Burning out and don't know which exit opps I want

phpmvk's picture
Rank: Baboon | 149

Monkeys,

I'm turning to WSO because I know this forum can lead to some real golden nuggets at times. Would appreciate it if I could get some career advice from you guys.

TL;DR:
- In IBD now, but burned out
- Don't want to work 80+ hours on menial tasks
- Not interested in prestige or money; prefer something fulfilling and that gives me a sense of purpose
- 100% willing to move to a new location (not in the US), as well as move out of finance entirely if the role is interesting

My situation:
- Will soon be completing my 2nd analyst yr in IBD at a BB bank (MS/GS), and don't have an exit opp lined up. Also, I won't have to leave the firm once the 2 years are up. I can stay on for a 3rd year.
- Am severely burned out. Haven't enjoyed any aspect of this job for the last 12 months
- Frequently speaking with headhunters for potential jobs, but am not excited about the prospects of going into (what would most likely be) PE and continuing with this lifestyle.

I've spent a lot of time going through various posts here trying to find inspiration, or jobs where I would fit in, but nothing really gets me too interested. IBD has drained what was a really strong drive to perform and compete before I started this job.

I have also noticed (the hard way) that there are far more important things in life than 'prestige' or money. Yes, this job allows for a very comfortable lifestyle, but the more I have in my bank account the less cushy lifestyle I want to live. I don't want fancy or flashy things, I think spending money in that way is pointless.

What I want to ask the community here is: given I am in a position that opens so many doors, which exit op could allow me to do valuable and enjoyable work, but not require me to kill myself by working ridiculous hours and never having any time off? Would be open to any idea - seriously need external input here. Obviously, I do have an interest in finance and feel I am capable of taking on many roles within this industry, but am open to roles outside of finance too.

Thanks in advance for any advice

Comments (54)

Mar 28, 2016

you gotta take the 'one bit at a time' approach...
dont plan on changing your entire world in one day... do it bit by bit.. e.g.

  • in the first couple of weeks go down to chelsea piers to knock a bunch of golf balls (if you enjoy it)
  • if you dont already, find time to exercise at least 2-3 times a week
  • reach out and meet up folks in your network who work in fields that might possibly interest you. You dont have to be asking for a job every time you meet someone. Sometimes, an informational interview could just be that - an informational interview.

Basically, expand your horizons and do things outside of work (doesn't look like you are from your post)

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Mar 28, 2016

@MBA_Junkie

Thank you for the advice. Of the things you listed, I would definitely need to do more informational interviews. Don't have a very strong network here, but I guess these meetups can also help with that.

Mar 28, 2016

I'll echo what @MBA_Junkie said -- I would fix the burnout and get control of your life before making any big decisions.

I run a coaching biz and work with people struggling with burnout and work-life balance. People I've worked with in your situation tend to hate their job so much that they jump at any opportunity that comes their way, even if it isn't really what they want to do. It's the classic "grass is greener on the other side" thinking. Most of the time, the grass is not greener. You end up trading one shitty situation for another, and in the worst case scenario can regret your decision because it messed up your career path.

My recommendation would be to fix the burnout and get your baseline health & fitness shit in order.

1) Eat healthy, exercise, and focus on sleep. This alone will make a huge difference in your ability to handle stress and recover from work.

2) Do something you enjoy everyday that has nothing to do with work (like knocking golf balls as suggested above)

3) Talk to people you love everyday to get some perspective. I used to try and call family or friends on the way too and from work to just have a conversation. It reminds you that there's more to life than work.

Once you've got your life under control, you can start making big career decisions with a clear head and rational mindset. That's my 2cents.

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Mar 28, 2016

@Alistair-Clark

Very good advice - thank you! Had been looking into your posts earlier this week, all very helpful approaches to dealing with this kind of lifestyle.

I am very aware that I shouldn't move onto new opportunities only as a way to escape from what I am doing now, though the desire to wrap up my 2 years and just leave is also very strong. Even if it means going into unemployment.

Only problem with talking to friends and family is no one understands why I took this job on in the first place! The general consensus is it's killing me, and I should move on asap.

Would say I do have a rationale mindset (feels like I do, I just really detest going into this job every day), but the real problem is defining what I want to do next.

Mar 29, 2016

do not quit and head into unemployment. do not.

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Mar 28, 2016

There's no magical best-fit career alternative, unless you create one for yourself and pursue the entrepreneurial route. This is one of the most personal decisions you can make. If you're in coverage, are you interested in your sector? Have you met anyone during the last two years whose job you envied? After two years in IB, has there been no alternative you daydreamed about?

I've known some people to quit and take a break before doing anything else - young with enough money to travel for a few months. Maybe that's your best option, although the worry there would be losing traction further - these people had an idea of what they wanted to do later, they just needed to regroup before launching into it.

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Mar 28, 2016

@AnaisNone

I'm not a fan of the sector I focus on, and that may be a big factor in my distaste for what I do.

What I have daydreamed about the most has been starting a business with two very close friends. I would love to get into that at some point, but I do not feel I am in a stage in life to start doing that yet. Would be great to do this as a side business, but of course no time in IB for that. Ideally, I could take on a role which interests me, but also gives me the time to focus on personal projects on the side.

Out of curiosity, what kind of ideas did these people have in mind after IB? Were they entrepreneurial?

Mar 29, 2016

I'm sure you have zero interest in this but it might be worth considering whether there's a coverage team you might like to get some experience with, if only as a foundation for potential exits in that space? The only reason I harp on this is I genuinely believe IB is a great place to learn about and develop ideas for potential ventures of your own if you're passionate about the sector you're analysing all day.

The people I knew pursued start-up opportunities (in the financing-disrupter field - they knew what they wanted to do), jumped to corporate finance (offer in hand) or went to PE (offer in hand).

Maybe the entrepeneurial route is the right idea now, though? If you have the seed of an idea and you've been longing for it, provided you dedicate yourself to planning it thoroughly, perhaps it's best to jump into it while you (presumably) don't have much to lose? You're leaving behind the security of a prestigious job, sure, but if you approach your goal here in the right way you could mitigate your risk by ensuring it makes a good CV addition at the very least (and on the other hand it could be a wild success and set you up for life, but I like to consider the downside case first...).

Apr 2, 2016
phpmvk:

@AnaisNone

I'm not a fan of the sector I focus on, and that may be a big factor in my distaste for what I do.

What I have daydreamed about the most has been starting a business with two very close friends. I would love to get into that at some point, but I do not feel I am in a stage in life to start doing that yet. Would be great to do this as a side business, but of course no time in IB for that. Ideally, I could take on a role which interests me, but also gives me the time to focus on personal projects on the side.

Out of curiosity, what kind of ideas did these people have in mind after IB? Were they entrepreneurial?

To give a suggestion for your first question, maybe (Corporate) Treasury and/or Project Management?
http://www.afponline_org/pub/res/news/Project_Mana...
Like others said though...don't just do an 'I QUIT!'. Will not help you with moving into another job if you are having blank spaces on your resume. You have no guarantee on when you can find another job or decent way of generating income, no matter how brilliant/strong you are.

Secondly you might not like this opinion but I think it's a pretty terrible idea to try starting a business with your close friends. You guys might stop being friends if it fails or just doesn't go in the direction one person wants it to. There are so often decisions which need to be made that really are just up to differences in opinion and bringing your friends into this brings in more emotions than normal. i.e. "What??, you don't think I'm right? Do you think I'm (stupid/untrustworthy/etc)?!"

Mar 28, 2016

Look into the E&F space

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Mar 28, 2016

@jbone24"

Thanks for the advice. I haven't looked into this space before, will def do so. Found this post, might be a good one:

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/endowments-f...
Have considered something like social/impact investing - this could potentially provide a greater sense of purpose in day-to-day work

Mar 28, 2016

Corporate development?

Mar 28, 2016

@MMBanker14

Perhaps - though do you think this would provide a sense of purpose? I hate the feeling of being one more cog in the machine ...

Mar 28, 2016

Depends. Go join a company with a mission you can get excited about.

Mar 28, 2016

Go work for NASA as a project manager.

Mar 28, 2016

@Whiskey5

How about SpaceX instead?

Mar 28, 2016

Elon Musk works his employees hard. SpaceX's mission is certainly more appealing that Goldman Sachs' is, though.

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Mar 28, 2016

thank you all for the input so far - really appreciate it!

Mar 28, 2016

If I were in your exact position, I'd be looking out for jobs at startups at high growth phases (50 - 100 employees). A lot of the tech companies in my area constantly hire people burnt out from MBB and Investment Banking. Maybe pay is not as great but the work would definitely be more exciting (with better hours).

Mar 28, 2016

As far as specific exit opps, the typical paths to leave IB is pretty well defined and you are probably well aware of what they are (PE/HF/Corp Dev/Corp Strat/Startup). If none of those appeal to you, I'm not sure anyone on the boards can help you much because none of us know who you are or what you enjoy - only you can figure that one out. In fact, I'd say asking for specific career options on these boards is counterproductive because most of the board either wants to be in finance or is in finance (and maybe consulting but that's close enough), not a particularly diverse view here. Anything that someone says along the lines of "I have a friend that is selling widget x and making 6 figures working 30 hours a week" is rarely from personal experience and anecdotal at best. It has almost no relevance to you because there's a very good chance you hate sales (unless by pure coincidence you do like sales but I suspect you didn't need someone else to tell you that). Or when people say "go startup". That's all great in theory but not so much in practicality because a start up could mean a million different things (industry, size, stage of funding, compensation, role, etc, etc.). It's almost more productive if you ask if a specific opportunity is an interesting one.

More importantly, I don't think you're going through anything that most of us in finance have gone through at some point. And really, not just finance . Most of my friends, regardless of what field they initially went into after graduation, had some kind of identity crisis where they took a hard look at themselves and tried to figure out what they wanted to do. Some found completely new careers. Some stayed in the same because they realized it was better than the alternatives. Some stayed because they were lazy and wasn't worth the trouble even though they were unhappy. In any case, it's not uncommon to go through this. And by the way, it's not just when you're a year or two out of college, it happens in your late 20s too (why do you see so many people going to MBA?).

Last thing I would say is since you're already in finance, figure out if you're burnt out or disinterested in finance. Those are very different things. You can certainly be burnt out in a job you generally really enjoy. If you're just burnt out, start to spend more time on your personal interests and less on being "on" 24/7 work related. Reality is, no deal is going to die because of an analyst. Perhaps you'll find that you do enjoy finance, and you're in a good position to remain in this field for some additional of time since you're at GS/MS (be it staying in banking, PE, HF, whatever else). If you are just sick of finance, cut your losses and head elsewhere while you're young

Edit: As far as typical PE exit goes. It's at times better than banking, at times worse. Very different kind of stress but equally real. It'll never be a 9-5 job. And it's an industry that on average is far less financial rewarding now to get into than it was 10 - 15 years ago (i.e., pay is about the same as banking on average).

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Mar 28, 2016

If you like finance but hate the hours and how "rigid" everything is, maybe look into more vanilla Asset Management (like working for a mutual fund or fund of funds) or a family office.

Personally, I seriously considered working for a mutual fund coming out of IB when I was burned out - hours seemed pretty standardized (capped at 50-60ish), results actually matter (instead of spending hours screwing with colors and grammar), and pay is still pretty good.

Semi-relevant anecdote: I remember interviewing some kid for a fulltime IB role and him talking about his summer internship with some big mutual fund and the work he was doing and how he was working about 50 hours/week and his offer was for like all in comp of $100k. He wanted to do IB because he wanted something more "intense" but I definitely remember thinking to myself "dude this mutual fund gig sounds pretty damn good - you should take it and run" and after the interview, my associate buddy I was doing the interview with turned to me and was like "Shit maybe that's what we should have done..."

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Mar 29, 2016

Asset Management is legit! I wish there wso had guides for AM/ER but unfortunately it just isn't popular enough of a field for the website. Is the reality of becoming a PM at a mutual fund more likely than to become a MD? I would think so but then again I've heard from people on this website that the good ones like fidelity, BlackRock, etc. don't have big analyst classes.

Mar 28, 2016

@phpmvk my response is going to take a slightly different perspective ( i speak from experience), just in case you're curious for something completely different....

if you can, do what you can to not have to jump straight into the next job, travel somewhere cheap and fun for at least a month or two (try to do 3-6months), it may be the last chance of your life, and your in a great position to do it, how much do you really have to lose?

try some of the following:
read
meditation
yoga
if these are up your alley - marijuana/edibles/mushrooms
preferably tie these in while traveling in a beautiful / peaceful location

you'll learn a lot more about yourself and what you really want to do

i definitely echo the advice above about exercise/diet/doing something you love/talking with people that inspire you

additionally - maybe talk to a life coach? a therapist? a mentor?

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

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Mar 28, 2016

Do you have any interest in venture capital? I work at a $5B+ AUM firm that has both VC and PE teams arms. If you're interested in finance, want a good work/life balance and you don't mind still making good money (6 figure base + 6 figure bonus) almost all the VC guys at my firm are ex-GS/MS. I'm not kidding when I say good work/life balance - they work 5 days a week in office from 9 - 6. May be a lot of events, etc. they go to after that but it seems like a great lifestyle for those guys + they get to work with legendary VC investors (think top 10 Midas list guys).

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Mar 28, 2016

Have you thought about becoming a handsome companion? Fancy dinners, classy women etc.

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Mar 28, 2016

Here's some ideas that could interest you, in rough order of how big of a change they would be:

-Structured Commodity Finance. This might be as bad as regular IB, but I'm under the impression ~60hrs is the norm. While there is some cutting edge use of derivatives in this field, commodity trade finance is actually at the root of investment banking (merchants bankers were merchants who became bankers). Banks like BNP and CACIB are the top dogs believe it or not. Down the line you may get the opportunity to join a trading house and make beaucoup bucks.

-World Bank investment analyst. I can't really remember all the details on this one, but I think the World Bank hires former IBD analysts to do some of their investing work. Would be like pro bono IBD except you do get paid and gain exposure to some serious frontier market power players.

-Get and MBA and go into brand management, corp dev, for a company you really, really like. Marketing at Nike or Coke has to be interesting right?

-Foreign Service (or Commercial Foreign Service). Definitely a lifestyle career, and one you don't go into lightly, but very, very different from IB and certainly a place where you have room to excel if you're willing to put up with some politics.

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Mar 28, 2016

+1 for Structured Commodity Finance. Commodity trading is a field that is frequently overlooked by the masses herding into IB. Structured Commodity Finance gives you the potential to move to a place like Vitol, Trafigura, Glencore, etc. without having to start from scratch as a junior trader or something similar.

Mar 28, 2016

What is with this forum's obsession with golf?? Thus far two comments on golf and zero comments on banging bishes and getting sloshed, which are always the answers to every life crisis

OP, the answer to your dilemma is conceptually simple. Figure out what you're talented at or have superior knowledge of and find a job that disproportionately rewards you for having that talent or knowledge. It doesn't have to be fully developed, it can be partially developed with potential for that talent to be cultivated

The problem with something like investment banking out of college is that 22 year olds usually aren't that great at anything or particularly self aware, so they end up spending most or all of their time on tasks that don't require a lot of specialized skill or knowledge (formatting slides, organizing excel sheets, etc). We all know that making decks and financial models is not rocket science

As you get older, and you acquire a more specialized skillset and hone your talents and figure out what knacks and wizardry set you apart from the rest of the finance crowd, you can move away from having your main value add being a warm body that can crank to a specialist whose main value add is a particular talent or knowledge base. Once you go from the former to the latter and you're getting paid for something other than just "jamming", then you won't feel so burnt out because you won't be

Don't ever think you're limited to the usual path, there could be roles out there in the fringe of the finance job market that could be a great value for your needs. It may take several more jobs to really figure that out though and find your niche. Also sometimes it's better to cast your net wide and let interested parties find you instead of trying to figure out who they are

Long rant over. Good luck

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Mar 28, 2016

If what you want is something still in finance but is 'more meaningful', maybe consider an Investment Analyst type role at the IFC or other DFI's.

Mar 29, 2016

Try for lower MM PE. Depends on the fund, but it generally entails a far better lifestyle than IB (I typically work 50ish hours a week on average...if a deal pops up I could be pushing 70 for 2-4 weeks, but that's a rarity). The work involves far more strategy/ops work than modeling and formatting ppts (although that still is definitely a part of the job). Pay is good. Great learning opportunities.

Overall, I'd describe it as a mix between strategy consulting and IB, which is a combination that I greatly enjoy.

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Mar 29, 2016

What would be your opinion on PE funds with 1-3 Billion AUM or less? Is it hard to get back into a BB IBD or bigger PE fund? I have been of the mindset that for the most part PE is PE.

Mar 29, 2016

Opinion as to what? At $1-3b AUM, you're firmly into MM/upper MM territory.

Generally, no one is going back to IB after working in PE.

Depending upon the nature (size, to be more specific) of a firm's target investments, your role/experience as an associate will vary dramatically. As a general rule, the smaller the companies that a PE firm targets, the closer the firm's employees will work with the portfolio company, as smaller companies generally lack the infrastructure necessary to perform more complex strategic/financial tasks, such as FP&A, working with lenders, etc. Larger companies generally have better developed infrastructure (employees, systems, etc.) that allows these companies to handle more of these tasks in-house without the direct involvement of the PE firm. Again, this is just a general rule...some of my friends working at larger firms have had to get very involved in the operations of their portfolio companies, especially in distressed situations when the management team is ineffective.

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Mar 29, 2016

Knew someone coming out of IBD that was in this situation. Became an associate producer at a local media outlet. Lower intensity job but still looked good on a resume. Chilled out for a year, figured out what he wanted, applied to an MBA program, then went into corp dev I think. Point being that you can go do something resume friendly but chill and think about what you want without completely abandoning ship.

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Mar 29, 2016

I also feel much the same way. Working long hours on BS has taken its toll. I found I dont really enjoy the job and a lot of people overhype it.

Personally, much like you I have had enough and am looking for a new job. I may not make as much but I dont want to keep doing banking indefinetly. So my advice is to absolutely find a job you will enjoy.

Mar 29, 2016

read "The Monk and the Riddle" by Randy Komisar

Mar 29, 2016

Just a thought but I think if you listed the things that put a smile on your face that would help in terms of suggestions and in regards to long hours it is not just the financial industry (starting your own business is not enough because that could be about anything), I have a pharm background and I used to work every single day, the companies that i worked for did not appreciate it, in fact some of them expected it and if you did not put in the long hours with no life you would find yourself with no bonus and moves to push you out of the door. I think the long hours can be found in all business sectors but once you know what you love and it gives you pleasure much more than the joy you get from $$$ then you life is much more fulfilling. I for one love helping/educating people, so that is the field that want to go into.

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

Mar 29, 2016

Take your time. Do some research into the various industries you might be interested in, whether that's commodity finance or real estate (or whatever floats your boat), leverage your network and figure out which seems like the best fit. You've made it this far, so I'm sure if there's an industry or role you want to break into, you can make it happen.

Mar 29, 2016

Go to B-school.

That's the best option. You'll get to reset and have a bit of relaxing, a lot of networking and general having more fun. And you can explore other options.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Mar 29, 2016

Anyone ever see the episode of Shark Tank where one of the people making a pitch went Yale -> GS -> Navy Seals -> HBS, and he was selling playing cards that had exercises on them? The idea was that you pick a card and do an exercise, it was called FitDeck. No one invested. Guy had a resume that would get you an interview at any company you could ever want to work for, and he was putting pictures of people doing push-ups and sit-ups on playing cards.

This person, if you made a list of the most prestigious accomplishments possible from an educational and professional perspective, hit 4 of the top 10 before he was 30, and he was happiest selling playing cards. Or apparently not selling them because no one was buying, although he did get a free pass to return with his next idea, based on his resume.

Not sure what my point is. Do a Venn Diagram of things you love and how they overlap with your current employment. FitDeck was a dumb idea but I bet that guy could have gotten a job in corp dev with Lulu or Nike or Under Armour or something in the fitness space, right?

Mar 30, 2016

I remember that episode. Every one of the sharks was like "wtf?"

Mar 30, 2016

It was almost like the guy was doing standup because his resume was so perfect. Every time he listed his next move they laughed harder.

..And after I did a tour as a Navy Seal I want to Harvard Business School

Rabblerabblerabblerabble

Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

I love this guy.

Mar 31, 2016

Just finished watching this. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing

Apr 1, 2016

So many good points, one thing to add is to make sure you have good friends outside of Finance. Not necessarily for the networking, but just people who will give you a different perspective of life.

Also, I second on a prior point about doing something you like everyday. It's one of the easiest, least time-intensive ways to incorporate the important, deeper things in life. Want to eat healthier but seem to find the time? Make that lunch or dinner order more healthy. Exercise? NYT has a 7 minute HIIT scientific workout; recall some studies saying it was as good as running a mile for cardio. Overall health + wellbeing? Meditation's a big one - which is basically peace of mind + breathing exercises. Just 5 minutes. Try diaphragmatic breathing. Then there's taking care of your body, like going to the doctor, dentist, etc.

When you catch a break, take time to catch up with your family, and go through your old stuff (photos, books, etc).

Apr 1, 2016

Whatever you do, don't blindly listen to headhunters. They'll promise you all sorts of great things, only to hang you out to dry when time comes to commit.

Apr 2, 2016
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Apr 2, 2016