Is anyone else struggling to comprehend the fucked up state IB has brought you to?

I am just beginning to comprehend how mentally fucked up I am from IB this year. 

I feel like an empty shell of a human being so far gone that my mind has been wiped on how to human.

I am not depressed, this isn't a cry for help, but going from 0-100 after covid and never leaving 100 for a year has left me not able to understand 0-99. 

I quit three weeks ago and expected a typical rebound from burn out, but being forced by my firm to work a minimum of 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, completely cut from reality has left scars that I genuinely did not expect and so difficult to recover from.

I seriously am at a loss for words on how big of an impact this apparently had on me. They have wrecked me as a human being.

I am not even trying to complain and get into the argument that IB is no longer the oppurtunity it used be like other threads, but how have banks been able to be so consiously unwilling to adapt to such a rapid deterioration to the well-being of their employees thats continually accelerating by their bullshit solution consisting of a quarterly email saying they "care". How is a disconnect at this level continuing to exist...

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Comments (79)

Feb 14, 2021 - 2:58pm

Me and many others understand you well. As can be seen from the increasing amount of threads on the platform, this is becoming more and more of a problem in the industry. I can tell you I joined a place that was always thought to have great work life balance and I am pulling consistent 85-95 hour weeks with the occasional 120. Still hoping it will get better after covid, but wondering whether I'd be better off just joining a BB or some of the places I discarded back in the day because of the worse hours and culture. And there is not one week I don't seriously consider quitting. Note - this is coming from a top bucket, well respected analyst within the floor. If you also consider that IB is also not opening up anymore the paths and amounts of wealth it once did back in the day, the picture becomes really bleak when you are in it. Kudos to you for moving on.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 19, 2021 - 2:43pm

As I understand, the pay hasn't been increasing significantly since the 2008 bubble burst, and PE is oversaturated and HF is declining due to regulations. Probably that's why compared to 2005 where it was better in terms of hour/wage wise and exit op wise, today's landscape is not really good. Yes, people might be less asshole-ish and you get "protected weekends", but the hours stayed the same (or even worse, considering WFH). Talked to my team MD few weeks back and he also said the industry changed significantly, for better or worse.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 14, 2021 - 3:06pm

Wow I'm really sorry for what you guys are going through. I'm just a prospect but I've talked to upperclassman who finished their junior summer internship in 2020 and some of them said they're never going back to finance again (they got return offers btw). I can only image how bad it must've been if you're willing to throw out 3-4 years of recruiting to enter a totally different career field.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 19, 2021 - 2:45pm

Currently doing a off cycle at a top boutique. Insane hours. Might be because it is top EB with strong deal flow (interns also get staffed with live deals), but it is kinda insane how the hours are (wake up at 9am and sleep at 3am minimum, on call 24/7, etc) 

Just make sure during the internship you also are considering if this is right for you. IB is definitely not for everybody, and you really gotta love the job (or the exit ops/learning experience) to go through the bad hours.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 15, 2021 - 9:40pm

Totally feel you.

I used to be known as a positive person and hated taking a day off (some could say, a workaholic) since high school when I started working. Now I take one full day off and all I can think about is how much my body physically aches in the chest, back, and head and I have to lay in bed all day hoping the nap at least makes me a little more rested. Or how my head throbs even after cutting off the sugary drinks and caffeine for a month. And mentally can't even focus on the activities I like (reading, exercising) to get my mind off work because of the mental and physical pain. I honestly feel both grateful for and horrible about my friends (both finance and non-finance) who are great listeners to my problems and tell me about their lives to take my mind off work, but also are telling me how much they worry about me after noticing something is off to my usual energy levels.

MBA Associate throwing you all the work, unable to answer any big picture or small detail items, sighing at your over the phone anytime you ask a single question (because they don't know how to answer), telling you to take the day off and "no rush" on the action item with seniors on the email chain but pinging you a dozen times on your pre-planned and communicated vacation day asking for materials that never get used, taking all the credit and sucking up to the MDs, berating you for missing a "value add" comment yet making you write up all the bullets and do the excel analysis and making you double check the work that makes you question why they make any money at all. Having zero mentorship from your VP and Directors. Having MDs who seem to forget you completely exist and gaslight you on threads with other team members.

Once or twice, sure. A couple of times in a month, can be dealt with and adjusted to. Experience nearly everyday with verbal harassment on the phone and none of the upside of the usual IB Analyst years others have already mentioned in other threads that makes the job bearable in WFH? Not surprising it will (as it has me) completely burn you out. 

The only thing keeping me going is honestly a few people I like on the team, loving the work, and marking the time of bonus / return to office that can alleviate some of these dynamics... 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 17, 2021 - 2:40pm

Most accurate comment I have read about this in a while. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Feb 17, 2021 - 3:10pm

I'm always baffled when I read these comments about MBA associates. You would think they realize that they know nothing about the banking process and should act as if they were at the bottom of the totem pole, but clearly that is not often the case.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 17, 2021 - 7:11pm

Wait I don't understand. Can't you just push back to these mba associates and tell them straight up if they want to give you more work they can do it themselves. I mean if you're contemplating quitting you have nothing to lose by doing this.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 17, 2021 - 5:46pm

My body is in constant pain and my legs are always numb. I bought a space heater and put it next to my legs to feel anything

Feb 18, 2021 - 8:07am

My body is in constant pain and my legs are always numb. I bought a space heater and put it next to my legs to feel anything

This is not good... get one of those cycle things under your chair to get the blood flowing to your legs , also call your doctor ASAP.

Array

Feb 16, 2021 - 7:35am

I hear you - this has always been a very tough, competitive industry, and WFH has really exacerbated some of the "low lights" while also taking away some of the best things that analyst usually experience (building relationships with others, mentorship, crazy stories with teammates, like getting a deck printed at 4 am and ubering it to the airport, etc). Further, I know this has been said 100x, but with bankers not traveling, they can schedule way more client calls, which require more materials. So far YTD total investment banking fees are up like 35%. 2020 was one of the busiest years ever and 2021 is on track to beat it...

I personally am coming down off of a pretty rough 4 month stretch. This past weekend was probably my first real weekend since October. What has helped me push through it is the "bigger picture". Yes, there are certainly days, weeks and even months where things just absolutely suck. But, what I always come back to is the opportunity...

Average person who makes $40k/year and works 40 years will have lifetime earnings of $1.6mm. This can be achieved (and in many cases surpassed) by completing a successful A2A stint. At my firm it's 2 years analyst and 3.5 associate. I ran the numbers and if you are a well ranked, you can expect to make ~$1.7mm or $1.8mm in just those 5.5 years alone. Certainly not easy by any means, but to me that's the light at the end of the tunnel. Can make yourself a millionaire by 30, etc...

I call it "freedom tax". Make this sacrifice while young and reap the benefits the rest of your life

Feb 16, 2021 - 3:01pm

Treating 40k a year with no salary growth as the contrapositive is bizarre. Your top school peers in various flavors of consulting will make $90-120k year 1, in SWE $130-200, in vanilla engineering $90-120k...all for pretty reasonable hours

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Feb 17, 2021 - 8:40pm

This is just way to say you're willing to sacrifice the arguably best years of your life so that you could have a "better" 30s. There is merit to planning for the future and and I'm all for working hard to gain a sense of financial security, but not at the cost of not being able to truly "live" in my 20s. Especially with how things have become during WFH, I find it hard to believe things will slow down to pre-COVID levels in terms of pitching any time soon, even if we go back to the office. Zoom meetings are here to stay.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Feb 16, 2021 - 8:10am

If I didn't require 5 cups of coffee before opening my laptop for the first time today, I would be much happier with the state of banking.

Feb 16, 2021 - 3:32pm

S&T is certainly stressful because the team actually can lose a lot of money in a short period of time and the same stress is compressed in fewer hours than IBD. However I don't think you will experience the same burnout as IBD. Also hours get significantly better after a short period of time into the job (you can't say this for IBD where Associates and VPs can still work crazy long hours)

Feb 16, 2021 - 2:16pm

Felt similarly to prior to leaving as I was in a top telecom's coverage group that worked on a bunch of M&A. 

On the bright side after leaving industry, what you'd call scarring actually ended up turning out to be a huge competitive advantage.

In banking no one pats you on the back for working late or responding immediately. you get positive feedback from clients and others when you step out and run even 75% of what you did in banking

Feb 16, 2021 - 2:32pm

I'm an owner / operator 2 of my own businesses now. One in telecoms ~250 people in the company, and the other in HNW advisory is just me, a CPA and a lawyer

What I mentioned above about having that "ready to go" mentality, even just 75% of IB level goes for anything from juniors to senior client facing roles. I pretty much work 80 hours a week consistently now spread between the 2 businesses and it allows me to cover Europe / Asia and the east coast (based from West coast).

Simply being available to a client in Israel when it's dead in the middle of night here strikes people outside IB as amazing and draws in better client relationships.

.

Feb 17, 2021 - 1:24am

Problem = excessive hours. How to fix problem? Ask for fair hours, if better schedule doesn't come; how else will the problem be fixed? Solution ~ keep working excessive hours indefinitely. Or, Union.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Feb 17, 2021 - 1:04pm

honestly wanted to start a thread like this, recently started in a BB and have been working like hell, the thing that hurts me the most (and i mean deeply hurt) is the weekends they destroy - i honestly wouldnt mind working like a dog through the week if we had at least 1 weekend day where they wouldnt touch as at all. 

feels like the only thing keeping me going is my fucking amazing wonderful supportive gf. god i know this doesnt make any sense at all but i just wanted to let it out.

got an email just now basically saying that our weekend is fucked, a weekend that i made plans for, i felt this ball of pain just welling up inside me, went for a walk and cried it out - actually felt much better after.

no idea what the fuck im saying tbh maybe im just too fucking tired but i just wanted to air something out lol

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Feb 17, 2021 - 4:42pm

Incoming full-time analyst here - this post really scares me. It's hard to enjoy my senior year when I have my start date looming in my mind. How have you managed to maintain a strong relationship with your gf with the stress of the job and straight up being unavailable? I also have a long-term gf and I'll be moving in with her after graduation 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Feb 17, 2021 - 8:43pm

Its also 100x worse when the thing you grinded an entire weekend on never sees the light of day and is just middle management creating work to "add value" only to hear your MD ask "Why did we prepare this?"

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Feb 21, 2021 - 5:55pm

You are in a very lucky situation. I've found the people who come out of two years of really sweaty banking tend to have a serious girlfriend / boyfriend + strong social group of friends that sticks with them over 2 years. WFH has crushed that for a lot of people due to less going out.

A piece of advice, if you work on any teams where people have a good marriage, bring up how you have plans with your girlfriend. I've found that it is the only thing people take seriously if they care about it. I've been on the losing side of this (MBA Associate takes weekend off on live deal for wedding plans or goes to beach) so passing it along to help other analysts. People don't really care about your mental health / wellbeing, if they (VP or above) talk about it a lot, probably means someone from HR talked to them in the past about shaping up and being better to analysts which they have no intention of actually doing. That being said, time and time again, the only "conflict" people I work with seem to respect is a spousal / serious partner type commitment. I thought about reconnecting with an ex-gf or making one up in the past just to get Friday night / Saturday nights off for "dinner plans". Pretty shitty situation so happy I'm leaving banking and this terrible culture behind.

Feb 17, 2021 - 5:25pm

Was literally thinking about this earlier today... tough year for sure. I seem to be thinking about alternate careers and living a more simple life almost daily... which is very atypical for me. I'm one of those psychotic, "born to bank" type of people that loves to grind with a smile on their face, but this year has been particularly challenging given the various externalities and uncertainty surrounding the world health situation and the economy. There are definitely good days, not so bad days, bad days, and "really not having a good time days" - there has been a noticeable mix shift of days to the right along that spectrum over the last 11 months. In my opinion, working from home for extended periods of time (i.e., almost a year) can amplify the mix shift since we lose out on the camaraderie, social aspect, dinners / closing parties and other fun aspects of the job. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel through, so let's try to stay as positive as possible and find the will to relentlessly crush and come out of the other end of this stronger, together.

Feb 17, 2021 - 6:30pm

I'm sorry you are having a rough time. I really am as someone that's struggled with mental health / addictions for many years. I also reached burn-out in the period between my 2nd and 3rd year. In college, I was a creative person. I was a breakdancer. I DJ'd. I did some photography, etc. At the end of my second year, I hadn't done any of these things in over a year. 

This made me feel incredibly empty and dead inside. I began dreading work everyday, and the more I dreaded work, the worse I got at my work. Thing is, when you reach burn-out, you don't work nearly as efficiently. You procrastinate. You constantly think about what could have been, or you think about the video games you'll play when you finish, etc. This slows you down even more, making the hours even more brutal. You can't truly let go and relax either because you're procrastinating and that stress won't leave your mind.  

What actually got me out of my slump was recruiting. The pure difficulty and time consuming nature of managing an IB job while preparing for buyside interviews was nothing like I had experienced before. Compared to this, dealing with an IB job was easy vs. the constant juggling. I've now given up on buyside recruiting and returning to the normalcy of day-to-day IB, I found that the burnout has basically disappeared. 

So with that said, I'd encourage you to either recruit to leave or at least have that period of pure recruiting hell, so that when you return to a normal schedule in the end, it feels much easier. Much more importantly, be introspective about your habits and don't let burn-out / depression habits slow you down and put you in an even worse situation.  

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 19, 2021 - 2:56pm

Ah the classic "experience worst and bad will be tolerable". Always works. Glad I went through the marines and honestly compared to it, IB is so much tolerable, even if there are bad days

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Feb 21, 2021 - 3:58pm

I had a similar thing keeping me going. Not sure how long you've been on the job, but at least for me - this has definitely worn off after doing this sh*t for 2+ years.

Feb 17, 2021 - 6:33pm

for the VPs commenting on this thread -- would be great if you guys weren't bending the knee to every MD demand and being toxic AF to your deal team

MDs aren't the ones keeping junior bankers awake at night. Its the VPs who expect analysts to ramp to their level overnight

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

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  • Intern in CorpFin
Feb 17, 2021 - 9:42pm

I think its because IB is so competitive among students that even if the entire analyst class on Wall Street walked out right now, the banks would have no problem firing them all and taking a completely new class of Finance simps that will have no problem clipping the toenails of their MD's at an instant's notice.

It'll cost them more in training new people, but that's way less than the loss in revenue numbers or whatever other bullshit a Worker's Union would entail.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 17, 2021 - 9:46pm

^ Supply demand issue. The tech companies don't treat their employees better just because they want to, but because high-quality SWEs are a much rarer commodity and the idea of a "10x engineer" exists. No such thing as a 10x IB analyst, so they're all much more replaceable. Similar to elite college tuition. Schools like UChic and Columbia will probably charge 6 figures a year soon enough, but if a thousand kids leave claiming it's too expensive there are ten of thousands more willing to take their places.

Feb 18, 2021 - 8:22am

Pizz

Why don't all analysts at these banks march out and form a union? Do a  labor strike for better conditions/hours?

Banks could easily turn around and eliminate bonuses/reduce base. All the comp numbers you see thrown around on this site are expected all-in. That would basically make this role similar to a BO/MO lifer role which are the very roles most users on this site try to avoid. Don't forget the COL for a city like NYC

Array

Feb 18, 2021 - 4:52pm

IB is rough no doubt, I was "lucky" in that I started with a negative net worth, no family in the country or state basically, no serious gf, and my friends worked in banking too lol. That all helped tremendously. Having other analysts around me was also tremendously helpful for emotional support and I can't imagine trying to get through it during WFH like the current analysts are.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 19, 2021 - 2:59pm

This is honestly so true. If you have more to lose (alot of friends, hugely value family time, SO, etc.) you will be very stressed because IB is hugely demanding and takes up a heavy time. If this is the case, either go through the pain and accept it, or the profession is not for you and just march to the next one.

Feb 20, 2021 - 2:41pm

Great post OP. This pandemic has been so tough - and I'm saying that as a 31-year old in PE who has thankfully already gone through his IB years pre-covid, but is still finding it hard. I honestly can't blame you for quitting - as you said, all the positives of IB (social/drinks etc, networking, analyst camaraderie) have all been taken away and now there are just relentless 90-100 hour weeks from your bedroom office.

You raised a great point as to why aren't IBs doing more to address this - I think the sad reality is they don't really care. I know a lot of IB MDs (and senior people in my PE firm) who are loving working at home - they have a nice big house in the suburbs with a sick office set up, no more commute, get to see the family/kids, and can set up a ton more meetings over Zoom. And so from a work perspective I sadly think a lot of senior people in the industry see the outcome of the pandemic as a great positive. And they don't care that for analysts at the start of their careers this must be living hell right now - also they know they can hire plenty more kids if analysts decide they can't hack it anymore and quit.

Anyway, just wanted to say great post - usually I hate these "I quit IB" posts as very self-centered and whiny, but I can 100% understand why you decided to quit. Good luck in whatever you decide to do next.

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