Paid well but bored

F500Guy's picture
Rank: Monkey | 64

I'm 31 years old and work as a controller for a F500. I'm making roughly $150k a year in total comp (base + bonus), work a straight 40 hour work week with little to no travel, live in a nice part of the country where the cost of living is slightly lower than the national average, and get 3 weeks of vacation + holidays with flexible hours when/if I need it. The job is pretty low stress, work/life balance is good, and I get to spend plenty of time with family and hobbies. I've had great performance reviews each year and it has been hinted to me that I'm on the company's "fast track" to Director / VP of Finance roles.

The problem is my job is extremely mundane and boring. Every month is the same - I spend the first few days finalizing financial results from the previous month, spend the next couple days reviewing the budget for the rest of the year, then spend a couple days reviewing/approving balance sheet accounts. The rest of the month is a combination of weekly staff meetings, preparing and giving presentations to upper management, some project work, and miscellaneous meetings. Then it all starts over again the next month. As it is now, I can get all my work done in less than 4 hours each day. This might be ok for some people, but I have the type of personality where I enjoy a more fast paced environment, being constantly challenged, solving problems, and working with other people. I'm just not getting those things out of this job and I've reached the point where going to work each day is almost unbearable. I drive home wondering what the heck I just spent my day doing and it feels like it has to be one of the least fulfilling careers that exists.

What do you think? Is it worth it for me to start over at this point in my career and likely take a big pay cut to do something I find more meaningful? Should I just suck it up and realize the grass probably isn't greener on the other side? I would guess it isn't just people in controller roles that get this feeling and I assume even people in IBD can feel that way after spending hours cranking through excel spreadsheets / powerpoint presentations. How do you guys cope with this or do you just recognize the fact that you have a good, high paying job and focus on life outside of work? I'm tempted every day to quit and get a job that actually has a positive impact on the world like a teacher, firefighter, FBI agent, etc but I fear I'd regret it since I've invested 8 years in my field and have a decent shot at becoming a F500 executive. Hoping you can help me put things in perspective.

Comments (40)

Aug 21, 2015

I don't think getting a new job is necessarily "starting over". Surely your experience is relevant to other jobs you could get. Are you "the" controller, or controller of a division? 31 seems young for a controller, no?

You could still get a traditional full-time MBA. You are on the high end of the target age for most programs but not by much.

Do you have a wife and kids? That will affect the choices available to you.

You say going to work is "almost unbearable" so you need to make a change. What that change is I have no idea. I don't think a firefighter or teacher is necessarily (or even probably) more Accretive to society than a F500 controller. Are there people you trust in the role to which you would be promoted that you could talk to and see what the job is like?

What type of job do you think you would enjoy? What jobs have you enjoyed in the past and what is your favorite (or least bad) part of your current job?

Hopefully these are some useful questions but I don't have any direct advice as I've not enough experience.

Good luck.

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Aug 21, 2015
LongandShortofit:

I don't think getting a new job is necessarily "starting over". Surely your experience is relevant to other jobs you could get. Are you "the" controller, or controller of a division? 31 seems young for a controller, no?

You could still get a traditional full-time MBA. You are on the high end of the target age for most programs but not by much.

Do you have a wife and kids? That will affect the choices available to you.

You say going to work is "almost unbearable" so you need to make a change. What that change is I have no idea. I don't think a firefighter or teacher is necessarily (or even probably) more Accretive to society than a F500 controller. Are there people you trust in the role to which you would be promoted that you could talk to and see what the job is like?

What type of job do you think you would enjoy? What jobs have you enjoyed in the past and what is your favorite (or least bad) part of your current job?

Hopefully these are some useful questions but I don't have any direct advice as I've not enough experience.

Good luck.

I'm a controller for a segment of the company, so I'm not the head corporate controller for the company. I am quite a few levels below that level.

I did a part time MBA a few years back so that could potentially help me make a transition, but quite honestly I'm not sure I would be much more satisfied in another business related job. If I do make a career change, I'd probably move to another field altogether.

I do have a wife and kids so that definitely complicates my situation. I'm hesitant to take too much risk for their sake. Also, if I take a large pay cut, it would likely mean sending my wife back to work, putting our kids in day care, and cutting out a lot things like vacations, entertainment, etc. It makes me wonder whether doing something I enjoy is worth it if it is going to make life harder and more stressful for the rest of my family.

Aug 21, 2015
F500Guy:

I do have a wife and kids so that definitely complicates my situation. I'm hesitant to take too much risk for their sake. Also, if I take a large pay cut, it would likely mean sending my wife back to work, putting our kids in day care, and cutting out a lot things like vacations, entertainment, etc. It makes me wonder whether doing something I enjoy is worth it if it is going to make life harder and more stressful for the rest of my family.

It looks like your decision has been made for you. $150k for a 40-hour week is a pretty good deal. Six figure jobs generally require a significant investment of time, so if you are looking to get a more interesting job while keeping your pay relatively the same, you will almost certainly work more hours, which seems is not something that you are interested in doing/can do.

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Aug 21, 2015

.

Aug 21, 2015

31-year-old controller making $150,000 per year with a 40-hour work week? Suck it up, man. Not that you haven't earned it, but you've basically hit the jackpot. As you get promoted up the ladder your job will become more challenging.

Aug 21, 2015

.

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Aug 21, 2015

I agree with the above about keeping your family in mind. You make good money and work good, reliable hours. Why not venture into something new on the side/weekends? Doesn't necessarily have to be business-related. Who knows, if it takes off and you do well you could eventually make the full transition down the line. Just appreciate the fact that you are lucky enough to be able to consider this without having to quit your day job.

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Aug 21, 2015

You can always take your skill set to a non-profit organization.

Aug 21, 2015

If you were single, I'd have entirely different advice for you. Since you have a family, I think you've hit on about the best possible scenario for yourself. You get to watch your kids grow up, be involved in their lives and earn enough money to live comfortably. Give your kids as many experiences as you can and appreciate everything you have.

Focus on improving yourself and your quality of life outside of work. You are far more than your job. In fact, I view your job at this point as the way to facilitate the lifestyle you want to live and provide whatever your family needs. Maybe as your kids get older you can look to transition or pick up new hobbies that you can enjoy. Until then I think you should ride it out and look at it as an opportunity rather than a drawback.

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Aug 21, 2015

You can still have a lot of impact on society without quitting your job. Mentor program? Volunteer opportunities?

If you're really looking for a challenge, try finding lower MM private equity backed companies looking for a CFO. Think you're up for it?

PM me your background if you'd like. We're actually going through this process with one of our companies.

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Aug 21, 2015

I was like you. Age 25, making 80k on a 40 hour work week, was allowed to work from home when I needed to, 5 weeks vacation, fast track, but bored out of my goddamn mind. I went and got my MBA and now am going to a job making not all that much more ($115k or so) but one that is exciting and engaging every day. Its still only 50 hours/week with good flexibility. I wouldnt suggest an MBA given your age/family, but I would suggest looking at other options. There are plenty of roles out there where you wouldnt take a big pay cut but would have a much more engaging job, even at <50 hours a week. Its up to you, but Im extremely glad I made a change. Work isnt your whole life, but if youre bored most of the time Monday-Friday it seeps into the rest of your life.

Aug 21, 2015

MBA -> MBB

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Aug 21, 2015

Start a business on the side? Life is only as mundane as you make it, maybe look into a new hobby? Are there any extra projects you can take on at work?

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Best Response
Aug 21, 2015

I think you've already more or less made your choice to stay in the business arena, to be honest you are a 31 year old accountant with a wife and kids, where does this random affinity for risk and excitement come from? I think you can get the intellectual stimulation / excitement your looking for by moving to another business role such as Corp Dev, FP&A, or Start up CFO.

Lets take your example of becoming a firefighter. You would forgo your entire 8 years of work experience to start where a 22 year old starts off and make <$50k. Even if this sounds like its worth it to you, imagine how big of a lifestyle change that would be for you and your family. Try telling your wife you cant go out to eat anymore, that she has to go back to work and see your kids less, and tell your kids you cant go to Disney world this year. Even the most accepting wives and children will resent your decision even if they are supportive to your career aspirations.

At the end of the day, work is work. Try finding a job that makes you more money, doesn't add much more stress, and is more interesting to help the day go by. Your opportunity to take huge personal sacrifices was crippled the day you decided to get married and was dead the day you had kids.

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Aug 21, 2015

I think you should consider an MBA. Your story is there. Prove that you know why you need one and I don't see your age being a showstopper for top MBA at all.

Aug 21, 2015

Join the National Guard.

Aug 21, 2015

You basically have a sweet spot there, you could create a startup maybe, work on side projects, or just have an affair !

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Aug 21, 2015

@F500Guy

I work in a much junior role (Analyst) in basically the same career path as you. Corp Fin @ large F500 - 1 year in out of college, decent pay, easy 40 hour workweek with no stress. I definitely understand what you are going through/

I have a suggestion for you:

I have seen people move from Corp Fin to the business (owning P&L side). Now granted this is rare, but the point is, it can be done.

Maybe try this?

Aug 24, 2015

Snakeoil,

I am currently in an ELDP program, and my controller owns the P&L. Is this not the same elsewhere?

Aug 24, 2015
Desperate_Analyst:

Snakeoil,

I am currently in an ELDP program, and my controller owns the P&L. Is this not the same elsewhere?

I think he was referring to the Plant Manager and/or General Manager who is ultimately responsible for the results of the business.

Aug 21, 2015

The grass usually isn't greener. Take being a teacher for instance, you'll teach the same curriculum for years and grade assignments on those same topics year after year, but you have to deal with low wages, angry parents, spoiled little shitheads, unions, city government and constant pressure to lower your pay. I'm sure it can be a very rewarding career, and how do you put a value on watching the material "click" for a student you've been working with for months?

Don't take this the wrong way, but maybe the reason you're restless is because you've moved past the part of your life where everything is an opportunity and you're surrounded by the unknown. There's nothing wrong with being settled in on your path. I'd just broaden your perspective for your short term and long term goals (which aren't just career oriented), use milestones I.e, the next 6 months or 5 years etc. What do you want to look back on and have accomplished by the end of that time frame in regards to your career or personal goals?

Aug 21, 2015

-Start a business / invest on the side
-Rotate into another role / function / country with your company
-Ask for more responsibilities at work
-Start exercising seriously (lift weights / run marafons etc.)
-Start other hobbies
-Activities with your kids (coach their team etc.)
-Do Coursera / a part-time degree
-Join a non-profit / do pro bono work
-...

Opportunities for growth and fulfillment are limitless, even without leaving your current cushy, comfortable, well paying job.

Aug 22, 2015

Honestly, I think everyone at or near that age will have similar thoughts (I am in my late 20s). While the thought of dropping what you are doing now for something new and potentially fulfilling is nice, I would recommend exploring options that are more feasible in the short-term. For me, I had the opportunity to work on a side project with friends from grad school which turned into a larger-scale business. As of now, I am volunteering at a non-profit helping out their operations.
Take some time to work on some projects with short-term deadlines and try to figure out what you really want to do..and then from there you can decide if a full-pivot into that area is the best.
I don't know about you, but 40hr weeks, 6-figures in the lower COL area with a young family looks enviable from my perspective haha.

Aug 22, 2015

I'll echo the same sentiment everyone else is saying.

I was once talking to a BSD I met at a political rally and informed him I wanted to be in IB. He made a good point in acknowledging that not everybody loves IB and that not everybody can get paid to do what they love. Told me that work would be work and that I should have a side hobby that interested me. Seems pretty simple but the reinforcement is needed sometimes.

Aug 22, 2015

The bad news: $150k might be more than 90% of Americans, but is only $150k more than broke people while being $1,000,000 less than rich people. Welcome to Wall St., the game shouldn't end at $150k.

The good news: you have stress free peace of mind and time. LEVERAGE IT MAN... Don't get comfortable. Maybe do CFO-type consulting work for small startups on the side, very possible. Try to 2x your income. Even average doctors make more than $150k. I know a doctor that makes $300k and works 20 hour a week shifts leaving him with free time - he took up a second gig during the other 20 free hours and now makes almost $600k a year. You can dramatically accelerate your income if you have free time at the job... And then quit them all and retire sooner and pursue your dreams/buy a boat/fuck a tranny/whatever floats your boat.

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Aug 22, 2015
wallstreet246:

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p>The bad news: $150k might be more than 90% of Americans, but is only $150k more than broke people while being $1,000,000 less than rich people. Welcome to Wall St., the game shouldn't end at $150k.

Didn't even have to look before knowing that "Incoming Analyst" or "Prospective Monkey" was your tag.

Aug 22, 2015

You beat me to it, the warped entitlement from the people who've never worked before, blows my mind.

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Aug 22, 2015
jss09:

wallstreet246: The bad news: $150k might be more than 90% of Americans, but is only $150k more than broke people while being $1,000,000 less than rich people. Welcome to Wall St., the game shouldn't end at $150k.

Didn't even have to look before knowing that "Incoming Analyst" or "Prospective Monkey" was your tag.

Lol.. And you believed the "tag"..? Did you want to put up my phone number and address on my profile too? (Im in the same income range and age as the OP and stand by my opinion). To each his own guys.

Aug 22, 2015

Talk to management and let them know you're getting a little stir crazy and want a bigger challenge. They've already invested a lot of time and money into you so wouldn't want to lose you plus maybe they are just assuming your are content because you haven't said anything about it?

Aug 24, 2015

Definitely don't move to another field entirely, unless you have a strong desire to break your marriage and make it much harder to put your kid (and potential additional kids) through college without crushing student loans. You're in a great situation that a lot of people would kill to be in.

Rotate to some other part of the firm, keep pushing for that promotion, and/or find a new hobby. Looking at models and decks all day every day does get boring, I assure you.

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Aug 24, 2015

What I took from this post is that you probably have a lot of downtime at the job. We have that in IB sometimes, too, but you are always 'ready.' If I were you, I'd look into timeshare controller or CFO services. You can obviously still make the big bucks, and you get to be hired out on an hourly basis. By doing this, you normally change atmosphere multiple times per week, as you go from company to company to help for a few hours (though it could be a lot) per week, and you stay busy. That might be a route... or go be a freelancer, though that might make it hard to fill your pipeline.

Aug 24, 2015

Not sure what your household expenses are, but if you are making that much and saving decent money, why not start your own business. You seem like you would have the capital. Start something you enjoy to do. Obviously find something that makes you money and doesn't put your family at risk. I know a guy in accounting at big 4 who hated his life, he quit, and started a subway and expanded to 5 in an area and loved every single day of it. He literally wanted to do subway because he enjoyed the food and he had it for lunch everyday. Keep in mind starting your own business takes hard work and is not a desk job.

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Aug 24, 2015

100% agreed. People tend to ignore the thrill of running your own business, whether it's sophisticated or not..

Aug 24, 2015

This is coming from someone your age working as an associate in IBD. My first marriage blew up and I have no kids so take what I say with a grain of salt. Given where you are at in life, just try and find happiness in what you are doing. Talk to upper management about rotational programs within the company. Start a business/consulting on the side. Read more books, travel more. Trust me, the grass is greener and you don't need to make $1million a year to retire early with a healthy bit of real estate/side businesses/etc. to keep you busy. If you were to try and go the IBD route you would barely have time for your wife and children, absolutely zero time for yourself, and eventually want to go back to where you are now.

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Aug 24, 2015

You have a pretty sound platform to make a lot of things happen. On one hand I hear you with not being challenged, but you're also in a position to create new challenges and not compromise your job.

  1. As many stated, start a side project, business, real estate, investing (either something traditional like stocks or more exotic like currencies or derivatives) Assuming you're not already doing this you will have to teach yourself a lot of the information.
  2. Look for inefficiencies and problems in your firm. Again - you're in a great position in that you are high up enough that you probably have access to information that allows you to see where the firm can improve. Start with finding simple problems and fixing them. And move on to more complex issues. Look at what competitors are doing etc. This will put you in a great position to be successful as you get promoted as well as for developing a strategic eye.
  3. Network. Find folks out there who you can share your skills with and learn from them.

Hope this helps

Aug 25, 2015

Honestly, you could do an MBA if you applied soon. You are on the upper end but that ship has not sailed. However, I'd think about exactly what you want to do if that is the case. You really do have a great life as it is. Think of all the other things you can do and learn during those 4 hours a day that you have free. I suggest that you start utilizing those and see what you can create. Maybe it is a business idea. Maybe it is a set of solutions to problems in your firm that will help move to a role with greater responsibility and more problem-solving aspects. Ultimately, it is up to you to create the future that you want. The hardest part can be figuring out what that is. Best of luck!

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Aug 26, 2015
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Sep 1, 2015