9/6/15

Mod Note (Andy): This comment is from the post Career decisions: walking away from FT M&A and is so good (26 silver bananas and counting) that I had to put it as a standalone post on the frontpage. Enjoy.

As someone who did two summers in investment banking at the same top bulge bracket and subsequently turned down a full time offer, I want to echo what another poster wrote about being wary of greener grass. It never is. There are always tradeoffs.

The truth is that few jobs are intellectually stimulating. Most work is process oriented and will be until sentient AIs come to relieve us of our duties. There are a small number of critical creative jobs at any given moment. There is some truly revolutionary stuff going on at tech companies like Google in the fields of machine learning and life extension, but the vast majority of Google engineers are just bodies being thrown at more trivial matters like search and maintaining legacy code. On the non-critical but intellectually stimulating side, the pay is dog shit. Think PhD postgrads, lab technicians, journalists, writers, artists, etc.

Something you'll learn in due course is that it's very uncommon to make this kind of money anywhere outside of high finance without being an entrepreneur or principal. This is about as sure fire a path as one can find to a wealthy existence in the long run without any actual talent and large doses of good fortune.

Another thing you'll learn is the financial incentive rarely keeps people in this game in the long run. Tons of grads have done analyst stints in investment banking, and the handful of times I've come across these professionals 10 and 20 years down the line they're often doing something largely unrelated in the corporate world with a solidly middle class salary. One case I witnessed recently: an Ivy League grad with stints in top tier investment banking, top tier business school, MBB consulting, and top tier corporate strategy, just to finally transition into a wealth management type of role where he admits he would have likely been making more money had he started there in the first place.

I took a massive leap of faith and turned down my full time investment banking offer as it exploded just two weeks after the summer ended with nothing lined up. I'm over a year out of school now, and sometimes I wonder whether the decision was a mistake. When times are tough and the future looks hazy, I really miss the guaranteed outsized pay and the illusion of prestige. Sound familiar? I suspected the grass would be greener outside of banking, discovered that the grass was actually blue, and have all but forgotten what shade of green the grass in banking was. One intellectually knows that the grass in banking is still the same shit green. I just actually miss it sometimes. The young, insecure, and ambitious are driven by equal parts desire and fear.

The world outside of finance doesn't come with a six year itinerary in two year partitions. There are no analyst programs followed by stints in private equity and extended vacations at Harvard Business School. This sucks for some people, and those people are served well by taking their investment banking offers and following along the path. But for others, this is a good thing because it forces them to make some actual decisions about who they are and what they want as kids with nothing to lose rather than as adults entering the third decade of life saddled with business school debt as similarly clueless as when they left college.

Since leaving, I've worked at a venture capital fund trying to recreate Silicon Valley in emerging cities. I sat at the edge of a coworking space watching several of our portfolio companies operate day in and day out, CEOs, product managers, engineers, sales reps, and analysts alike. Most startups are simply the new office job. Operating under the illusion of meritocracy -- like finance -- with an additional veneer of creative work and life fulfillment, founders of mostly riffraff companies pay you less to work more of the same chores you'll find in most other jobs. The people who thrive in these roles find what they do genuinely interesting and get a kick out of working at high growth organizations despite the lack of bottomline reward. I'm interested in being an entrepreneur, but I'm not so sure I fit the bill as a startup employee. Luckily I'm doing all of this through a selective postgrad program and have had tons of time that I wouldn't have had in finance to broaden my horizons. I'm wiser, have a more interesting life, and a have far stronger network than I would had I gone into banking, but I'm financially less well off and the uncertainty persists.

So my recommendations to you:

1. The Present, The Future and Happiness

Accept that you haven't much of a clue what will make you happy in the future but have a hunch as to what you might like to do in the near term. It sounds like you're learning towards something quantitative. You're lucky to enjoy something that pays well and is in very high demand. Whatever you do in your career, you'll always have this technical floor you're unlikely to fall below. Worst case scenario, you'll pick up some cushy data scientist gig somewhere.

2. Throw out the notion of prestige and embrace the concept of networks.

Nobody gives a shit about brand name outside of industry. Your friends are too busy worrying about themselves, it's not gonna get you laid, so why place so much emphasis on the opinions of others when making this important life decision? Do something that gives you a network of intelligent and accomplished friends and peers your age that you can not only leverage for the rest of your career but also enjoy as a social circle. This could be quant grad school, Google, an analyst program, etc. These coincide with prestigious organizations, but your mindset is exponentially different taking the latter approach.

3.Realize that life isn't deterministic.

Outsized success requires good fortune on top of the usual suspect accolades, but good low six figure pay is firmly within your reach in whatever direction you choose. You have a great school on your resume. Start your career on a strong base network, then take some calculated risks as you get a better sense of life and what you want out of it. With a good network, opportunities that you couldn't have predicted will present themselves later in life.

Make a decision, watch it play out, learn from it, and make some more decisions. Goals are nice, but enjoying -- or at least not hating -- the ride makes all the difference between a life well lived and a life wasted in our privileged first world. Careers are long, so make sure you do that too. Rinse and repeat.

Good luck!

Comments (28)

9/3/15

Great post, read it in the original thread. Maybe one day leave the industry to pursue writing? :-)

Investment Banking Interview Course
9/3/15

Great post +1

9/3/15

It's even better after reading it for a second time

9/3/15

+1

9/3/15

absolutely great piece

9/3/15

Nice piece

9/3/15

Great read!

Investment Banking Interview Course
9/4/15

This is good advice, thank you!

9/4/15

Good read. Every experience matters in life.

9/4/15

Thank you. Good piece. Very relevant in my case, as I look for a job while finishing up my MFin. I came in here wanting to do IB but wealth management looks more and more appealing.

9/4/15

Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

Best Response
9/5/15
Esuric:

Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.

How's life in the Big 4 man?

9/5/15
drunkmodeler123123:

Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.

How's life in the Big 4 man?

Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

9/5/15
Esuric:

drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?

Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?

easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...

9/5/15
drunkmodeler123123:

Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?

easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...

Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

9/6/15
Esuric:

drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?
easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...

Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.

that you don't like your accounting job? i would't be happy either after doing an MSF and landing that role. it's cool though you can throw shade on IBDers. make sure you hold down the fort here in WSO though while we go work on real cool deals n stuff.

happy to answer any questions you may have about banking or the industry as well. know its kind of tough to get a handle
on for outsiders. let me know when you might want to catch up

9/6/15
drunkmodeler123123:

Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?
easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...
Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.

that you don't like your accounting job? i would't be happy either after doing an MSF and landing that role. it's cool though you can throw shade on IBDers. make sure you hold down the fort here in WSO though while we go work on real cool deals n stuff.

happy to answer any questions you may have about banking or the industry as well. know its kind of tough to get a handle
on for outsiders. let me know when you might want to catch up

Hahahahaha... easy killer, he is doing superior forms of valuation that are MUCH more accurate and arrive at empirically superior answers.

He has just made the choice to give up on frivilous pursuits that accompany capitalist greed... Like money, success, happiness, models, bottles, and women. He is doing God's work over there, making sure that when your acqusition closes you know how much value there is on your customer relationships.

At least bankers understand how things get done... Willing buyer willing seller, the valuation is what it is. You can push it and fudge it a million ways. The only difference is we use powerpoint while you are stuck writing memos, and we write bullet points where as you use "reasonable" or "reasonableness" in every sentence.

TX

9/6/15
drunkmodeler123123:

Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?
easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...
Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.

that you don't like your accounting job? i would't be happy either after doing an MSF and landing that role. it's cool though you can throw shade on IBDers. make sure you hold down the fort here in WSO though while we go work on real cool deals n stuff.

happy to answer any questions you may have about banking or the industry as well. know its kind of tough to get a handle
on for outsiders. let me know when you might want to catch up

I get why you're so angry. You thought that being an investment banking analyst would bring prestige and that it would finally get you some pussy. Instead, you're doing bitch, intern work for effectively $15/hour, 80 hours a week, and the chicks that you hit on have never heard of your tiny, shit bank. On your time off from pitch-book, whole-punching "work," your trolling forums on alternative accounts, hiding your identity, like a giant pussy.

You should apply to the Big 4. Has a lot of name recognition and does well with the ladies. A lot of beautiful girls in audit/tax trying to break into advisory/consulting. My group is very competitive though. We frequently gets apps from former/current IB analysts and they don't usually make it too far. Seem to struggle with the technicals.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

9/6/15
drunkmodeler123123:

Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?
easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...
Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.
that you don't like your accounting job? i would't be happy either after doing an MSF and landing that role. it's cool though you can throw shade on IBDers. make sure you hold down the fort here in WSO though while we go work on real cool deals n stuff.
happy to answer any questions you may have about banking or the industry as well. know its kind of tough to get a handle
on for outsiders. let me know when you might want to catch up
I get why you're so angry. You thought that being an investment banking analyst would bring prestige and that it would finally get you some pussy. Instead, you're doing bitch, intern work for effectively $15/hour, 80 hours a week, and the chicks that you hit on have never heard of your tiny, shit bank. On your time off from pitch-book, whole-punching "work," your trolling forums on alternative accounts, hiding your identity, like a giant pussy.
You should apply to the Big 4. Has a lot of name recognition and does well with the ladies. A lot of beautiful girls in audit/tax trying to break into advisory/consulting. My group is very competitive though. We frequently gets apps from former/current IB analysts and they don't usually make it too far. Seem to struggle with the technicals.

i work for a BB bank. also im not the one on OK Cupid. you work in accounting lol you are not winning this one. no matter how many times u call me pussy or tell me pitching is lame. guess what? PITCHING IS LAME LOL, but bankin is origination business AMIRITE? idk u might not know BC u never bank'd

SICK BURNSKY!!!!!

As someone who has been on both sides of this...Esuric you have no argument at all... I was involved in the hiring process at a Big 4 Valuation group and the only reason they didn't take banking kids is because they knew that they would be out within a year because they would go right back to banking. Literally had people say "I think this kid wants IB" after super day... Then no offer, because they can't compete on quality of candidates or compensation.

Case in point... I was the highest paid Associate in my group and was working till 3-4am and got paid less hourly than I do in IB, since at least in IB I get bonused.

The ONLY!!! thing that you are right on is the fact that Audit/Tax has some smokeshows.. The part that you are wrong about is that they would be interested in some P.O.S. valuation associate.

pitching may suck, but its still better than creating audit binders and having to print bloomberg screenshots and compile emails for your documentation procedures.

End of the day dude people get paid what their job is worth... Bankers can get deals done which has value to sponsors and companies and leads to $mm transaction fees and $150k+ compensation for Analysts.. Big 4 Valuation is a MO position and has $70k compensation (all-in with your ~$5k bonus). Feel free to measure all you want dude, you may work less but you live in Brooklyn and ur best chance of picking a girl up is on her ride of shame home at 4am with the rest of the B&T trash.

9/7/15
calikid3820:

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End of the day dude people get paid what their job is worth... Bankers can get deals done which has value to sponsors and companies and leads to $mm transaction fees and $150k+ compensation for Analysts.. Big 4 Valuation is a MO position and has $70k compensation (all-in with your ~$5k bonus). Feel free to measure all you want dude, you may work less but you live in Brooklyn and ur best chance of picking a girl up is on her ride of shame home at 4am with the rest of the B&T trash.

Investment banking analysts get paid more because of the labor/leisure tradeoff. You must get compensated for forgoing leisure, and investment banking analysts essentially sacrifice all leisure for their profession. I have never spoken to or met a single investment banking analyst that didn't absolutely hate their life. The only thing that keeps them going is the promise of an exit opportunity, which are dwindling. It just doesn't carry the prestige that it once did (which is seen in Ivy BBA/BSBA and M7 MBA employment reports as well IB turnover).

IB is not about bottles and models. It's about angry associates harassing you 24/7.

Once again, and we already had this discussion, your experience in Big 4 valuation is totally different from mine. I work maybe 45 hours a week (55 max during busy season), get paid way more than the figure you stated and have direct client exposure, with c-level/high level execs at F500 companies. My salary is also on the low end compared to other associates in my group because I wasn't hired through the standard channel (came in as 'campus hire' even though I was working in AM at the time). If I had to guess, you probably worked at KPMG.

Either way, there's no reason to have this discussion again. You're convinced that your experience is representative of all Big 4 valuation groups, everywhere, and when someone tells you different, you accuse them of lying. Looks like you still haven't learned after your whole experience at Nova. Honestly, I don't know what the fuck an "audit Binder" is. I haven't been involved in many audits.

"Elections are a futures market for stolen property"

9/6/15
Esuric:

drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: drunkmodeler123123: Esuric: Standard bullshit you hear from investment bankers. They think that just because their job isn't intellectually stimulating then no job in finance is.
How's life in the Big 4 man?
Why don't you have the balls to post on your actual account, you pussy?
easy there bud. so easy to get you all riled up. sorry you don't like accounting...
Yeah, that's what I figured. Run along now.
that you don't like your accounting job? i would't be happy either after doing an MSF and landing that role. it's cool though you can throw shade on IBDers. make sure you hold down the fort here in WSO though while we go work on real cool deals n stuff.
happy to answer any questions you may have about banking or the industry as well. know its kind of tough to get a handle
on for outsiders. let me know when you might want to catch up

I get why you're so angry. You thought that being an investment banking analyst would bring prestige and that it would finally get you some pussy. Instead, you're doing bitch, intern work for effectively $15/hour, 80 hours a week, and the chicks that you hit on have never heard of your tiny, shit bank. On your time off from pitch-book, whole-punching "work," your trolling forums on alternative accounts, hiding your identity, like a giant pussy.

You should apply to the Big 4. Has a lot of name recognition and does well with the ladies. A lot of beautiful girls in audit/tax trying to break into advisory/consulting. My group is very competitive though. We frequently gets apps from former/current IB analysts and they don't usually make it too far. Seem to struggle with the technicals.

im sorry for trolling you so hard but you are just a gigantic target. so. last troll. in no world do former / current IB analysts ever want to go Big 4. also im 100% certain they don't struggle with technicals. stop throwin shade on bankers b/c you couldn't get there. okay ill stop harassing you man. get back to doing great things in your accounting job and being a B&T bro. somewhere someone is proud of you.

9/5/15

lol +1

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

9/5/15

"There are a small number of critical creative jobs at any given moment. There is some truly revolutionary stuff going on at tech companies... but the vast majority... are just bodies being thrown at more trivial matters like search and maintaining legacy code."
There are critical, creative jobs, and they are nontrivial. And bodies are filling the roles to innovate for them.

"On the non-critical but intellectually stimulating side, the pay is dog shit."
I can confirm that the pay is dog shit, and someone walks off with credit for your work. You will be unable to bring this work with you. Your work does not belong to you, and you are 'at will'.

"Operating under the illusion of meritocracy -- like finance -- with an additional veneer of creative work and life fulfillment... The people who thrive in these roles find what they do genuinely interesting and get a kick out of working at high growth organizations despite the lack of bottomline reward."
You will find it genuinely interesting, but it's not a freedom ticket that you envision. Perhaps a true startup would grant more freedoms, and better financial prospects. But I can't hammer this enough: You are getting low pay, and you can't bring any of what you develop with you when you go. You can't explain what YOU developed to get a new gig or those esteemed exit opps.

"Whatever you do in your career, you'll always have this technical floor you're unlikely to fall below. Worst case scenario, you'll pick up some cushy data scientist gig somewhere."
This is where I think you are confusing jumping from one brand name to another, from a finance/prestige/target background. If you step outside of the lines, there are no guarantees. A cushy data scientist job is not the worst-case scenario, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you are looking for a change, and only you can know that. It is good to go in with your eyes wide open. Know what you are working for. The challenges are different, but not free.

Your network will change as you do.

T

9/6/15

What a pathetic string of 5-10 comments in a row. All three of you guys come across as a bunch of tools.

9/6/15
DickFuld:

What a pathetic string of 5-10 comments in a row. All three of you guys come across as a bunch of tools.

9/6/15
drunkmodeler123123:

DickFuld: What a pathetic string of 5-10 comments in a row. All three of you guys come across as a bunch of tools.

9/7/15

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9/7/15
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