Investment banking is a career only for people who do not want to have a life long partner and/or children. It is for people who only want to work and make money. Agree or disagree?

I don't understand why anyone would make a career out of this if they also wanted a work-life balance. It doesn't make sense to work in this field because you're never going to get that balance, so why even go for it. Why think about it? The way I see it, if you want a lifelong career in IB, PE, VC, etc, even big law, you should take a really good look at yourself, examine yourself and your priorities before taking that big step.

I hear that a lot of families aren't that great because their investment banker mother or father is always at work. That scares the hell out of me. I wouldn't want to do that to my wife and children. Miss birthdays and births for a video call with a client who only wants to make money? Are you kidding me? I know this sounds like I'm bashing the field (apologies to anyone offended), but I'm simply examining myself and trying to figure out if this is really what I want.

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Comments (71)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2021 - 1:32pm

Yes, pretty much. And the "golden" exit of PE is more or less the same doesn't matter how you slice it. At the end of the day, many see IB as a launching pad to more chill careers.

Sep 23, 2021 - 1:42pm

I personally disagree, but my path is very different than most on WSO. I'm older with a wife and kid who is transitioning into IB. Granted, I'm not in NY and wlb will be better than most of you who are analysts there.

I see it as a much quicker way to financial freedom while performing work that affects entire companies vs my current corporate job where I am a small cog in a giant machine. This new financial freedom in a lcol area will allow my wife to quit her job, spend more time with our son, allow us to have more kids, send them all to a nice school, be debt-free, pay off our house in a few years… the list goes on. Will I have to sacrifice more time? Yes, but anything in life that pays you well will cost time. Even tech, and especially entrepreneurship. With that being said, even though analysts make a lot of money out of school and can have great exit ops, it is a hard, hard road starting out, especially in the sweatier groups/companies.

Edit: wanted to add some more context. I've worked for seven years and have never made more than a first year analyst. First two years were at 45k and I worked 55-85 hours a week. Second two years, I was paid 55k and traveled overnight 3-5 days a week, and worked 45-65 hours. The last three years have been much easier hours/travel, and making 65-75k.

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Sep 29, 2021 - 11:22am

As someone who has been an analyst in a F200 company, I am not sure what you are talking about. Pay was sub 70k all in, hours were definitely cake, but horrible opportunities to move up. You get pigeon-holed quite easily. As an incoming associate, I will more than triple my income in year 1 compared to my F 200 analyst work.

Maybe I am misunderstanding your comment.

Sep 23, 2021 - 1:45pm

I mean if I do plan on staying in IB until the MD level, which I doubt, I'd probably just go to a LMM that has good WLB. And when I mean good WLB I mean like less than 65 hours. I know of a couple already that I could target since I've interned at in the past, that have solid deal flow. Analyst come in at 8:30 and leave at 7ish - associates 8:30 -6:30 VP and above come in 2-3 times a week. HARDLY any weekend work and they do about 15-20 M&A deals a year  Idc about BB prestige and the pay scale is solid at some of these shops anyways.

Plus, honestly i most of the work I do in IB at what WSO calls a MM is seriously not that hard. So I mean after Covid everyone at my office simply goes home at 6pm and works from home. I still have work but I eat at home, watch TV with my gf and make edits. Then we go to the gym after I'm done the edits and come back and I'll do more work and watch together or do our own thing. So like I think it really depends on the group. My group is chill and we all all have the same idea of WLB so it makes this job pretty nice. People go into IB with the idea that they need to go BB no matter what group and they get put in a sweaty group and burn out. My point is the culture and group you are in makes a much bigger difference then people think. You can be a hardo anywhere you want and miss birthdays etc. or just push back a little. 

Sep 23, 2021 - 5:21pm

Yup! But also LMM Boutiques that are dominant in their niche sector, there's a ton that have unique bonus structures. For instance, one of the years I did a small internship at a LMM HC shop and sure base for analysts was 15% below market but they would get a specific amount of bonus per deal. So if a deal fee was $5m they may get 30k from that. Maybe they personally work on 2-3 deals a year and that's solid. One of the senior analysts there was clearing 200k a year. Not EB or BB money 3 years in sure, but working 20-30 hours less + that is pretty solid. MD's would get 20% of their deal fee. So you can imagine again a three deals at 20% of $2M - $5M + 300k base is extremely solid imo. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2021 - 7:13pm

Are you in nyc? This sounds like a great place to be at man. Good to see that there's banks out their with decent hours since all I see on wso nowadays are doom and gloom 100+ hr weeks.

Sep 26, 2021 - 9:58am

Just because your senior bankers aren't in the office doesn't mean they are enjoying WLB and living . Do you realize how much we are on the fucking phone? Clients of all type (sponsor-backed CEOs, entrepreneurs, etc.) are always wanting to talk because they overthink things.

There is no way being a senior banker at one of those firms is working 40 hours per week. Sure, they're out playing golf with airpods, at conferences marketing though frequently interrupted, etc., but the level of stress doesn't diminish as much as you might believe.

And LOL at no weekend work. The guy above you must be talking about some business broker. Any legit IB, even if they are LMM focused on $5-20mm EBITDA businesses, is going to have weekend work given the construct and timing deal process, pitches, etc.

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
Sep 23, 2021 - 1:50pm

Not sure if I agree with this based on anecdotal evidence. My wife is an ED at a BB, and we have three children. All the MDs in my wife's group are married and 2/3 of them have children, and about a third of the principals and about 3/4 of the partners at my UMM fund are married. Raising a family is more than available if you're willing to make sacrifices. The people I know in finance who are parents know what their priorities are, and are willing to make the choices that match with their priorities.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2021 - 2:11pm

I agree. If you want to be there for your kids, it's pretty easy. Went to school with the kids of the ceo of an investment bank. I saw him all the time at xc/track, soccer, school conferences, graduation etc. You just need to prioritize your kids and be involved in their lives.

  • VP in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2021 - 2:19pm

What do you think WLB is like for a C-level exec at a top 1000 company?  Or a partner at a consultancy / law firm?  Or the head of neurosurgery at a top hospital?  Let's get real, none of these jobs are low-stress / low-hours.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Sep 24, 2021 - 1:27am

Doubt head of neurosurgery is an actual job, but I assure you, neurosurgeons at top hospitals have low-hour jobs. Can easily choose to work "part time" or only come in a couple days a week. On the stress side, I don't think the stress of accidentally killing someone is comparable to a deal/project. I'm sure its a completely different feeling and one that doctors and surgeons learn to get used to or circumvent,

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 25, 2021 - 7:18am

I think the emotional trauma of accidentally killing someone with your own hands (or even worse, making them a human vegetable) is significantly more emotionally taxing than losing a pitch or M&A deal going bust, even if you see death all the time in the hospital. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 23, 2021 - 2:21pm

How many MDs actually work that many hours? Sure, maybe they give comments at night and do a few hours of work, but my MD always makes us schedule calls outside of his dinner hours so he can eat with his family and has made us move plenty of calls so that he can go to games or kid events. I'm sure he works more than the average person his age, but he absolutely is able to be around his family and clearly makes it a priority

Sep 23, 2021 - 2:56pm

Pretty much every MD I know at a bank and elsewhere has a family. Do they make it to every single one of johnny's tee ball games? Probably not. But how many people in life really do. Working plus commuting eats up everyone's time. 

Sep 23, 2021 - 4:21pm

As an MD, my wife and family would disagree with OP.

Honestly sounds like a college kid who has spent too much time on this board.  A missed birth for a video call?  Common.  I'm sure that has happened (and probably happened in a lot of professions), but in 10+ years in industry I have never met someone who missed their kids birth.  To imply its common is farcical.  

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 23, 2021 - 7:20pm

Do you feel like you've missed out on life by working so much or has it been worth it? Genuine question. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 23, 2021 - 6:06pm

faulty statement bro, I'm in banking SPECIFICALLY because I want to make enough money to support like 10 kids (not a meme nor a mormon).

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 23, 2021 - 6:27pm

Many reasons anon, for one, this world needs more strong willed men who have faith in God and want to grow their family. Main one is because I owe it to my mother.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 23, 2021 - 7:07pm

Your sole function as a human is to reproduce, that's another one. If you can't do that you have quite literally failed your life's evolutionary purpose.

Sep 23, 2021 - 7:43pm

Yeah you have to reproduce but also raise each child well enough that they reproduce and provide for their children. Raising a child well costs a lot of money.

Sep 23, 2021 - 10:49pm

Yup - regardless of religious views this statement rings true. Makes no sense to me how liberals who are supposedly the party of science fail to recognize that gay people literally are the opposite of evolution. I find it disgusting that gay couples are allowed to adopt kids - sure, it's possible the kid will grow up in a better household than if they bounced around in the system and thrown into the streets at 18, but it's creating adults who have grown up in unnatural surroundings.

Controversial
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Sep 24, 2021 - 1:36am

Am a liberal. I'm gonna go with an extremely hot take here (for a liberal) but based on some stuff, including the fact that 41% of trans people commit suicide, I personally don't believe that someone can be transgender scientifically. I think that it is likely a mental disease / illness or trauma/abuse growing up that gives them identity disorder where they can't figure out who they are or who they want to be because they just aren't accepted how they were initially. Evolutionarily, it just doesn't make sense for 5.6% of our population (latest numbers) to be LGTBQ. That's also likely why so many of them end up committing suicide. First thing we were taught in biology is that bad traits breed out extremely quickly and good traits end up staying in the gene pool extremely often. Our bodies have evolved to fucking perfection because anyone not perfect ended up not surviving. 5.6% of people being LGBTQ is probabilistically impossible because it's a fucking massive defect. However, I still vote liberal because LGBTQ is not really a big issue to me. It's 5.6% of our population. Who gives a fuck what weirdos want to do. There are other things that matter to me more.

Most Helpful
Sep 24, 2021 - 1:02am

Banking is definitely a career that requires more hours than a typical 9-5 job; however, it also confers much greater benefits. It's a very predictable way to earn a significant amount of money if not create generational wealth. 

The early years are always brutal, but after the first 5 years or so, I believe there are paths in banking that allow folks to have more free time, enough to have a family and kids, but again, it kind of depends on your definition of work life balance and what type of life you want to lead. If you want to take your kids to school everyday, make every sporting event, tuck them in every night, and spend a lot of time with your significant other, you could easy hop off the banking path early, take a F500 finance job in a tier 3 city, make 120k/year and have a great life. I think some of the MM banks are much more WLB friendly, again, perhaps you're not closing your laptop at 5pm everyday, but you have enough space in your life to be home at 6, take a couple hours off, and then get back online later at night. Weekends are maybe more predictable, perhaps not enough to not check your phone all day, but enough to be able to push back and carve out a few hours to watch little Timmy's soccer game and grab lunch. Work life balance is by definition, the balance between work and life and you have to decide how much you like working and how much you like doing life stuff.

I think people idealize work life balance and want to be happy, rich, and only work 9-5 or whenever they feel like it. In reality, most jobs aren't that pleasant, so you need to find what works for you. You're either working more to make more money, but then you sacrifice time, or you have time, but sacrifice worldly pleasures such as nice vacations, private schools, fancy cars/meals etc.

Edit: I think some of the above posts shed light on how the WLB can change if you move into a better group. Again, banking will never be a 9-5, but if you find good MDs to work with, ones who manage work well and have their own lives to worry about, you can find that travel is limited, hours will be long, but flexible, and the combo of those combined with pay of a few hundred grand a year if not more, generally make it a pretty solid job all around.

Sep 24, 2021 - 4:33am

Given you appear to be an intern who is posting, I'd like to remind you that to be a career IB person requires more sales than skill. Point being that the person you see going into IB as an analyst is often times not a good fit for the job IB demands when it comes to actually printing revenue for the group. 

It seems really easy to assume an IB career can spring out of not having made it to buyside roles but this is simply not correct. Yes if you're a budding Director or flourishing MD you will work really hard but time and time again it is proven that having those roles prevents you from having a real partner or kids. 

Yes there are investment bankers who are not great parents or partners to their spouses but really it doesn't have to be a baseline quality. I've encountered several senior bankers who have managed to maintain both a successful career as well as a family life.

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  • Analyst 1 in HF - Macro
Sep 24, 2021 - 7:25am

Other careers are for people who want to work until they're 60-70 and save 10-20% of their income every year (and pray equity markets keep going up 10% per year for the next 30-40 years LOL) to have a chance at retiring with a middle class or upper-middle class lifestyle.

If you ask me, I'd rather work a job that I can do from anywhere, working the hours that I want, be my own boss, and have the chance to retire with a vacation home or two in my 40s.

Besides that, I find the work interesting as hell and I'd probably be bored to tears doing anything else, but to each his own.

Oct 6, 2021 - 7:04pm

yk your satirical comment is smth i actually think about srsly a lot. no way the markets gonna just keep oging up forever like that right? bc its tied to the usa's position in the world, which has a shiny new competitor (china).

point being i find the whole population's "just stick it in S&P and watch it grow" strategy a bit disconcerting for the long term, bc its all being based on the past.

Sep 24, 2021 - 11:30am

It's not one or the other. I know tons of bankers/PE/HF guys and they all have a family and a life. No one is working 80 hours a week like they did the first two years in banking (probably more like 50-60 and flex a bit if there's a deal or if it's earnings). Granted, I'm (and the people I'm talking about) are 10+ years out of college. 

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Sep 24, 2021 - 11:32am

I disagree, although I'm at a HF. Do I work a lot? Yes, I like what I do, but it is on my terms. I didn't even miss a single doctors appointment when my wife was pregnant, let alone birth. There are toxic groups, people, firms, etc, so this won't apply to everyone, but if I have anything remotely important related to family, I am out of the office, and I fully expect every single junior employee that works for me to be the same way. This isn't some "I'm senior, therefore do as I say not as I do", family and health comes first for everyone. 

That being said, there is a lot of work, so you also can't check out everyday after 6-8 hrs (or pass work to others every Friday morning because you are out getting hammered every Thursday night), there are times where work will be very busy, but again family #1, everything else after that. I have picked up work from first and second years because they had family issues come up and they were stressed, that's what a team is.

Also, I'm financially independent in my early 30's, so if I'm ever in a spot where family can't come first, I'll leave. 

Like I already said, there are many bad places to work at (and bad people). But the blanket statement of the full industry is so exaggerated. IB is more client facing so there are other complexities, but people are so much more reasonable than this forum gives them credit for. 
 

EDIT: to be clear I have also worked for people that are terrible. Early in my career I had a close family member get extremely sick and I was told to take vacation and if I didn't have enough I could "pay" for the time off. I left that group, and told myself I would never be that way. 

Sep 24, 2021 - 1:01pm

Like I already said, there are many bad places to work at (and bad people). But the blanket statement of the full industry is so exaggerated. IB is more client facing so there are other complexities, but people are so much more reasonable than this forum gives them credit for. 
 

This I think is what does not get echoed enough.   

Sep 27, 2021 - 8:11pm

What is the meaning of this weird face? Have seen multiple people post pictures like this but totally clueless what it's referencing.

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  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Sep 25, 2021 - 10:48pm

Varies person by person. I grew up in Manhattan with both parents working highly demanding jobs. Dad was high up in PE, mom was a partner in consulting. Ton of hours but they made it work so that me and my siblings spent plenty of time with them. 

Sep 28, 2021 - 4:01pm

I think that's not an inaccurate base assumption but I think the exceptions are more common than you think.

There are folks that make it work and I think you should focus on those cases rather than the other way around.

Traits of folks that made it work:

- Usually at a smaller firm overall

- Super tight with their superiors (have to have some natural click)

- Can do the job of analyst and senior person (can play up and down; doesn't need to 100% depend on anyone)

- Possibly covering a niche sector that they know inside out

I think all of the above points afford you leverage that will clear space for you regardless where you go.

Banking is not a good job for trad work / life balance but I was frankly surprised at the number of people that I've seen make it work. There will be cases where you're screwed no matter what (Bad team, bad manager) but it's also on you to make the jump in the right direction and realize the amount of control you have over your life.

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:17pm

May be a tangent, but what I'm seeing are some very compelling arguments for saving as much $ as possible (within reason) during your analyst/associate/VP/director years. Work 15 years in finance, bank most/all of your bonus every year, and have kids in your mid/late 30s.

If you can juggle the job and the family after that and keep going, great. But if you can't, well you'll have a substantial nest egg that has been compounding for a decade+, and will keep growing even if you downshift into something less lucrative. That's not going to have you splitting your time between 740 Park and Georgica Pond, but who cares? 

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Sep 28, 2021 - 5:30pm

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 28, 2021 - 7:04pm

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  • VP in IB - Gen
Oct 6, 2021 - 9:01pm

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