Best place to start your career? IB or Tech?

curieest's picture
Rank: Monkey | 55

I go to a west coast tech-focused university and I'm starting to wonder if IB is the right call. The best talent in my peer group are going into rotational programs or fintech companies. It seems like the main upside is a faster rate in compensation growth in finance. I don't know too many people who are passionate about banking, most everyone I talk to honestly is looking for exit opportunities.

Saw this thread and it seems like even people with established finance careers wish they started in tech:
www.teamblindcom/article/Turns-Out-Everyone-Here-A...

To those of you with a lot of drive, what is motivating you to go into IB vs. tech?

Comments (25)

Aug 2, 2019

IB for $$$$$ and work-work balance.

Tech for $$$ and work-life balance.

Your link is broken though. There should be a dot between teamblind and com.

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Aug 2, 2019

If you calculate the number of hours worked, you probably get paid more highly in tech. I guess tech is very broad now as well.

Aug 2, 2019

If you like to wear canvas shoes and hoodies, tech.

Aug 2, 2019

I do enjoy casual. Will it feel like an extension of college though?

Aug 2, 2019

Was on the tech route for the first two years of college (data science major with math/compsci minor), both parents were in tech, and attended to a pre-engineering STEM high school.

Made the choice to transition to finance in junior year of college. Reason being, I always knew that I didn't want to work for anyone else--pursuing tech would provide me an extremely comfortable life, but the downside is your compensation trajectory doesn't give you that flexibility to start & finance your own company (especially when taking into account expenses arising from having kids, buying a house, etc.)

A career in high finance can give you the option to retire at 35/40 and do your own thing. I'm not saying it's typical for just anyone in finance to achieve a mid- to high- seven figure net worth by that age, but I'm willing to take that bet.

In tech, the chances of your net worth reaching an arbitrary $20M by the end of your career is statistically near 0. In finance, if you have the stamina, capacity, and luck, you've got much better chances.

Ultimately, I'm highly optimistic about my compensation trajectory in finance because I got lucky with recruiting and am going to begin my career at a firm that generously compensates its employees. The only time I regret not going into tech is when I work late.

everyone's a liberal until they start making money

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Aug 2, 2019

Very helpful! You're lucky to have parents who can indirectly show you a similar career path. I wish I knew more professionals who could advise me. I would love to just hear people's stories about why they choose to do what they do. Your story really helps!

I am also interested in creating my own business and I would think that tech startups would provide me with more opportunities in that direction, but I'm surprised you see otherwise.
Thanks again for your insightful comment. I'm learning a lot!

Aug 3, 2019
VCWannabe:

A career in high finance can give you the option to retire at 35/40 and do your own thing. I'm not saying it's typical for just anyone in finance to achieve a mid- to high- seven figure net worth by that age, but I'm willing to take that bet.

In tech, the chances of your net worth reaching an arbitrary $20M by the end of your career is statistically near 0. In finance, if you have the stamina, capacity, and luck, you've got much better chances.

  1. The entire FIRE movement i.e. people wanting to retire by 35-45 was mostly started by folks working in hi-tech.. It's a pretty reasonable expectation to have a ~mid seven figure net worth just by reaching the natural plateau point.
  2. If we make that same assumption for people in tech, they can also very much hit $20MM. In my company there are directors and VPs of Product that are 33-35 years old making $1m+ a year. Not to mention the very common "acqui-hires" of teams within startups that get bought out by larger firms with insane equity packages

Array

Aug 18, 2019

That's an interesting perspective. I would choose tech because you have more free time to pursue a side project which leads to a side business. Eventually your business earnings should eclipse your earnings from your tech career. But if you're happier in finance + have more potential in it, then you picked well.

Most Helpful
Aug 2, 2019

Allow me to present my perspective. Let's do something wild and set aside compensation. In your 20's the difference between these two paths from that perspective won't be super meaningful and they both will be a grindy path, so let's set that entire decade aside and say it's a wash. If I may be so bold, you also have no clue right now as to how important compensation is. Tastes and lifestyles change over time, and whether you have a family (and how big) and where you live will also impact this. So right now set aside compensation and focus on what actually will motivate you over the next 40 years of your career.

It might help for you to work backwards from the end. If you envision senior-level positions (when you will be 40-60 years old), what kind of work do you enjoy and see yourself doing? What type and level of interaction with people do you want? Have you read about or watched a video of senior people in both tech and finance paths to see which one you would like to develop toward?

Then your 30's will basically be a bridge from your 20's to your 40's, from an Analyst position to an MD position or a junior SW developer to potentially VP level positions. Some people use their 30's to transition careers via lateraling or business school. Don't worry so much about this right now because it will come naturally based on your long term goals.

Sincerely, mid-30's west coast banker.

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Aug 2, 2019

This is really insightful feedback! I have a lot of 'what-if' moments and wonder what would have happened if I decided on another major or career path. It's so easy to think that grass is greener on the other side, especially when things are tough. But I agree that it's immensely important to take advantage of all the opportunities you have and make the best of every moment.
I personally think that there are more opportunities even later in your career with a tech background because more startups revolve around tech and a lot of traditionally non-tech companies are becoming tech companies.

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Aug 2, 2019

Not to say that tech is a bad path and I'm sure there is an argument to be made, but the test pool for that survey is surely bias. The majority of people using Blind are tech folks... which leads me to believe that most of the "finance" people voting on that poll are those who are currently trying to lateral to tech, or were once in finance and are now in tech (probably because they didn't enjoy finance).

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Aug 2, 2019

It seems like Blind now has a lot of finance people there as well.
But thanks for the comment, I'll keep that in mind.

Aug 2, 2019

Why not both? IB TMT coverage

Aug 2, 2019

Is IB TMT going to increase so much in value over the next decade that it will have more people wanting to go to the west coast instead of wall street ?

Array

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Aug 2, 2019

your username haha

Funniest
Aug 3, 2019

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Aug 3, 2019

Not sure, but tech is the future anyway. Think it's the best place to be if you're at a top investment bank there (GS/MS)

Aug 3, 2019

we have to define "tech" here..

do you mean a core biz role (product), a core technical role (DS/Analytics, SWE etc) or a support function/control function/strategic function (fp&a/finance, HR, risk, IT, marketing etc)?

do you mean only "hi-tech"? i.e. large "cool" public tech companies, unicorns and VC backed startups? or all technology companies, even the boring laggard/low paying ones?

if we directly compare the only truly comparable core role in tech (product management) to banking and assume that we're only talking about hi-tech.. product certainly stacks up pretty damn well on a comp, career growth, role, work life balance and exit opp perspective.

PMs become leaders of orgs much faster than most other core employees, former PMs have become successful founders, former PMs have become successful VC investors and unlike in finance you actually have ownership in what you're building and are a de-facto mini-CEO.

comp is pretty stellar (given the assumptions we've made) and is far higher than banking all-in for the few entry level programs that exist out there (which happen to welcome ex-financiers and consultants as a pro-tip).

depending on how fast you climb the PM ladder you could theoretically keep pace with banking comp all with nowhere near the hours you have to work in banking, no need to wear suits and no toxic work culture. even if you don't, making several hundred thousand and having the option to always shift to the entrepreneurship or investing side still keeps doors open.

technical roles are more comparable if you're comparing like for like (e.g. quant finance v hi-tech) but not really a talking point if we're focusing on banking/vanilla finance. business functions (including corp dev, bizops corp strat etc) or sales are the same as they've always been anyway so not really worth mentioning.

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Aug 18, 2019

Is it common to go from tmt ib to pm at a tech co as an exit opp? Most pms I see have technical backgrounds

Array

Aug 18, 2019

Not "common" in absolute terms but a very strong path nonetheless. Many product positions and entry level PM (APM/RPM etc) positions indicate banking or consulting as preferred backgrounds for those coming from business roles.

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Aug 18, 2019

90% of the people doing tech banking I know think of going to BD as the worst option they possibility have, absolute bottom rung.
Most goes to golden gate/Thomas bravo/ vista/kkr, etc

Aug 19, 2019
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Feb 7, 2020
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Greed is Good!