outside the Army. 

If you still can't shake that itch, you should go 100%. There will always be a need for special ops and they will probably be the only people to see any action going forward. Try to get in the best shape of your life and try to get an 18x contract or something similar.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 19, 2021 - 9:59pm

Check your banks military policy. All banks have to conform to USERRA but some will keep you on paid status during military leaves. If it doesn't specify what type of leave, you could potentially still technically be an employee while you're in the military and receive some pay

Sep 20, 2021 - 8:00am

The military is a huge place with dozens of career options, each with its own pros or cons depending both on the role itself and which unit you're assigned to. Since you have an education already you have the option to go officer, but you mentioned enjoying leading small teams so that opens up a few potentially rewarding options on the enlisted route as well. I was in the Army Guard/Reserve for about a decade so can only speak for the Army here but you may want to try to get a ranger or SF contract if you're fit and the challenge is something you'd enjoy. Those guys tend to do cool stuff (language/jump school, etc.) that you are unlikely to do outside of the military. 

Alternatively you may want to consider a commissioning source like OCS to become an officer. There are tons of different things you can do either as an officer or enlisted person: aviation, infantry, cyber, engineer, armor, medic, the list goes on and on.

A lot of people on this thread have made some comments about the political climate and how the military in peacetime isn't a whole lot of fun.  Honestly, there is some truth to that but the military is what you make of it. If you are committed to making it work, put in the effort, make smart choices, and generally try to be a good leader/human being then you'll find the silver lining no matter what.  Also, if you don't end up loving it, leave after your initial commitment and keep those lifelong friendships.  Stupid stories to tell your kids/grandkids are practically guaranteed. 

Sep 20, 2021 - 8:22am

chuckmorris61

The military is a huge place with dozens of career options, each with its own pros or cons depending both on the role itself and which unit you're assigned to. Since you have an education already you have the option to go officer, but you mentioned enjoying leading small teams so that opens up a few potentially rewarding options on the enlisted route as well. I was in the Army Guard/Reserve for about a decade so can only speak for the Army here but you may want to try to get a ranger or SF contract if you're fit and the challenge is something you'd enjoy. Those guys tend to do cool stuff (language/jump school, etc.) that you are unlikely to do outside of the military. 

Alternatively you may want to consider a commissioning source like OCS to become an officer. There are tons of different things you can do either as an officer or enlisted person: aviation, infantry, cyber, engineer, armor, medic, the list goes on and on.

A lot of people on this thread have made some comments about the political climate and how the military in peacetime isn't a whole lot of fun.  Honestly, there is some truth to that but the military is what you make of it. If you are committed to making it work, put in the effort, make smart choices, and generally try to be a good leader/human being then you'll find the silver lining no matter what.  Also, if you don't end up loving it, leave after your initial commitment and keep those lifelong friendships.  Stupid stories to tell your kids/grandkids are practically guaranteed. 

I replied below and didn't really provide a lot of personal commentary but the way you ended your response really resonated with me. I joined in part because of the fun stories my grandpa told me of his service when he got drafted into the Korean War. Now that I have my own, I wouldn't trade them for the world.

But to be clear OP I was a 17 year old kid without any real direction in life or guidance on how to get any when I enlisted. My service served me incredibly well but you got options bud.

Sep 20, 2021 - 8:08am

I made the transition from an enlisted infantry Marine to IB so I can provide some insight.

First off, don't do this. The war for the most part is over. Yes, line companies of Marines and soldiers and special operations teams from all of the services are still deploying and yes all of their assets (air MEDEVAC etc.) are all going with them. But the kicker is that only the seasoned guys are going to do anything cool or useful and only the REALLY seasoned guys are getting assigned any kind of direct action missions.

Whether you join to become a platoon commander, a pilot ,or a Navy SEAL you will be a total boot and spend the all of your time, atleast during your first enlistment, training and then deploying to do more training. Not worth it in the end given your background.

What would make more sense would be trying to go the three letter agency route (CIA, NSA, etc.) Our nations intelligence services operate 24/7 separate and apart from our military. There likely are some cool opportunities there especially in HUMINT and SIGINT. Some of them may even align with your existing skillset in finance.

Be warned though that the hiring process for these agencies takes a very long time (2+ years in some instances). Don't quit your job and in the meantime start reading up about the areas of service that your interested in. There are so many great books out there written by people who have lived through the experiences that you seek.

Sep 20, 2021 - 9:06am

ceasarthebeastI am a capitalist at heart, but I feel like there is more to life than working a job for the money, as banking entails.

Totally agree, but also consider that working for money might actually be more noble than some of the crap you might end up doing in the military. Unfortunately, in the U.S. military, you never know whether you will be sent to save the world (aka WWII) or be sent to some bullshit boon doggle like Vietnam. If it's the latter, your skills would serve society better by NOT joining. So, it's kind of a gamble in my opinion if you want to dedicate your life to serving others. I think there are other ways you can serve others which are not so conflicted.  Just a thought. It really depends on big a motivation the serving part of the equation really is.

Sep 20, 2021 - 11:36am

Was never in banking but I'm near the military right now. You don't want to be here. Unless you like taking endless woke training and like being abandoned in foreign countries.

This isn't your grandfather's military.

Sep 20, 2021 - 3:23pm

try serving in Iraq or Afghanistan , once the bullet passes by your ear you will soon regret subsequent events and prior ones that led to this decision making  i am generous  excluding PTSD and all other mental thing at the moment , thats how courageous it is 

 My respect to the veterans  .

Sep 20, 2021 - 6:12pm

Just the opposite intact is industry standard. Joined military initially to pay for college and grad school. Stumbled upon banking. Moving to buy side relatively soon. Have not done the reverse and don't know of anyone of hand whose done the role reversal as well.

  • VP in S&T - FI
Sep 20, 2021 - 6:53pm

If you feel this strongly about it, you should do it. The urge won't go away. Regardless of what others say about their own experiences or feelings towards it, it won't change anything for how you feel until you actually do it. The worst feeling you can have is when you're older, and then can't do anything about your regret. This kind of applies with anything in life. But just be fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. 

Sep 20, 2021 - 9:05pm

With wars in the Middle East ending, outside of specific units, there is way less real world operational work. So, you will probably spend most your time doing garrison/training. As someone who got out of the Army last year, I would tell you to think about what you want out of the military and if it is attainable in the current environment.

Sep 20, 2021 - 9:28pm

unless you're doing 18x and a badass not worth

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Sep 21, 2021 - 10:38am

Caveat: I served in a foreign military for five years. Worked with US guys on a daily basis in both line units and in higher units.

If you feel a strong urge to serve, do so after a year or two in IB.

Serve for a few years then decide to get out and come back to the private sector.

If you want to continue to serve your country despite being shafted daily by Big Army, get out and join a three-letter agency

or go become a State Department Officer. Or go to HKS/JH SAIS / Georgetown of the sorts. Or go to law school and do policy afterwards.

Join the Marines or the Army as Infantry or with a 18X contract with minimal lock-in period (3~5 yrs commitment).

Don't join the Navy or Air Force if you don't wanna be a pilot and become a lifer.

Better to go as an officer than enlisted. Seriously.

"Heavier" combat arms (Armor, Cav, etc) are less agile, more conventional warfare-related.

Military Intelligence is for weeaboos. Signal isn't translatable into Silicon Valley jobs and your sperms get weird.

Join Infantry because it opens more doors to cool boy stuff = opportunities and experiences only attainable in service.

DoD always needs special forces and light infantry to do global quick response.

Now they have SFABs training with African and Asian countries.

Wall Street, High Finance, and MBA will always be there, but your prime physical status is only good for a few more years.

Your knees will get fucked up by rucking and jumping off of perfectly functioning planes.

It's bearable for a couple dozen times in your 20s but if you continue that lifestyle in your 40s~50s you'll have chronic pain.

Do some cool shit (= opportunities only available whilst serving) and gtfo ASAP.

Military life is a continuous suck with some few memorable, good acts and lifelong friendships sparked in between.

Sep 21, 2021 - 11:31am

Easy question:

Given that you aren't unlikely to be the target of military hiring preferences these days (women, non-Euros, lgbts) and given that the military priority seems to be protecting gender studies classes and lgbt rights in places like Afghanistan, while collectively criminalizing what used to be the backbone of the military itself, why on earth are you choosing this path?

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

Sep 21, 2021 - 12:54pm

Alright, I can chime in on this. I joined the Army Guard at 26 years old because I had the same urge. Cousin has a silver star from Afghanistan, uncles served in vietnam, one grandfather in Korea, other in WW2 so it kind of saw it as my "time". I had the same angst you are finding, I was bored to tears with my job as a project manager despite a 6 figure salary, WFH and great benefits; I wanted more. So I joined as an 11b (infantry), I played football in HS, tried out in college and have always been athletic.

Its all subjective, but I would tell you to not do it *yet*. It sounds like the problem you have is that you haven't found what you like doing, and thats OK. I would encourage you to explore working in a startup where maybe you feel like youre making more of an impact, explore ops outside of banking. Explore working in Tech where there's a better work/life balance. If you are interested in the "toys" of the military go work for Raytheon/General Dynamics/NG. 

You have a lot more time than you think, I would encourage you to explore career fields first. When I came back from OSUT I ended up landing a job with Google and now my guard obligation is a bit of a thorn in my side as the 2 days a month is usually 3-5, and the 2 weeks in the summer is more like 3-4. Happy to talk with you directly if you have more questions, but search outward man. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Sep 21, 2021 - 6:45pm

Follow your guts - at the end of the day ask yourself, what you will feel if go straight to banking? Is that ok if you never serve in the army in your life? What if you don't do banking how will you feel? A more heartache missing out on banking or serving? What brings you a sense of achievement?

The answer should come up pretty clear afterwards. Of course, life works out in weird ways these 2 things aren't mutually exclusive. But when you are young do something wild that looking back you wouldn't regret

Was in the same boat as OP when recruiting and although there's many factors to consider, at the end of the day I learned that we only need to consider the factors that truly matter and block out the rest. Good luck!

Sep 22, 2021 - 12:45am

Im coming off 6 years in the USMC, now trying to break into banking. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side lol. Good luck with whatever path you decide. PM if you have any questions about the military in general.

Sep 22, 2021 - 12:48am

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