best job for work life balance?

I just came back from my first vacation since starting my PE gig and had the most amazing time, and I am really dreading going back to work. The fact that I wouldn't be able to take another vacation like this (international, didn't work at all) for another year absolutely kills me. I want more flexibility in my job to be able to travel more often than just the standard 1 - 2 weeks a year that seems acceptable at my firm, even at the more senior levels.

I've been struggling with this for a little while as I have a ton of hobbies that I love to do and just feel like there isn't enough time to do everything, but this trip really strengthened those feelings for me. At the same time, I do enjoy my job and think it's pretty interesting, like the challenges / critical thinking, etc., but also think I'm holding onto the prestige factor because I worked so hard to get here. Would really love any suggestions on similar jobs that don't work as many hours and would allow more time for hobbies and vacations.

I'm not generally a big spender and am a pretty cheap traveler so feel like I could still do everything I love to do with lower pay (but obviously would like to stay as close to my current pay as possible). I would really appreciate any advice from individuals who made a switch like this themselves or have additional perspectives to add. Thanks in advance.

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Comments (86)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Sep 27, 2021 - 4:00pm

Would you be able to expand on the differences in investing skills between the types of funds you mentioned above?

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Sep 27, 2021 - 4:50pm

If you're in a role where you're focused more on making LP commitments, due diligence typically involves understanding the GP's strategy, process, and performance, as well as who the team actually is. You'll likely dig into the track record of previous funds to understand where the GP had its success, why deals went badly and what has changed as a result (if anything), how people are compensated (are deals getting done by people who might feel underpaid and they're going to spin out to launch their own firm), if the track record is representative of the current team (or if partners retired, left for other opportunities, etc.), how the GP benchmarks against GPs pursuing similar strategies... the list goes on. You'll also do a bunch of reference calls to validate that the GP does all the things they say they do. 

If you're doing co-investments, it's very similar to working at a GP, just faster and less in-depth. Your deals will likely happen in the span of just a few weeks (a couple months if you're lucky). You may not build your own model from scratch (though it's possible in some cases) but you'll definitely take the model the GP gives you and sensitize the key drivers. You may build out a few of your own cases, probably within the GP's model. You'll depend on the GP for most diligence work (like if they hired consultants, you'll just be a consumer of whatever deliverables the consultants generate) but you may do a bunch of expert calls to validate your understanding of the industry, the competitive landscape, etc. You of course don't have to negotiate financing with banks. At the analyst/associate level at a coinvestment-heavy shop, the required skillset is basically the same as what helps you succeed at a GP or in IB.

Hours can still vary wildly. My sense is that the more coinvestment a group does, the more intense the hours are. On good weeks or at sleepier LPs, you could be doing 40-50 hr/week. When co-investments are on 2-3 week timelines and you're at a sweatshop (comparatively, in the LP world), you might do 70+. You'll likely do very little work on the weekend.

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Sep 27, 2021 - 3:47pm

I just posted in a WFH thread but I work 45hrs/week 100% remote in corporate development. I would say my work is more stimulating than both my roles in PE and IB. I have a lot less ownership of the full process so sometimes I honestly feel a little 'lazy' as I let my subject matter experts dig through diligence documents. However, having the support of external advisors and internal business unit teams frees me up to think strategically, do more business development, and dig into areas where I think I can add the most value. 

I don't make nearly as much as some of my peers but I have a pretty good lifestyle in a low CoL area and think I am on track to make $2-300k eventually if I can climb the ladder. I would be hardpressed to ever go back to a role that doesn't allow me to WFA unless I make it to the c-suite one day.  

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 28, 2021 - 9:58am

How many years of IB / PE did you do before moving to corporate? Did you do a Master's or MBA as well?

I am an A2 from a BB (working in Europe) and went to European target. Really want to land a corporate gig ASAP. Do you have any tips you would like to share if you were in my shoes?

Thank you so much!!!

Sep 28, 2021 - 11:44am

Same here. I'm in a senior Corp Dev role and make $400ish cash annually and seven figures all-in when including equity. Don't believe I've  worked more than 40 hours in any week during my Corp Dev career. Don't miss the IB money at all - I make more than enough, the work is significantly more interesting, and I have autonomy over my schedule which is amazing. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 29, 2021 - 10:45am

How long have you been in Corp dev? That comp is impressive. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Oct 5, 2021 - 11:47pm

Feel like this might be a dumb question, but in what ways is your job more interesting than what you did in IB / PE? Looking into several corp dev roles currently and the responsibilities on the surface sound really similar to what I'm doing now (financial modeling, data analysis, negotiating / closing deals, processing legal docs, etc.) so just wondering what the primary differences are in the day-to-day.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Sep 28, 2021 - 1:07pm

Can you talk about how you got there, what your daily responsibilities are, any tips on finding a position in PWM coming from MMPE? What comp range if you don't mind?

Sep 28, 2021 - 1:49pm

how I got here: started as admin making $14/hr, got noticed for my hustle around the office, got the opportunity to become an advisor and build a book within a team (they gave me structure, but no clients, I had to go out and get it). I've always worried about getting fired and so I approach my new business efforts with that. my hours are low, but when I'm grinding, a car would have to drive through my front door to break my focus

daily responsibilities: meet with clients, find new clients, make investment decisions, manage personnel. for example, today I spent the first 2 hours of my day studying my foreign language (not a ton on the docket at the moment), made some phone calls to clients (some check in, some topical, some follow up, just depends), then lunch at my desk, and I'm on zoom meetings the rest of the day: 1 potential new client, 1 existing client, 1 is an internal call that I'm guest speaker on

tips from MMPE: lower comp expectations, have enough in the bank to survive or be able to survive on less than $100k for at least 3-4y. also, it's a sales job. if you're uncomfortable being uncomfortable and asking people for business, don't go into PWM. I love my clients and I consider many of them friends, but they were all strangers when we met and I had to ask them for their business, which is easier said than done for some people. on actually finding a job? depends what role you want. do you want client facing, analytical (comp is WAY lower), or what? where do you want to live? if you're really curious, please read my 4 part on PWM from a few years back, all of the data are still good

comp range: depends on how much $ you bring in. the range in my office is maybe $150k/yr for non equity partner FAs and probably $1-1.5mm/yr for the top 1 or 2 dudes (35 advisors, T3 city like Charlotte, ATL, Nashville, Charleston, Richmond). the upper end isn't even close to HF or PE, but the autonomy is far and away superior. I'd say by 40 I'll be making around $500k if we get no growth in our practice, but I started at $45k in today's dollars, so you gotta be patient.

and a couple more data points, know a guy personally who is clearing over $1mm a year at 38yo by himself (T2 city, started at 23yo), a guy who got fucked by his partner, was making $100k a year when she fucked him, now makes $1-1.2mm a year in a T5 city (as in jackson MS, erie PA, minot ND, etc.). a couple guys in Miami who make probably $2-5mm a year but have very niche practices, and there's a plethora of other FAs who make $2-500k a year in cities like Sarasota, San Antonio, Cincinnati, etc., and their neighbors have no frikkin idea.

Sep 28, 2021 - 1:20pm

Long Only Asset Management provides a super solid work life balance in my experience. I work at a large asset manager in a LCOL city and log about 40-50 hours/week in my current job doing research. The culture of the company I work for is also super chill while still prioritizing a no BS mentality. 

It's different and a tough job to get, especially if you want to be in a HCOL city, but I think it gives the best compensation per hours worked of just about any job, while providing a super awesome work life balance. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Sep 28, 2021 - 1:23pm

I've heard it's incredibly difficult to find an open position and really competitive to get - do you have any tips on finding opportunities in this space and how to differentiate yourself? I also live in a HCOL city but really like it here (grew up here and have friends / family here) so would prefer not to leave if possible. 

Sep 28, 2021 - 1:35pm

Here's some things I've noticed among people who work at my company as research analysts:

  • A lot of them went to top business schools; most popular are Wharton, Columbia, Booth
  • Having a really great investment acumen matters a lot, so many come from backgrounds of significant investing or have a really good sense of markets; this is really key for getting these positions, perhaps the most important thing
  • Literally look daily for open positions, and don't be afraid to look at places that aren't necessarily the largest, since many of top players (Wellington, T. Rowe Price, Franklin Resources) are based largely outside of NYC
  • Some companies are opening private equity areas in their investment group, so there may be opportunities that could utilize your private equity background
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:29pm

I can't say for sure, but what I do know is that where you work can greatly affect what you make. Where I work, I do decently, but not as good as some of my competitors, even working in the strongest area of my company. 

Let me know if you have any specific requests concerning comp. 

Sep 29, 2021 - 1:27am

Obligatory software engineer/ product manager mention. 
 

You all already know this but to reiterate- some have amazing WLB (rest and vest, cashing checks and taking lots of vacation), some are stressed out and pulling near IB hours, and most are somewhere in between. For reference, my wife was just asked if she could please take more vacation and she just took a week off for her first 6 months on the job. Not even kidding. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Sep 29, 2021 - 10:20am

I'm currently a PM for a big tech co (not Amazon since that's a bit different). I would say that PM's don't have great WLB, due to the job being meeting heavy. For example, my 9am-5pm ET are all meetings, and then the real work starts afterwards (e.g., writing documentation, thinking about the roadmap, etc.)

I was previously a consultant, and one hour of meetings is much more tiring than one hour of heads-down work (since in meetings you have to pay attention and respond constantly). As a result, my PM job now (~10-11 hours per day) is just as tiring as when I was a consultant doing heads down work (~13-15 hours per day).

I actually think product design is BY far the most chill job at any tech co.

Sep 29, 2021 - 5:15am

I think you can try freelancer jobs. You can promote your skills to work and earn money online.
You can join freelancer's websites like Upwork, Fiverr, ... and take projects whenever you want. In this way, you are your boss.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Oct 2, 2021 - 12:19pm

Disclaimer: Fiverr is only a good option if you are comfortable competing with people in India charging $5 to provide the exact same service.

Sep 29, 2021 - 2:28pm

Or, just or, you can take a completely different approach and diverge into software engineering

• Pros:
You get to keep your problem-solving and critical thinking mindset.
Obtain flexibility of working time.
Increased holidays.
Conversion course to Computer Science at tier 1 school costs a fraction of a MBA from tier 3.
Skillset obtained in the trenches of IB/HF/PE is unobtainable for the majority of the developers who have barely any idea of how the industry works.

• Cons:
Pay is okay at the start but once you get away from legacy and move to greenfield project  - can make compensation in line with the industry.
Very hard to come back into deal-making.

Just something to think about

Sep 29, 2021 - 4:53pm

Federal govt or adjacent (Federal Reserve, Fannie/Freddie, etc.). People with 15+ years experience make $150-250k with 40-hour work weeks.

Array

Oct 3, 2021 - 9:53pm

Calling BS on what, specifically? The federal government is almost impossible to get hired onto as a non-veteran white male (those who do are just really lucky), but those who do can easily make $125-180,000 with the right level of experience and work 40 hours a week, have amazing health insurance, and have nearly perfect job security.

The federal gov't-adjacent organizations (Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Home Loan Banks, etc.) have a much more rational hiring process in which it is actually possible for outsiders to get brought on. For those with 15+ years of experience in the manager+ positions, $150-250k is very possible with 40-50 hour a week jobs, great benefits, and good job security. 

Array

  • 3
Sep 30, 2021 - 2:04pm

Recently moved to a small startup fund (2 people) and I work 45 hrs a week on average with no weekend work. One of the benefits is having a clear view of everything in the pipeline so there are no surprises, and the MD likewise has no desire to push the hours above 45 hrs a week (compared to my last fund, where there were 3x as many seniors as juniors and one of them was always harassing you on a holiday or weekend). Comp is currently $200k all in and while I expect that to be fairly static for now, I could see it getting up to 500k+ in 5+ years if our investments have good exits, all while maintaining the same hours. 

There are definitely more places like this if you filter for organizational structure (good balance of junior and senior people) and culture. 

Sep 30, 2021 - 2:25pm

Not sure about this, but a bunch of my friends work 50-60 hour weeks in Private Capital Advisory/Placement Agencies with no weekend work (even at Analyst level). Also a lot of travel, so might be worth considering

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 30, 2021 - 3:09pm

Not sure where they work but at my bank that's certainly not the case so YMMV

Oct 3, 2021 - 12:22am

In finance, model validation or risk quant at a bank-

Pros:

stable job security and always in demand 

Compensation starts at around 100k and plateaus around 200-300k  5 years working into the job. You can make more if you decide to head into upper management

work hours  are 50-60 hours a week

Cons:

It is the least lucrative quant job since back office quant is treated as a cost center so compensation is capped. If you work at a hedge fund as a quant researcher or quant trader and own a portion of PnL, you can multiple times more.

Many quants say the work is the least interesting and that you don't have a lot of learning opportunities when compared to the buyside. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - CB
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:44pm

Commercial/Corporate banking is pretty solid for WLB. Greatly depends upon the group and deal flow. You can live in LCOL area and make solid money. 

Oct 13, 2021 - 6:53pm

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