Do your “non-high finance”friends understand your motivation/drive?

I can't be the only one to experience this - many of my friends don't understand why I would be willing to work the amount that I do. Obviously one of the reasons we all go into banking is for the money but I'm also someone who wouldn't feel accomplished if I wasn't near the top of the industry I work in (yes, I understand banking isn't the best in finance but I'm in my analyst years so it's up there for my age group). I'm not a prestige whore - I'm just competitive with myself and know that I should have a job that will satisfy my internal competitiveness if that makes sense. When my friends hear that I'm spending hours of my weekend in excel they have the most puzzled reactions.These people are so far removed from the finance world that they have no idea how much bankers are paid and I'm not the kind to talk about my compensation. Interested to know if you all have the same interactions and how you respond in those situations.

Edit: I know this makes me sound like a raging douche but I really didn't mean it that way. Bring on the MS

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Comments (44)

Jul 11, 2021 - 5:20am

Some of my friends are corporate lawyers or medical doctors, they are also very driven and understand the pressure/world we live in.
But many others have their own companies or work other jobs.. they are better at other things, they use their time to create a family or spend time with friends/hobbies.

Jul 11, 2021 - 9:06am


I'm not a prestige whore 

Yet you used the phrase "high finance."

"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

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Jul 12, 2021 - 12:33pm


what would you call it Isaiah, I have friends in Finance that work maybe 40 hours a week but are not under the same deadlines/pressure that we are.  

IB people say investment banking, other finance types say finance. I've never heard someone say high finance except on here.

"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

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Jul 12, 2021 - 12:41pm

isaiah, this isn't a prestige thing, it's a definition

low finance - janitor at a PNC branch, teller, PWM

medium finance - accounting, working in a finance function of a non-bank, deutschebank, investor relations, trade reconciliation

upper middle finance - equity research, business development roles, long only AM

high finance - moving around powerpoint slides for bakeoff pitches, apollo, HF, a trader with a book

omnipotent finance - not posting anonymously on WSO, owning your own firm, being financially independent and opining on how to change the world (dalio, gross, soros)

Jul 12, 2021 - 12:58pm

Sounds about right 

"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

  • Works at Goldman Sachs
Jul 14, 2021 - 12:42am

Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎


I'm not a prestige whore 

Yet you used the phrase "high finance."

Two types of people in finance. The prestige whores and the guys who try as hard as they can to act and talk like construction workers to seem like they're not prestige whores 

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  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jul 11, 2021 - 10:15am

For someone who doesn't talk about comp and isn't a prestige whore you sure do talk about it a lot. Also, banking at your level is not competitive, getting into banking is competitive but once you're in it's not competitive until Director/MD level. You seem like the kind of hardo that gets off on and brags about how much you work as if it's a badge of honor to work 100+ hours a week.

Jul 11, 2021 - 10:24am

I'm really not. The only reason I thought of this was bc I couldn't go out to the bars after the fight last night. If all I talked about was getting my rocks off to working long hours I wouldn't have friends lol.

I may not have been clear about the "competitiveness" part. All I meant was I'm competitive with myself and I want to achieve the things I set my mind to.

Jul 11, 2021 - 10:21am

Business people always think everyone wishes they were them lol


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.
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Jul 11, 2021 - 10:32am

Sometimes, I'll take a homeless person aside. And then I'll walk them through an LBO. They're a captive audience, because they're expecting money or food. But I just dispense knowledge to them, which is its own reward. Go out there and teach a man to fish ;) 

Most Helpful
Jul 11, 2021 - 1:57pm

Yeah…I have plenty of friends who work for themselves and are highly driven and would never understand why we are slaving away while working for other people when they are getting wealthier than we are on their own accord. 

Jul 12, 2021 - 8:07am

I'd still rather run my own business and be able to take all financial credit for my work than slave away for someone else in finance, but I'm too risk averse for that path. I'd say successful business owners are much smarter than IB hardos.

But I know what you mean when you say most people have no idea what the different fields in finance is about or how crazy the compensation is if you manage to pull it off. Just like how I know nothing about tech or science careers because I'm simply not interested in them.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jul 13, 2021 - 9:37am

many of my friends don't understand why I would be willing to work the amount that I do

I no longer understand why I'm willing to work the amount that I do 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 13, 2021 - 12:22pm

FYI, banking isn't the only job that has brutal hours.

doctors during residency, transaction lawyers, some startups even, all can have people working banker hours or very close. In general though, yeah, most people don't understand why people who work really hard work really hard. I think initially it comes down to we are willing to endure present pain for a future reward and we are competitive. However, I'd argue the farther you move up in banking/ PE you go, the less this is true. It gets to an interesting broader question that is "why are you working as hard as you do, what is the point?" Depends who you are, but I personally think the difference between happy workers and workers who are miserable is knowing the reason why.

Jul 13, 2021 - 2:38pm

I really relate with this, even for me personally. I've always been a mix between a competitive and laid-back personality and was pretty unhappy working so hard to break into and succeed in such a competitive field. But it made me a much happier person when I realized the "for what" I do the work I do, and how anything less than such stressful and fast-paced work would leave me (just personal preference and POV-wise) frankly bored. 

Jul 13, 2021 - 1:13pm

Earlier this year I traded GME & SAVA and can now retire...but even with the financial success...I find myself wanting to go back to work. There's something about doing a good job and having purpose that just gets me hooked

Jul 13, 2021 - 8:25pm

Oh my fucking god another one of these validation posts. Bro your friends are right and you're wrong. You're only working this hard and long in a declining industry deluding yourself into thinking it will get better when you're an MD because you're either refusing to ask yourself the big questions in life, like who do you want to be and what do you want out of life or you're just too much of a fucking pussy to do it. Instead you come onto WSO to try to gain self validation from a bunch of other guys who are LITERALLY in the same boat as you. Your friends are right, life isn't all about just making the most amount of money possible. Dude literally look at your life. You're spending YOUR WEEKENDS. YOUR YOUTH. YOUR FREE TIME. Building stupid fucking excel models that we both know you couldn't give a rats ass about. Ask yourself, are you truly happy? I don't think so if you're posting on WSO seeking validation. What the fuck does you're competitive with yourself even mean? Bro everyone is competitive with themselves. If you're ambitious you're someone who wants to grow and that's career blind where there's competitive people in every industry. Working in banking doesn't make you some chad that is always seeking to be the best. If you want to be that, go become a Navy SEAL or Green Beret.

While yes I come here and shit post once in a while, I can still easily say that I'm happy where my life is at. After I quit banking and stopped chasing money, my life has become a complete 180. I've picked up surfing, snowboarding, got back into Judo and started BJJ, nearly summited mount Rainier (dam elevation sickness was 700 feet shy of summit), traveled the US and had wild adventures, went on dates with women I never thought I'd have a chance with, got even more fucking jacked, and have vastly improved my mental health and general well being because I stopped and asked myself what is it that I truly want. Not what others want me to be or want for me. They don't matter because it's my fucking life not theirs.

Go travel, go live, get hobbies, go find a girl you want to spend the rest of your life with. Just don't become some banker who hates their life because they were too much of a pussy to do what they really wanted to do in life and instead followed the herd. Also the only people who give a fuck how much you're getting paid are not the people you want in your life. I used to think oh these people aren't in finance, they're so far removed they'll never get it. Newsflash, no one, LITERALLY NO ONE, gives a fuck about finance. Have you ever tried to think what it's like being in their industry?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 13, 2021 - 11:43pm

I'm OP, and I completely agree with you. It's funny you bring up the military bc that's actually my plan after IB (search one of my previous posts: "leaving IB to go into the military and then returning to IB" or something along those lines). This post wasn't to gain validation - I'm completely comfortable with my life and have never been one to seek others validation. My reason for posting this was out of genuine curiosity as many of my friends are artist types and are wired differently than me. My plan was to go into the military after college but I was delayed due to needing surgery on my leg. My brain is wired in a way that I get bored quick. Even throughout college I was always itching to be productive. Im an introvert so I'm content going out on Friday night and having a chill night like a poker night on Saturday night. I understand why this post seems really douchey but it wasn't meant to seek validation or confidence.

Jul 14, 2021 - 1:11am

Recently quit analyst here who's already signed up for a bartending course on Tuesday's at 7 PM and has a long weekend trip planned because the next gig is hybrid. I actually see my girlfriend now and have time to read and be curious again. Your rage at what was taken from us resonated deeply with me lmao. It's a shame though, pretty great job if it was capped at 60 hrs p/wk.

Jul 13, 2021 - 11:30pm

I work a normal 9-5 and am pretty motivated and ambitious in terms of my co-workers. They are okay with their lives. They haven't conceptualized what they can do. I think part of it has to do with background. If I never went to a semi-target and joined WSO I thought I would have probably ended up doing Accounts payable. Even now, I'm not settling because I know what's out there. Realistically, many doors have closed for me as they have for my peers, but I just focus on the ones that are open.

Go, Go, Excel

  • 1
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 14, 2021 - 7:27pm

If you go into finance for the money, you're an idiot. You can make more money in tech for half the hours. 

Jul 14, 2021 - 7:54pm

You people have drive? I have absolutely none.  Things I hate like updating pitchbooks and quarterly commentaries get put off to the last second and half-assed.  The thing is, I REALLY enjoy what I do.  Building funds and finding the issues with competitors is pretty thrilling.  I will say the most fun recently has been as like level 4 support when a wholesaler has somebody who wants to dive really deep into some of our most complex products.  I open with the caveat that I'm not actually in sales and give them a total non-sale about why I think we've got the best mousetrap.  My success rate is probably close to 90%, and I think that almost every "failure" left the potential client feeling good that he had a situation where it just wasn't for him, and was more likely to do business with us in the future.  I really think that I am easily one of the hundred most knowledgeable people in the world in my little corner of finance, and could possibly even be be top 20.

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
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Jul 14, 2021 - 9:57pm


Are you able to profit through your personal investment account with that knowledge?

Oh poor sweet innocent child.  If there's even a hint that I might have any MNPI access I get a blanket trading ban, and that's basically an industry standard.  We also publish the methodology and the opening holdings for every product ahead of time.  I GUESS you could argue that extra time to mull over the methodology and study the backtest could give me an advantage, but that's really stretching things even for me, and I break these things for a living. 

Putting in day 1 orders is also torture.  Last time it took me over two hours on the phone with my IRA custodian to circumvent basically every red-flag they put in to prevent stupid orders online: (this is paraphrased)

<30 min hold>
Rep: "Sir, this ETF has a 30 day ADV flag, you shouldn't trade it"
Me: "No s---, it started trading roughly 20 minutes ago. It hasn't traded a single share yet!"
Rep: "are you sure you know what you're doing?"
Me: "I'm bloomberg messaging the sponsor's head of capital markets and the lead liquidity provider as we speak. Spreads are fine, and I was the guy who signed off on the liquidity of the underlying. Just let me put in a freaking market order!"
Rep: (90 minute hold) We'll allow an exemption, but only for a limit order, and only if you give us the number a head of time."
<BBM head of cap mkts and get what he thinks a good number is at the time>

<Tell her the number and put in the order for the dumb 100 shares so I could yell "FIRST!">

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
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Jul 16, 2021 - 8:47am

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