Is there any part of finance that is still fun?

From a post on this forum: "One of the things I hear the older Wall Streeters talk about is that finance isn't as much "fun" as it used to be. I wasn't there, so I don't know whether we may or may not get those "fun times" back. But even if we don't, we can turn to The Wolf of Wall Street and say, "Ah...those WERE good times."

My experience with Wall Street has been zero fun. Only nitty-gritty math and being silent on management meetings. I wonder - what silos of Wall Street are "fun"? Is this a bygone concept?

Comments (62)

 
Jan 16, 2021 - 12:45pm

Making money

Money can purchase freedom, if you have the guts to buy it

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  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 16, 2021 - 11:16pm

I mean, not really though. Once you get to a certain point... it's more stressful than fun. 

 
Jan 16, 2021 - 1:00pm

From what I have seen, it was never really "fun".  There were things that were more interesting compared to now, like when we had in-person compliance seminars instead of online ones.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-8255

 
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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 16, 2021 - 1:17pm

My 2c- nothing is as "fun" as it used to be if you're thinking about things like partying, and things that could be considered exclusive or elitist or "harmful". Social media and everyone videoing/recording everything they do and posting it has caused everyone to have to act far more conservative so that they don't risk their careers/reputation. Think about orgs like fraternities. Hazing is nothing like it used to be and fraternities are being kicked off left and right. You can also party harder/ have crazier things going on when people aren't posting it to their snap story.

Everyone is also so much softer nowadays. My mom is a teacher and said there's a huge difference between when I went through school and the kids now. The kids now, you cant even joke around with them without them getting offended/ their feelings hurt. Thats just an 8 year difference, imagine a 20-30 year difference. Everyone is looking to get offended nowadays, and people don't hesitate to try and cancel you if they think your attitude is "toxic". 

TLDR: Rise of social media/phones recording everything and people getting softer/cancel culture ruined it.

That said idk how much finance has changed but i imagine it would be in line with reasons above

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 6:07am

100% agree. I'm only 30 myself but even I can remember 8-9 years ago (post-Facebook but pre-Instagram/Snapchat) that you were much less worried about getting videoed and/or cancelled after acting stupid after a few drinks at a bar. Now you might say "well I'd never get cancelled as I wouldn't do anything offensive" - but bear in mind, it's very easy for something to get taken out of context and blown out of proportion. Do you really want to take any chance of risking your six/seven-figure career by saying something that might be deemed offensive? So tbh most work-related drinks etc these days (at least in my experience) are relatively stiff/formal affairs, just making polite small talk with a bunch of bankers at a bar.

Plus since the financial crisis, new compliance rules have really clamped down on expense accounts etc. One time in London, a banker at a BB who took us out said he had to submit a 2-page document for any expenses over £15. Bear in mind £20 gets you a grand total of 2 large beers at a nice London bar. Plus at my PE firm we now have to report to compliance any "gifts & hospitality" (i.e. dinners/drinks etc) we've received from other firms that come to over $100.

So these days sadly there are zero chances of getting taken out for a $300 meal/drinks and then onto the stripclub (at least that's my experience). I heard prior to the financial crisis these wild nights out were a lot more common, I guess it's a combination of the fact those were boom times and all the above factors - i.e. compliance rules hadn't yet been introduced, social media was in its infancy and most people didn't have  camera on their phone etc.

Basically don't expect to join the finance world and relive Wolf of Wall Street - if you're expecting that you're going to be very disappointed.

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 18, 2021 - 3:12pm

As someone just entering the workforce, I had no idea compliance had cracked down like that. Very good point and adds a lot of perspective

 
Jan 20, 2021 - 12:01am

Couldn't agree further. Don't forget to bring your emotional spirit animal to analyst training lmao

Array
 
Jan 16, 2021 - 5:26pm

LinnaeusMaximus

Working at a hedge fund when it's going well is exceedingly fun.  

Yeah this seems like it would be really fun. Just crushing it with the team.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Jan 16, 2021 - 5:28pm

I think the atmosphere of being on a rising star startup team would be a blast. Just trying to keep up with growth.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 18, 2021 - 4:34pm

It's fun until you miss a quarterly goal, then all of a sudden you're a dude who's a "director" with 6 months experience answering to 3 VCs in a board meeting. But that's probably not the norm lol

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 16, 2021 - 11:26pm

Public markets can be fun if you enjoy playing that game. Mentioned above but being an analyst at L/S firm like Viking last year would have been amazing.

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 4:08am

I think the "fun" part of finance is the people IN finance, not so much regarding the industry.

The work are sometimes mind-numbingly boring and repetitive (pitchbooks, models, memos), some people in Finance are that "type" (got in because someone in their family is a client/LP/high ups within the company) who basically won't do anything more than they wanted/needed.

 

But with the right people in your group (and pay ofc), you'll learn to ignore the negatives and remind yourself on the positive. I love the group that i'm in currently and the MO/BO guys are lots of fun. No job/occupation are inherently fun forever, you just unconsciously ignore the bad stuff after a while.

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 10:53am

As someone mentioned before, I think most of this pertains to S&T which still can be fun.

However, I've heard some stories of the late 90s from my former senior analyst in ER.  Back then, ER analysts could easily get paid ~$1 million per year and would typically have 3 or 4 associates working for them.  Today, you're happy to be making $300 to $400K and have 1 research associate helping you out.....I can see how the old days were "funner". For anyone who works in ER today, can you even imagine how little work an analyst would do with 3 to 4 associates?

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 11:41am

You don't choose a part of finance because you think it's fun. Parts of finance become fun because of Stockholm syndrome :D

In all seriousness though, tech investing across the spectrum is pretty fun in my opinion based on experience + people I've spoken with.

Array

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 12:52pm

Not anymore. Obv environments are very professional now given they're much more inclusive gender-wise especially. As an illustrative example, at our fund Monday mornings were for sharing weekend " war" stories. That ended pretty quickly once we hired professionals who felt uncomfortable hearing that. It's ok you learn to compartmentalize your conversations. And we spend significantly less time hanging out post work. 

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 3:51pm

Whether or not it's really finance is debatable but physical commodities has some fun moments. Some very frustrating and stressful moments too but there are plenty of characters in the industry and some of the traveling can be fun. One weird moment was touring a potential storage facility where the guy in quick succession shows me a regular warehouse, a large limestone quarry, and then a huge (like drive a truck through huge) underground cave system where they set up storage and a basketball court you can play on year round because it stays between 55 and 60 all year. Mind completely blown.

 
Jan 19, 2021 - 9:59am

pls elaborate

"They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the fuckin' smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby!" - Boiler Room

 
Jan 18, 2021 - 7:18pm

This might be super cringy....I think making pitchbooks are fun: I get to look at an industry, its value chain, main companies, key drivers, technical terms, etc. 

Provided that I'm not asked to turn in the pitchbook before 7am the next day, or 3 fucking start-from-blank pitchbooks in a week...

Okay, that doesn't sound so fun...

 
Jan 20, 2021 - 2:15am

I don't know why you got so much MS - I think pitchbooks are cool too. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 22, 2021 - 2:12pm

Deal execution is the most admin intensive part of the job.  Like running trackers etc.

I used to cover public companies as a banker and the strategic alternative work we did was the most interesting.  Cranking out a fairness opinion or running a sell-side when the company sells has interesting parts but allot of it at the junior level is crunching numbers / managing the process.

Anything corporate strategy related was always my favorite and that can be in pitch books / CIMs / Investment Memos / etc.

 
Jan 21, 2021 - 6:42pm

Early stage VC is fun if you're a social person, especially the scattershot checks strategy. No deal is that big enough that requires deep diligence so you can avoid the big investment committee decks and there's limited data to work off of so you avoid the intense modeling work other than maybe market sizing. Negotiations on term sheets are also more loose because you're playing for unicorns way down the line instead of financial engineering so you don't need to grind on minute details in deals. Most of the work is helping entrepreneurs and meeting a ton of people to find deals.

If you like the sector you cover and can talk about it all the time then you can fuse it with your social life and it all becomes one big lifestyle 

Check out my blog EjAhead.wordpress.com
 
Jan 21, 2021 - 9:23pm

My friends in S&T seem to party quite a bit and had a lot of fun going out with seniors who would just throw money at everything. IB is much less so. I do enjoy making a lot of money tho, like not as a flex but just as a means to an end. It is more than almost all of my friends make by a considerable margin, and it is nice being able to go back home and hit up some friends and just be like "lets get a table" or something equally expensive and fun, and actually be able to do it. Like money absolutely can buy certain levels of excitement and joy.

Dayman?
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Jan 22, 2021 - 12:33am

I would bet that working in VC might be "fun." If you do early-stage, like someone else said, the due diligence is more qualitative and you spend a lot of time meeting entrepreneurs, networking in your niche, going to conferences, on the phone talking to people in your industry, listening to pitches, etc. The culture where a lot of VCs are is conducive to being chill and laidback (SF) compared to the East Coast, and most VCs are smart and pedigreed too (mostly they only hire from HBS and GSB out of an MBA). So I would say that VC might have an inkling of that culture that you're talking about, in some sense, at least compared to a lot of careers. Then again, you don't make as much money as PE or HF until you're a Partner, but a lot of people find the job so enjoyable that they don't mind, on top of the fact that a lot of people in VC are former founders and aren't hurting for cash. 

 
Jan 23, 2021 - 4:32am

The industry is now full of (i) nerds/math geeks who never got laid in high school and (ii) "type-A eager beaver American types" (sorry guys) running from the desk to the gym with their gym bag to get in a spin class before downing a vegan protein shake. As others have pointed out, social media, reduced entertainment budgets, Mifid II, and greater focus/scrutiny on the industry has killed a lot of the fun. Also, there are a lot more women around now so the days of banter and joking have come to an end because, heaven forbid, a women might "feel uncomfortable" and report you to HR. A lot of fun still happens in smaller shops (like a small HF with under 10 guys where the owner is cool) but at the large banks here in London it is mostly gone. The only exception is the annual Christmas party where you still see co-workers getting off (married or not) and people do let their hair down a bit with the usual "what happens at the crimbo party remains at the crimbo party."     

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Jan 27, 2021 - 11:18am

Couldn't agree with this more.  Most of these are kids who at school you wanted to study with / exchange notes.  Not the people you want to hit the bar with.  Worked for a smaller team for a few years that was a ton of fun but it was less than 10 people and we had a couple great years with revenue so everyone was in a great mood. These places are few and far in-between - I haven't found another place like this yet.

 
Jan 23, 2021 - 9:47am

A lot of what I've heard from older industry people is how crazy the drinking culture was. I remember one MD telling me about the daily 'drink cart' that was rolled around the office, and how he used to sleep on park benches as a junior during lunch from being hungover. It's also like asking any guy how university was, they're going to say it was the best time ever and boost about it.

 
Jan 26, 2021 - 9:48am

Not the answer you're looking for but I enjoy my job at a EU bank in Renewables PF. The occasional happy hour, interesting deals, decent team comradery, and enough free time to spend on my own hobbies. My bonus won't be even be close to 100% salary like some people on here will and long-term pay will be even less comparatively but it's still worth it because I have a life outside of work. This is coming from a first year analyst.

Array
 
  • Intern in PE - Growth
Feb 1, 2021 - 8:05pm

Not really finance, but I have friends who work for RE developers (smaller than the large / institutional ones but more well capitalized than the mom and pops) and they seem to spend half their week on the golf course or drunk.

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