Do you guys actually enjoy your jobs?

Simshifter451's picture
Rank: Baboon | 105

I'm curious why you guys went into investment banking (or why you want to) and how many of you guys actually enjoy your jobs? It seems like so many people going into banking (especially at the analyst level) end up hating their work and the lifestyle that comes with it. I know investment banking is a highly competitive industry that many people are attracted to, in part because of the money and prestige.

Part of me thinks this said attraction is part of what feeds into people not liking their job once they fully appreciate all that it entails (the hours, lack of free time, time consuming and tedious tasks, etc.). In other words, it seems to me that most of the people I have encountered that "end up hating it" are those that maybe chose this career because of the money, prestige of working on deals, etc. instead of because they genuinely enjoy corporate finance and other aspects of the job. Maybe they chose it because most of their friends were doing it or their parents did it--I don't know.

To give you some context, I come from a very small non-target school (probably about as non-target as it gets) in the south where most people (even most finance majors) don't even really know what investment banking is. "Doing IB" isn't something common for people at my school to do, given that most people don't even know what the hell that means.

The reason I'm going into banking is because I genuinely enjoy corporate finance, economics, learning about new companies, etc. I actually think all that stuff is interesting, and enjoy learning about it. I interned at a top MM bank this summer and actually enjoyed doing so. Yes, there are obviously some shitty parts of the job (like any other) but I found the work to be interesting and each day to bring a new challenge.

I bring up this conversation because I'm starting as an analyst this summer and I'm curious to hear what you all think about your experiences in IB, and how your perception/enjoyment of what you guys do has changed over your career? Why did you go into banking? What did you enjoy the most/least?

Any thoughts or insight you guys would like to share would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Comments (90)

Apr 12, 2016

I interned at a BB last summer and I'm an incoming analyst and I totally agree. If you enjoy corporate finance, the job's pretty interesting. As I understand it as you further along the analyst program the hours really start taking a toll, but it's not a bad gig if you like it.

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Apr 13, 2016

(just my personal experience here, take it with a grain of salt, at the end of the day to each his own)

Around the 6, 7mo mark, you kinda reach the top of the steep learning curve and then at the 9mo mark it's a plateau. The interesting corporate finance stuff that came in waves in the first few months now reduced to a few nuances here and there. Learning about companies are not that interesting anymore - self explanatory if you work in coverage groups (I swear to god every fucking companies in my space have the phrase "we provide mission critical information" in their pitch), and if you work as a generalist in product groups, you just have so many companies from different spaces that you can only get to know them by their financials and the first bullet under "what we do".

Also, the amount / nature of work and intensity of the job are at a different level when you are an analyst vs. when you are an SA:

(1) Joining the bullpen, you are expected to run point and be responsible for those shitty stuff (drafting memos, chasing up capital markets guys on their bullets / pages, making sure the preso is perfect formatting wise, etc. ) while as an SA, you have the analyst as the guy/gal who gets the heavy lifting done as well as being your safety net. At least this is my experience at my group at a BB - I did not give important stuff to the SAs on my deals, and I scrubbed their comps output 2x

(2) if you are a rock star, you will be staffed with an insufferable amount of deals or pitches that have real potential. If you are below par, you will be staffed with an insufferable amount of shitty pitches. Either way your life outside of work is fucked, and your overall happiness deteriorates

Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

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Apr 13, 2016

I think that makes a lot of sense, and definitely good insight. Thanks for that.

I am curious though, what were your expectations going in/what was your primary motivation for joining IB? I think for me personally I'm coming in with the expectation that these next 2-3 years are going to have a lot of shittiness in them, but I am okay with that because I find (most) of the stuff I will be doing to be pretty interesting. Again, I haven't started yet so I'm sure this will change, but I would like to think that attitude will lead to an overall more enjoyable analyst stint.

Apr 13, 2016

what's a deal or a pitch with "real" potential ? like potential of closing ? what does that matter to you. don't you just move to another deal/project as soon as execution starts ?

Apr 13, 2016

Potential of deals actually close and pitches actually getting considered by the companies. At the other end of the spectrum there are a lot of shitty pitches that senior bankers come up with just because share prices move in a certain way or the environment is favorable for deals, say pitching to one of those MM banks with large balance sheet to buy a top Elite M&A shop or Facebook to buy Yahoo

If you don't care about what to put on your resume and how does that affect your banking experience (you are your deals), then sure you just scoff it off and move on to another projects.

Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

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Apr 13, 2016
dick_fluid:

what's a deal or a pitch with "real" potential ? like potential of closing ? what does that matter to you. don't you just move to another deal/project as soon as execution starts ?

A pitch to a company has real potential where there's factors like:
- the MD has a good relationship with the company or the PE sponsor owner,
- the MD has done advisory work for the company or competitors before and really knows the sector, has stellar credentials
- the company is not already well-banked by other banks
- the pitching bank has a well-followed research analyst who covers the stock or the space

A pitch without potential is where elements like that are lacking, the deal director has low credibility in the space and is firing bullets in all directions in the hope that something hits. You see these more where a director isn't doing a good job bringing in sales and is getting more and more desperate to hit his/her revenue target and justify his/her seat.

As an analyst, you want to be on real pitches that land real deals that will close. That means your fingerprints are on a deal that has brought in real revenue and you're working in a team/for a director who can justify his/her existence. If you're not generating fee revenue, you are more disposable. If you're in a team generating fee revenue, bonus time is a nice time.

You also want to be on real pitches that land real deals because that means you get real deal experience. There's a world of difference in the experience you get working on a real deal vs preparing endless comp tables in powerpoint slides for dead end pitches.

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Apr 13, 2016

Thank you that was instructive.
Now how do i get staffed with this productive MD you're describing.
and then more generally if somebody's got time. how does one become a rainmaker ? we've clearly seen some different personalities across super MDs (the apparently reserved Taubman vs flashier folks such as that Merrill fig guy who's now leading UBS or the Zaouis)

Apr 13, 2016

Doesn't a thing need to be up for sale before you suggest people buy it ?
Like i can just call bmw and ask them to buy aston martin if i make a pitch and a dcf ?

Apr 13, 2016
dick_fluid:

Doesn't a thing need to be up for sale before you suggest people buy it ?Like i can just call bmw and ask them to buy aston martin if i make a pitch and a dcf ?

If what you suggested were the industry norm, I daresay we would all be incredibly well-rested and much much poorer.

Apr 13, 2016

It can be just for reasons like "oh the partners have kicked in money quite some time ago, they may want to look at exit now, let me schedule a meeting and pitch them a sale" or "oh this guy has big balance sheet, that M&A shop's stock has been plunging since IPO, maybe they may want to talk about an acquisition?". Granted that sometimes there are things that materialize out of those ideas, but most of the time it's a waste of time for everybody

at first I thought it's just that we have some subpar senior bankers but friends at other shops said they have seen the same

Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

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Apr 13, 2016

I don't work in IB but no, I do not enjoy my job. I regularly think about jumping out the window.

Apr 13, 2016
tengleha:

I don't work in IB but no, I do not enjoy my job. I regularly think about jumping out the window.

Yeah commercial Real Estate is more boring that watching already dried paint get old and start to crack.

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Jul 1, 2016

Not at all. Maybe not to you, but at the high end - REIB / CRE can be really interesting.

If you're selling some shitty office park in bumfuck nowhere Ohio, or doing refi for some shitty strip mall in New Jersey, sure, that's objectively pretty bad. But if you're doing refi for The Shard or One World Trade, or say, a portfolio of 30 5-star hotels - that can be pretty interesting.

I also can't imagine that other sectors are all that different. If you work small-cap, bite sized deals, things are likely to be boring. When your deal gets an article in the WSJ, it's interesting. Same in CRE as in anything else.

Apr 13, 2016

I work in BO. I've tried to jump out the window.

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Apr 13, 2016

haha yeah im also in BO, I need to update my industry on wso.

Apr 14, 2016

OMG!

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

Apr 13, 2016

Honestly, it kind of comes and goes. I've been working in banking for a few years now and while there are certainly some interesting things that come around now and then, it begins to resemble a factory at times where even if something is a live deal, 60 - 80% of the stuff you have to do for it is pretty cookie cutter and you have seen it all before. Your 25th model usually isn't all that different from your 15th model and once you've assembled your comps, precedents and spinout analysis etc. a hundred times it's really not that riveting when you've got a fire drill that comes up at 8pm, and need to be done for first thing tomorrow morning. At that stage, it's not really about your intellectual curiosity as you don't have time for that so you just need to get it done as fast and accurately as you can.

At a higher level than the day to day, I've also found people start to get a bit jaded and cynical after a while. Everyone seems to have that deal that breaks them where you grind constantly for months (potentially years!) on a deal that just dies or never goes anywhere. It feels like you've ruined countless weekend, cancelled a whole bunch of plans, and have slept like shit for absolutely nothing. As interesting as it may be the first time you come to the realization that your firm didn't make any money, which makes your senior guys more anxious to bring in revenues which makes your life harder, the good bonus you've been eyeing could be down the toilet, and your job may be on the line should the firm downsize or manage headcount.

All that being said, the thing I find most interesting at this point is the people. Meeting with clients and hearing their rationale and thoughts on our ideas is interesting and certainly provides significant intellectual development as the people we deal with are generally pretty smart. Getting to go to events with clients and developing those personal relationships is what's most engaging to me at this point. I'd rather get an opportunity to pick someone's brain and talk about what's going on in the industry than build my 30th model and screw around in ppt.

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Apr 13, 2016
SSits:

You also want to be on real pitches that land real deals because that means you get real deal experience.

This seems important. Name at a BB comes at the cost of experience at boutiques, I've heard. Is it true, that there is a distinctive difference in experience between boutiques and BB? This also begs the question of why do BBs still place well in exit opps. Rockstar vs rank n file members, perhaps.

Apr 13, 2016

Aside from being the highest paid position you can get out of undergrad, I think there is also the idea that if you complete a two-year analyst program you have a ton of doors that will open up and you will (hopefully) find a job you enjoy and could become a potential career. I don't think we need to go into detail on all the exit ops (covered ad nauseam on this site), but the basic idea is you grind through these two years, get a ton of experience / money in the bank and then kind of reset and find your true passion.

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Apr 13, 2016

This is true, and I totally agree with you. If you make it through two years in IB you will have learned a lot and have a lot of doors open to you.

That said, I wanted to add a caveat to this true statement. It is very hard to step off the well trodden path and go find your "true passion" after 2 years of investment banking, or two years in IB + two years in PE. In many cases, the money and/or prestige is just too good (for the types of people who make it into IB) to walk away from. The act of stepping off to find your true passion tends to get delayed, and delayed again, and delayed again, until you are 34 and now NEED to continue to make PE/IB money (wife, kids, private schools, mortgage, nice vacations, MBA debt, etc.) and can no longer afford to take a risk or adjust your lifestyle.

Of course, there are many people that go into IB and love it or use it to open doors to other fields they end up loving (PE, VC, faster-track positions at companies, entrepreneurship, whatever), but just beware of the power of inertia, or whatever you want to call it, that these roles expose you to. If you truly have a passion, or find one along the way, don't be afraid to step off the beaten path to pursue it sooner rather than later.

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Apr 13, 2016

Totally agree. I've heard before about the 5 year rule, where if you make it that long, you'll probably never leave.

Apr 13, 2016
M_As_In_Mancy:

Aside from being the highest paid position you can get out of undergrad,

Only if you're a liberal arts major.

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Apr 14, 2016

Id be curious to hear you name some more than are in the same ballpark. The only one that I can name is petroleum engineering and that one isn't paying that well this year. Obviously there are jobs that can make 6 figures out of college but its more the exception than the rule. For example, a buddy of mine is a retail sales guy and will clear around 200 this year- being his second out of undergrad- because he is great at what he does. This does not mean that all retail sales guys are going to make that kind of money.

Edit: I would say that the last part applies to programmers- I agree the top few make great money out of college but I would highly doubt the average clears 6 figures.

Apr 13, 2016

On topic, I genuinely enjoyed the learning curve aspect of corporate finance. However, as someone pointed out there is a plateau. I expect it must be immensely fun to be an MD though. However, everything in the middle is most certainly not for me.

Apr 13, 2016

I would say that I love my job working at an investment bank. I get to interact and most importantly negotiate with clients and solve problems when they arise on deals. Yes, the hours are long but the work is fulfilling.

However, I would say there are many analysts and associates who join investment banks really do not like their jobs. Because investment banking pays so much more for what is glorified office work and salesmanship, there are many people who just want a nice pay check and a nice name on a resume. My shop hires an army of extremely smart and eager analysts and associates, but the fact is most are gone after two or three years because the work really isn't all that fulfilling to most people. I would say many of them shouldn't have gotten into investment banking. Drafting pitch books and reading 10k's is not all that sexy work and add to that the long hours of just waiting for someone to "OK" your work is dull and mind numbing.

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Apr 13, 2016

Some days are great, some days suck. Can't say it's much different than any other job.

Worst part of PE is doing shit tons of DD only to lose the deal in the final round of bidding.

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Jul 2, 2016

haha yeah. I work on the financing side and am generally the recipient of DD materials from you guys.
I just cant imagine it must be fun putting it together, i.e. imagine that guy from PwC or Deloitte or whomever you've commissioned to do that FDD report.

Sifting through all that info is pure hell.

Apr 13, 2016

Has its ups and downs. I worked in Asset Management before and will definitely make a move back to that at some point because I liked it better. I originally wanted to get into IB because I thought it would still be a lot of valuations/modeling, which I am really into. Investment banking for me:

Pros:
-Flexible MD who lets me take time off if I need it
-Meeting management teams and company visits. It's interesting to hear their perspectives..plus they are new contacts.
-Pride. I am not so proud that I am an analyst doing investment banking services, but I do take pride in the fact that I work with certain companies/industries.

Cons:
-I fucking hate data room management and legal due diligence like it's the plague. I thought I was above data entry/clerk-type work...I guess I am not.
-I really dislike working with companies/industries that I have no interest in. I like manufacturing, transportation, and industrials...I don't give two shits about your e-commerce business.
-Work completed is on the MD's clock, not mine (I have shit done weeks before he acts on it in some cases)
-At least in my case, it's a lot less valuations and models than I thought it would be. In the 1.5 years I've been here, I think I've built maybe 5 models for clients. Oh, and I only like building them once with minimal revisions. When you end up getting calls on your cell from the client to make the 100th revision, it really gets under the skin.

So, after reading the above, I realized that my tone suggests I really dislike my job after being here 1.5 years. No surprise I am actively looking to get into something else.

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Jul 2, 2016

There's always financing. LevFin/DCM - fewer hours and interesting work.
I reckon 2 yrs of M&A + 1 yr of Financing (preferably Levfin, otherwise DCM) - should make you pretty well rounded. If you're keen on continuing in Finance as a career choice.

Jul 2, 2016

I'll definitely be in finance, unless I decide to become a "free spirit" and go do something completely unrelated (skydiver would be pretty fun!). Or run my own business, which is most likely and could include finance.

Apr 13, 2016

I work in equity quant strategies. I work 50 hours a week and do well. I like my job.

This was not my first job. My first job was Analytics at a bank, answering questions about corporate bonds from bankers, and correcting bond features for traders, and working 70 hours a week.

Life gets better. Your second job will be better than your first. Especially if your first job is 90 hours a week or involves mind-numbing menial work. And your third job will probably be better than your second.

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Apr 13, 2016

When I was in banking, I hated it. All the busy work and meaningless crap that we do that ultimately doesn't move the needle in terms of making important decisions.

What I did really like was the camaraderie and relationships that I made with fellow analysts and some senior people.

Apr 13, 2016

Damn, is it that bad? I was hoping to land a post-MBA role in cap markets. Maybe I'll look at consulting instead. You guys sound miserable.

Apr 13, 2016

I love my job! I hate my job!

I love studying and analyzing investments. I'm fascinated by macroeconomics and high finance; I was an econ & financial journalist and researcher for several years before going to business school- I liked it, but I was paid far too little. I looked at my friends working as traders, investment bankers, and portfolio analysts, and wanted one of their gigs.

After business school, I moved back to my hometown, and tried to get a low-level analyst job with a commercial bank wealth management or trust department and then work my way up by earning a CFA charter. After eight months of aggressively applying and networking, I couldn't get any interest; years of international experience and job-hopping made me a little intimidating to employers in my Midwestern town who couldn't seem to see me in a non-sales role. I finally joined an RIA firm, which proceeded to slap a title on me, hand me a phonebook, and leave me to drown while the partners flew off to Southern California. After half a miserable year there, I jumped to a major wirehouse; I doubled my salary, got licensed up... and immediately found myself in the same pickle.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to extricate myself. I love this industry. I want to be in this industry. I want to be in virtually any role except the one I'm in. Client acquisition- especially where my primary sales tools I used in my prior career are completely off-limits- is utterly exhausting and frustrating to me. I went into this line of work to crunch numbers, trade and write proposals, not beg people to have lunch with me.

You guys have no idea how great you have it.

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Apr 14, 2016
Hanfeizi:

I love my job! I hate my job!

I love studying and analyzing investments. I'm fascinated by macroeconomics and high finance; I was an econ & financial journalist and researcher for several years before going to business school- I liked it, but I was paid far too little. I looked at my friends working as traders, investment bankers, and portfolio analysts, and wanted one of their gigs.

After business school, I moved back to my hometown, and tried to get a low-level analyst job with a commercial bank wealth management or trust department and then work my way up by earning a CFA charter. After eight months of aggressively applying and networking, I couldn't get any interest; years of international experience and job-hopping made me a little intimidating to employers in my Midwestern town who couldn't seem to see me in a non-sales role. I finally joined an RIA firm, which proceeded to slap a title on me, hand me a phonebook, and leave me to drown while the partners flew off to Southern California. After half a miserable year there, I jumped to a major wirehouse; I doubled my salary, got licensed up... and immediately found myself in the same pickle.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to extricate myself. I love this industry. I want to be in this industry. I want to be in virtually any role except the one I'm in. Client acquisition- especially where my primary sales tools I used in my prior career are completely off-limits- is utterly exhausting and frustrating to me. I went into this line of work to crunch numbers, trade and write proposals, not beg people to have lunch with me.

You guys have no idea how great you have it.

I hate to say it, but if you're earning enough to keep your head above water and working at a major wirehouse after several short stints, try not being a job hopper for just 18-24 months. If you've spent several years and several jobs never staying in one place, that scares the heck out of employers.

If work was supposed to be fun, they'd find someone to do it for free. But it gets better in your second and third job... if you stick it out and make it a career.

Good luck to you.

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Apr 14, 2016

Thanks, IlliniProgrammer. I've now been with my bank almost a year and should be able to last another six months before the quotas kill me. This particular position- solo trainee/practitioner- is pretty well known for slaughtering 90% of candidates that come through the door, so it's not exactly the kind of stability that I was looking for, but it's fairly well compensated for this town, and a very good name for the resume.

My biggest frustration is that my firm seems utterly incapable of engaging meaningfully with Generation Y and utilizes sales tactics that were considered obsolete a half century ago. My boss's only prospecting recommendations were "sell my friends and family" and "hang out in high traffic areas". These are the sales strategies of one of the world's biggest investment banks? I expected something a bit more sophisticated than what the insurance shills do.

I've got a standing offer at a boutique and one to do capital raising with a new PE firm; both don't sound much better and would pay worse (in the short run) than where I am now, but at least I have somewhere to land. I have no ambitions or real desire to be in BB IB or live in NYC; portfolio management, S&T or institutional sales with a mid market, investment/insurance or boutique in Minneapolis is my real goal at this point, and from everyone I've talked to it seems possible to get there from where I'm at now, so I just keep drilling away...

Apr 13, 2016

I was kinda surprised how un-analytical the whole thing was.

Don't get me wrong, I built some models and did some valuations but at the end of the day IB is a project management role at the junior level and a sales role at the senior level.

It probably did not help I was at a shop that did a lot of sell-side.

At a corp dev role now and much happier, it feels a lot more like you are paid to think..imagine it is same at PE, HF and AM.

Apr 13, 2016

No.

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Best Response
Apr 13, 2016

*** If you read anything in this post, read the Third Point below***
I worked in valuation before coming into restructuring banking 2.5 years. Recently signed a PE gig that it set to start in the fall after I get the travel to get the f away from this IB gig.

My $0.02:

  1. The one deal that breaks you - The point made above about one deal breaking you is a real thing. I had a deal in 2015 where I worked 100+ hours a week for 5 straight weeks (not an embellishment) in order to negotiate a fucking amendment. That was a 6-month deal from beginning to end and it was the moment I was over banking. I realized that my supervisors had no real interest in my well-being at all. I am a bit shamed in saying that deal broke me and made me a lower quality analyst afterward because I developed a sense of bitterness towards the associate and vp on the deal.
  2. Learning Curve- The "rush" of learning new things will not last forever. You will get over this and get tired of slaving away until 2am looking for some dumb statistic or metric that your MD or associate asked for. On the same note, you will get tired of making marketing materials that provide little to no value overall but you bust your ass on. On models, you will probably not build as many as you anticipate and you will grow to hate them when the client asks you to build in 1,000 scenarios. When you are asked to do something at 6pm and to have by morning, you tell your "attention to detail" self to go to hell
  3. Surround yourself with people you want to be like and don;t ever forget what's truly important (money is not truly important) - My bitterness aside, I have no idea why people stay in banking. Unless you are at some MM or small group who works mortal hours, banking WILL ruin at least one of the following: your health, your motivation, or your relationships. IMHO, your life goals and priorities must be skewed in the wrong direction in order to stay in banking. Yes banking pays a lot, but in banking, all you're doing is trading your life (until you reach mid to late 30s) for a pay check. There are certainly outliers, but overall, look at the senior people in your group and look at their lives. Senior level bankers have usually at least one of the following apply to them: gone through at least one divorce, don't see their kids, are overweight, and/ or insecure and only talk about fees/ money/material possessions. This is more for instruction after you get through your 2 miserable years of banking and are looking for your next gig. Be choosy in where you go and the culture. Surround yourself with people that share your same priorities in life. Know that you don't have to do the typical progression of 2yrs IB + 2 yrs PE + 2 yrs MBA. Know that if working crazy hours bothers your, it is OK to ditch high finance and take a corporate gig. I have friends who have made the switch and don't regret it for a second. The world of finance amazes me because people enter it to chase cash and are too focused/ greedy to see the cash corrupt them and ruin their lives. Be aware and stick to your roots.

End rant. I hope this helps someone.

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Apr 13, 2016

true dat

Apr 13, 2016

this on so many levels. too bad the deal that broke me was the first project i got staffed on that turned into 1.5 year+ sellside for a upper MM sponsor. had to run two auctions for the POS before i left banking because no one wanted it but the MD was a bloodhound that wanted his fee at the expense of my sanity.

Apr 13, 2016

Very helpful, Thanks.

Apr 14, 2016

I read this forum a lot, and post rarely. This could be one of the more honest and heartfelt posts here. This is great perspective, and point 3 can get de-prioritized all the time. It's a shame when it does, because I believe the most intense and lasting joy in one's life comes exactly from the first sentence in 3.)

Good luck to all, I hope you all experience what SunTzu is talking about.

Apr 14, 2016

Excellent post. Thanks!

Apr 15, 2016

SB'd

Apr 15, 2016

Seconded on the honesty, especially the 3rd point. The only Sr. MD in my office who had any resemblance to a healthy life was mid 40s and had never married, not because he was a "chase models" clown but because he was one of those drone type people who just truly loves to work and what he does. I will caveat my note with that I also walked away a little bitter, but I understood what I had signed on to and wouldn't trade it back. Still one of the happiest days of my life was walking out at 1pm on my last day knowing I had a nice 4-week vacation in front of me.

There are 2 things that definitely stand out to me from the experience. First, the camaraderie with your class and other junior bankers. This goes to the surround yourself with people you want to be surrounded by; you can spot who you know will help you grow and be a valuable friend for years to come, and you can also spot the finance-is-life guy who will probably become point #3 in a couple of decades. Second, the learning curve that people highlight here frequently is legitimate (although it is also legitimate that the curve starts to fade after 9-12 months). I have yet to come across another single post-undergrad position that will after 2 years allow you to jump into pretty much any company and add some value (at the very least just crushing through numbers, but hopefully more than that after 2 years in banking).

Again, I walked away feeling a little bitter as well, but I had the opportunity after only 3 months into the job to start working with some of the "top" global lawyers and a foreign billionaire and his entourage. Obviously wasn't working directly with the king every day, but met and spoke with him multiple times and worked with his 1st lieutenant almost every day. As a 22 year old, that was one of the coolest things I think I could have experienced. At the end of the day you have to make the decision and not look back.

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Apr 15, 2016

I don't think anything you said is ranting. All are good points. Heading into MBA right now, I only have one conviction: no investment banking.

Life is too short.

Apr 15, 2016

Thank you so much for this comment. Coming from a developing country, I worked in an intl. bank where corp. / IB were both taken care of by the coverage peeps, and I started off with them right after graduating from a target in my country. Was working 70-80 hours a week with long and stressful commutes. The number of hours would spike in episodic deals. Before I knew it, I gained a shitload of weight and my health broke down so badly - I had no option but to walk away. I had to make up my mind, risk worsening my health or leave. I left.

Best decision of my life.

Apr 16, 2016

Holy shit. The feels were real with this one.

Apr 17, 2016

really interesting response..eye opening, thanks man.

Jul 3, 2016

Very heartfelt and insight response... Definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks SunTzu.

Jul 6, 2016

Awesome post

Nov 25, 2019

If your ID is the Chinese SunTzu from thousands of years ago, and people know who SunTzu is, this great comment is kind of expected.

Although, fwiw, it is really SunZi, the Chinese name or a Chinese guy, not SunTzu.

Apr 14, 2016

Do I enjoy being a banker?

No to put it bluntly. I had a couple of internships before I joined so had an idea of what I was getting in to and I thought i enjoyed it. Initially the job was indeed interesting but that interest steeply dropped to 0 after 6 months on the job.

The job is incredibly monotonous, on top of that you have no spare time to develop other skills. This is the thing that hurts most. In the amount of time I've spent doing BS work, I could've learnt other skills that woyld help me build my own business one day. Sure banking you learn a lot about finance, but that learning flattens out real quick. And it becomes hard to stay in the office for longer than a year.

Banking in itself is not a path to true wealth. Heck, for the hours you put in I expect to be paid this much. You will not be killing it as an MD. True wealth comes from ownership, and bankers dont own jackshit. You will on average not find many super smart folks in banking for this very reason.

Too many folks harbour on about prestige on this forum. Well, noone gives to be honest.

Just my 2c.

Apr 14, 2016

It's an interesting question and one everyone should think about. As other posters have said, it's fine to grind it out for money for a couple of years but you need to find something sustainable.

I enjoy my job, primarily because the people are great and the work can be very interesting. As one poster above said, anything in corporate finance is essentially a project management job once you actually start executing deals. The 'interesting' stuff like the sector research and modelling usually happens at the pitch stage so for all you prospective monkeys thinking you're going to be cranking out lbo models 24/7, think again. If you're on a live deal - which is where you want to be - you will be setting up meetings, co-ordinating phone calls, managing data rooms etc.

So yes, the actual execution side can be a bit dull but the satisfaction of seeing a deal progress and complete is worth it. Obviously when a deal falls apart at the 11th hour it's pretty frustrating, but that's life!

Apr 14, 2016

I eventually accepted that I would be miserable working long hours in another city and snagged an FLDP position instead. I think a lot of people looking into demanding jobs like banking have a hard time being honest with themselves and their own happiness, then jump to popular career paths that may not be for them. Then you get burnout. If you don't have an interest in what you're spending 90 hr/wk doing, you'll have a hard time learning and bettering yourself.

As for me I enjoy what I do. But again, it's not banking.

Apr 14, 2016

Only reason that I am responding now is because I became a verified user by force (I blame Ivy) therefore I have a bit more credibility than before. Do I like my job? Yes and no, some days I am just absolutely exhausted finding myself sitting in my office wondering why the hell I am punishing myself like this. Then there are days where I love my job. Work is an emotional rollercoaster directly tied to what is going on at work and out of work. The biggest mistake you can do is quit after you have a rough patch or worse yet not even try because of what others say about a certain job. Our society has developed a short term mindset and you see it in a lot of the youth now a days who do not want to walk through hell and sacrifice the now so that they can one day look back at all the hard work they did and appreciate it. Work hard and don't let others dictate your life.

Apr 15, 2016

While I agree with most of your post, theres a few points i disagree with, and I think its important for people who are looking to join to hear both sides of the debate.

First, I dont see walking through hell in a job you dont enjoy as a precondition to look back one day and appreciate what you have done. You can equally do a job you enjoy and do something youre motivated to do every day. Thats not to say a job you enjoy cant be tough, but it should be something you do enjoy.

I think we pretty much agree on the conclusion of doing what you enjoy tho

Apr 15, 2016

I would argue that most things worth doing can be difficult and forces you out of your comfort zone. I like to use imagery when I speak, so walking through hell I would only imagine the heats been kicked up making you a bit uncomfortable and you're probably sweating a little. Now if you can find a job where you are not forced out of your comfort zone and have a tremendous reward (financial, spiritual, or physical) at the end of the tunnel, well hell sign me up. I would agree with your statement of walking through hell in a job you don't enjoy as a precondition to look back one day and appreciate what you have done, but I would also say it helps. I think of it as a turning point in someone's life to lead them closer to what they really want to do.

Apr 14, 2016

Have noticed a lot more people in trading and structuring enjoy their job than the IBD crowd. Not surprising.

I think there are plenty of roles that offer a good balance between things. What many people seem to want is to get paid well for just being an extremely hard working generalist. That mindset is likely always going to lead to frustration and unhappiness. Unfortunately hard work is no match for specialised skill or client relationships.

Apr 14, 2016

i literally jizz my pants with ecstasy every morning when i walk into my office.

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Apr 15, 2016

Yes, IB sucks. Then again, almost every job sucks. Prior to IB, I worked in audit, and I absolutely despised it. While I didn't work near as many hours in audit as in I did in IB, the work in audit was mind-numbingly boring and added no value to anything/anyone whatsoever. I'd rather work the longer hours in IB than feel like I'm a complete worthless piece of shit everyday. Most bankers lack perspective and like to complain about how terrible their lives are. This is better known as 'the grass is always greener' syndrome. They haven't suffered the miserable experience of being a 9-5 corporate zombie.

Now, I work in MM PE, and I truly like my job. I have some bad days here and there, but on the whole, I actually enjoy it. Hours aren't bad, and the work is very interesting.

Apr 15, 2016

Not in IB, but I genuinely enjoy my role. I wouldn't stay if I disliked it.

Apr 15, 2016

You've made the only reasonable decision available to you--trying it for yourself. Part of building the life you want, is finding out what you don't want, first hand. You always hear, "there's more to life than just work," which is true, but there's also more to life than family, working out or whatever floats your boat. Figure out what works for you and don't be shortsighted enough to not revisit that idea, because priorities change.

Apr 15, 2016

This thread hit way too close to home.

I'm a first-year post-MBA associate in banking. Absolutely hate it but couple of points.

  1. Given my financial circumstance (lot of MBA debt, parents who can't help me out but rather the reverse), I had to take a job with a decent base and a well-defined upward trajectory. As much as people love to diss banking, it is actually one of the few post-MBA industries (along with consulting) that pay well and offer a steady progression in comp as you move up. We all know that hedge funds for instance are volatile; I have friends who got let go from top funds after 1 year through no fault of their own while others got lucky one year and got a huge ass bonus.
  2. Transferable skills and exit opps were REALLY important for me because my previous job gave me literally zero exit opps since it was so niche and specialized. Granted, post-MBA banking doesn't open as many doors as post-college banking, but nonetheless, you'll be surprised at how many jobs out there want people from a banking background due to our expertise in valuation, modeling, accounting, as well as a big picture understanding of business strategy.
  3. The way I see it, you make sacrifices now in order to reap the rewards in the future. Working long hours in your 20's and 30's is a LOT better than working long hours in your 60's because you didn't make enough money to comfortably retire. That's my worst nightmare, as I saw my parents work long arduous hours when they weren't healthy. Life is ultimately about trade-offs, and for those of us who were not born into wealthy families, these are the types of sacrifices we have to make to secure our future. And whatever Bernie Sanders and the liberals may say, I'm not going to apologize for it.
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Apr 19, 2016

Good post. Don't see how the sanders name-drop was necessary. I work in operations and by no means is the pay like IB/PE/HF etc., but really the salary progressions are quite nice if (and only if) you are at a top company like GS, Google, Amazon, and GE. Really, once you have any kind of experience at a solid f500, a top 25 MBA to add makes things easier to move up the corporate ladder. For people not interested in the high prestige categories (ib/mc/pe/hf/etc.): Just get a top 25 mba that has the best personal value. You'll be fine for just about any other job. You should also try to get as high of a GMAT as possible, I've heard that there are some scholarships available to people who got 740-760+.

Apr 15, 2016

Thanks OP and others for the honesty. I've been looking at IB and other finance jobs and wasn't sure if I absolutely loved it or not. This provides a lot of information for me to consider.
I think we all put way to much emphasis on prestige and impressing others rather than being happy and doing what we enjoy.

Apr 15, 2016

Applicable:

But I love my job.

Apr 16, 2016

I'm a 2nd year analyst at a BB and I enjoy my job. Yes there are parts that are terrible but in reality it's not as bad as everyone says. Yes 100 hour weeks come up but you grind through it and take a breather on the other side. People see when you get crushed and lay off you afterwards. Depending on your group / bank, these come up less now than they have a few years ago thanks to initiatives put in place by banks. It will never be a consistent 40 hour a week job, but that's normally because the work you're working on is important or is interesting. If some VP starts generating useless work it totally sucks, but people recognize and push to get rid of that kind of stuff. If you find the work interesting and actually enjoy corporate finance and the deal environment (as I do) working late hours isn't that bad. As long as I can get a decent nights sleep, I'd take that any day over a 9-5 when I process shit and count down until 5:00pm.

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Apr 17, 2016

"If you find the work interesting and actually enjoy corporate finance and the deal environment (as I do) working late hours isn't that bad. As long as I can get a decent nights sleep, I'd take that any day over a 9-5 when I process shit and count down until 5:00pm."

I'm not in IB, but in a front office consulting/valuation role in NYC, and ProjectGTFO summed it up perfectly. Before this, I spent two years doing the Big 4 auditing and earning my CPA, and it absolutely sucked. My clients didn't want the auditors there and we were simply a regulatory nuisance that added no value. As you stated, people want a 9 to 5 job, but those jobs are uninteresting and boring. I took a corporate accounting job for one month after leaving Big 4, and I ran straight back to a front office consulting role. That one month was a nightmare, like Office Space, bunch of middle aged people who hated their lives, had given up, and had no ambition or path to advancement, just doing the same routine and trying to kiss enough ass not to get fired.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

Apr 16, 2016

One poster said it best in that it's simply a matter of tradeoffs. For some IB is worth it, for others not so much.

Apr 17, 2016

I work in ops and enjoy my job.

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Apr 17, 2016

The insight I'd like share for junior banking professionals is longevity - the real payoff relative to corporate is over the longer term (8-10 yrs). To that end, find a platform where you admire the senior bankers and they too are interested in grooming folks within. At the analyst level, we're too concerned with prestige that you end up sacrificing on fit (or not doing enough to determine it).

I've got fair bit of experience on the corporate side (Operating, BD, Corp Dev) as well as in investment banking. I'll be starting a IB gig in the tech group of a boutique in SF; I am moving over from a strategy / corp dev role at one of the tech giants. There is no golden nugget out there in terms of comp and work-life balance. Once you hit senior manager or director in the corporate world, you're working a fair bit, if you're ambitious and want to move up to VP and above. You're responsible for revenue, profitability or deal targets if one is in a meaningful role, plus you need to deal with office politics and red-tape, largely which are beyond your control. Whereas, in banking, you grind through your Analyst, Associate years with some level of relief as you become mid-level VP and above, and the career path is merit based, in most instances.

Plus banking is a good cash-flow career, where deferred comp is a relatively lower component (think PE, Tech). Contrary to opinion above, I believe banking is a good profession (right platform of course) for people with families with kids as you can afford a nice home, put your kids in private school and save a bit of money for retirement.

Apr 18, 2016

Just my $0.02.

It's really interesting to read the posts above because my experience has been vastly different. I work at a MM IB firm on very lean deal teams (usually just the sole analyst on a deal) and my VP/associate are fairly understanding and do a good job of letting me drive the deal process and such. I've worked in banking close to 2 years now and will stay on a third year and find that while my learning curve has leveled off, I'm able to dig in deeper on transactions now since I'm more efficient in general.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of redundant, cookie-cutter aspects of my job as well but I think I'm still learning a decent amount each transaction or at least building off of a solid foundation of prior transaction experience/industry experience.

Admittedly, I'm not sure if I'd feel the same way if I were to stick around in banking for the very long haul even though the skill set evolves at each level.

Apr 19, 2016

From reading these comments, it seems the general theme in favor of IB is "Banking affords a comfortable lifestyle after the Analyst/Associate years..." or "IB is genuinely interesting for some of us." I get the second part and if it's your fit, awesome.

I think this forum is prone to confirmation bias. The compensation in IB is good, but compared to what? Everything is relative, and I think people need to understand that there are millions (yes, millions) of people in the United States and around the World who are not in high finance jobs, but find themselves comfortable and happy in their life. I know it gets touched on here, but I don't think nearly enough. It is all about what you value and what is making you happy.

Good tenured teachers may make less than half of a first year analyst, but they may one day give the good education you want for your children. The workers behind the meat counter and bakery at your local store? Hourly, most likely. Police Officer? Significantly less. Nurse? Hourly + grueling and variable shifts.

No perfect job, or perfect bonus, or perfect fit will solve your problem of enjoying a job fully. It is all about your attitude that you approach your life with. Teachers, Police, Nurses, etc...they are not all happy, because many have personal issues that transcend a work-life balance. Some, though, have a very positive outlook and attitude on their life, family, and passions. That is because their job....is not their life. They have a passion behind their work, sure. But once you start to tie your macro-emotions (not the day-to-day, think your personal beliefs and convictions) to your ups and downs at work, you will not find that work is fulfilling, you will find it stressful, full of BS, and sickening to walk into each day. To the ones that don't. I think that is what enables them to enjoy their jobs and their overall life.

I don't see that at my F500, I don't see that with my MBB friends, and I don't see that with my IB friends. All three environments are rooted in the exact same culture. You will never escape that unless you self-select out, or you begin to shift how you tie yourself to your work.

Apr 26, 2016

Too true man, well said. Something I often tell people that say "finance is my passion" before they have worked in the real world for a meaningful period of time is to think about another topic the enjoy. Take baseball, for example. Now imagine your every waking moment is dedicated toward baseball. Baseball controls your life and is your life. Baseball becomes a job. You find out baseball isn't your passion, but instead a hobby. Hits home with some guys, some guys it doesn't

Point: I like your lesson on there is no magic "thing", tangible or intangible, that will make you happy, other than a positive outlook. You do, however, have control over certain life decisions and variables that make shaping your outlook easier.

Apr 19, 2016

Is there anyone else out there who also thinks the point of doing banking is that it sucks so much? Let's be honest you can get most of the skills you learn in IB from other sources (Just look at the ads on this website).

The reason there are so many exit opps is that your next employer knows how hard you worked as a banker and knows you're the kind of person who is willing to stay at the office until midnight if that's what is necessary. Plus, you get the accomplishment of making it into the big leagues. Just like any kid who likes baseball wants to play in the MLB, I would imagine most people like me who really love finance want to make it to investment banking.

these are just my thoughts, please note I'm just an undergrad who hasn't done a SA stint yet but my heart has been set on banking for a while.

Apr 20, 2016

During my banking stint, I learned a lot, made connections, and had a lot of responsibility. But if investment banking didn't have lucrative exit opps, there's no way I would have done it and everyone in my analyst class would agree with me on that statement.

Sure the learning curve and connections are great, but the work can be very monotonous and 100 hour weeks really take a toll on you both physically and mentally.

The hours don't get much better on the buyside (depending on the shop you're at) but there are far less fire drills and the work is far more interesting.

Jul 2, 2016

No, I hate it. And I hate this question.

I think- therefore I fuck

Jul 2, 2016

It took me one year of banking to start disliking what I do. Initially you do learn a lot and everything is interesting, but then you start to realize its mostly process oreinted. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thats not always the case, but I'd say 80% of the time it is.

The hours do suck and it takes real discipline to maintain your health (so far my biggest challange). But what really bothers me is the culture that the analyst has to endure. Your time is not respected, you will do anything your MD asks and its really fucking annoying, essentially i hate being the bitch. I would definitely do it over again, but I am definitely considering jumping ship asap after my bonus. The reasons i would do it again is as follows:

  • People around you are smart and motivated
  • You learn a lot
  • You have options. You have two years to figure out what exactly you want to do next and almost everything in the business realm is an option for you
  • You get paid well and set yourself on a trajectory to continue to get paid well

If your set on banking I doubt anyones post will change your mind (I use to read all about it on WSO), but in a year or so you'll look back at your posts and be able to relate

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