How to deal with sick parents while working in IB

Hey everyone. I'm a native New Yorker, did undergrad in the city, and will be working as a FT analyst at (WF/DB/RBC/CS). I'm pretty stoked given that I had to work my ass off to get this opportunity and didn't work in IB during the summer. Problem is--I've lived with my parents in an outer borough my whole life, my father is a sluggish 73 years old, and my mother's health (along with her happiness) has been deteriorating in the last 3 years due to work-related activities. She's also suffered mentally and physically (had 3+ trips to the hospital) when I went to study abroad for a semester in Asia and wasn't able to help out around the house.

My commute to the office, if I stay in my current home, will be a dreaded hour and thirty minutes. In a perfect world I would get an apt. that's within twenty minutes from the office. However, I fear that my lack of presence since I'd be working on average 70-hour weeks and thus seeing them once a week would cause them hardship.

I don't know whether I should move closer to my office to sustain my physical health or stay where I am to sustain my parents' health. As of right now, I'm thinking about staying at home to help my parents and eating that long commute. Nevertheless, I would appreciate your opinions on what you would do if you were in my shoes or even some insight from those of you who live in NYC and deal with a long commute.

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Comments (17)

Most Helpful
Oct 6, 2018 - 12:15am

2 thoughts from me: 1) Decide what's more important for you at this stage in your life and how you want to balance it and 2) Communicate well with your staffer and co-workers.

On 1), with the caveat that this is group and project-specific / based on my personal experience: when you're in this industry as an analyst, there are times when you have no control over your life / schedule. I've had weeks when I have nothing to do and weeks when I bounce between my bed and the office. This is the reality you have to live with if you want to be a good analyst. If I were you and I were set on taking this job, I'd get an apartment close to work so I have the optionality to get to a bed quickly when times are tough. I would also try to spend every minute of downtime at home with the parents (there will be stretches of downtime). However, there are going to be days when it's not feasible to commute 1.5 hours to and from work.

Now, I don't understand the full extent of the situation. If I were you, depending on the condition, I would also consider trying to defer employment for one or two years. If you position the conversation well, this is very feasible with your group and HR.

On 2), you'll find that the distribution of workload in some groups are very uneven. The few "Type-A" go-getters will get the intense staffings that they can handle, and there are always a few folks who are okay with doing the minimum amount of work to get by. If you position the conversation well with your staffer, you can still take the job but give yourself a higher probability of not getting staffed on more intense projects. If you plan time with your parents on the weekends, you can always communicate to the associate / VP what is going on in your life. You wouldn't be a top-bucket analyst, but you would have a higher likelihood of balancing work and family.

Feel free to PM me

Oct 6, 2018 - 1:28pm

Thanks for the input! I don't want to defer employment because unforeseeable circumstances may make things harder on the family. It might be better to be transparent with the team, buckle down on the work during the weekdays, and helping my parents during the weekend while living close to work.

Oct 6, 2018 - 1:43am

I'm the same year as you I think so can't give advice on FT, but one of my parents developed serious health problems shortly before I left for my SA on the opposite coast from my family. I dealt with it by completely disconnecting from my family for that time and felt incredibly guilty about it afterwards until I talked to someone about it and they told me this - it's completely okay and doesn't make you a bad person to prioritize your own sanity/wellbeing (in this case living close to work etc). Obviously there are tradeoffs between each option and I don't know the details of your situation, but no one's going to look out for your own best interest except for you.


  • 1
Oct 6, 2018 - 7:42am

I would live close to work and help out from a distance. Hire a home healthcare aid, order their groceries online, send money so they can work less, and anything else you can think of. This will set you back financially the first couple years but the important thing is that if you keep your career path moving forward those things will be a very small % of your pay in 5 years. If you become a bottom bucket analyst or worse that can have long-term implications for your career.

I am in a very similar situation but I have a cushy family office job with a 40-50 hr work week so I can be a bit more generous with my time. I don't have the same financial resources, though.

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Oct 6, 2018 - 1:42pm

Surprisingly, my father is more mobile than my mother despite the age difference. He has no medical issues. My mother has spinal stenosis, rotator cuff issues, and a slew of things going on with her. She hasn't retired yet so I don't know if she is able eligible for a home aid. I will look seek ways to provide other forms of aid (didn't think about buying groceries online). Thanks!

Oct 6, 2018 - 9:27am

If you are going to be successful in this job, your best bet is to live close to the office. I'm not sure if you meant 1.5 hours each way or round trip, regardless adding either of those commutes onto life as an analyst is nearly impossible.

It's hard to give definitive advice because we have no idea how dire your parents' situation actually is. My focus is on telling you how to be good at this job (I was in IB from analyst to VP). You'll need to decide your priorities about work versus family. I'd also recommend you have an honest conversation with your parents about what they want.

What i'd try to do is to find a situation with a bunch of roommates to save money and go stay at home on weekends.

  • 3
Oct 6, 2018 - 1:48pm

I mean 1.5 hours each way. I spoke with my parents and they encourage me to prioritize work and not to worry about them. Wouldn't most parents say the same thing? It just seems difficult to not be able to do more for them. Yes, living with roommates to save some cash sounds like a good option.

Oct 7, 2018 - 5:27pm

I mean 1.5 hours each way. I spoke with my parents and they encourage me to prioritize work and not to worry about them. Wouldn't most parents say the same thing? It just seems difficult to not be able to do more for them. Yes, living with roommates to save some cash sounds like a good option.

Most parents say this because they genuinely want to see you succeed. I have two daughters and would sacrifice anything for them. Your parents feel the same way about you. Being a parent is a selfless endeavor. While you are honorable for wanting to do more for them, they want you to be as successful as possible. Commuting 45 hours/week on top of 70-90 hours at the office is fundamentally not sustainable. The best you can do for them is making them proud by doing something with your life.

  • 4
Oct 6, 2018 - 10:50am

Had a Type A friend. Consistently top performer amongst his peers. Mum already had cancer while he was working mad hours. When his mum's conditioned worsened, he moved to a more slow paced job. He was able to spend much for time with his mum, time which he would never have had he still been at his old job. Has his career taken a beating? For sure, those who stayed on in his previous firm got promoted while he hasn't really progressed (in terms of salary). But what he told me is that he doesn't regret it. His dad once told him you have many years ahead of you to make that money, even if you don't make mad money now you could still make it later, you may take longer but you can certainly reach there. After all there is no one way to peel an onion. His mum just passed away recently. Not sure what he is going to do next. But just some perspective for you. Other considerations he had: You only have one mother.

Isn't an easy decision so good luck :)


  • 4
Oct 6, 2018 - 1:53pm

My mom doesn't have a life-threatening illness. I can't even imagine what I would do if I were in your friend's shoes.

She's is my one and only mother and I will find a way to take care of her, I'm sure of it. Thanks for commenting.

Oct 6, 2018 - 12:44pm

Rent /share a cheapo place in the city close to work, go home for weekends to help out. I had to go through the same thing you did except mine were on the West coast...

Oct 6, 2018 - 1:49pm

My advice would be to rent an apartment near work and plan on staying there during the week and going home on weekends to spend time with your parents. You likely wouldn't see your parents much during the week anyway given your work hours and the long commute, and that lifestyle would definitely put a strain on your physical and mental health.

I would also recommend investing in a good work from home set-up with dual monitors, etc. so that you can be as productive as possible on the weekends. Obviously, explain the situation to the staffer and your deal teams in advance and be communicative. As long as you're still able to get your work done and contribute, I think most reasonable people would try to accommodate given your circumstances.

Oct 6, 2018 - 1:50pm

If you're going to take the job, I would live as close to the office as possible within a reasonable amount of monthly rent (have roommates), and pay for home care when you're not around. Commuting 1.5 hour one way for any 9-5 job is painful enough, but it'll most likely destroy you mentally and physically if you're in an IB job. Your analysts years are mentally and physically draining. When you're constantly working, it's really hard to have time to think about other/personal matters, maintain some level of fitness and nutrition (this is really important), hangout with friends and/or have a significant other, and try to maintain some reasonable amount of sleep. These are all baseline needs of a person that is important to happiness/satisfaction, and a banking job really diminishes your ability to have all of those. Adding a 1.5hr commute one way to the equation, forget about any ability to balance all of those things, your personal well being and happiness included. That would be the worst case because you won't be able to do a good job at work, nor will you personally be well enough to take care of your parents.

As I've gotten older, I've learned that it is incredibly important to cut out unnecessary bull shit out of your life as much as possible because it frees you up to make other aspects of your life, that you choose and prioritize, better.

Oct 7, 2018 - 8:22am

You're smart to ask around for ideas and I have a lot of respect for what you're doing. Details aside, I carried my family for a while when I was getting started and understand how hard it can be. Something I wish I'd realized easelier: don't paint yourself into a corner. There's more than one way. As in, you can still look after them to an extent without killing yourself in the process. They've accepted this on some level and while it's true any good parent would tell their kid not to do. So what to do?

Work a compromise. There are neighbors, church members, community centers, and other social organizations that can pop their head in during the week to check in on them. It's not you being present, but you'll at least have eyes and ears in the ground. You will be making more money, so you can even hire part time help for them, or even a couple part time helpers and stagger their schedules if you don't want to give any one person too much power over the situation. I'm hesitant to recommend an au pair at this point but it may become an option later on down the road.

Shoot your parents a text during the day or make a two minute phone call while you go to get coffee. Things are changing but this doesn't mean you can't still have oversight of the situation. You get to help your parents AND learn how to manage a team. See it as an opportunity for personal growth for everyone involved.

If there's a real crisis, then you deal with it, but by staying connected you'll realize that 90% of the time they'll be just fine. Plus older folks tend to benefit from increased social contact, so as long as you keep an eye on the situation they may actually be better off in the big picture.

It's not the same and you'd like to keep a close personal handle on the situation, but for most things other people will. When you go home during the weekend, you'll have less issues to work through too since other people have more or less kept things on an even keel. If you know any local cops you can also let them know. Pull other people in, pay them a bit if needed, and encourage everyone involved to speak up about what works and what doesn't.


One other thing - if your neighborhood/community doesn't have the support or ties to help your can move them closer to work. There's no shortage of 2 bedroom apartments in/near manhattan. With your combined incomes you could have them stay in a nicer apartment, which they may like. You won't be around much but they be closer to you in the event you need to deal with an emergency.

All the best to you

Get busy living
  • 6
Oct 9, 2018 - 10:32pm

Not your same situation, but I've been through some similar experiences. You should think of ways you can enable their assistance vs. necessarily be the individual who administers the assistance. You will be in a fortunate position that you should have some excess income. While buildings savings in your analyst years is ideal, the experience / job opportunities are worth much more than saving $25-50K per year.

I would consider allocating a portion of your income to paying for services that assist your parents during the week.

You could look into visiting angels which are usually CNAs that charge $15-$20 / hr. More skilled nurses can be $20 - $35 / hr based on what you actually need. I've hired individuasls for $15-$20 / hr for 10-15 hours a week (so like $7,800 - $15,600 per year) to simply help around the house and also be companions to a family member. You would be surprised how much this can help, can your job should be able to assist in making this expense manageable.

Alternatively, you can pay for things like home cleaners, etc.

As you get into this line of work and develop disposable income, you will find time is the most valuable resource. You will have to focus on work but you want to maximize the value of every minute you spend with your parents vs. just be at home and knocking out chores. It won't be sustainable.

"If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."
  • 6
Oct 10, 2018 - 1:15pm

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