Does not seem fair how much money we are making compared to other industries

FT IB Analyst here at a BB. I personally think my life is too easy compared to other high earning careers. Yeah we are worked to the ground compared to other industries, but let me help detail my thought process:

For IB recruiting I did decent in highschool to get into a semi-target. Was beyond easy to get a 3.8+ majoring in economics, my classes were beyond jokes. Insanely easy. Then studied maybe 8-10 hours total of the guides online, took maybe 2-3 coffee chats, got the SA, did SA and just started FT, and now am locked in to make around $180k this year total. This is compared to other fields:

Computer Science - Heard horror stories of how hard the major is, skimming through lines of code for 5+ hours just to find the tiny mistake, etc. Then grinding LEETCODE for 5-7 months to pass the actual super rigorous technical interview process.

Med School - Need a 3.8+ in probably the hardest major there is. Need to study months on months for the MCAT. Then go through so many years of debt + residency.

Law School - Also need a 3.8+, then months of studying for the LSAT (need 170+ for top schools) then years of debt and nonstop reading in law school.

It is hard to wrap my head around how getting into my career seemed 10x easier and 10x less work then the above mentioned. Interested in any thoughts/discussions.

Engineering - Major is hard AF, have to take thermal dynamics, a bunch of physics, etc and still have a good GPA. Don't have much insight on the job prospects or recruiting situation for engineering, but I have a friend who was a genius chemical engineer and is making 89k all in. I realize his hours are better than me, but I know for a fact he is 10x smarter than me and i make double what he makes. 

I already know I will get monkey shit. I understand most people in banking and finance have a giant ego and want to seem like they are doing God's work and that banking is super coveted and difficult to get into, but the reality is I am not seeing a whole lot of that.I am not shitting on banking either, I mean I guess it makes sense our comp is so high with how hot the M&A market and fee's coming in, etc. But still, I get this feeling of "Too good to be true" for some reason.  Curious for other thoughts.

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Comments (93)

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2021 - 2:59pm

What school did you go to? What semi target is this easy to get As in econ? Can't be Vandy or WashU.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2021 - 3:06pm

My point is finance/economics major is undoubtedly 10x easier than majoring in bio/chem/engineering/computer science.  

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2021 - 3:17pm

I agree it is but like all majors, class difficulty will vary by school. At my school (US News rank top 25) Econ is classified as a stem degree. Higher ranked schools usually have harder classes. Was just curious what school you attend that is that easy.

Nov 23, 2021 - 5:09pm

Can speak to this. T30 undergrad.

I was an engineering major with a business minor - I tutored accountants and finance majors in their classes. Business program was a snooze

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  • Prospect in Research - Other
Nov 22, 2021 - 8:44pm

Facts, I go to a T10 Undergrad. Econ is NOT easy. With that being said I'm sure its easier than CS or Engineering relatively speaking

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
Nov 23, 2021 - 12:22pm

If you went to a good school for undergrad econ class wouldn't have been a breeze - you should consider yourself lucky instead of generalizing all business schools to be easy. It def isn't as hard as STEM but our hours are longer and it's harder to stay in the industry once you get in

  • Analyst 1 in IB - CB
Nov 24, 2021 - 4:53pm

I went to Vandy, I would say it was extremely easy to get As in Econ-- if you pick your classes well most of them are a joke and some of the harder ones are interesting anyway. Lot of Econ guys in these replies acting like it compares to STEM, my friends doing pre-med were easily studying 3x as much as me.

Nov 22, 2021 - 4:16pm

You should just count your lucky stars then, my undergrad econ classes due to the curve were harder than the bio classes to get a 3.8. This is coming from someone who initially started as a pre-med.

Although the comp-sci and pre-med classes might be a lot harder material-wise, some of us go to schools where the econ and finance classes actually have strict curves and are more desirable majors than bio and cs. Also, the money is barely worth it, working 80 hours a week takes years off your life as well as hurts your overall health, leads less time to grow relationships, pursue hobbies, have some free time which are components that lead to happiness. So making a couple of grand after tax more than the cs major who grinded leetcode for 5-7 months (oh the horror) when he works 25 hours a week is necessary but in most instances we don't even make more than them. You have to remember Google has more 1st year SWE spots than all of the BBs and EBs in NYC combined. 

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 22, 2021 - 4:31pm

Econ major at target (Top 2 USNews if that's the metric we're using) - Can confirm classes are easy. Engineering majors specifically work their ass off.

Most Helpful
Nov 22, 2021 - 4:40pm

What you are missing is the attrition aspect of finance. While the barriers to entry may be somewhat smaller (arguable) than getting into big tech with a hard major like CS, or getting into med school, the attrition is infinitely higher in finance due to the huge work-life balance sacrifices that need to be made in the early career period. Once you've made it into big tech and jumped through the hoops to be a doctor your career is more or less set on a stable trajectory without much volatility. Finance is high risk high reward with big sacrifices but also big possibility of recessions or crashes leading to layoffs and poor job stability. A large part of your comp is also variable so your comp range is pretty wide  in any given year based on economy / markets / group performance. Finally, traditional careers like medicine/law/tech have a pretty structured headcount while in finance it is a pyramid. The higher you climb in seniority, the fewer seats, thus the harder it is to make the next jump up. That is another risk that you aren't considering.

TLDR: getting in might be easier in finance (arguable), but staying in and climbing to the top is harder.

  • VP in IB - Cov
Nov 25, 2021 - 9:46pm

The higher you climb in seniority, the fewer seats, thus the harder it is to make the next jump up. That is another risk that you aren't considering.

not in MM. MM is awesome.

Nov 22, 2021 - 5:04pm

For one I think you just got very lucky, given you were not smart enough to get into a target. So you should feel good about that. I agree with you that semi-targets are a total joke, but for some reason banks look outside targets for some reason.

I agree, that being a doctor and engineer is much harder. I think people who eschew banking for medicine are just better people who want to help society and aren't selfish douchebags like us (for the most part, I'm sure there are nice bankers and arrogant doctors).

Law is similar to banking. So don't agree it's that much harder. And engineers have great work life and comp, especially at FAANGs so have no idea why you think engineers comp sucks.

I also think medicine / law / engineers have much better job security when compared to a banker, because their skill sets are less relationship dependent and more technical in my eyes.

But I can see as someone who wasn't smart enough to get into a target, thinking how easy it is to make big money at a young age and confusing pure luck with pure skill.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Nov 22, 2021 - 8:29pm

Woah glad to see you're really putting your target school "intellect" to use by rearranging logos everyday. God forbid a bank hires someone from a state school to rearrange logos for them as well…

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 22, 2021 - 9:35pm

Exactly what I believe too. When I was entering which buyers we contacting into a tracker and knee deep in a model with bullshit assumptions I was doing gods work.

lol, get a grip man, the analyst role is for monkeys. Also, not an A1 did my two years and earned my freedom.

Funniest
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 23, 2021 - 2:59pm

Regardless of this discussion, I personally want you to know you sound like the absolute biggest loser. Holy shit. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Nov 23, 2021 - 9:41am

Lol I was being facetious, but my point still remains that you were not doing anything intellectually challenging so don't act like you are above anyone else. Incoming an1 at EB and ranked higher than many of my "target school" peers who had shitty attitudes and could not start a conversation without mentioning what school they were from. I bet you are fun at parties though

Nov 23, 2021 - 11:11am

Getting into a target is not hard at all lmfao. I literally only studied one single time for a test in high school and would have gotten into a "target" had I taken the supplementary applications seriously. High school grades are such a joke when someone like myself can go four years without putting in more than an hour or two per month outside of school and finish with grades good enough for targets.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 22, 2021 - 5:06pm

Uhhh this just isn't true and you're in for a rude awakening. Very high chance you won't be in IB or even "high-finance" for 20 years unlike a doctor or engineer who will most likely stay in their career and even have greater earnings as they get older. One of the biggest lies on this site from some people are those that spew the "comp doesn't matter as an analyst your earnings will be greater are later on" THE VAST MAJORITY do not stay on in "high-finance" though. They go to another industry or corp dev or whatever and take a paycut. This is reality. There is no free lunch. 

Nov 22, 2021 - 5:46pm

You aren't being paid based on how hard you work. I'm glad that the recruiting process was smooth for you, as it usually is not. There are a lot of people who try for these roles and don't make it.

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Nov 22, 2021 - 5:56pm

"Engineering - Major is hard AF, have to take thermal dynamics, a bunch of physics, etc and still have a good GPA. Don't have much insight on the job prospects or recruiting situation for engineering, but I have a friend who was a genius chemical engineer and is making 89k all in. I realize his hours are better than me, but I know for a fact he is 10x smarter than me and i make double what he makes."

100% agree with this. I've seen many of my friends regret not doing computer engineering/computer science. Biomed engineering is also pretty useless since many mechanical/electrical engineers are more specialized/more attractive hires. It sucks. You need a MS or a PhD to get a 6 figure starting salary job usually in engineering.

Nov 23, 2021 - 11:43am

Engineering managers at most companies clearing 250k+ yearly by the way.  Not unheard of some to clear about 300-500k+ (Defense area).

Source - former contractor and have friends still working in this space.

Nov 26, 2021 - 10:21pm

In what company or type of engineering do defense guys get paid that much?  I highly doubt those numbers are real unless they're in the richest part of NoVa.  In my experience the cost of living is usually zilch (defense stuff is all way outside major metros in case of nuclear bombs) but the pay is not incredible either.  Another thing, the average age for guys in defense is a hell of a lot higher so those engineering manager jobs take longer to obtain compared to say Uber.

The allure of working in defense is the low stress and WLB.  Everything moves slow due to the nature of government, everything is cheap, you do nothing all day, usually only work 4 days, and having a security clearance means you'll always get a job.

Nov 24, 2021 - 7:34pm

"I realise his hours are better than mine," tells most of the story. I've seen estimates on this site which suggest that analysts are paid a little over the $15 dollar proposed minimum wage on a per hour basis basis.

Nov 24, 2021 - 9:21pm

This. Don't want to assume anything about the OP but the type of kids who can pull this off are typically well-connected children of MDs/Partners/CEOs. If you are unconnected/middle class, the road becomes a lot more bumpy.

Nov 22, 2021 - 8:25pm

I think this is an interesting analysis, but I disagree. For reference, I am an incoming ER summer intern at an MM that is well-known for ER, and I go to an Ivy.

  1. CS - I think that the CS culture is very self-congratulatory, with many CS students taking a "my major is only for geniuses" attitude. I've taken quite a bit of CS myself, and while the coursework is substantially more challenging than economics/finance/humanities, it is doable. The average incoming IB analyst could hack it (pun intended). CS is probably the single most popular major here, and the notion that the average CS major works 60+ hours/week as an undergrad is inaccurate. Take the core classes, get the medians, spend a median amount of time on leetcode, and you'll break into FAANG if you try. There are WAY more FAANG SWE seats than IB/S&T/ER seats at any BB, EB, or MM, and FAANG recruitment is more predictable. School doesn't matter as much either, and neither do grades. I wouldn't say FAANG is any harder to break into than IB, unless you dislike coding.
  1. Premed - Aside from the (infamous) organic chemistry, premed coursework mostly consists of biology (similar to some social sciences in course style, memorization-based), some intermediate chemistry, and very basic math and physics. Premed students are often psychology/anthropology/sociology/"health and society" majors. Take out 2-3 chemistry classes, and the premed coursework is no harder than an economics degree, and easier than CS/engineering/math/statistics/physics. The only real catch is that GPA requirements are STRICT (!!), and affirmative action is EXTREME for medical school. MCAT really isn't that crazy for most. I would call this undergrad slightly - but not much - more difficult than the econ -> recruitment prep -> IB pathway, and easier than the STEM major -> quant/research/trading pathway.
  1. Law - In some ways, IB is an intermediary between the pre-law and pre-CS experience. Pre-law students tend to study single humanities/social science majors, and do not have to worry so much about recruitment; this makes for a relatively easy undergrad. The LSAT is not especially overwhelming for those who study hard for it. However, law school is quite demanding, and entry level law hours/jobs are no better than IB. What's worse, because of law school debt, it's difficult to quit, and it's not like there are "exits to the buyside" 2-3 years in.
Nov 22, 2021 - 8:29pm

"affirmative action is EXTREME for medical school"

Overblown. A friend of mine had average stats as a first generation AA and had to apply two years in a row to finally get in. Now he's a medical specialist and did way better in school than people I know from ORM backgrounds.

  • VP in S&T - FI
Nov 23, 2021 - 10:24am

Except you are discounting two major cons for this industry. Job security and lifestyle. As touched upon by others, it is a pyramid, you get canned at a certain level (VP+), you're pretty much done at that level. You could try to find a job in the corporate world, but there goes your pay and highly likely you won't exactly be doing what you want to.

Lifestyle is the other (which med and law are similar, but have more security per above), you spend so much of your time working that you fail to develop other areas of your life, whether that is relationships or hobbies or fitness/health. Tech ends up being the best in this regard to lifestyle. It's not a surprise a lot of the people who stay in the industry who do end up "succeeding" have some combination of poor relationships, poor health, or zero interests outside of spending money / travel. 

Nov 23, 2021 - 5:29pm

Mostly agree, though I think job security is pretty decent in IB and PE.

You can continue to get promoted in IB to like senior VP or director if you grind it out and are reasonably smart and sociable. PE you can probably stay in for a few years if you join as a VP and get to principal with hard work + luck. Unlikely you'll get canned on a random Wednesday in either of these jobs, so you have a few years of high income and you can then lateral to a similar role at a different firm. At that level, you're basically a deal quarterback and your skillset is highly transferable (industry knowledge and can run with deals). Hell, even PE partners can stay employed for a few years since investments aren't actually mark to market (I know there's quarterly requirements to mark to market with auditors etc. but everyone knows those are BS). 

HF is the finance job which I think has the least job projection, so 100% agree on that. There, you could get fired after a random Wednesday for losing too much money in an unwind or having a bad month.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Nov 23, 2021 - 4:22pm

Please speak for yourself. im getting fucked and definitely earned every penny. Half of which is spent on therapy doctors or alcohol.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 23, 2021 - 6:27pm

I used to think like you, until i found out how much guys/girls in tech sales were getting. 

Some were clearing 300k selling products that didn't need much selling. I see them flying to paris for the weekend and working at least 2x less hours than i do (maybe even 3x)

mind you they had 0 tech experience, didn't do CS in school, didn't get top GPA nor extensive curriculars other than partying 

now i think i'm underpaid. severely. 

Nov 23, 2021 - 9:05pm

I don't totally disagree, but some things to think about:

- Your comment on semi-target to get into IB, etc. etc. is not common. It is very hard to get into IB / "high finance" from a non-target

- You are paid to be available. Always. Even if the work is menial, if comments come in at 11pm to move some logos, you're on the clock. Outside of law, this isn't really true in other fields - you are "allowed" to make plans, meet friends, have weekends, etc. Finance is on call, always. Even as you get more senior

- As others have mentioned, attrition is high. This is an up and out career. Very hard to say "I'm good with this level of tasks and compensation, I'll just sit here." You'll just be pushed out. Even in law, if you want to be a perma-associate and make mid-six figures, you can do that.

- Lack of fulfillment - you're getting paid because you're generating revenue. This is true in other fields, but folks go into other fields also for the interests, fulfillment, etc.

- In terms of the junior levels, most on this board don't really realize because there's constant comparison across just finance, but you don't get to experience your 20s like other people. Constantly canceling plans, can't be spontaneous (or have to be overly spontaneous), too tired / stressed to go out during the week, have experiences, take real vacations, etc. Not everyone is willing to make the sacrifice. Money is just one aspect of life. Also, the future money isn't guaranteed! So you may say to yourself you're willing to grind from 22-28 in order to put yourself in a position to start having a semi-normal life then plus have super high earnings trajectory, but maybe at 26 you flamed out (can burn out, realize it might not be a fit, just might not be good at it, or just unlucky). So now you've sacrificed a really amazing social 4-5 years for a little extra short-term pay but not the future earnings you got into the role for.

All in all, there's a reason IB is a highly desired career and considered "prestigious," but there's also a reason a lot of people don't want to pursue it and why people leave (and leave the industry) after just a few years

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Nov 23, 2021 - 10:30pm

Message to AN1s that most of you probably/should already know, you are not making nearly $200k/yr because your employer thinks that you're smart.  You are making that because they assume that you are willing to work 100 hours/wk whenever necessary, ditch any other obligations you have outside of the office if a deal/pitch heats up and you're needed (weekends, holidays, etc.), and after beating the shit out of you for a couple of years, maybe you'll be in a position to add value and contribute to the idea generation / client / counterparty relationship/communication of the job necessary to help direct a process. 

Do most bankers have the brain power of a rocket scientist or neurosurgeon?  No.  Is it uncommon for rocket scientists or neurosurgeons to work 90+ hour weeks consistently and develop health problems in their 20s as a result of their workload?  Yeah.  OP, you may be just getting some light staffings in your first few months on the desk, but give it some time.  When you string together a month of 100 hour weeks, or several months of 90 hour weeks while consistently working on 3-4 hours of sleep w/out any free weekends, you'll realize why you're getting paid what you are.  

I'm not even in banking anymore so this isn't said as a form of self-affirmation, but you're earning your salary if you're in a busy group. 

  • Managing Director in PE - Other
Nov 25, 2021 - 9:41am

Pre med isn't even close to the hardest major. All engineering majors (and I would say physics/math majors)  dwarf any pre med curricula.  Pre med is for those who want to memorize and regurgitate and circle jerk about being called dr.  This obv excludes chem E and biochem E folks who go into medicine (and usually from what I've seen end up in the top specialties) 

Nov 25, 2021 - 10:06am

One thing to note is that high finance is heavily concentrated in high COL cities. I think a doctor or lawyer living outside Philly or Atlanta making $500K is living just as well as, if not better than, a BB MD clearing $1M in NYC.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 25, 2021 - 1:51pm

Shhhhh don't give away the LCOL banking secret...I'd like rents to not go any higher and continue to enjoy effectively making more than associates in NYC

  • Partner in PE - LBOs
Nov 25, 2021 - 9:26pm

Must be at an easy bank. It's probably more rare.

Everyone I know has/got completely murdered in investment banking at the analyst level that they left after 2 years to greener pastures...

You don't have GS13 as an acronym because "banking is easy".

Banking is highly paid. You hope to attract the best talent with that.

  • Associate 1 in VC
Nov 25, 2021 - 9:31pm

"if anyone here thinks I'm superficial or materialistic. Go get a job at fucking McDonald's, because that's where you fucking belong!"

Nov 26, 2021 - 2:34pm

Look you're not getting paid for your intelligence or education. You're getting paid to kiss ass 24/7 and do whatever is needed of you. The majority of other industries have much better WLB (or atleast structured hours), so they get paid less. 

Also top tier CS pays a lot more than finance for the first few years out of college. 

Nov 26, 2021 - 10:03pm

I think you underestimate the impact of poor WLB.

You work 40 hours a week, get home from work at 6pm, sleep at 11pm.  That gives you only 5 hours for everything else.

If you work a 50 hour week, that means you either get home at 8pm or get out of bed two hours earlier.  60 or 70 means your only free time is the weekend, if you don't work weekends too.

Nov 27, 2021 - 11:11am

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