From BO to FO and back again, or, how I learned to stop worrying and love technology

TL;DR:

I was a slacker through college, worked as a programmer, pivoted to IB through MBA Associate program, hated it, went back to technology, am now an extremely happy person, and apparently think I know everything.

My Story:

I decided to tell my story here, in hopes that it would help someone who felt the way I did, or to at least help someone who is thinking about, but on the fence about, a career in investment banking. I went from never having heard of investment banking as a profession, to working as a junior investment banker at a bulge bracket, to wishing I had never heard of investment banking as a profession. Warning: this is a bit long (will sum up with tl;dr).

Unlike what seem to be most young go-getters on this site, I was the epitome of a lazy kid through high school and college. People said if I "applied myself" I'd go far...but that meant doing homework, going to class, etc. So I coasted through both at around a 3.0 GPA at a mid-level state school, computer science because I liked computers, and took a so-so job as a programmer at an insurance company post-graduation.

VP of Technology (back office) at a BB to MBA

Not sure what clicked at this point, but I suppose you can say I matured; started doing well at work, and after 3 years leaped into finance as a programmer at one of the largest bulge brackets. This went quite well for a while; 5 years after graduation, I was a VP of technology at a top US investment bank, making good if not spectacular money (think base+bonus equivalent of say, 2nd year analyst). Life was good--but as I got involved in the business at the bank, I got that itch which made me wonder why my clients (software users) made so much money when they didn't seem to be any smarter than I was. So...I pivoted, went to school (part-time, paid in full by the bank) for my MBA, and started pounding the pavement trying to get into investment banking.

MBA to Front Office

Certainly a difficult jump to make--back office to front office, with a part-time MBA no less, but lo and behold...worked out fairly easy for me. I had a 4.0 GPA at school, pounded the pavement during recruitment, prepared for interviews, and had multiple bulge bracket offers for incoming associate classes. I think at the time, I convinced myself that I was interested in the work; and to some degree corporate finance is an interesting subject. However, looking back, I was clearly only blinded by dollars.

IBD Associate

So I took one of the offers, and went to work as an incoming associate. To be honest, I never fit in. The work was boring and monotonous, not at all intellectually stimulating, and the culture of the place was completely toxic. Did I pick the wrong group? Possibly. However, I do think that investment banking is generally extremely hierarchical, with the management (VP+) treating the juniors (Associate-) like they are children; which is something I've really never experienced. Even as a 22 year old working in technology, I always at least felt like I was being treated as an adult. This doesn't take into account the fact that the day-to-day work as a technologist in a bank is much more intellectually stimulating than the work of a banker; it's not even close. During recruiting, bankers will try to get you to believe that they want problem solvers because the work is complex and interesting...it's not. Maybe that's true on a high level, but the work bankers to on a day to day basis is incredibly boring, with math that a child could do, and you have to sit and do it for hours and hours on end.

Couldn't take it anymore...

I'd be happy to get more into what I didn't like about the job itself if people are interested (complete with stories)--but that's not really the point of this thread, so I'll leave it at that, and say that after a year I just couldn't take it anymore. Walked into the boss's office, quit without notice, and left the building an hour later. Took about a week to recharge, grabbed a job through a friend as a senior technical consultant, and happy to report that I'm now back working as a mid-level manager at a different bulge bracket in the software engineering space. My life is like a vacation now as I have normal hours, interesting work, and make an upper-middle class compensation.

Advice for others

So--what's the point of this story? I know there are very few people who go to investment banking via the route I did; most people I worked with were hard workers their entire life which culminated in an offer to a bulge bracket and big dreams of the next great thing afterward. So I'll try to compartmentalize some personal advice, having been through it, to different groups of people:

1) Late high schoolers/College students:

If you're looking at investment banking as a career option, it probably seems like the only way for you to enter the upper class, and there is a lot of pressure to do it. However, if money is your main driver, you're setting yourself up for some heartache. I met MANY analysts who were extremely unhappy people (way more unhappy than any 22 year old should be)...and I honestly think it's because these were the smartest, most hard-working kids I've ever met, and they were doing simple work that any even slightly intelligent person could do, and doing it for 70% of their lives.

There are many other ways to make money in this life and many other jobs that are much more difficult and stimulating. I won't say that money doesn't matter--because that is horribly untrue--but the diminishing returns of going from my compensation level (think 2nd year associate) to say, that of a Director, won't make up for the happiness loss by just having a job you hate your whole life.

2) BO personnel at banks (or other professions) thinking about a switch:

How much do you enjoy your job, all-in? Compensation + Work/Life + Intellectual stimulation + whatever else. Chances are, the ONLY thing in that equation that will improve by making a switch to investment banking (can't speak for other front office roles) is compensation; while every other component of the equation will get appreciably worse. I fell into the "grass is always greener" trap; try to appreciate what you have before you make the decision that something else is right for you.

3) Current analysts/associates:

This is a tough one. I certainly don't want to tell you that you made the wrong choice. And most of you, I assume, don't have 7 years of good software engineering experience to fall back on as a "backup" career. The advice I would give to you is simply that if you're on the "track" (MBA, PE, whatever you kids are doing these days) and you're unhappy with your life, don't be afraid to step back and reassess. As smart and capable as you clearly are, you can build a career in something else, if you so choose. One thing I really took offense to at my IB is that the senior people acted as though they were doing the junior people a favor by letting them work there. It is in fact the exact opposite; YOU are the one doing the senior people a favor by working for them. You're the smart, talented, incredibly hard-working person who any employer would kill to have; don't let these MDs make you think anything otherwise.

So that's it--I'm curious to see what kind of reaction this post generates, as I've been trolling WSO since I started looking for IB jobs (~4 years ago now) and haven't seen much opinion piece going this way. Feel free to shit on it if you disagree. If nothing else, I would love to generate a discussion.

Mod Note (Andy): top 50 posts of 2017, this one ranks #14 (based on # of silver bananas)

Comments (79)

Dec 6, 2017

Nothing to add but as a college junior interning at IB next year it was a good read!

Thank you for sharing. Have my bannana

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Dec 6, 2017

Interested to hear some of the stories you had during your stint in IB that caused you to want to leave

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Dec 7, 2017

I'll start with my final straw story.

I was working all week on a normal pitch book. Boring as usual, but nothing out of the ordinary; update a bunch of pages, have the VP on the pitch be anal retentive about every little detail, and get it ready to go. So it's about 7:00PM, the MD is about to leave for the night, and the analyst and I are working on finishing up the VP's final comments, and the final comments MD is about to give; looking at another 3 hours or so, followed by printing and mailing, and a "decent" midnight kind of night.

So after the MD is done with his comments he pulls out an old (4 or so years) pitchbook, pulls out a single page and says, "oh, I like using this page...let's update this and include it as well." My first inkling is not a big deal--update some financials, call it a day, add another half hour to my night. Man was I wrong...

Seven hours later, and my analyst having been on the phone with FactSet for maybe five trying to figure out what the hell kind of numbers these were, we have all the numbers ready to go. I've made the rest of the edits while he was on the phone, so we send the book off to print around 4:30am and are waiting for it to come back. The MD calls us at 5:00AM, he's just woken up and his flight is at 7, will he have books? We call and plead with the printer to hurry it up, and get it out the door; MD didn't need to call us...we had it to him by 5.

So this is all bad enough--working until 5:00AM is really not fun, but that's life. What really set me off is the next day. I'm talking with the analyst and I say something along the lines of, "he must really like using that page..." and the analyst responds "no, he always does this. He hasn't worked with you before so he knew it would take all night, and wants to see if you can handle it. He won't even use the page." All I could muster up in my tired state was, "man...what an asshole." We were already working for him until midnight on a useless small pitch; I guess that's just not enough.

There was a ton of this going on--senior bankers making you do work either "just to be safe" or for no other reason than to be a gigantic asshole. This is what I meant when I said being treated like a child.

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Dec 7, 2017

M&I couldn't have been more right when they said IB is like a frat, from both the BS you put up with (hazing) to the classist jackasses that tons of these firms are flooded with.

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Dec 7, 2017

Kind of a random question, but what is the expectation in terms of arriving to the office the next day if you work until 5:00AM?

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Dec 6, 2017

thanks for sharing your story!

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Dec 6, 2017

Mostly agree. I think most people see banking as something that opens doors later and gives skills in a neat package from only a 2-year analyst stint. Even the older guys (VPs, Directors, seasoned associates, etc) subtly hint that it's something they're not going to do forever and you don't see very many IB people over 50. It's still the best job for finance students who don't know what they want to do long-term but if you do know what you want it's probably not worth it. If you're HF/AM or bust it'd be better to go to a BB ER than BB IBD. Not to mention some FLDP programs offer corp dev.

I think this post was good to show that there are other interesting jobs at a BB than IB/ER/S&T

Dec 6, 2017

great story but I think you're mistaken in saying that the only improvement made in the BO to FO jump is in compensation

while your stint as VP tech may have been intellectually stimulating, the vast majority of BO/MO work is mind-numbing data entry. The people working in settlements at a bank would probably kill to be able to update comp tables and revise pitch books. In my old BO/MO role there was not a single time that I needed to exercise judgement or solve a problem...great for the type of people that want minimal stress/effort i guess.

also, you're forgetting that prestige is a driving factor behind the majority of WSO's career decisions...can't pick up girls at the bar by telling them you're in tech support lol

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Best Response
Dec 6, 2017
Vincent Adultman:

great story but I think you're mistaken in saying that the only improvement made in the BO to FO jump is in compensation

while your stint as VP tech may have been intellectually stimulating, the vast majority of BO/MO work is mind-numbing data entry. The people working in settlements at a bank would probably kill to be able to update comp tables and revise pitch books. In my old BO/MO role there was not a single time that I needed to exercise judgement or solve a problem...great for the type of people that want minimal stress/effort i guess.

also, you're forgetting that prestige is a driving factor behind the majority of WSO's career decisions...can't pick up girls at the bar by telling them you're in tech support lol

Well, first off, he wasn't working in tech support, he was working in tech. The intellectual challenge of working in tech at a bank is not comparable to other BO functions. The people who work in technology at banks are pretty well compensated. They have to be otherwise many would jump ship to actual tech firms (many still do). The people who work in other BO functions this is not the case.

There are tons of extremely interesting MO functions though. Strats, risk, etc. can all be very interesting/challenging. It's just not client facing or directly revenue generating

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Dec 6, 2017
Vincent Adultman:

great story but I think you're mistaken in saying that the only improvement made in the BO to FO jump is in compensation

while your stint as VP tech may have been intellectually stimulating, the vast majority of BO/MO work is mind-numbing data entry. The people working in settlements at a bank would probably kill to be able to update comp tables and revise pitch books. In my old BO/MO role there was not a single time that I needed to exercise judgement or solve a problem...great for the type of people that want minimal stress/effort i guess.

also, you're forgetting that prestige is a driving factor behind the majority of WSO's career decisions...can't pick up girls at the bar by telling them you're in tech support lol

So this is the big problem I actually had when I was formulating this post and I'm not sure how to best address it. If you're already on a finance track, you've already sunk possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars into your education and you won't know much else. You may not have an alternative that interests you.

My situation allowed me to get out with relatively little repercussion; I had a network to get a job in tech quickly, and my part time mba was paid 100 percent by my employer. I often wonder whether I'd have the hubris to quit before the A1 bonus if I had 80k in MBA debt.

All that said, I'm not saying anybody should do what I did. Since my situation allowed me to leave and fall right into a different (somewhat) lucrative career without really losing anything (other than the time spent getting an MBA, which I don't regret) that's the path I took. What that means to anybody else in any other situation? Again, hard to say, I just hope that my thoughts and actions can help others on their journey.

The prestige thing. I dated much more while working in tech, mostly because I was married by the time I started in ib, but also because I don't make my job a central conversation when speaking with members of the opposite sex. This whole concept is foreign to me, because I find the thought of "picking up girls" (how about interacting with women?) to be shallow and offensive, so I'm going to mostly stay away from this part of the conversation. PS, you're assuming I'm a straight male, are your sure that's true?

Definitely appreciate the responses, will continue to add my 2 cents!

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Dec 7, 2017

Considering you find the concept of "picking up girls" to be shallow and offensive, you are either a gay male or ardent feminist/lesbian (but I repeat myself).

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Dec 7, 2017

do you try to pick up girls by leading with your job?

Dec 7, 2017

no lol i was poking fun at the people on here who are only interested in banking to live out wolf of wall street fantasies...

Dec 6, 2017

Great read. Thanks for doing this.

No one likes the work involved in banking, but as someone currently working at a FAANG tech firm, I actually regret not doing post-MBA banking. Mainly, pretty much every interesting finance job requires banking, as it has now become the de facto entry into the best jobs. The versatility of the exit opportunities and transferable skillset, make post-MBA banking a desirable role (and obviously the cash compensation).

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Dec 6, 2017

Can you elaborate on the "pretty much every interesting finance job" part? What jobs have you seen post-MBA associates exiting into?

Dec 7, 2017

Most MBA associates don't last more than 5 years. Most common exit opps would be corp dev but there are more people who get into PE later than this site would have you think (requires more luck/networking). There are quite a few EB/top BB associates who successfully move to great MM and upper MM PE, they just don't happen to be some KKR/Apollo/TPG/etc that this forum seems to love so much. Is it a common thing to happen? No, but it's far from impossible. Makes sense since you'd be insane to go to a sweatshop elite group like Lazard after an MBA. Who the hell wants to be working 100+ hours well into their 30s when you could do corp dev, MM PE, etc that still pay (comparatively to non-finance jobs) amazing with much better hours and you don't have to live in a expensive city like NY. Not to mention that post-MBA exit opps are good because those firms will have a lot of respect for someone who went to a top MBA program and did ib which sounds so much more prestigious and elite than it really is to outsiders, it's like the "wow" response when someone says they work at Goldman.

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Dec 6, 2017

Very interesting perspective.. I am working in MO / BO in a large hedge fund, headed to a top MBA soon. I will likely recruit for banking and consulting at MBA OCR.

I've never heard of anyone that's successfully transitioned into IBD at BB via a part time MBA program. Could you shed some light on how you managed to pull that transition? I know this is somewhat off topic, but I'd be curious to hear your story regardless. Also - were you a comp science major at undergrad? When you say you work in tech at BB - do you mean you're working as a software engineer, or some other role related to data mgmt, etc?

p.s. - people entering a profession to impress hot girls at bars / clubs are doing things wrong.. I know many kids from my college working at top tier banks, hedge funds, etc but many of them are huge nerds with middling looks that get lots of bottles, but not too many models.The bros from my fraternity working as HR admins or restaurant owners have done way better with smoking hot women.

Dec 7, 2017

Not as hard as you'd think if the pt program was at NYU or Columbia.

Dec 7, 2017

At the risk of losing my anonymity, it was NYU part time so there's a fair amount of opportunity. Limited OCR to be sure, but with the alumni network, if you're willing to go the extra mile and talk to people, you're able to secure a good number of interviews fairly easily. I probably didn't have as many interviews as the full-timers--but I was extremely prepared for all interviews. Had known (but not rehearsed) answers to both behavioral and technical questions, and everything just went very smoothly.

Yes--I was comp sci undergrad, and was (now am again) working as a software engineer in a BB. The idea when switching careers is to find whatever tenuous relationship your current job has with the job you're applying for, and milk it for all its worth, because nobody is going to be able to refute your point of view. It's so long ago so I can't remember my exact story, but it went something like "As a top software engineer at XXX IB, I've been able to build the workflow required for IB process YYY and gotten good insight into...".

PS - Yes, the "hot girls at bars/club" thing is laughable.

Dec 7, 2017

Can you elaborate a bit more on the "extra mile" to break in? I'd like to break into IB but can't do the opportunity cost of full time. What was your story for IB? I'm trying to plan/time my stuff to position me best to breaking in. Thanks

Dec 8, 2017
FormerBanker:

At the risk of losing my anonymity, it was NYU part time so there's a fair amount of opportunity. Limited OCR to be sure, but with the alumni network, if you're willing to go the extra mile and talk to people, you're able to secure a good number of interviews fairly easily. I probably didn't have as many interviews as the full-timers--but I was extremely prepared for all interviews. Had known (but not rehearsed) answers to both behavioral and technical questions, and everything just went very smoothly.

Yes--I was comp sci undergrad, and was (now am again) working as a software engineer in a BB. The idea when switching careers is to find whatever tenuous relationship your current job has with the job you're applying for, and milk it for all its worth, because nobody is going to be able to refute your point of view. It's so long ago so I can't remember my exact story, but it went something like "As a top software engineer at XXX IB, I've been able to build the workflow required for IB process YYY and gotten good insight into...".

PS - Yes, the "hot girls at bars/club" thing is laughable.

Thanks for the response. BUT... I thought that a summer internship between 1st year MBA and 2nd yr MBA was basically required to career switch into IBD?? As a part time MBA student, how did you land a full time IBD associate offer, without having done a summer internship?? (while still working full time in your old job during MBA)

Could you shed some light on this?? I've be curious. Also - did you just do full time OCR at your MBA? Thanks in advance

Dec 6, 2017

Great advice about the "track"

Dec 6, 2017

Banking is not for everyone, wow what a great insight! This post is actually quite terrible given the fact that you assume everyone is just going into IB without contemplating other career options. Maybe you spend too much time on WSO.

In the real world, at the good schools where students have options, people are aware of what they're getting themselves into. Don't worry about the Harvard graduate who's an IBD analyst, I'm sure he knows what he's up to. Just because it's not for you, or you switched to it after loosing the hunger to do deals and work on interesting projects does not mean that it's the same for the majority of the people.

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Dec 6, 2017

The point seemed to be stick with something you're passionate about/understand that compensation won't make up for lackluster and non-intellectually stimulating work. Have you worked at an investment bank? The vast majority of my experience was editing pitchbooks, spreading comps, or updating a dcf model. The amount of actual client facing work/taking ownership of any sort of major part of the deal process was limited.

Maybe ask yourself why this post was so triggering to you?

Dec 7, 2017

Only did an internship in IBD last summer. Going back full-time upon graduation.

My problem with this post is the picture you're painting about the glamorous IB job that wasn't so glamorous after all. Fact of the matter is that most of these brilliant and smart people you're talking about know exactly what's going o and where they're going.

About the menial tasks, at my bank we largely outsourced these things and focused on more intellectually challenging tasks. Yes ofc, a model is no rocket science, however, it's extremely stimulating to go through and adjust a business case for an operating model to make sure all assumptions are correct and logical (and add your own inputs) for the valuation of a multi billion deal.

If tech is what you love, by all means, go to tech. However, most IB analysts are not enthusiastic about coding and developing softwares/websites. Rather than that, they're passionate about finance, markets and having a well-paying (no offence) job.

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Dec 7, 2017
DinhoGaucho:

loosing the hunger to do deals

Quick question - how does one loosen hunger?

I've never done banking before...Is this something you learn how to do on the job? Do PE firms look for guys who can do this?

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Dec 7, 2017

Well, having worked part-time in PE for the last 2 years, I'd say the hunger to do deals is what differentiates top performers from bottom performers. It does not really matter if you'd have the best investment idea in the world, unless you can convince IC to give an equity commitment.

Yeah, I know that you're taking the piss, however, might as well educate you in the same round.

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Dec 7, 2017

If it's right for you, then great, you should continue to pursue it! What I found in my time at banking is that, while few and far between, there are people who really do love doing the job. These people often go from analyst to VP or even higher. What I found in fact is that sucking it up for the money barely happens at all; the people who are VP+ are generally fairly satisfied with their careers, and great for them if they can be.

As far as the rest, all I can do is go to my own experience, and that is with the 20 or so analysts from my group (mostly from Harvard, Princeton, Penn or similar targets). To think that a person knows what they're doing with their lives because they go to Harvard is both naive and unfair to the person. These kids were way too smart for the work they were asked to do, and I've never seen so many completely miserable early 20-somethings. They talked about doing their time and getting out just like everyone else.

What I can't speak to is what came next--of course they were all trying to get into PE, but again, to what end? Dollars, prestige, etc...I don't think (most) of them "knew what they were doing" as you say, it's just the track they've been on their whole lives. And maybe people go on that track, are miserable for 2 years, and then their lives turn around and are awesome once they get into PE--I hope that's the case! That doesn't mean that people should choose their career track at age 18, and never reassess again. I would advise any 24 year old about to start a PE job to just step back and assess; even a 25 year old after a year doing PE.

What really struck me is that, no, most of these kids hadn't ever contemplated another career. Or they contemplated law but decided that finance was more lucrative. There are a whole host of other opportunities in this world; heck, the most successful person I know is a creative who just happens to be excellent at her job.

PS: "Losing hunger to do deals and work on interesting projects" ... lol. Have you ever executed a deal as a banker before? Doing deals and interesting don't belong in the same sentence (unless you're looking from a 10,000 foot view). I can't stress this enough to prospective bankers--most of "doing deals" is fudging numbers on a model and prettying up pages to show to clients.

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Dec 7, 2017

Are you sure they never contemplated other careers? This is just a plain stupid statement to make.

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Dec 7, 2017

but what if like my passion is history because I love writing and researching (and academia in general). i know an academic career is extraordinarily brutal (and just as much bs) and far less lucrative.

what do you recommend I do? i take a lot of history classes now and am even considering double majoring it (at a target), but idk man...

Dec 7, 2017

Great post. In a somewhat unrelated note, were there any transferrable skills from your time in tech applicable to working on the job as an Associate? And vice versa, were there any transferrable skills that stuck with you after IB when you went back to tech?

Dec 7, 2017

In all honesty, the answer to this question is no, aside from knowing how to navigate your way around an office/politics. Maybe the fact that I know what it's like to work 100 hours a week makes me much happier in my current position as well.

That being said, when I was interviewing, there was a huge array of transferable skills/experiences. Teamwork, collaboration, mentoring, and even more tenuous relationships between the two jobs, like all that I learned about IB workflows from working in IB Compliance technology (this is false, but who's to say it is?). The key for an interview in IB is to explain exactly how all your experiences makes you the perfect IB associate.

So I would say it depends on why you're asking the question; either general curiosity, or to help yourself in building a case why you would want to make a similar switch (for your own sanity please don't!) :)

Dec 7, 2017

Have you not considered moving to quant/strats within the IB since that's probably a more natural transition and woudln't require a MBA?

Dec 7, 2017
okmijn22:

Have you not considered moving to quant/strats within the IB since that's probably a more natural transition and woudln't require a MBA?

I get to work a lot with quant/strat guys in my role, and I'll just say, it's a completely different animal. Do I think the work is interesting, and would I like to do it? Absolutely...it's genuinely difficult work involving seriously complex math, it pays probably as well as IBD, and these guys are so in demand that the bank really rolls out the red carpet from them (I work a real lot with one who works from home 4 days a week and made MD ~6 years after earning his PhD).

The problem is--like I said, it's a different animal. These guys are using math at a level that I've never even come close to; they all have math or physics PhDs, and are operating at an extremely high level. I'd say that software engineers are very in demand at banks right now--but the demand doesn't even come close to the need for these quant guys. I have worked as a developer developing systems for quant guys, but I just don't have the skillset to be one myself.

If you love technology and financial engineering, I would say it's not bad advice to pursue a mathematics undergrad (this can never be bad advice...I find that anybody will hire math majors simply because they're some of the smartest people). If you're able to pursue it at the graduate level and aren't overly interested in academia (I've even worked with guys who have done the 1-year financial engineering program at Princeton to get this type of job), this education opens up a ton of doors.

Dec 7, 2017

Really insightful post! As a college senior about to start full-time in IB, this is very helpful. I do not see myself staying in IB for many of the reasons you described, but see it more as a door opener to amazing opportunities that I would not have if I did not do IB, and an opportunity to form a network and solid skillset.

With that being said, how do you view your MBA in the grand scope of things? If you knew you did not want to do IB before B-School, would you still have went? Maybe pursue a different role after your MBA that isn't banking? I am highly considering pursuing an MBA for the sole reason of a career change. Did you feel like there were intellectually stimulating and enjoyable jobs/opportunities after your MBA? Thanks so much!

Dec 7, 2017

I honestly think that the post-MBA jobs (banking & consulting) aren't particularly stimulating from an intellectual perspective; to be honest, an MBA isn't that difficult a degree to obtain. Truth is, I don't think you have to be all that smart to do these jobs, which is why to me there seemed to be such low job satisfaction. The people doing the job were, for the most part, too smart for the job. I think your attitude is good--and I'm really looking forward to catching up with my old analysts when they're a year out of PE--I would just advise that if you're getting into a job you already know you won't like, make sure that the payoff is worth it.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't post-MBA opportunities that aren't interesting. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the two-year corporate rotation type jobs are interesting, if not only because you get a chance to see multiple different parts of a business over a relatively short period. I'm just not the right person to ask about that--don't have the experience or knowledge enough; unfortunately all the recruiting I did was in banking/consullting.

I don't regret getting an MBA, and I think that ultimately my experience will be much more of help through my career than hindrance, but if I knew what I know now...no, I probably would not have pursued it. It was a big commitment and basically added 25-30 hours of work per week to my life for 3 years, on top of my full-time job. I may have enjoyed doing something in my late-20s more than doing that, but the MBA experience was enjoyable enough, so maybe it's a wash. As I said I was a slacker through high school and college so it was basically the first time I got good grades--which was good for my ego. Then again, if I had to pay sticker price out of my own pocket, I would probably regret it.

PS: You said you're already planning for your MBA, even though you haven't started working...just be careful! There were associates in my analyst class who did 2 years IB, then business school, and then came out as associates in IB (just couldn't find anything else)! You don't want to be in that situation; that's a waste, considering if you do 2 years as an analyst, they will fall all over themselves to make you an associate. They claim that they don't--but as I said before--they're the ones who are lucky that YOU decided to work for them, not the other way around. Every single analyst I knew who didn't go PE or HF had an associate offer. So make sure, if you get an MBA, you do it with a mission: know exactly what you want out of it, and make sure that the school you go to has a reputation for getting that for its students.

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Dec 7, 2017

Thanks for the reply. It is not that I don't enjoy it - did the internship and enjoyed the work, but have different interests that I think I would like later in life that IB can help me achieve. Culture was great in my group so I think that is a big difference (was my priority in recruiting). Taking the GMAT now is because the score lasts 5 years (planning something between analyst stint and school), and I have the time to do it. More of taking it just in case I decide I want to do it.

Also interested in what exactly your other job entails? What makes the tech so interesting and requires a higher degree of thought? Is it coding for processes, cyber security, etc.? This is a little off topic but for someone who has no idea what he wants to do in the long-term, which I have been told is okay, I am always interested in hearing about other careers.

Dec 7, 2017

I wish I majored in CompSci but my friends from Wharton told me that CS was an overpopulated major when i was a wee fledgling.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Dec 7, 2017

Haha, I don't know where this idea came from, I've actually heard it as well for a long time. Truth is, I really see it now that I'm in middle management. I have about a dozen open positions, already budgeted, for developers ranging from 3-15 years of experience; we barely get any resumes, let alone qualified candidates. These are high paying (by any normal, non-IB type standard), great lifestyle jobs...and we'll be lucky if we fill half of them by the end of 2018.

Dec 7, 2017

I'm glad I didn't go into software engineering.. i wouldn't know what to do with so much free time and $. i prefer online shopping in between my 15 hour days and living bonus 2 bonus

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Dec 7, 2017

The whole transferable skills thing is what really cracks me up on the forum. It's mental masturbation for the IBD gang. I don't see how putting numbers in excel and making presentations look pretty is a different skill set to any other analytical role at a bank. I wanted to do IBD post MBA but i'm starting to think the hours, alleged transferable skills/exit opps and boring work isn't worth it and i'm starting to edge toward entrepreneurship at the very least to avoid the punitive tax rates.

Dec 7, 2017

So let me get this straight

  • You claim banking is not intellectually stimulating enough for you. May I ask what bank you were working at? If you worked at a legit shop in an legit group e.g. Evercore, Lazard, GS, etc. banking would be more than enough stimulating. Maybe I'm a dumbass but I do not know the ins and outs of complex mergers from an valuation, financing, tax, structure, negotiating perspective. Its downright childish to say banking isn't stimulating. I've been in banking for 7 years and still struggle with complex topics. Maybe if you worked at a joke shop building pitches all day with general acc/dil.
  • How long did you stay in banking? Generally the associates that are treated like children here are children and don't understand they are getting paid +$300k out of an MBA to provide service to needy clients.
  • You mention the VP is "anal retentive about every detail". Yea...its kind of your job to check every fucking figure and detail before giving it to the client, is this a joke? Your little story RE the MD is childish. He brings home the bacon with the clients. Appearing polished and knowing every fucking detail about a deal is his fucking job, and fees are won and lost on inconsequential shit. And who are you in your 1 year of exp to determine what is important? Furthermore any legit shop has stamped this kind of behavior out so I dont know where you are.

All I get out of this post is a guy who tried banking for a year (or less), burned out quickly, probably didn't receive stellar reviews, and is now trying to paint the industry with a broad brush. We go apeshit over Silver Bananas for this shitnow?

You arent a banker as a junior associate by the way, might want to change your username.

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Dec 7, 2017

He worked at a BB.

Dec 7, 2017

BBs arent created the same (at all). And groups vary wildly in terms of dealflow within a bank. I rather be at Barclays Healthcare any day of the week over a shitter GS group. DB blows but their IND practice is very solid.

Try spending a few years in higher finance and maybe youll gain some perspective.

OP knows deep down what I said is truth.

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Dec 7, 2017
dontbugme:

So let me get this straight

  • You claim banking is not intellectually stimulating enough for you. May I ask what bank you were working at? If you worked at a legit shop in an legit group e.g. Evercore, Lazard, GS, etc. banking would be more than enough stimulating. Maybe I'm a dumbass but I do not know the ins and outs of complex mergers from an valuation, financing, tax, structure, negotiating perspective. Its downright childish to say banking isn't stimulating. I've been in banking for 7 years and still struggle with complex topics. Maybe if you worked at a joke shop building pitches all day with general acc/dil.
  • How long did you stay in banking? Generally the associates that are treated like children here are children and don't understand they are getting paid +$300k out of an MBA to provide service to needy clients.
  • You mention the VP is "anal retentive about every detail". Yea...its kind of your job to check every fucking figure and detail before giving it to the client, is this a joke? Your little story RE the MD is childish. He brings home the bacon with the clients. Appearing polished and knowing every fucking detail about a deal is his fucking job, and fees are won and lost on inconsequential shit. And who are you in your 1 year of exp to determine what is important? Furthermore any legit shop has stamped this kind of behavior out so I dont know where you are.

All I get out of this post is a guy who tried banking for a year (or less), burned out quickly, probably didn't receive stellar reviews, and is now trying to paint the industry with a broad brush. We go apeshit over Silver Bananas for this shitnow?

You arent a banker as a junior associate by the way, might want to change your username.

I read the OP several times, and each time it comes across as progressively worse. I seriously doubt he worked at a top BB or EB. My classmates at those shops have never complained about the work not being challenging. That's laughable. These deals are super complex, and bankers get paid sick money and get dream exit opps for a damm good reason.

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Dec 9, 2017

The work itself is extremely easy, and relatively boiler-plate. The challenge is the quantity and time-frame in which you do it. No one with multiple years of banking experience would try to convince you that the content of the work itself is hugely challenging, how do you think analysts came to be referred to as monkeys? I hate to break it to you but it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to build a model or deck off of our template / finished deck he is referencing off his other screen...

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Dec 8, 2017

Thanks for your response; I certainly wanted to see dissenting views when I started this thread. You've spent 7 years in banking, so you're clearly one of the people I was talking about who enjoy/thrive in this environment. And more power to you. I actually found in my time that this caricature of the alcoholic, divorced, miserable senior banker to not be real; in my experience most VP+ were pretty happy with their lives, had families with kids (unfortunately didn't seem to spend enough time with them), and simply mostly enjoyed what they did. However, realize you're the minority; most people hate their lives for 2 years and go do something else.

So you're making a lot of assumptions; truth is I agree with a lot of what you're saying. So I'll address first your personal attacks on me, and then follow (more importantly) with some of what you're saying about the job:

  • I worked at a mid-level BB in a mid-level industry coverage group. It wasn't a notorious group that you see posted about here, but I have seen good reviews about it here; good deal flow, a couple well known MDs, and analysts not having much issue using it to get decent if not spectacular PE jobs
  • I completely agree with you about burning out--I burned out quickly. However, again, most people burn out quickly like I did. I could've had a more "normal" trajectory by staying an extra year like many of my colleagues, but I had a lucrative career that I enjoyed which I knew I could get a job in within a week, and I had no school debt. My situation allowed me the option of quitting early, so I took that option. A majority of my colleagues wish they had the ability to do the same
  • "You made $300K out of MBA--you're a child if you don't shut up and take what they give you!" (not an exact quote). Have heard this many times before, and it's riddled with logical fallacy. Bottom line, MDs aren't paying junior bankers out of the goodness of their heart, they're paying what the market dictates. The junior bankers deserve every penny of their compensation; nobody is doing them a favor by letting them be there
  • The insinuation that I couldn't "hack it", "got bad reviews", etc. I only had one review, but it was very positive, above the median for my associate class (though probably not the very top). When I left, I had 2 directors and 1 MD pull me aside to try to get me to change my mind, as well as a 3rd director who called me from his trip, trying to get me to delay for a day until he got back and had an opportunity to change my mind. Still, I agree with you, I couldn't hack it--but that had nothing to do with my ability to actually do the job
  • I might want to change my username. Haha, who cares?

As for your thoughts on the work:

  • I said in my original statement and tend to agree with you--corporate finance, decisions big companies make, these are extremely stimulating subjects, and it would be great if the job entailed spending your time doing those things. It doesn't. You spend some time learning about a company, learning about a business, which is quite interesting. That's followed by a week of turning a powerpoint deck 100 times until the wee hours of the morning, making sure to align everything and changing the same words over and over and over.
  • I agree with you--it is the VPs and MDs job to do what they do. More power to them (and you) who can see the forest for the trees and continue to be focused on the interesting side of corporate finance, while doing the monotonous, detail-oriented work of building powerpoint decks. But this is why they bring home the bacon--they have that detail-oriented skillset. I actually found that intelligence wasn't the biggest indicator of success in the industry--it's being detail-oriented, hard working, and perhaps most importantly, getting your juniors to at least pretend to care as much as you (and senior bankers are fantastic at these things)

So just know that, again, I agree with much of what you're saying; the personal attacks don't get us anywhere in this discourse, and I do appreciate that you're one of the people I was talking about who is able to go into this line of work and enjoy what you do. I'm just trying to give my thoughts and experiences because when a person starts recruiting for this type of job, it's very easy to only speak to people like you and others who are pushing it as the best thing in the world. I like to give another perspective as there are multiple sides to these stories.

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Dec 9, 2017

10/10, 100% agree with you. This guy basically said in the beginning that he have never been a hard-worker, of course banking is not for him!!!!!!

Dec 7, 2017

Nevermind the fact that most bankers become alcoholics or get cucked by their wives.

Yet, the money.

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Dec 8, 2017

Lmao just think of the exit opps man, its all worth it.

Dec 7, 2017

Thanks for this. I also moved from BO to FO @ a BB, and also had a pretty bad experience in FO ( mainly the culture/ hierarchy and occasionally the brain-damaging work: taking care of printings and such - even BO management won't ask their interns to do that shit... at least not that I am aware of in my firm)

True - there are areas in BO I will avoid in all possible ways, but there are many interesting pockets in BO too: internal consulting/ project mgmt/ optimization teams. So it annoys the hell out of me when some FO folks think they are the shit and BO is inferior.

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Dec 8, 2017

Hah, I didn't even mention the ridiculousness of paying an associate 250k to have him or her stand at the printer all day collating documents, and having them fix the printer when it breaks. Or sticking the 150k analyst with the closing dinner bill so they can float the 5 grand while it gets approved and reimbursed (every other profession in the world, the most senior person picks up the tab, not the most junior).

Hierarchy like that is the starting point for a toxic culture. As a manager, you know what I do when I need a calendar invite? I create it. In banking, you tell the junior people to create it.

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Dec 11, 2017