Resigning as VP

TLDR: Interested in transitioning from my VP role and a lower BB coverage team to a corporate finance role. Considering taking a few months off of work entirely to focus on the job hunt, decompress, get healthy, etc. Concerned about the feasibility of job hunting while employed given time commitment as compared to detriment to being unemployed while searching and having to explain a resignation.

Background: The last 5 years in IB have been detrimental to my physical and mental health, and now with the job changing to origination-focused work, where I'm responsible for content creation, some primary / some supporting client coverage, and leading client meetings in certain circumstances has made me realize the end of my IB road may be coming faster than anticipated. I have no intention of ever making outbound calls and am finding the work increasingly difficult to motivate myself to do. Add to that the typical IB difficulties of personalities, hours, stress, and you might get a sense of where I am, mentally. In short, I do not have interest in the sales side of IB, and am seeing the typical VP tasks return less to me on each iteration. 

On the positive side, I've managed to save a significant amount of non-retirement cash (and retirement funds are very healthy), have no debt or planned major expenses; I can likely float at my current spend level for 12 months without really starting to worry. Additionally, I have good deal experience, and have been fortunate to see a variety of transactions / assignments that have given me a well-rounded skill set. My sense is the group would be supportive in helping me transition out, but there is a limit to how much time they give you to job hunt on their dime. It is, however, a natural breaking point, having just collected bonus and we are not yet fully into executing on the pipeline for 2021.

Looking forward, I am less interested in corporate development roles, but would consider them. Primary interest is in FP&A jobs that have ability to wear a few hats (i.e. strategic finance @ higher growth company). Also interested in Chief of Staff positions in the right situation. I have 0 interest in buyside or lateraling within IB. I also do not plan on sticking around for another bonus in either scenario below:

Option 1: Job hunt while balancing my IB job

Pros

  • Keep getting paid, benefits, etc.

  • No resume gap / explaining why resignation

Unclear

  • Some days can be beyond easy at this level, others are so overwhelming I can barely take care of basic necessities like food

Cons

  • So far 2+ year job hunt has been wildly unsuccessful while employed and I haven't proven the ability to carve out time to make any real progress due to demands of my day job

  • I'm very burned out, stress and mental health continue to take toll

  • Feel like I'll take the first job that is semi-reasonable just to get out of IB

  • It is hard to half-ass banking at this level. Client meetings and content generation can't be put on the back burner for very long, and likely will burn bridges when (not if) this is found out

Option 2: Resign, take 2 weeks transferring projects while ramping job hunt, fully focus on next career steps while unemployed

Pros

  • Mental / physical health

  • Team will appreciate the acknowledgment of my plans and gives them ability to backfill; limited bridge burning

  • Likely better velocity in job hunting

Unclear

  • Takes away risk from projects I have on the horizon that can require multiple successive 100+ hour weeks, though they may never materialize 

Cons

  • No pay, benefits, etc.

  • Resume gap / explaining in interviews

  • No guarantee that a job I am interested in will come to fruition in short order, could force taking a less than ideal job if search drags on

What do you think? Realizing a majority of users are likely still in school or at analyst level perspectives may be different, but interested in viewpoints on either option. 

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 (56)

  • VP in IB - Ind
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:10am

In both banks I have been if you are counseled out / Told to leave, you can basically coast for few months on job hunt without any real staffing, including at VP level. If you are initiating, probably best to talk with a MD or two you really trust and have them help you initiate the transition process. It's best to have the employment running if you can

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:13am

I've been giving this some thought too. I'm so burnt out by banking.

Is there any way to have that conversation with an MD? I know at several banks VPs have been told their time is up but are given months to look for opportunities with no real staffing.

I'm naturally risk-averse so the idea of quitting without something just wouldn't happen.  Have you also given any thought to your deferred? Is it substantial?

Jan 21, 2021 - 10:19am

Thanks. Deferred is fairly substantial, but total package pays on a rolling multi-year basis. I always assumed I'd walk away from a large portion of it, due to the nature of the vesting schedule. 

I do think talking with an MD is a good idea as well, though I think this will come as a surprise. As part of the transition into VP / coverage, we've talked business plans, my goals for coverage, etc. Obviously fake it until you make it was in play at that time, so going back and saying actually I don't intend to do any of this might cause some sour grapes. 

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
  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:25am

The idea that it may come as a surprise may be a good thing. Either they'll try to lessen your workload to keep you happy, help you transition or not give a shit which at that point you know you need to focus fully on a new role

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 3:48pm

We had a VP leave last year. He had told the group head maybe a year and half ahead of time that he had no intention of staying on and moving up the chain. This was a guy who easily would have been promoted to director had he stayed. For that last year and a half, he left the office by 7 every day, worked remotely after that and was signed off by 11PM every night, unless it was something super urgent. 

It was a surprise when he quit but not that he quit. My group literally has the worst culture in all of banking and my group head was supportive, so hopefully you can pull something similar off

Jan 21, 2021 - 5:44pm

Well I am logging in for the first time in 5.5 years to join this thread as we are in very similar situations. I'm a soon to be 4th year VP (have been with the same BB for nearly a decade) and am also looking to make a move.

That said, your situation sounds better than mine. I have a toxic MD and work on an extremely lean team.

The way I see it, leaving a VP IB job to decompress and focus on your health and search doesn't present any material downside risk and is likely the best way to effect change. I agree that it's nearly impossible to conduct a decent job search at this level when you don't want to lateral or go to the buy side. Most of my friends who got out just straight up quit, travelled for a bit (obviously pre-COVID) then went and got an FP&A job. Once you realize you don't want to be a salesman there is little motivation to stay aside from the pay and even that only goes so far.

Does your bank allow you to keep your deferred if you leave? Maybe try and arrange something where if you don't join another bank or large professional services firm during the vesting period that you get to keep it. That coupled with a wind down period and mutual departure date could set you up well to focus on recruiting. 
 

I'm afraid I'll end up rage quitting post bonus, we shall see! 

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 6:07pm

You basically summarized my thoughts on the salesman role. It's of zero interest to me and it's hard to be motivated and pretend to care.

The money is nice and I want to clip a few more checks but the next thing you know and another decade has passed you by.  My biggest thing is figuring a way out while retaining the deferred.

  • VP in IB - Gen
Mar 28, 2021 - 7:53am

I'm also in the same boat but as a D2. My BB has layoffs twice a year and thinking about just putting my hand up and asking to get let go in the September/October round. That way you get your deferred as well as some additional cash severance which, if you're like me and have been with your bank for 10+ years can basically amount to a solid bonus.

Jan 21, 2021 - 8:12pm

Thanks for the thoughts. 
 

I don't think we can negotiate anything. Basically as soon as I raise my hand and say I'm done either 1. I'm fired on spot or 2. A deadline is given to GTFO, likely 2 weeks. I don't think there will be a discussion of "can I have more" but you never know until you ask. The risk of #1 is keeping me from asking. 
 

how do you (or others) think of the difficulty of recruiting without a job? The disclosure / story all makes sense but still feels like an added hurdle. 

Jan 21, 2021 - 8:25pm

burnedburner72

Thanks for the thoughts. 
 

I don't think we can negotiate anything. Basically as soon as I raise my hand and say I'm done either 1. I'm fired on spot or 2. A deadline is given to GTFO, likely 2 weeks. I don't think there will be a discussion of "can I have more" but you never know until you ask. The risk of #1 is keeping me from asking. 
 

how do you (or others) think of the difficulty of recruiting without a job? The disclosure / story all makes sense but still feels like an added hurdle. 

I don't see it as a significant hurdle. As you said, you have decent deal experience and with a strong story or reasoning for why you left, I can't imagine it's that big of a deal. Most people on the corporate side will realize the dynamics of the industry necessitate just leaving sometimes. I may be naive but that's my thought anyways. I also have my CPA, and while I no longer remember any accounting after a decade, I hope that helps any transition.

As for deferred, can't hurt to ask. At my bank if we've been at the firm for 5+ years and don't join a competitor, they let us keep it and it continues to vest as normal. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 6:55pm

Interesting thoughts / perspective. I'm an associate and can't wait to be in the salesman role. The idea of FP&A or anything where my entire job is building models for the rest of my life even if its only 9-5 sounds awful to me. In my view, being an MD who just pitches new business and passes off most of the execution to the junior team sounds amazing. Other than the difficulty in winning deals / competition and the pressure to consistently bring in revenue, what am I missing?  

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2021 - 8:53pm

Seems that there are a few VP's here in the same boat. I know one person mentioned they were at their firm for almost a decade. Curious to see if the remaining VP's were either A2A's or MBA ASO's and if that distinction has any effect on burn out and wanting to leave?

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 8:56pm

I'm A2A and I'm sure that has played a role in burnout.

I think COVID has made everything infinitely worse so all the things I disliked are just heightened

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:23pm

Anything lined up when you left? And at any point thereafter, did you regret your decision to leave?  

Most Helpful
  • VP in IB - Ind
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:09pm

Also a VP and I think I'm done sometime this year or next. The thought of living rent free at my in-laws while I take a sabbatical before finding a 9-5 corp fin job is currently very appealing.
 

I'm tired of not seeing my kids for hours and hours even while WFH, getting on calls at 10pm, staying up waiting for drafts, feeling guilty for sleeping before 1am. I hate that I haven't read a fiction book for years. I hate that I can't ever take a vacation without having to work a few hours each day at a minimum or always bracing myself for that email.

Like you, the thought of pursuing clients and pitching on top of all the existing execution just seems exhausting. New deals don't excite me but leave me with a feeling of dread. That makes it clear that pursuing a path of MD makes no sense for me.

So far I've always been top ranked / top bucket and paid well, but it's just not worth it. I feel like I'm not going to be developing really any new analytical skills and it'll be a few years until I really develop the full set of sales and negotiation skills, so not sure of the point of staying.

I haven't even started to apply for roles yet, but I'm unsure at what level I can even exit to, given I don't have FP&A experience (I'm a post-MBA who did something niche finance before b-school).

I've thought about Corp Dev, but feel it's basically doing the same stuff and I want to do something new. I honestly kinda do miss modeling, which is why FP&A / strategic finance also appeals to me.

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 10:29pm

Yep... it's tough. Covid has certainly exacerbated the issue and strain I'm sure. Not easy when you're burnt out and don't have the light at the end of the tunnel of vacation or lull coming up. At the VP level, i think it's especially brutal right now for many reasons listed on the other threads - junior bankers strained, WFH is relentless. At the VP level you have the expectation of delivering, while also developing your own client relationships... how easy is that right now vs. in 2019 being able to meet in person / get drinks / lunch?

As above, have been giving it more and more thought the last few months. Especially at the prospect of bonus not being commensurate for a) how hard 2H 2020 was and b) 2021 is going to be a disaster... I've always felt junior level bonuses are somewhat forward looking, though may be too late if the pools have been set. So many ANLs and ASOs are going to leave, it's just going to lead to more pain. In addition, the deferred portion of comp is such a nice addition to all of this.

Yes, I know how hard ANLs and ASOs have it... i was there. Yes, I know I'm privileged to be in this spot, having sacrificed a lot in 8 years to this point (friendships, spending time with family... moving away from family). I don't identify with some of these horror stories of nightmare VPs... but maybe that's why I'm finding it tough comparably.

For me personally, I think the reason I have been struggling with motivation is that I don't see myself in NY long term (I'm not American). Given this, the incentive of building long-term relationships diminish and the goal is on bonus and promotion. I'll probably stick it out a bit longer, pivot back to my home office as a DIR and then re-assess. In 8 years, I've built a lot of financial flexibility, had some great experiences... though I wonder if I devoted this much time and effort to my own business how different life could be. It's a big chunk of our lives up until this point.

I used to run lots (vs. any form of gym), and I've barely run in 6 months.

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2021 - 11:16pm

Do you really think a lot of ANLs and ASOs will leave after their respective bonuses? Whether at your bank or across the street? And how do you think things will pan out if that reality comes true

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 21, 2021 - 11:43pm

There's always attrition.. but this year is different. Comp is going to be flat to down most likely, people have been in the grind for a long time and 2021 is going to be worse. I personally think it could be weighted towards the new first year Analysts and stub Associates who haven't met any one in person, and must really be struggling. The fun of the job has disappeared... and I'm in a group with a historically strong culture. Sounds like it could be worse in sweatshops.

Problem is that it can snowball quickly. For every ASO that leaves, it piles on more work to those remaining.

If it pans out that way... going to be a brutal year, eventually may see some hiring to offset attrition... but those won't be great hires necessarily as they will be rushed and no one can meet them in person and train them properly. Can't wait.

Jan 21, 2021 - 10:46pm

Not a VP so I can't opine much. But I will say that if there's a perfect time to quit and have a resume gap, it's now. I don't think you'll have hard time explaining to any company down the line that you quit because the health pandemic shifted your priorities to your health and family. Especially given you are more likely to leave banking as whole. I think the type of work you're searching for, would be more understanding of this versus banking where people look at a 1 month gap and think it's unacceptable. Looking for work is time consuming, and it's hard to do when you have a demanding full time job.

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jan 22, 2021 - 12:22am

I'm a newly promoted VP and interested in the topic as well. Have been doing some ad hoc resume drops in the past months and finding the process to be harder than I thought. I don't have a CPA so FP&A is mostly out of the question. Seems like Corp Dev/Strategic finance is the only option if I don't want to stay in finance. What industries are you guys in?

  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
Jan 22, 2021 - 9:51am

Interested in topic. I'm a 3rd year associate weighing my options on if it's better to leave within the next year (prior to VP promote) for more flexibility or to wait ~2 years to have VP-level experience under my belt. The money would be great and I've built a strong reputation that allows me solid flexibility for the role, but also don't see it as a long-term career and don't want to feel "trapped".

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 22, 2021 - 10:06am

I would enjoy your all cash bonus as an ASO3... despite the bump in base, you're going probably to take home less cash after tax most likely, and not get your first piece of the deferred until into your VP3 year (at my bank, you are given deferred end of VP1 year, starts to vest in portions over a year later)... That and responsibility/pressure surmounts.

For that reason, hopefully the experience outweighs the above, and lifestyle improves. End of the day, I'm sure all will be ok given all it's taken to get to this position.

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 22, 2021 - 10:33am

I'm living in dread of the post-bonus environment when we have another wave of people leaving and the amount of work increases.

COVID has really made this job worse as noted in the analyst thread and I'm not even really looking forward to the money because what am I even going to spend it on?

  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 22, 2021 - 12:41pm

Really varies by bank.

All the BBs have some concept of vesting beyond a certain threshold with a 3-4 year vesting period.

For BBs, some do all stock deferred; some do a mix of cash & stock deferred.

Some boutiques have no deferred and some have phantom stock that vests into cash over a set period

Jan 22, 2021 - 4:31pm

We had VP join from another bank (a public one) and he told us that our firm bought out his unvested stock comp (i.e., dollar for dollar replacement of the unvested stock comp with new firm phantom equity). Based on people's concern, I guess this is not always the case / is not the case when you leave banking and is definitely not the case when you quit without a job lined up.

That being said, if you jumped to a client, I'd imagine they let you keep your deferred. It's like the analysts that say they are leaving to go to PE funds that my group does business with tend to get higher bonuses in their last year all else equal than the analysts who announce they are going to funds that don't give my group the time day or don't overlap with my group's coverage  

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Ind
Jan 22, 2021 - 1:31pm

While I'm not a VP, I did want to provide an additional data point to you all that VPs in my group, which is traditionally good about culture, are getting so crushed they're literally canceling evening workstream calls with juniors because they need to take a break and grab food for the first time in the day. Actually, kind of crazy to hear that VPs are having to work like they are analysts and even as an analyst, I haven't had that many days where I couldn't grab some food or a snack for 15-20 mins mid-day. I, like most analysts, used to think that hours get a lot better moving up the ranks, but looks like while the pressure increases significantly, the hours really don't change that much. 

Almost no one has left my group since COVID started, but I am very sure a lot of people are just waiting for the bonus to hit and will leave immediately afterwards (job or not). I actually want a bunch of people to leave to the extent that the IB field starts to realize that you can't make everyone work 100+ hours every week and not expect them to be mentally unwell. 

Jan 22, 2021 - 2:13pm

If you dont see yourself there long term, i think better to 1) figure out what you want to do and 2) get on that path ASAP. As you should know, the higher you get, the more and more stuck you get (total comp, deferred, etc).

I wouldn't worry about not being able to find a job if you quit. In general if you can get to the VP level, you are probably pretty capable (or should be) so you'll land on your feet. I'm sure you've seen colleagues leave and most of them end up happier and in a better place.

If you want to try to keep your deferred, could try doing nothing and getting laid off. Risky way to play though i think.

Mar 28, 2021 - 12:48pm

BoBandy

How do you feel? What's next?

relieved. Will take some time to relax and conduct a proper search when I'm ready  likely strategy / corporate development roles. I've had a few discussions with clients already but not in any rush nor are their positions actually posted, so will be patient 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 27, 2021 - 10:28pm

How'd you do it?

How'd they take it?  

You quit with job or no job? If latter, what's next?  

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (206) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (116) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (98) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (429) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (343) $82