Please Be Careful

So I've been at a BB working for a few years now and it has been, from what I have seen relative to my peers, a pretty normal junior experience - long hours, stressful environment, always on call, etc. I haven't been to the doctor to check my overall health in a while - the last time being shortly before my SA stint.

IB Had a Significant Impact on My Health

Well, I was at my grandparent's house with my family a few weeks ago, and just for shits and giggles, we were all getting our blood pressure readings on their testing machine. I didn't think anything of this while everyone was getting their numbers, but I took mine and it turned out to be way higher than anyone else's. It's in the upper range of stage 1 hypertension (high blood pressure) and I'm in my mid-twenties, not overweight, don't use caffeine or nicotine, exercise multiple times a week, and try to eat somewhat clean.

I immediately thought it must be wrong - I've never had high blood pressure before in my life, but then I got to thinking, and I realized that I haven't really been to the doctor in a few years and the only thing in my life that has changed substantially since my last physical is my job. I took my BP again and the same damn numbers. I went to the doctor to confirm and basically got told the same thing. It was sort of an "oh shit" moment for me. I realized I am stressed out all the time at work. I am sweating frequently, lose my appetite, and just feel beat down every single day as the work gets piled on. WFH has only made this worse. This job makes me miserable and has clearly put a strain on my mental, and subsequently, physical health.

Decided to Leave My Current Role

I always thought of myself as being a pretty healthy person and didn't put any thought into heart longevity or potentially being at risk later in life. It honestly scares the fuck out of me. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I have decided to leave my current role and take a job in something that is far less "prestigious", but I know will be better for me in the long term. I'm taking a slight pay cut, but I personally can't live my life like this, where I know I am damaging myself physically. I will be taking a few months off between jobs and I am going to try and focus on my health. 

This point of this post is not to dissuade anyone from going into banking or to bash WFH. There is plenty of that content on this site already. It seems like so many of my friends are in the same boat where this could be taking a serious toll on them. I see so many guys stressed, strung out on caffeine, eating like shit, and doing whatever to get by. Who can blame them honestly? You do what you have to. I just advise you to please be cognizant of the legitimate long-term impacts that jobs like these can have. Stay safe out there lads. Does anyone else have similar experiences?

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Comments (78)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Mar 30, 2021 - 10:36am

-Commoditization of the junior banker skillset: Basic, rote junior banking tasks will increasingly become outsourced / automated as technology increasingly permeates and disrupts financial services. Demand for improved junior work-life balance will result in increased junior headcount and lower total comp 

-Reduced talent pool: Value proposition for investment banking at an all-time low. Lower total comp on a real dollars basis compared to the 00s combined with all-time high hours worked has resulted in a talent drain to tech and other professional services industries with a better value proposition for a younger generation that values mental, physical health and leisure time more highly than extreme financial wealth

-Compression of fees: Financial services competition is saturated as more banks than ever are competing for fees. Lower fees and higher costs due to regulatory oversight result in lower profit margins and reduced comp across the board. Financial markets are far more mature than at any point in the past 20 years and there is more transparency / information flow than there ever has been which will continue to pressure profitability 

-Financial services technological disruption: Investment banks underwrite risk. Senior banker relationships matter less every day as the investment banking product becomes commoditized and very little actual value is added by the senior banker. Banking will not be immune to long-term technological disruption as underwriting risk becomes more efficient and pricing new issuance becomes more systems-based. The middle men bankers will be disintermediated while the client gets a streamlined and efficient product

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Apr 1, 2021 - 8:16am

"Authored by: Certified Investment Banking Professional - 1st Year Associate"....

"Authored by: 1st Year Associate"...

"1st Year Associate"...

"1st Year"...

Sorry but you don't even have enough real world let alone work experience to speak confidently about any industry.

I don't mean to knock on you but even if you "learn to code" (which is likely what you are thinking of), you will find that your problems will follow you regardless of which highly competitive field you choose.

This is assuming you are looking for comparable compensation.

 All the free lunches have already been eaten.

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Mar 29, 2021 - 12:09pm

I actually got a physical done last week as well. I will preface by saying I am half-black so there are genetic predispositions to my results.

My BP reading was 122/70mmHg, so in the normal range but what shocked me was my LDL and non HDL cholesterol readings. They were all "high normal" which scared me. High normal or not, they are higher than they should be.

I don't think my job is as intense as IB or anything, but still pulling 10-12 hours everyday, sedentary, is not healthy. I know my dietary habits have been in the dog house all COVID and I recently started exercising again so I hope I can turn it around. Nothing scares me more than heart health so I'm going to do whatever possible to get myself in the normal ranges. And I think WFH does not help the case.

Edit: I was also a D1 football player, so like OP I also was pretty nonchalant with heart health since I assumed everything was good to go due to my past. NOT the case, so I urge everyone to get their annual checkups. Especially if it has been years like myself and OP. Don't play with your health, you can't take your salary and title to the grave.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Mar 29, 2021 - 12:53pm

I completely agree. Being physically and mentally healthy, as well as having the capability to engage in the activities/hobbies I love is more important to me than prestige and having 1% tax bracket status. I get that not everyone is going to feel the same way and that is fine with me. 

To that end, what's your plan to improve heart health? Very open to suggestions

I am starting with:

  • 20min ss cardio 4-5x a week, hope to ramp up as it becomes easier
  • Powerlifting/bodybuilding weight training split 4-5x week
  • Reduced sodium intake and elimination of highly-processed carbs/sugars
  • Macronutrient tracking and incorporation of more greens into every meal --> hoping to maintain current bw and recomp bf %, will get bloodwork done in a few months and reduce bw as needed
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Mar 29, 2021 - 1:26pm

The doctor recommended to cut back on carbs and to increase cardiovascular health... So I don't really have a plan of attack per se, I just plan on getting after it like I did in college except I'm no longer trying to put on muscle, just want to stay lean.

That includes some sort of cardio for 30 minutes everyday, my own personal workout 4x week with targets on excess fat areas (stomach, thighs, butt, etc), food journal, cut back on sodium/sugar/carbs, cut down on nicotine (preferably to zero), get better sleep, and generally have positive dietary habits. I've also been doing deep breathing exercises during the workday to help ease stress and it's helped a little. Really just trying to stay calm during the workday however I can.

  • Analyst 2 in S&T - Other
Mar 29, 2021 - 1:10pm

Very interesting. I've gained a decent amount of weight during my analyst stint and I feel like I am the most out of shape I've ever been. It is pretty depressing to think that I probably couldn't run a mile if I wanted to. Obviously no one to blame here but myself, but the neglect of physical/mental health in this industry is astounding. 

Mar 29, 2021 - 1:34pm

Definitely feel that chronic stress took its toll on me over the last six years - female here and got more than one breast cancer scare, then was told at the biopsies that symptoms (and risk of an actual issue) are 100% aggravated by chronic stress 

Not thinking of leaving the industry but definitely cutting back on hours / trying to not care about every single minor thing at work anymore, plus bought a treadmill and use it to exercise at home every day 

  • Analyst 2 in S&T - Other
Mar 29, 2021 - 2:10pm

Homies should literally stop at nothing to be an investment bankerEven if you get a heart attack at age 23 it will be worth it because you can update your LinkedIn to "Investment Banking Analyst" 

Most Helpful
Mar 29, 2021 - 3:42pm

It's even worse on Twitter when Bloomberg or someone else posts a story about the whole Goldman survey thing. Retards working 40 hours a week saying "now do an article on single mothers" or saying "why should I feel bad for someone making 400k" (like at least do an ounce of research before spouting your drivel) or even a couple who said "am I supposed to feel bad for the bankers who sold subprime mortgages and crashed the economy". Like we make fun of the prospects who say that here but those prospects are Albert Einstein compared to these shitheads on Twitter. Like people think just because you make a decent salary out of college means you have the right to be abused physically and mentally because "YoU CaN JuSt QuIT". While there is a small element of truth to that, it's ironic that the same people who claim to be all about empathy just throw that concept out the window because it's someone making slightly more money than them. So whenever you feel that WSO is polluted with these prospects, just head over to Twitter and prepare to lose 10x as many brain cells

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 29, 2021 - 6:31pm

I read the same comments on the business insider's article on twitter. Screw those r*tards, really 0 understanding of what those kids are going through and incapable of any empathy because "those 22yos make 3x the average US household income".

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 29, 2021 - 10:28pm

Twitter is a cesspool for people that don't understand business and economics. Oh those bankers are greedy, no man I can barely keep my eyes open past 3 am without frantically expecting an email from my cuckhold vp at 7 and I work in my childhood bedroom. 

Mar 30, 2021 - 11:57am

Was talking with my family who we invited for dinner (who know little about finance) and my Dad brought up the GME fiasco.  My uncle started talking about how I "manipulate retail investors" and "destory the markets".  Lol I even told him my fund wasn't involved in this and we never shorted or longed GME in the first place.  Any time I say I work at a hedge fund, people prob think im Bobby Axelrod and I'm here to ruin everything.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 29, 2021 - 2:24pm

Now we know why Mr Gecko has a treadmill in his office and measures his BP during meetings.

Jokes aside, my grandfather has had 5 heart attacks and diabetes, so I'm already somewhat nervous about what the job will do to me. Therefore, I am already establishing a bare minimum physical routine that I can always do and watch my nutrition closely.

A friend of mine from the US was also playing football in HS and looked good (no homo), but even during that time he had elevated BP, so I cannot stress enough how important your diet is.

Mar 29, 2021 - 3:33pm

to be honest, almost no job is healthy. even if it's less stress, you'll still have to seat indoors for at least 8 hours a day 5 days a week. there is nothing healthy about that. by nature, you're supposed to be moving around outside (hunting, gathering, building something, mating, etc.), breathing fresh air. so, I'd say the best plan could be to save as much as you can and retire as soon as you can and spend time outside doing something active. for me, it's traveling - when I'm visiting new places, I'm always walking and spending a lot of time outside, and it's extremely satisfying.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 29, 2021 - 6:25pm

On a similar note, how feasible is it to work out 3-4x a week in IB? I'm not talking about a 30min. run during lunch, I'm talking about a ~1hr weight-lifting session. Should one establish the expectation from the beginning that they are committed to going to the gym at, say, 7pm for an hour 3x-4x a week (let's say 2x during weekend, 1x or 2x during the week)? Can this fly at all? I just cannot imagine that no one works out regularly in IB apart from running a couple of miles here and there and doing pushups while on mute on a call. 

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Other
Mar 29, 2021 - 8:22pm

From what my friends in banking have told me, it is very uncommon. Mostly because people who are running on fumes (3-6 hours of sleep) rarely have the energy. This is something that few people factor into the equation. 

I think if analysts all got 9h of sleep, it would be much more possible. But obviously, that's unrealistic. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 30, 2021 - 1:36am

In theory it is entirely possible, the problem comes more so with consistency. When you get that nightmare week of multiple all nighters are you really going to head down to the gym at 7 PM for what will ultimately amount to a mediocre workout since you're exhausted, especially when you know that's going to add an hour to the time you end up getting to sleep? It ends up being a slippery slope from there and the vast majority of people will fall off track

Mar 30, 2021 - 8:01pm

It is possible, but it is a big sacrifice (worth it in my view).I would say 80-90% of my handful of years in banking, I went to the gym 3-5x a week for over an hour. It was critical for my motivation, drive and wellbeing, so I knew I just had to do whatever it took. What this meant was:

- Going to sleep at, say, 3:30am vs. 2:00am. This happened quite often since I knew I had work at last til 2 but would go to the gym anyway

- Sometimes not being there immediately if someone emailed. Talking about my analyst years. But boohoo, you'll just have to wait 45 min or so while I take care of something more important. I'd usually try to respond quick anyway, "Sure, will do", then do whatever it was when I was done

- Missing some social life. I always went to the gym Friday evening when things were [sometimes] quieter. I'm also married so having a thrilling social life wasn't important to me

The first point was the biggest challenge. In many cases working out was a direct 6+ hour hit on my sleep during the week, but if I didn't go, things would spiral downhill. There were times, sometimes weeks during crushing periods, where I didn't go, and those are dark days. But my time in banking has taught me, amongst so many things, the absolute importance of health and wellbeing, even if you have to sacrifice some work progress to get there.

Mar 29, 2021 - 8:55pm

Same here, 'cept I have been known to abuse caffeine and nicotine when times get rough.

Get yer bloodwork done. In addition to high Bp and cholesterol, I had a "shocking" lack of vitamin D. Apparently vit D deficiency presents similar symptoms to depression, so I been supplementing it, among other things. Notice a definite difference.

  • Intern in HF - Other
Mar 30, 2021 - 5:17pm

This had been feeling increased stress and down over the winter despite no meaningful changes in my workload or life. Went to my Dr. and blood work said I had critically low levels of vitamin D. Got prescribed 50,000 IU's once a week for 8 weeks. Once I took it I immediately felt 100x better and everything has been more or less fine lately. 

Mar 29, 2021 - 9:32pm

Ended up with some mild heart issues in October due to taking 400 - 600 mg of caffeine pretty consistently and 4 - 5 hours a night of sleep for a while. I didn't think heart issues at 27 were really a risk but clearly pretty stupid. Definitely worth at least going to the dr once in a while. 

Mar 30, 2021 - 11:22am

Not speaking down on you or anything lol, but this level of caffeine intake is... extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons (I won't dive into detail for my own sanity lol)

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Mar 30, 2021 - 7:03pm

Really? According to Google a cup of coffee is ~100mg of caffeine. So what OP does equates to 4-6 cups of coffee a day. Almost everyone in my office does that, as well as many friends. Should we be paring our intake down?

Apr 1, 2021 - 1:05am

400-600mg is nothing - for reference, a medium dunkin iced coffee is 350mg. When I was in college, I'd taked 1000-1200mg in pill form throughout the day with some coffees thrown in. Dont do that now, but the "lethal" dose for caffeine is pretty damn high in a vaccume.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom
  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Mar 30, 2021 - 3:39pm

Boutique consulting focusing on turnarounds

Mar 29, 2021 - 11:02pm

Ok a couple suggestions to help - this is an area I've been somewhat innovative w/, Altho no longer following w all. Things to take/do:

1) Sauna - increases the FLEXIBILITY of blood vessels and can lower Cholestrol. Not a TON of research done, but enough to buy in - Google yourself. I used to get after work (24 hr fitness), for 20-30 min with a water bottle to last longer. get one in your home - basement / outside. $3,000-5,000 for a nice 3-5 person one. $2.5-3.5K for 2-3 person.

2) CoQ10 -200mg or 400mg - take fault. Ppl with heart failure have low levels of CoQ10. Increases the mitochondria in the cell, etc. #3 supplement behind fish oil and multi V.

3) turmeric (+pepper for 1000x absorption). Forget the other superfoods. But buy a Ninja on Amazon, and make fruit smoothies w it, take daily. All of this can't hurt. But game changer in the sauna IMO.

Mar 30, 2021 - 10:54am

seconded on the sauna. I used to go for a sauna/steam room at least once a week before lockdown. usually a Sunday, get the body really relaxed and able to sleep early.

Mar 30, 2021 - 11:21am

Saunas are huge. I think OP's medical situation is nuanced and ought to be approached w/ caution though. I.E., if you already have arterial plaque causing your elevated BP, a sauna won't change much. The lipid profile of your data might be there better think to look at. Neither of those supplements can hurt (I take both); you should definitelybegin taking them. I think there are other behavioral changes you could benefit from. I am not a medical doctor, just a lowsy Pub Med lurker with a BA in neuroscience, but I can confidently say that I know somewhat enough about the cardiovascular maladies to give you some good advice, so PM me if you think that might be something of interest!

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Mar 30, 2021 - 11:17am

I appreciate this comment and that is very true - ashwa has shown efficacy in lowering cortisol levels in small studies (n around 10-15), but has never been studied for people with comorbid high BP (at least in my 5 min pub med search). This is kinda like telling a meth addict to wear blue light sunglass, whereas the underlying problem is nervous system strain, with lack of sleep as a side effect not the underlying cause. He might want to consider getting on a statin and making significant changes to his diet, limit alcohol consumption (or anything else that interferes with sleep quality, i.e. cocaine and adderall), and maybe intermittent fasting which has shown large study group benefits in improving participants metabolic rate. Ashwaghanda is a wonderful herb and certainly won't hurt, but it will do jack shit with the other cofactors at play here. Generally speaking, there ain't no quick fixes in eastern medicine. 

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Mar 30, 2021 - 12:19pm

Yeah I took ashwagandha for a long time when my life was pretty low stress, but once the stress kicked in, it was probably a mix of having a tolerance and also just not being strong enough (I mean it is only an herb). But yeah I would say its worth a shot, just don't put all your eggs in one basket

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 30, 2021 - 2:10pm

Yeah to be clear I am just some guy on a finance forum with no medical background so absolutely not suggesting anyone take that advice without further research / actual medical professional opinion.

If there are other factors contributing to the high blood pressure besides stress then agreed there isn't going to be much benefit from ashwagandha. I came across it as I'm in a similar boat to the OP (long hours, constant work stress) and have been trying to lose quarantine weight for the last ~6 months but started to hit a plateau. Lack of sleep / stress seemed like likely reasons for this and since there is only so much I can do on the sleep part due to work I wanted to give the supplements a shot as a way to potentially help on the stress side. I think it's been overall helpful (my mood seems to have improved), but hard to say wha placebo v. real

Mar 30, 2021 - 9:48pm

How much do you take and does it have to be taken consistently to have a material effect? I occasionally take 500-1000mg a couple times a week when I am particularly busy or stressed but notice no effects. Same thing with L-theanine. I'm guessing that it either has to be taken consistently to be noticeable or that my caffeine intake of 3 cups of coffee maybe outweigh the stress reducers.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 31, 2021 - 9:55am

I have actually taken a much smaller dosage (125mg once per day) than many of the studies included (typically ~300mg twice per day). From what I understand though, you have to take it consistently for a bit to feel an effect, so if you were just taking it on a one-off basis then I can imagine it might not have been effective

Mar 30, 2021 - 11:11am

Thanks for being honest with this community and making this post man. I think a significant % of our community would be equally surprised after having their BP read, never mind a more intricate health evaluation. 

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
  • 1
Mar 30, 2021 - 4:53pm

Health is #1 no matter what.

I'm a heath fanatic. You won't find anyone who takes care of their health like I do. Been in sports since I was a kid, very physically active every day, I eat super clean, organic meat (hunter), exotic fruits and veggies, precisely calibrated supplements, meticulous blood work annually, all my education is in biomedicine.

While not in IB or BB, these past few years have been incredibly stressful in my businesses and despite my obsessive attention to health, the stress caught up and my last blood work indicated massive cardiovascular issues. I never would have thought I would be a case for heart disease yet here I was.

Stress is incredibly corrosive no matter how healthy you are and unbeknownst to most people it definitely attacks your heart. Elevated cortisol from high stress causes high inflammation which decays blood vessels. It dampens your body's ability to produce "healthy" cholesterol (HDL) and it also causes a decreases in anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormones. You've already had experience with it's effects on blood pressure so no need to expand on that.

Take heed. Youth doesn't guarantee health in any way and many things compound in your youth, only to strike many years later when it's too late to reverse.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Mar 30, 2021 - 11:54pm

To anyone also thinking of quitting due to health reasons, I'll share what I did. 

Very similar to OP and others commenting, I had gone to the doctor for the first time since college during my 2nd year for a check-up. On top of high blood pressure due to the stress, I was also found to have extremely wacky blood cell counts and further testing found early-stage leukemia. 

I knew that I needed the health insurance so I couldn't quit (my medication alone costs $14,000/month without insurance). But my doctor made me realize that my job is not more serious than my health so I decided to forcefully reduce my hours and take care of my body. Talking to your staffer and telling them (not asking) that you will need a reduced workload or else you will have to leave helps this out. Seriously - how many analysts actually have the balls to demand this confidently? If given an ultimatum, only the most egotistic staffers are going to prefer losing an analyst over getting a 10% capacity reduction. I've also likely gone from top quartile-bucket to median bucket for my performance since I just don't respond when at the gym / eating, and will flat out miss deadlines before I get less than 6 hours of sleep now, which is the minimum a healthy adult can get before comprising health from my view. 

I understand that this is harder for 1st years, but now is the time to go for it. When you are 70 you aren't going to look back and regret it. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Mar 31, 2021 - 1:09pm

I think that it's good to do some of the things that you mentioned (taking time to go to the gym), but I don't know how well telling the staffer that you won't work x hours or missing deadlines to get sleep would go for most.  I was a top bucket analyst, but would likely have gotten fired if I did the latter and quite possibly the former.  

What I do think is a good practice once you're in your second year and have established that you're good is to stop raising your hand for every single deck/engagement/bullshit task.  It's good to take on any and all asks early to establish yourself as a good/reliable analyst, but once you have that reputation, you shouldn't need take every single ask to keep it.  If you do, your associates-MDs are pricks.  

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2021 - 12:12am

I agree telling your staffer that is a risky move and won't always work, but I'm framing it as an alternative to quitting rather than a recommendation. Do I recommend doing this if you are fine with sticking it out for 2 years so you can get into PE? No. But I've never understood why some people never bend, just all the sudden crack and quit on a whim. Nearly everyone just quits - very few people actually try to talk to the staffer and do a workable solution. You literally have nothing to lose - worst case scenario, you do end up getting fired, you now get severance instead of just quitting. 

I also think everyone seriously overestimates what you have to do to get fired from an analyst role. Outside of sexual harassment, committing a crime or cussing out your superior, I haven't actually seen anybody get fired, just bonus cutting. 

Mar 31, 2021 - 3:11pm

Henry Rollins said it best in the Iron and the Soul

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it's impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

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