Social life in banking

Background: I'm a 1st year analyst (going on 2nd) at a BB IBD team in London. Having joined during COVID and now that I've gotten relatively used to the pace/amount of work I've found myself thinking more about my social life and just generally the type of lifestyle I want to have in my 20s.

I know the whole 'models and bottles' thing is a big meme and no one should come into this job with the expectation of anything other than 80-100 hour weeks (I certainly didn't). That said it seems like the amount of fun someone in IBD can have while they're there can vary greatly and I've heard of some pretty big outliers: e.g. friend in another bank goes out regularly with his team to clubs, does drugs, team culture enables it because the MD does it too so no work gets done on Friday evenings/Saturday morning, another friend had a week-long team holiday on a Greek island with lots of expenses paid for by their higher-ups. In comparison the juniors in my team don't go out at all (not even with their friends outside of work) and everyone VP and up is the family man, 2 kids, golf on the weekend type.

I know I don't want to spend the next few years grinding it out where I am now where the most fun I have is meeting up with the same group of uni friends every weekend or so. And I know this is a pretty common situation for someone transitioning into working life especially someone who didn't socialise as much as they could have in uni to chase the IBD career. I don't regret that, I did it mainly to prove a point to myself and now that's done, I really don't mind transitioning into a more socially conducive career to catch up in that dimension, which I will if there's no other choice. At the same time, if I could stay in finance but work somewhere that has much more of a 'play hard' culture that'd be the best of both worlds obviously. So:

  • Does anyone know of any firms or more likely speciifc teams within firms that have this kind of culture (doesn't have to be IBD as I suppose PE/HF or other divisions within banks are all options open to me)?
  • How common generally do you think is this kind of culture, i.e. if I don't know of any specific team and just decide to exit/lateral somewhere to shake things up, would it be a waste of time because the chances of landing one are like 1 in 20, or would it be worth trying because the chances are more like 1 in 3?
  • For those working in banking/the buyside who have good social lives, is it mainly through uni friends or did you meet new people through your job and if so how did you do it outside of your immediate team? Maybe I'm just not making the effort/not 'pugged in' to the scene enough

Thanks in advance for any insights and inb4 Brady4MVP tells me to go to HBS

Comments (10)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2022 - 7:54am

I'm in the tech team of a top global MM and we go out pretty regularly. It's usually just a couple guys who are the subset of our regional team, however often times the MD  or VP organizes a team dinner / drinks etc. Lots of socialisation in general. Have seen other one other team go out a lot as well. From what I've seen from friends, BBs tend to have the worst culture due to the 2 years and out mentality, whereas MMs like mine tend to be more tight-knit due to the career banker focus.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2022 - 7:55am

Also, given we're employee owned and no public investor scrutiny, almost always we can expense everything as "team building". Usually don't do this if it's just analysts though

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 22, 2022 - 5:35pm

I work middle market ibd in nyc and go out every friday saturday

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jan 22, 2022 - 6:25pm

Most places are not going to comp a trip to Europe for you, or have an MD doing coke with you. That said, I think you are looking for a "fratty" culture - do a search on here, but there are a handful of groups known to be fratty. On the flip side, they want you to be too. Anecdotally, I've found seniors that are single/party hard are also impossible to work for because they have no family obligations and are a bit mentally ill if they're 40+ and still club like a college student. Many of these frat groups also have ridiculous hours.

Overall groups going out together was more common pre-covid, or common with interns/first years, but going on 2nd year you are unlikely to find a huge group that is going out all the time at most banks. Maybe Friday beers, but not clubbing.

If I were you I'd look for somewhere with lower hours (corp dev) and just do your own thing socially. Are you really working Fri/Sat night or do you just not have friends who want to go out?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 22, 2022 - 9:02pm

Kindly share some of these groups so we know where to aim

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 23, 2022 - 1:13pm

haha this is so me, i work at a BB IBD too and literally the only thing i look forward to is getting drunk at the weekend with friends or spending time with family, weekdays basically impossible cause i know ill be working till at least 12 am

team wise i guess every now and then on weekdays we'll go for dinner and drinks at 7-8+ (especially when MD is around since hes a drinker) and basicall yno work gets done that night which is nice sometimes.. but more often than not I only get drinks for 1-2 hours on weekdays with VPs and EDs while we order food but I go back to office while they go home.

But i really do miss the social aspect of my life and my social circle, i too didnt go as crazy as i wanted to in uni to focus more on chasing the IB career (now that im in i want out tbh lol)

Most Helpful
Jan 27, 2022 - 4:09am
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