Confused about my career...

Hey Everyone.. I have finally joined WSO after years of lurking... hoping some of you can help put me in the right direction.

I started my career different. I saw so many friends go to university and graduate with a finance degree only to go work at some retail company making minimum wage. I didn't want that.

I went into banking as a teller and worked much way up to a relationship manager for Citi working with clients from $250k net worth to $10m net worth. I keep a close relationship with PWM and focus on investments and wealth management as well as some lending.

Anyways, I'm 23 years old and have a client book of business of approximately $125m spread across 450 clients.

I'm finishing my undergrad in finance. I am a 3rd year and will be done in 2 semesters. I focused more on work than school so I will finish with about a 3.3 gpa and it is from a public university in California (NOT A UC)

I am confused as to where my career is headed. It's natural to be confused I suppose, but I'd really appreciate some guidance. I'm considering PRIVATE Banking, but not sure how to get myself in.

Another dilemma is I have an extremely competitive base with a high bonus and earn close to 150-200k a year.

What would you do? I'm in it for the long run and want to make the best career for my self and my family. I am getting married in a year and a half and I want to make the right choices.

Any advice will be appreciated!

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (41)

Dec 22, 2018 - 12:17am

Sounds like you're locked into this position after graduating. But, with that background, you should have a good shot at a T10 MBA program with your career progression.

If you want to make the transfer, just put out a couple more years after graduating and crank out a 700-720+ on the GMAT to be competitive. You're probably going to have to get a 720+ or so with a 3.3 GPA.

Even then, you would have to put down some cash for school and might come out making a similar amount of money. So you would have to consider the opportunity cost and the needs of your family to make an appropriate decision.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Dec 22, 2018 - 12:26am

Hey thanks for your advice!

Yes one option I was looking at was trying to score high on my gmat and entering UCLA business school mba program and hoping to secure an associate or senior
Analyst role at that point.

I've also applied for a boutique firm as a junior portfolio manager associate hoping that would give me more exposure since they sponsor all their employees for the CFA afterwards. What do you think?

I've also entertained going into commercial banking as I know a few firms will hire me for a commmercial Banker role and have me work my way up to a senior relationship manager. Any thoughts?

  • 2
Dec 23, 2018 - 4:01pm

1) as I've said I'm in retail banking and I am a Relationship Manager for clients with 200k+

2) yes my gpa is terrible as I've said as I focused on career rather than school (circumstances required me to do so)

3) private Banking is my next natural step

4) I am not a teller, I have my securities licenses and focus on portfolio management, advisory services, trust services, succession planning, etc.

5) my base isn't 150-200. As I said, my base is 90k and my commissions and bonuses bring me up to 150-200k because my goals are always exceeded 150% to goal.

6) I want to develop a career where I can see myself in a 200k+ base. I want to get into high finance, I don't find my mind stimulated in retail finance. I'm looking into pursuing either an mba or a CFA to better my education and credentials.

  • 3
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Jan 2, 2019 - 2:17pm

Kingreed, after reading your stupid comment, I had to take a look at your profile to see if you really are this stuck up. Wasn't surprised when I found these comments you made:

"Did you find it hard to date women having had no fun in college? Like, did that inhibit the things you had to talk about on dates?"

"...'ll be honest - I've been going through a lot of depression over this - I'm not going to do anything bad to myself, but I mean it's just really tough for me being alone and living that life while everyone else is out going to parties and living the "frat" life. "

Dude, friendly advice, if you stop thinking that you are better than everyone, you might actually make a few friends and be invited to things.

Dec 22, 2018 - 11:31pm

Trying to figure it out... I never had the opportunity to intern at firms and figure out what my passion is! I love everything finance but I guess yes at the very minimum I need to figure out how to break out of retail private client and go into the real PRIVATE banking group

Dec 23, 2018 - 1:36am

Wait so you're already making $200k/year working less than 40 hours per week, and want to change? Assuming your comp will continue to increase, why change to something that will set you backwards and make less? You're either inflating your salary or trolling..

Dec 23, 2018 - 1:55am

I'm not inflating my salary. I work 35-40 hours a week. I earn 90k base and earn 20k avg a quarter in comp.

Q1 - craziest quarter, very difficult to comp (5k comp)

Q2-Q4 - ~25k avg quarter

However, each year, comp plans change toward the worst.

I'd rather have a consistent 200k salary than 90k plus bonus to earn 150 - 200k

  • 2
Dec 26, 2018 - 1:31am

I feel that given those work hours, you're making a killing.... it might be the best possible you can do out of school given your stats

thots & prayers

Most Helpful
Dec 28, 2018 - 5:48pm


you've made it in PWM, why would you want to change careers entirely? you're already past the hard part. if I were you, here's what I'd do

  1. make an assessment of how portable your book is (do you have a non-compete, are most of the clients yours versus inherited, are the investments in proprietary non transferrable products or ubiquitous mutual funds, stocks, etfs, etc.)

  2. see if any other firms would be interested in giving you a deal after you graduate (they should be lining up for a 23 year old). if your client base is portable, I think there are better firms out there than Citi

  3. focus on getting your average client size up. with that average, you're going to lose assets to robo, vanguard, fido, and schwab. develop experience (notice I didn't say expertise) in some area, be it retirement planning (401ks, other qualified plans), equity compensation, estate planning, insurance, whatever. or it could be a niche in a certain industry/company. get out there and pound pavement. your existing clients are paying the bills, your goal for the next 5y is grow your AUM but shrink your client base to a more manageable number. revamp your processes and start spending more time with the top 20% and less with the bottom 80%. I think to really do well, you need less than 200 core relationships (ideally way less), an average client size of at least $1mm, and a non-transactional practice.

maybe sfbroker and rickle can also opine, I know they're both in PWM and do pretty well

Dec 28, 2018 - 5:55pm

Hey man! Thanks for the feedback! This is what I'm looking for!

So a few points.. yes I work for both citi pwm and citigroup, however I am not the PWM advisor. I am the licensed banker that sources the relationships and gets the deals in front of the PWM FA to close the deals.

The FA is paid a fee by the clients and for them it's portable to move their book. For me it's not portable as I am not the FA. I get a base salary by the bank and 1 time commissions.

What would you suggest in this case?

I also considered an MBA (part time/online @ usc) or taking my CFA

  • 3
Dec 28, 2018 - 6:55pm

Congratulations on your success to date! Just had a quick read through and my initial questions are:

  1. Do you like what you do?
  2. Is there a reason you have to change anything vs. growing your book and making more money?
  3. Why the desire to change or move?
  4. What is the hierarchy / structure at your firm?
  5. How portable are your relationships (I don't mean technically or legally. I mean do they like you and trust you enough to move their money / banking to a new firm)?
  6. What type of position are you seeking long term?

Some basics. Most people who get into wealth management (and have to generate clients) fail. It's hard to do. For most it's a few yrs and they're out. For others, it takes a few yrs before they start to have consistent production. You have already weathered the storm. That said, I don't know the process at Citi. How are clients generated? Did you develop them or were they referred clients of the bank? That's important because you need to be honest with yourself about your ability to develop clients from scratch if you leave.

I have to tell you, on the surface you have a great gig going and I commend you. If you like what you do, is there room for growth? Managing other Private Bankers? Getting into the PWM side earning fees? Managing a department and getting huge bonuses? P/L?

Most people in client facing roles like PWM and PB don't leave. It's not about exit ops to other areas of the bank. It's about growing a larger book and making a ton of money along the way. You are a very valuable asset. The PB / Client relationship is key to bringing and retaining lots of assets to the bank, both interest and non interest income (which is a big fee generator these days). You're 23. Obviously very mature and accomplished for your age.

Personally I wouldn't jump at things. I might have a talk with mgmt to get a feel for how big your role can be with Citi. See what they'll do for you. I know guys 20 yrs in who run brokerage , PWM, etc for large banks and make high 6 figures essentially managing a large team of people like you. Maybe that can be you down stream.

If you do leave, it's about the book value and relationships / assets to the new firm. Know a guy who was with a regional and actually moved to a community bank as head of PB. They paid him 250k and gave him a small percentage of bank ownership. He sits in on board meetings. pretty cool. Again, however, he didn't leave PB, he just leveraged his role.

Not everything needs to be about exit ops. If you like what you're doing, figure out how to increase your role or impact and you will certainly increase your income. BTW 150-200k is pretty awesome for a 23 yr old. Keep your expenses low, invest your savings and you'll have several million when you're 55! Well done!!

Dec 28, 2018 - 7:53pm

BTW - thebrofessor these are excellent specific suggestions. The bottom 80% drain you of all your mental space. You should be able to replicate your top 20% if you have time to focus on them and get referred in to more like them. Focus on what you can do to improve those relationships. What additional value can you bring to the table.

Somewhere between 100 and 200 clients is optimal.

Dec 28, 2018 - 8:19pm

Dude, congrats on working while going to school. A lot of people here might crap on your GPA, but ANYBODY slinging a full time job (especially one paying +$150K) while going to school has some serious cohones. It's like playing a sport, except probably more of a time commitment. Yeah, it would be better if you had a higher GPA, but frankly, most of the undergrad nerds you are competing against in Finance haven't worked in the real world yet so you have a strong leg up in that regard.

That said, given your academic background, it's probably going to be tough sledding for you to get into Ibanking, equity research, or anything else that typically requires a top school and high GPA, unless you get an MBA first. Not saying it can't be done, just that you are fighting an uphill battle.

But, honestly, echoing what others have said, if I were you I wouldn't even think about that right now. It sounds like you are doing great as is and would do well in PWM, Private Banking, Sales, or a similar type role at either a bank or big corporate. For these, your "story" is more important than GPA and is already more impressive. And you can still make a ton of dollars.
Keep on truckin.

Dec 28, 2018 - 8:37pm

Thanks man! I appreciate it!'

It's a 90k base but so far been earning 20k per quarter as bonus so that helps

Also i figured IB is a ways away unless I get an MBA, so still trying to figure that out

  • 1
Jan 2, 2019 - 1:44pm

late on the topic but I had to give you my 2 cents because I think it shows you a different perspective.

Whatever you decide, you will be fine. You seem to be the type of person that always come out on top (or above average). To get these promotions and to earn such bonuses shows that you are above average in your job. As you are still young, this will transfer to your future endevours.

Good luck!

made new unrelated account - dont reply or message as i never use it. 

  • 1
Jan 2, 2019 - 2:57pm

Numquam et voluptas consequuntur doloremque ab quia. Nisi iste magni repudiandae ad aut. Qui vero saepe est neque minima deserunt.

Quo consequuntur aperiam numquam consequatur assumenda. Aut laborum quas quos explicabo dolore fugiat corporis. Corrupti eum nobis eaque autem. Nostrum maxime vel atque necessitatibus praesentium molestiae non. Id velit labore cupiditate. Sit ipsam eum eum hic qui enim.

Dolore voluptas numquam consequatur. Beatae consectetur occaecati accusantium praesentium aut occaecati. Modi voluptas eum repellat. Recusandae explicabo voluptatum provident fugit. Non voluptas consequatur nobis magnam. Harum et rerum odit minus.

Feb 10, 2019 - 12:56pm

Facilis ut fugit consequuntur natus consequuntur sed repudiandae. Autem sit et explicabo aut aut exercitationem id. Cumque unde cum iusto reprehenderit eligendi. Assumenda et expedita voluptatem tempore dignissimos sed. Perferendis et voluptate occaecati.

Laboriosam est et tempore. Dicta illum assumenda voluptatem voluptates est mollitia est. Dolores consectetur eveniet ipsa officia rerum modi molestiae.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

September 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (39) $363
  • Associates (220) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (134) $154
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (30) $147
  • Intern/Summer Associate (103) $143
  • 1st Year Analyst (486) $135
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (377) $82