Good Riddance Finance, I'm done!

Hi all guys,

I just wanted to share my story given the fact that this site has given me so many pieces of information and help in the last years and I want, in some way, to give back to the community.

I'm a 25 years old associate at an ER boutique in Europe (think Paris, Frankfurt, Milan..) and, after two years in my job, I finally realized that finance, and its lifestyle, are not a good fit for me.

Tired of working each day 12/14 hrs, tired of constantly being under pressure because we have to update some stupid report that no one is ever gonna read, tired of being available all weekends in case some stupid thing comes up.

I have accepted an offer for a middle management position in Sales at a Tech company (think Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Salesforce) so if you guys have any suggestions or want to know more please feel free to AMA.

Anyways, It's been a great ride guys, thank you all!

Comments (23)

Feb 18, 2020

Suggestions? In sales your job rises and falls on your production. You'd better damn well produce or you'll be out on your ass with no job and no career prospects. Once you leave the biz of high finance and related getting back in is extraordinarily difficult. Also, don't be surprised if the hours aren't better in corporate sales.

Feb 18, 2020

thanks a lot for your information, I have obtained the job through an old school friend of mine who has referred me and has been working at the company for more than 3 years and he says that it is very volatile but no one cares if you end up doing a good job in 4 hours instead of 10 so no facetime and plenty of autonomy, sure, there is some stress but the pay is good and, according to what he told me, lifestyle is a strong plus there

Feb 18, 2020

OP - the warning I will give you is that many many jobs have elements of "constantly being under pressure because we have to update some stupid report that no one is ever gonna read, tired of being available all weekends in case some stupid thing comes up" - but not all.

Much more importantly, kudos! You tried something, gave it a good go, didn't like it and are trying something else. Godspeed

Good Luck

    • 5
Feb 18, 2020

Thanks a lot, for your kind words! :)
I know that stress is a common feature in all good-paying jobs but I, from what I've heard from my uni friends who do not work in finance, think that ours is the only industry where facetime is still strong and present, where, for example, VPs will crush you if they find you out before a certain hour (even if you did your job in a perfect way).
I am ready to face the stress involved with sales but at least I hope it will be more manageable as far as they told me.
Anyway, I forgot to mention that finance probably taught me the most important thing for a professional : work ethic and commitment and this is something I will forever treasure and be thankful for!

Most Helpful
Feb 18, 2020

I work with executives at every company but 1 you mention here. my advice for you to crush it on your next adventure

  1. raise your hand - international assignment? say yes. leadership role? say yes. management training? say yes. rotational program? say yes. part of a conference/trade show team? say yes. the most successful people I know in these companies are "yes" people in the best sense of the word. they are curious, ready to take risks, and usually get recognized for their efforts.
  2. do not be a one trick pony (sales bro or coding pariah) - know both sides. you need to have technical chops so you can sell to the founder with an engineer's mind, you need to have sales chops so you can shmooze with other decision making non-nerds. does this mean you have to be the best coder in your office? no, but it does mean you need to be multilingual not just in spoken/written word, but also in conversation (can you talk like an engineer and like a CEO). quick aside, I'd also become multilingual if you aren't already. in addition to english, consider another EU language and maybe another one. depends on the company, but as an example, Lisbon is a home to cheap labor so while you know italian/german/french and english, what about portuguese? if you know italian/french, why not german? this will also help when you raise your hand for international assignments.
  3. dress well. I know tech companies are notoriously dressed down, and I'm not suggesting you break tradition with tailored suits and gucci sleds, but I am saying maybe skip the sweatpants and band t shirt for a nice buttondown, some well fitting 5 pocket pants, and maybe a fun sportcoat. if you're in europe this shouldn't be an issue, but no one I know who's independently wealthy from these companies dresses like a slob (yes, even the engineers). think satya nadella, not mark zuckerberg
  4. network. every one of these companies has hidden stud salespeople. find out who these people are, if you meet them at a conference don't flub the opportunity, their rolodex could carry you for decades and be a career changer. say you're at microsoft, very different selling office 360 to a small 3 location company versus selling azure to proctor & gamble.
  5. become a subject matter expert. say you're on a big deal team but focused within the banking system. what are the trends in banking? do you know anything about the innerworkings of a bank? ditto for other industries, can you talk the talk? this doesn't have to mean you can explain to United Technologies how a hyperspeed rocket works, but it may behoove you to know the issues the defense industry faces today, how those issues could be solved with your product better than your competitors, etc., in other words, you need to be able to pick the scab of your customers, hit on the hot button issues they care about, and the solution will find you.
  6. finally, do not push product. your company likely has applications for most industries, but as someone whose job is sales, focus on trust and finding solutions. you may not close every deal as fast, but your customers will be stickier and will refer business to you more readily. if you genuinely care about the wellbeing of your customers, it will show in your work, your career will be better, and you will be happier.

best of luck

    • 28
Feb 18, 2020

Sigh... bookmark

Could you elaborate on (4) and how to add value when networking at a junior level without a ton to contribute yourself, at first?

    • 1
Feb 18, 2020

bro, you're as senior if not more senior than me. I should be asking you for advice. maybe when the wife & I come to LA this year, would love to get a cocktail after a night at laugh factory or something.

I can only tell you how I'd do it, not exactly what to do. conferences are great for this. so let's say you're at CES or some other big tech tradeshow with breakout sessions. what do you do during these? do you sulk in the back or do you come early and stay late and ask thoughtful questions? and no, I'm not talking about you in a session with someone like sundar pichai (he'll likely be a keynote anyway), I'm talking about a VP of sales for someone in your company or a competitor. you will likely get an agenda of all of these breakouts in advance, google them, see who you want to try to meet, learn their faces, and then put your hustlin shoes on.

be one of the first people at breakfast. if someone is a speaker, they will likely be an early riser, see if you can chat them up during breakfast (small talk of course). ditto for happy hour, don't glom onto the circle surrounding marissa mayer or someone everyone wants to meet, no. seek out the rising stars from various companies, learn their history (likely not on a wikipedia page like some CEOs), pick their brains. you're not looking for jobs, you're looking for connections, you can use the "I just left investment banking and am still trying to find my way around this world, I hope you don't mind." I used it as a rookie advisor and I've met tons of interesting people at these conferences just by being shameless and not too hungover.

if they're outside your company, connect with them on linkedin, they'll see the stuff you post, I think that's enough. if they're in your company, ping them when you're stuck on something. here's an example, I've got a huge potential client (for me) that's small for someone else. I call them up "sup jamie (dimon, obviously)?! yah aspen was chill, snow was BS though should've gone to park city, anyway I'm working on XYZ case and wanted your take, I know you've done deals of this size in the past and wanted a second opinion, any ideas?" you'll learn how they think and hopefully get some good tactics for your work. more importantly, however, they'll remember you and they'll remember you get results (otherwise you wouldn't be in the mix on a big deal).

also, I'm of the opinion that senior people don't expect reciprocity from younger folks who don't work for them. I realize a 22 year old associate at my company can't give me much but hustle, ideas, and punctuality, but they better fuckin be good at those things. I don't care if I never use anything someone suggests, I just want to see that you do what you say you're going to do, you're curious, you're a hustler, and you're interesting to talk to.

EDIT: I'd also use the shit out of your corporate directory. find people in your locale who you want to meet. they likely have executive assistants, see if they'll break for coffee/lunch, exactly the same way you got a job, but make it clear you are not looking to move (just yet), you just want to meet people and try to better yourself. I have at my disposal the numbers and emails of some of the top bankers, wealth managers, and money managers of one of the best firms in the world, if I was a 25 year old and didn't have a path, you don't think I'd use that? you're crazy, it's out there for everyone to see, just don't abuse it and don't just blast everybody with emails when it may not be relevant. be a sniper, not a carpet bomber

    • 7
Feb 19, 2020

I am very very very thankful for your kind words and your invaluable suggestions, I will follow them for sure, and again, just thanks!!!

Best luck to you too!!!

Feb 19, 2020

Great points! I particularly like #6 as that is what true sales is all about. Be consultative, provide value. Find out their key issues and provide solutions that save them money, time , and solve problems. You have to know their industry, at least on a macro level, to do that.

Great advice.

    • 1
Feb 19, 2020

I have accepted an offer for a middle management position in Sales

Sorry...I know it's cliche, but I had to post this.

    • 1
Feb 19, 2020

hahaha, nice post mate!

Feb 19, 2020

Was there a particular moment that stands out as to when you decided you wanted to get out of finance?

Feb 19, 2020

Hi, yes, actually there are two moments that particularly stand out :

1) 3 months ago I had to write an Initiation of Coverage about a mid-size industrial company (500/600 mn euros of revenues) and I did it pretty well and I received praise from my Analyst, it took me two and a half weeks to do this job completely alone, everything was good until I realized (like a sort of enlightenment) that that was EXACTLY the same thing my boss had been doing for the last 15 years, I simply cannot see myself doing the same thing for my entire career.

2) seeing how miserable my bosses and some of my senior colleagues are : 3/4 of them are divorced or are divorcing and they rarely get to spend time with their families or friends (a 54 years old MD told me that he could see his daughter only during lunch breaks because of the fact that he is divorced and had too much work to do).

There are many other small things I could tell you but these two are (to me) the most important ones.

FINAL WARNING : not all jobs in finance are so demanding and difficult and the lifestyle varies a lot for different people that may have different priorities in life.
If you can find something that truly interests you and is rewarding, don't be afraid to pursuit it even if it demands sacrifices!

    • 2
Feb 19, 2020

one last remark about my final warning : what we consider "lifestyle" may be different from person to person so don't take what I said as "the Truth" but find your way and discover what you really value and how you see yourself in 10/15 years, not 2 years, that is the point of my final warning.

    • 1
Feb 19, 2020

I am surprised that the equity research life is so terrible. I had thought those guys had it much easier than IBD and other parts of finance. PE ain't no cakewalk either.

Feb 19, 2020

I am trying to think thru what tips I can give you from a sales perspective, given that enterprise sales is very similar to fundraising for PE, and to an extent similar to IBD which is also a high-priced sales process.

I would suggest being meticulous about your own sales process. Good sales people are a combination of
1) being ruthlessly commercial - don't chase low-likelihood leads, focus on high-probability leads
2) highly process oriented - good sales people use CRMs, report progress up to senior mgmt, and have a meticulous follow-up process
3) technically sharp - know your product down cold
4) personable and helpful - people buy from people they like, and you should seek to solve their problems and be broadly helpful across the industry, and seek to build broad and longstanding relationships

Would love to hear what others think makes for good sales, because I'm currently fundraising in PE, and that sure feels like enterprise sales to me

    • 6
Feb 20, 2020

Thank you very much for your suggestions, I will treasure them for sure!

Feb 19, 2020

Adios my young padawan. Good luck out there. May the force be with you

    • 1
Feb 20, 2020

Thank you Mike, hope you can make it in November

    • 2
Feb 20, 2020

No pain no game.

Feb 21, 2020