For Those Considering Banking - Some Broad Advice

Just some of my thoughts from another thread I thought I would share for students who have just started to become interested in banking. This is not a warning against going into the industry as it sets you up very well if you choose to enter. These are simply words of advice that will let you pivot if you find something that fits your interests better...

A) Whatever you think you want to do now will change. 

I consider myself to be a person who makes their mind up and stays committed to things. Since grade 10/11, I've probably changed my mind on what I want to do 6-7 times. The issue is at your current stage is the lack of data points you've seen. There are a ton of industries, niche companies, business functions, etc. that you lack exposure to right now. Any one of these "data points" you haven't seen yet could be the perfect fit for what you want to do. An analogy to this is marrying the first girl you ever date in high school. She might be the perfect girl and you just got lucky... but chances are that of the thousands of girls you'll meet and handful you'll go on dates with, she isn't the best fit.

B) Set yourself up for optionality. 

I think in general, a business program at great universities will do wonders for you in terms of exposing you to a broad array of thought processes. On top of that, you will have a network of driven students around you that hopefully continuously expose you to new ideas. For example, if you are interested in tech, I'd suggest supplementing your education in business school with learning to code & developing some easy apps on your own. Join startup clubs and just try to keep on top of tech trends. There is always room for well versed business people in the tech world if you understand the tech. Also, there is plenty of time to "strive for IB", but at first you should set yourself up to be a sponge for ideas. Maybe IB ends up being what you pick, maybe something else catches your attention and you decide to move for that instead. Don't be a hardo from day one. The worst thing you can do for yourself is end up in banking, realize you hate it, and then have no other interests or skill sets to pivot out of the industry.

C) If you end up doing banking, keep your exits open. 

There's a reason why most analysts leave for PE or something else after two years. The hours are grueling and once you start to realize your social life is dying and you no longer have time to binge Netflix, the money starts to become less appealing. My VPs and above pretty much have no life and stay up late banking because they have no hobbies. I couldn't imagine a more boring life. Most people exit to PE thinking it will be better, chances are its between 10% better to 10% worse for lifestyle. Its not going to be a massive life changer for lifestyle. If you enter banking, and remain interested in tech, try to aim for a TMT group so you have relevant experience when trying to exit to a startup or VC. Keep in mind money is not everything. It affords you financial freedom but the way you get it matters. It can't buy you your 20s or 30s back. A well balanced job that is intellectually stimulating (aka more than rearranging PPT slides and trying to predict the cash flows of a toilet paper manufacturer) can make you much more happy. Pursue something that keeps you interested.

I'm not a rich kid and I'm at a pretty good bank. The world outside of finance can net you quite a bit of money. IB is not the only path to financial stability. Be well rounded and ready to capitalize on unique opportunities and you'll live an interesting life you're proud of... but that is outcome is predicated on being interested in a variety of areas and industries.

Comments (3)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in S&T - Other
Jan 26, 2021 - 9:44am

I think a big problem is that many college kids and high school kids even (lmao) are so invested in banking and have spent so much time and effort setting themselves up to get a job in this industry that they haven't even thought about if they actually like banking or not. They probably googled "highest paying jobs" or saw one of their older friends or relatives in the space and was allured by the money and prestige. Shit, half the people who want to do banking think it's trading stocks.

I think what OP is saying has a lot of truth. Do not base your entire career on what you read as a 16 year old. I think they call that anchoring bias. Think long and hard about what you want to do, and what you would be good at. Honestly banking is boring, arduous, and mostly about enduring. Do what you will, but as OP said, there are many ways to create wealth and have a fulfilling career, and I'd argue that banking is only one of them, and not even close to the best

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 29, 2021 - 9:03am

Can confirm. I got interested in banking because my friends in college were all dead set on it. Now I'm a first year analyst and completely miserable. Keep your options open and whatever you do, don't chase the money. Find something you're passionate about, something you can actually see yourself doing for more than just 2 years. And stop saying "working long hours appeals to me". As soon as you start working back to back 100+ hour weeks I guarantee you'll change your mind. It's detrimental to your body both physically and mentally and you will start to question why you even thought IB was a good idea.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 29, 2021 - 12:32pm
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