How do you feel?

After reading this forum for the last couple of days, I see that how bright, motivated and determined all of you are. Some are working at bulge brackets making lots of money, some are at ivy leagues, some that are at non-targets that are determined more than ever to get a high GPA and build on extracurriculars and all to break into the industry - and my main question is what drives you to do this?

What makes you want to land a job at Wall Street and be an investment banker? Do you ever think about what the financial industry is doing? It it isn't really doing any good in the world, and I see a lot of people that were going to do science, going to do economics and had the intent of making a difference in the world but now are all switching to high finance just because of the money. With your talents and interests we could really make this world a better place, but instead all of your talent and intelligence is being wasted to make money.

I'm just really curious, so those of you that are investment bankers how do you feel about what you are doing? Any guilt, any regrets? And those who are IB prospectives, what drives you to do this? Do you think it will be worth it?

Just take the time to think about your morals and values, and think about if that's the life style you want to live?

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Comments (46)

May 29, 2011 - 11:23pm
blackstone:
What makes you want to land a job at Wall Street and be an investment banker? Do you ever think about what the financial industry is doing? It it isn't really doing any good in the world, and I see a lot of people that were going to do science, going to do economics and had the intent of making a difference in the world but now are all switching to high finance just because of the money. With your talents and interests we could really make this world a better place, but instead all of your talent and intelligence is being wasted to make money.

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2008/10/munger_on_middl.html

May 30, 2011 - 12:00am
blackstone:
What makes you want to land a job at Wall Street and be an investment banker? Do you ever think about what the financial industry is doing? It it isn't really doing any good in the world, and I see a lot of people that were going to do science, going to do economics and had the intent of making a difference in the world but now are all switching to high finance just because of the money. With your talents and interests we could really make this world a better place, but instead all of your talent and intelligence is being wasted to make money.

OP is either a New York Times reporter, an simpeton, or both

Ive never understood why finance/"Wall St" is the only field whose participants are constantly called upon to defend thier choice of career.

There are plenty of damn worthless careers out there (marketing/advertizing/PR come to mind as especially socially/economically useless) however they tend to escape judgement. IBankers reduce transaction costs and are therefore economically/socially useful...their compensation reflects this.

May 30, 2011 - 2:43am
Ive never understood why finance/"Wall St" is the only field whose participants are constantly called upon to defend thier choice of career.

I think people always call upon us to defend our choice because of its extremes: we get paid extremely high but sacrifice our social lives (and sanity). So people want to know if the money is worth it.

Obviously it is to us, otherwise we wouldn't do it.

Best Response
May 30, 2011 - 12:07am

Why does one's work have to be for the good of the world?

CompBanker

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May 30, 2011 - 1:23pm
CompBanker:
Why does one's work have to be for the good of the world?

Second quote, for emphasis.

Honestly, while investing is very interesting to me, the thing that sets it apart from everything else in the personal gains you can get from it. You aren't going to make a billion, or even a million, if you aren't on top of your shit. And those personal gains you've achieved allow you to make changes in other people's lives. So, I wouldn't say I'm happy or optimistic about anything. I'm motivated to achieve certain goals.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
May 31, 2011 - 12:22pm
CompBanker:
Why does one's work have to be for the good of the world?

I agree. This mentality is counterintuitive to not only our nation's origin, but also human nature in general. Altruistic people will likely be abused by those who aren't.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!
May 31, 2011 - 10:22pm
CompBanker:
Why does one's work have to be for the good of the world?

Leave it to CompBanker to ask the right questions. Have a banana sir.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy
May 30, 2011 - 12:08am

"Out of the two schools, which one will have better recruitment opportunities from the U.S. - McGill Management or Queen's Commerce?

I heard that Americans love McGill, and McGill has that international rep to them as well but does this also apply for Desautels at McGill? I mean how is the recruitment there?

Generally Queen's Commerce is a better program, though they don't have the international reputation, would you say they are better in placing students in the U.S.? Like I heard they placed 5 3rd year students in GS IBD for the summer.

Also does your school's reputation matter when you are applying to a grad school in the U.S.?

Thanks in advance WSO."


Says the 18 year old kid in high school searching for prestige

May 30, 2011 - 12:23am

Well this entire year I've been so focused on trying to get into a Canadian target so I can end up at WS, and I've been reading this forum - trying to research the best path for Canadians like me to get into a BB.

But before really going into this and taking this path, I just asked myself these questions. I was just wondering if any of you i-bankers ever had a battle between your morals and greed. And if any of you feel guilty or if any of you regret your choice. I'm not trying to criticize you guys, I'm just asking some questions to get your opinions and shed some light on i-banking.

May 30, 2011 - 10:50am
blackstone:
I was just wondering if any of you i-bankers ever had a battle between your morals and greed. And if any of you feel guilty or if any of you regret your choice. I'm not trying to criticize you guys, I'm just asking some questions to get your opinions and shed some light on i-banking.

There does not need to be any moral conflict: at the end of the day, banks lend money so that good ideas can actually happen. Because SOME financial professionals screwed up, all of us are bad? I would reevaluate your assumptions. If there's something you'd rather be doing, then do that. But otherwise, this is just a job that pays a lot and has long hours [at first].
Get busy living
May 31, 2011 - 10:28pm
blackstone:
But before really going into this and taking this path, I just asked myself these questions. I was just wondering if any of you i-bankers ever had a battle between your morals and greed. And if any of you feel guilty or if any of you regret your choice. I'm not trying to criticize you guys, I'm just asking some questions to get your opinions and shed some light on i-banking.

..I dont think it ever got this philosophical for most of us.

Just putting that out there

May 30, 2011 - 12:23am
blackstone:
With your talents and interests we could really make this world a better place, but instead all of your talent and intelligence is being wasted to make money.

I'm just really curious, so those of you that are investment bankers how do you feel about what you are doing? Any guilt, any regrets?

i think about it everyday..honestly not sure if what i'm doing is alright at this point.

May 30, 2011 - 12:52am
blackstone:
^ Can you expand a little bit if you don't mind?

there are very admirable ways to spend your life and i really don't view banking as one of them. i mean it's dumb i suppose to say 'banking' isn't admirable. banking is a big industry and i have no problem with people who perform the grunt work, like most people on here.

...it's hard to explain what i mean. i guess when i think of a life well spent/lived money isn't really in the picture. you think of heroes and you think of the doctor that saved your mom from breast cancer. you'll never do anything like that in this industry. life has to be about more than money. you also have to consider the implications of what you're doing. just a thought i suppose.

May 30, 2011 - 1:53am

In my opinion, there's obviously a lot of people in search of money and find that wall street is one of many methods to get it. However, in terms of its economic importance:

Sales traders sell derivatives to a farmer wanting to hedge his corn exposure - economic benefit, no?

Underwriters IPO a tech company possibly reinventing the way we absorb solar energy

Carl Icahn buying a failing company, stripping its unproductive assets and selling them to companies that have better use for them (net increase in economic activity), and improving the productivity and profitability of a company - higher salaries, more jobs, more spending in the economy, increase in velocity of money - etc etc etc

There's definitely a bad side to it, and our recent housing crisis definitely is an example of that. But ask yourself, "Who's really at fault?"

Is the drug dealer any more or less guilty than the user? Is the investment banker structuring CDO's and selling them with the help of a AAA rating thats bogus bad if the CDO's underlying assets include a guys refinanced home that gave him equity to build a pool he didn't need?

That being said, I do agree that the smartest people shouldn't be going into investment banking, but rather medicine or alternative energy. However, I think with the country being anti-finance legislation will continue to be passed to squeeze wall street, shrink the industry and make it more competitive pay wise to enter other industries.

Jun 2, 2011 - 5:25am

Investment Banking does benefit society. If you disagree, then you don't know what investment banking is.

You are correct in saying that a huge percentage of people who go into high finance could use their talents in other areas that would better benefit society. This is especially true for quants. But the reality is that a physics PHD will make a shit ton more money pricing exotic derivatives at Goldman Sachs than he would improving the efficiency of a rocket engine (I just made that example up). You have to evaluate how important money is to you relative to job satisfaction, and then you can base your career path off that. I evaluated the pros/cons of finance vs other alternatives, and although it would def be nice working on something more "noble", I realized that overall I'd be much happier in finance. But then again I'm still in college and haven't even started my internship yet. Ask me again in 10+ years whether or not I wish I had chosen a path that is more fulfilling.

May 30, 2011 - 11:05am

The OP is such a pussy, oh man.

Go into engineering/science if you're smarter than banking and think you can change the world. If not, stop being such a fucking tool on WSO.

May 30, 2011 - 4:00pm

Social perception compels a lot of competitive individuals into finance and at the end of the day, I think it is an innate calling. Many psychological studies have asserted that (overly)competitive, (overly)controlling, and (overly)ambitious individuals gravitate towards fields such as investment banking because there is a deep and personal desire to "be the best." Although money and prestige are powerful drivers, I ultimately think that the direct motivation is a sense of emotional gratification. Since society deems IB to be "the best" and hardest field to delve into, a highly competitive individual rewards his/her inner desire though this implicit and explicit achievement. I studied sociology in college and believe that investment bankers are conditioned to play the game and excel at it. It is what makes individuals, like us, tick and we want to win at all costs. Money is merely a way of keeping score. At the end of the day, I think we attain gratification in knowing that we can play on the world's biggest stage, against the smartest and brightest individuals on earth. This is what forces us to continue driving and sacrificing (knowing that we seek to achieve something others can't).

May 30, 2011 - 4:15pm
Vancouver Canucks 2011:
Since society deems IB to be "the best" and hardest field to delve into

I'm pretty sure "society" doesn't deem IB as the best field, nor the hardest to delve into. A small subset of society feels that way, and a lot of them are aspiring investment bankers.

Vancouver Canucks 2011:
At the end of the day, I think we attain gratification in knowing that we can play on the world's biggest stage, against the smartest and brightest individuals on earth.

No offense to anyone on this board, but I don't buy for a minute that the "best and brightest" go into IB.

May 30, 2011 - 4:05pm

There are other ways to contribute to society. I mean does Windows 7 contribute to society? No but Bill Gates' boatload of money does. You can make money in something that may not contribute to society but it's what you do with that money that counts and that may contribute to society.

May 31, 2011 - 6:14am
mikebrady:
There are other ways to contribute to society. I mean does Windows 7 contribute to society? No but Bill Gates' boatload of money does. You can make money in something that may not contribute to society but it's what you do with that money that counts and that may contribute to society.

Maybe not windows 7, but windows contributed enormously to society. It made computers accessible to people on dos, created a popular platform ( in addition to macs ) for the use of the Internet, which has allowed better communication, porn, pokemon porn, business, information flow, and mewtwo s&m
May 31, 2011 - 8:36am
bIastoise:
mikebrady:
There are other ways to contribute to society. I mean does Windows 7 contribute to society? No but Bill Gates' boatload of money does. You can make money in something that may not contribute to society but it's what you do with that money that counts and that may contribute to society.

Maybe not windows 7, but windows contributed enormously to society. It made computers accessible to people on dos, created a popular platform ( in addition to macs ) for the use of the Internet, which has allowed better communication, porn, pokemon porn, business, information flow, and mewtwo s&m

And of course modern finance has done nothing for society?! It was solely the doctors and technologists that generated progress in all the emerging markets over the last two decades. Stop promoting your agenda and get off your high horse. We are all in this to make a buck and the best we can hope for is that when we make a buck society also benefits. But the buck is the most important aspect.

May 31, 2011 - 4:43am

I realized that the black abyss in my soul seems just a little smaller when it's filled with the crying of orphans and the pleading of widows.

Also I like math. And money.

More is good, all is better
May 31, 2011 - 6:19am

You forgot to mention porn

More is good, all is better
May 31, 2011 - 8:31am

Because if everyone took off and started feeding starving kids in Africa, we would all be starving.

It ALWAYS greener on the other side. There are plenty of unfulfilled doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and politicians. There should be because as a kid you dream of assuming many roles but in life you can only choose a few.

Is coming up with the latest way to throw sheep at Facebook profiles helpful to society?
Is giving a woman D cups helpful to society (not just to us guys who play with them)?
Is making a village dependent on aid but providing them with no reliable skills to be self sustaining helpful to society?

Welcome to the real world. This isn't your liberal arts college.

May 31, 2011 - 5:51pm

OP, don't you realize that by making money, you benefit society? In order for me to earn $X, I have to trade something to someone who values it for at least $X. When two people trade, they're both made better off.

May 31, 2011 - 10:01pm

I'm not a banker, but I considered this career path. Someone said it before, but it pretty much summarizes everything: the grass is always greener on the other side. And once you get there and take a closer look, it isn't really that green. I think myself as a human being will never be satisfied or fulfilled with whatever job I have, be it GS, McKinsey or KKR. I hope at some point I will realize what really makes me happy and drives me and pursue it.

For my friends in IBD, it's pretty clear: money + prestige. If you love these more than anything, you're good in the industry and can work until you burn out.

Jun 1, 2011 - 1:26am

My first post in a while and my 2 cents:

I used to think I wanted to be a trader. I went to school to get a finance / accounting degree with this mentality. Maybe this is because my dad was a trader (probably a bigger influence than I'd like to admit), but I like to think its because I've always had a natural curiosity about the world and saw the financial markets as the biggest puzzle of them all. Mix a strong sense of history with a keen understanding of current events and a dash of human psychology and you might be able to make a buck or two. Besides, in my (biased) way of thinking the best traders tend to keep reality anchored to, well....... reality by fighting herd instinct and putting money to work based on facts.

However, seeing the financial crises unfold forced me to open my eyes to the reality of the business and rethink my choice. I finally understood what my dad meant when he said he wasn't a winning trader, but a surviving one. What he meant by "all traders have white hairs." Slavish regard to risk management doesn't really wso/">suit me, so I began looking at other options. I still enjoyed finance (and it was too late to change my degree), so banking became the obvious choice for me. I made this decision a few months before interviews, landed an internship for the summer, and haven't looked back.

Do I sometimes wish I had been an engineer? I guess. But NOT because of any social good. The draw of engineering for me is that it would be easier to create something big, and probably easier to become a CEO. That being said, I still think that finance is a grand game and IB puts me in position to do whatever the hell I want later in life. I'm already looking at ways to jump over to operations in a few years.

Remember, the ultimate goal in life is to be happy. Once you figure out what does it for you, be like Nike and "Just do it".

Jun 1, 2011 - 1:32am

I feel free...I'm rolling with my dudes and we are going to buy out the bar.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

Jun 2, 2011 - 8:32am

Dude who fucking cares? I love the PR/ marketing example above. Absolutely useless. Why won't you question that as well??

Still I Rise
Jun 2, 2011 - 9:56am

I get into arguments like this with non-finance people all the time, and one of the things I've noticed is that every profession has a dark side. I've also noticed that there is just as much pomposity and grandstanding in every other profession as there is in banking.

There should never be any need for anybody to apologize for the career path they've chosen. As long as you've seriously considered it and you like it, no one should tell you that you're wasting your life just because you aren't teaching or doing nonprofit work.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com
Jun 2, 2011 - 11:03am
Pfalzer:
I've also noticed that there is just as much pomposity and grandstanding in every other profession as there is in banking.

Totally true - we're honest about our motive - FUCK YOU, PAY ME.

When I was premed, I was surrounded by a sanctimonious bunch of pricks [who by the way, really weren't that smart] and while they kept up the public image of respectibility very well, they talked only of BMWs between themselves. The most useless and hypocritical is the entertainment industry: what starving person in Africa do these shithead feed?

Get busy living
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