Not sure if Investment Banking is for me anymore

For the past ~2 years I have been working on positioning myself to break in, only to find that working 0800-0200 every day is just not for me. I used to have hobbies, interests and a life outside of work, and am just feeling absolutely depressed doing these hours for 4 weeks straight now (in an office I don't really like culture-wise). I wouldn't mind working 60 hours a week and more on occassion, but 80-100 every week is just not what I want to do.

The main problem is that I have no idea what else to do if I won't go into ibd. I like doing analytical work in a deal setting or advising companies on things like capital structures or strategy. Are there any jobs out there that still pay decent, have ok hours and I can still transition into (having completed my studies already, Europe)? Are there tech start positions that I have completely missed, or is strategy consulting something that I might want to look into? Something else?

Thanks in advance!

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (27)

Nov 1, 2017 - 12:30pm

I understand that it's better for you to keep your head down and try to stay in as long as possible, but do give it a think if its really the right thing for you.

If you're feeling completely crushed after 4 weeks in a place with a culture you dislike, you really have to realistically assess whether you can keep performing/maintain results/not break down within the 1/2/3 years that you stay onboard. Assuming that you stay for two years, you still have to work 20 more of these 4 weeks, and you're the only person that knows if you can actually make it.

It's probably a lot easier to join another division as a student/fresh graduate and your IB experience should always be relevant, and its always better than quitting 6 months in. Just give it a serious think if you should make the change now or toughen up and think of how to deal with it.

Nov 5, 2017 - 2:47am

Thanks for your response! I just feel physically ill and depressed every day, and thinking about 20x4 weeks absolutely crushes me.
I really like the analytical side of general idea behind the work, I just hate the hours (and at this office, the culture). Think I might try to go to my last firm, work a little less hours and still have some exit options (and try to cut my internship short).

Nov 2, 2017 - 1:32am

Don't try to cut your internship short unless its something like 6 - 12 months. If its only a few more months/weeks, you shouldn't even think about quitting. Try to keep good relationships with whomever you meet even if you don't feel like you'll be doing IB ever again; quitting early for a commitment that is already short to begin with doesn't help your case at all.

Nov 14, 2017 - 3:24am

Take it day by day with the medium and long term goal at the back of your mind guiding you.

If you try to eat an apple in one go, you'd either break your jaw, choke, or look like a pig about to be roasted. You eat it with one bite at a time and chew properly.

Same thing with work and life, don't focus too much on the whole otherwise you'd be overwhelmed. Imagine being a grade school student again and looking at all the subjects you'll have to study and pass from HS to undergrad and Master's.

Also meditate, it doesn't sound like much but it works wonders trust me. There's proven science on this which I won't delve much into but you can search it. Start with as little as 5 minutes then work your way up to 30 mins or 1 hour before you go to bed and/or after you wake up.

Even Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, one of the most successful HF managers, considers it to be his primary secret to success.

Good luck man

Nov 1, 2017 - 5:15pm

Finish your internship if you can, but don't feel like you need to do it full-time. The internship should be, as much as anything else, a way for you to figure out if it's something you're interested in doing for a couple years, and it sounds like the answer is probably no (at least at this firm).

There are plenty of jobs that can offer that analytical rigor you mentioned; it's just about finding a good fit, working hard and taking initiative. There are a lot of things about banking that objectively suck, but bad culture magnifies all those issues. If you don't like the people you work with (particularly at the junior level), then at minimum, it's not the right firm. To the extent that you have the option to join another bank/group or do something else entirely, I'd highly consider it

If you go into another industry, will you regret not staying in banking? Maybe, maybe not, but if you can tell that this job (or at least this firm) isn't right for you, then don't stay for full time.

Based on what you said regarding ~60 hours/week, I think that perhaps banking isn't a great fit, and that's ok. There are plenty of rewarding jobs/careers that don't require what banking does; it's just a matter of interest and priorities

  • 1
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Nov 1, 2017 - 5:26pm

Nearly everyone on this site has rationalized why getting INTO banking is so important. It'll be hard to find many sympathizers to the contrary. If you have a reason to leave after giving it a try and are set on it, I really don't see why your views on this should be changed. If someone is able to talk you out of it, it probably wasn't a good enough reason to leave and you're being babyish.

But in all seriousness, the job comfort from a high level perspective can't be that much different if you're moving from one large company to another. But, the lifestyle could be very different because the hours, culture, pay, and location can all change. Keep that in mind. If you're happy with the aforementioned changes and have a good reason, just go for it. But you probably won't find a lot of sympathizers on this board.

Nov 2, 2017 - 6:14pm

Thanks for your comment. Talking about the job comfort difference: the MM i'm at I work 80-100 hours a week, at my previous internship more around 50-55. Expect that to be a bit higher for ft but that is lifechanging in terms of getting your workouts and sleep in.

Problem is (as you state yourself) that just like this forum, I have rationalized that ibanking is the most important thing in the world to get into (Judging on the SB's on my opening post I at least have some support here on WSO which is nice :). Got a lot of pressure from friends, family and myself to hunt the prestige. I have these paranoid feelings that I will end up in a crappy career if I choose my health (and a bit of my sanity) over my job everything will go to hell.

Nov 1, 2017 - 7:45pm

On the job comfort note, I'm really referring to things like training, job security, role definition, resources, etc. Once you're talking about hours, that's typically falls under culture and can affect the work environment, but people aren't really focusing on hours unless it's about one's lifestyle. You want better hours, which is understandable, to do more outside of the office.

IB is great in a lot of different ways. But if you have the chance to do CF at a similar or larger company, you should be able to transition easily because of the former job related things I mentioned above, which is very important to a successful transition. Once you make the switch, you might benefit from the lifestyle expectations/norms that come with the job if your expectations are reasonable. It's a bit similar on the other side of an IB position, except it's probably the willingness to make lifestyle sacrifices for some perceived benefit later down the road that defines folks. Some kids on the other side can't even get CF roles without having IB experience. And for everyone else, maybe they have not gotten the shit kick out of them yet and don't know, or just believe the sacrifice is worthwhile But the point is, it comes down to your choice and how you define your own life. I've had to realize this for myself.

Nov 2, 2017 - 3:00pm

You're welcome, and don't sweat it. Banking isn't for everyone, and at the end of the day happiness is an important consideration. The people who were pushed or prodded into banking are usually the ones most miserable, and that sounds like your situation. My advice is that you're probably a smart dude with good work experience, so at least casting a wide net and applying to a ton of different roles cant hurt. Sitting around and playing around with aesthetically pleasing powerpoint templates and inputting data into excel isn't for everyone, and it certainly isn't the only way to get into amazing exit ops down the line. I'm not trying to shit on IB, thats pretty much all I have been interviewing for, but I can at least see the other side of things. I have friends who have worked at tier two consulting shops for just a year and are now interviewing with McKinsey, and a bunch of lower-middle market to MM PE shops. What the vast majority of the people on this sight seem to forget is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Most of my friends have had some very unconventional career paths, but most of them have a great work life balance, are happy with where they are at, and still pursuing fantastic (albeit less demanding) roles.

Nov 2, 2017 - 8:47pm

Be warned that the pay and exit opportunities are significantly worse at a B4 than most IBs. You'll have to decide how much money and later year opportunities are worth relative to the short term pay.

Also - dont be surprised if you are working 50-55 hours a week for 6-8 months and 60-90 hours a week 3-4 months depending how your accounting firm's culture is. Overall the hours are much better but at peak times they aren't that good.

Nov 2, 2017 - 7:54pm

Depends on the valuation at big 4 so be careful. At EY doing SF val or the advisor of an IB deal worked IB hours without the salary

Nov 2, 2017 - 10:17am

So pretty rough on the hours hey? They have good dealflow though ;)
Try to perform as well as you can and get an offer, then decide what you want to do, having an offer in hand gives you way more options!

Nov 2, 2017 - 10:18am

You're right, was just super easy to find for me (literally 10 second LinkedIn) search so was trying to point that out to him.

However, the way I communicated this was not cool (should have PM'ed), so removed that part.

Nov 2, 2017 - 10:49am

Perhaps take a look at Corporate Development. In terms of hours, it is way better than IB and pay is decent (no where near IB). An average work week is 9am-7pm M-F and minimal weekend work, so about ~50-55 hours/week. Of course this shoots up to 70-80+ hours when you have a few live deals going on. In my current shop, we are extremely active and have been given the "green light" by management to turn on the M&A spigot for the next 3-4 years so my hours are closer to 65-70 hours / week, but this is what I wanted.

I find the work extremely stimulating because you have to think think through market positioning and demand, strategic fit, operational synergies, etc. in your investment thesis.

Nov 2, 2017 - 2:03pm

Try a consulting firm. Would involve a lot more traveling and the hours are still rough, but I have a couple friends that say they can have random days off to recoup after being staffed on a big project. Could also play into your liking to advise companies and crunching data. In the end, don't do something you don't like. Live's too short.

Nov 2, 2017 - 7:43pm

First things first, your health and livelihood are 1000x more important the money. No job is worth losing your health over. Period. And a work office and culture who wont try to help when they see it sucking the life out of you isnt worth it. There is a reason why turnover is so large in IBD after a year. Sure the exit opps are good and the hours are better, but if things are this bad, you need to get some help for yourself.

That being said, there are plenty of jobs within a bank you can do that is advisory and analytical but dont have the crazy hours every day. Like you said, once in awhile is fine, and working 50-60 hours a week doing what you love to do can be found. I would know, my position is this and is still front office banking.

Try to look around internally for a transfer if possible, but if it is affecting you this much, dont sit on it. Look consulting as well. In the short term, i highly recommend going to a therapist or psychologist. Talking to strangers online for work advice is one thing, but when it comes to mental help, go to the experts. Theres nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

Take care of yourself.... dont have any shame

  • 3
Best Response
Nov 2, 2017 - 9:48pm
Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

April 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (32) $350
  • Associates (180) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (102) $151
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (25) $146
  • Intern/Summer Associate (95) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (387) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (315) $82