Tech vs. IB

Why is that so many people have told me I should go into technology rather than finance? I'm completing a computer related major at a target school and have been intending to go for investment banking.

If I can get a bulge bracket investment banking job, how is that not better than a tech job (even at a place like google) job where I would be making max 60% of what I make investment banking, and where the salary starts to level off around $0.25m/year (unless you go into management) whereas investment banking salaries can run into the seven figures per year.

The only argument I see against investment banking is the hours/week worked, which I am fine with.

Any thoughts?

Comments (65)

Jul 16, 2015
JohnDiaperman:

The only argument I see against investment banking is the hours/week worked, which I am fine with.

Don't take this as snarky, but how would you know whether or not you were "fine" with the hours? Pulling the occasional all nighter because you mismanaged your time isn't the same thing as working long nights, every night.

"I am that I am"

Jul 16, 2015

Ok sure, I don't take your question with offense. I go to a top 5 US news school and am studying, volunteering, working on projects outside school, or engaging in extracurriculars every hour of the day including most of the weekend. I don't see how anyone who isn't already an investment banker or has had direct ib experience (SA position) can be more sure about long hours being OK. I've always been like this, I like it now, because of where it gets me, and I think I'll be OK with working long hours at least until I get an MBA.

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Jul 16, 2015

There's a difference between doing things because you want to and doing things because you have to. Sure, you might spend all those hours doing those things that you likely enjoy, at least some of them, where as working on excel spreadsheets and powerpoints all day and night is a completely different animal.

Also, most people are completely fine making 250k a year. Especially with a good work/life benefit and a good culture at work as well.

Jul 16, 2015

Studying, volunteering and attending class 15-20hrs/week isn't the same as 14-16hr days all week. There's a huge difference, which is why I was wondering whether you had any experience working long hours or at an internship. Another consideration is the work itself, what do you really want to be doing for the next 5, 10 or even 20 years?

As far as the money goes, it's significantly higher in IB (potentially at least), but if you figure out what your hourly rate would be and/or the cost of living you'd be surprised at how close they actually pay. What I don't understand is, you've gone to school for tech, but want to re-focus your career to something you have no experience with.

None of the above is meant to dissuade you from whichever path you want to choose. I just wanted to point out it isn't just a 250k < $1mm equation.

"I am that I am"

Jul 16, 2015

The more important question is what type of work you enjoy more? Fixing font at 3am isn't fun for anyone, but if you enjoy the somewhat "sales type" oriented creativity that Directors and MDs get to do in banking then go for it.

If you really enjoyed investing though and you want to head to the buyside and you THINK you enjoy investing, then that is a good reason for going with IBD.

Honestly I just think you have no idea why you want to do either industry other than the fact that $250k < $1 million.

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Jul 19, 2015

What do you mean I have no idea? I'm literally doing one of them. I'm an engineering major and I have mutltiple software projects outside of school that I've launched, so right there I have at the least some experience with tech. Yes money is a consideration. The simple fact is I'm in a place - a top five US news ivy - where I have all the resources I need to do anything I want, and I'm making an educated decision to maximize my wealth (and building wealth is my personal goal, you can have your own). Don't see why I'm so clueless to be asking this question.

Edit: fuck off with all this monkey shit

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Jul 16, 2015
JohnDiaperman:

The simple fact is I'm in a place - a top five US news ivy - where I have all the resources I need to do anything I want, and I'm making an educated decision to maximize my wealth (and building wealth is my personal goal, you can have your own). Don't see why I'm so clueless to be asking this question.

Then founding a unicorn start-up is probably your best bet.

Moreover, I know that you say that you want to maximize wealth, but very few people have a utility function that is solely a function of money. Either way, Google will legitimately pay you more as a junior software engineer than a bulge bracket investment bank will as an analyst. The pay scale ramp up is obviously much different, but then again, the tech career path gives you more time to enjoy your earnings.

Also, keep in mind that you're not cementing the path of the rest of your life with the job you take out of college. It's not unheard of to move from tech into high-level finance, whether banking or venture capital. Just about every partner at KPCB, for example, did something huge in the tech space.

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Jul 16, 2015

There are tons of topics on here about tech vs. finance but just do what interests you more. IB on average is going to pay more than basically any field but if you do tech and get into management, which if your goal is money I'm not quite sure why you'd want to limit yourself to not consider that, you can make as much money especially if you're willing to work the hours that you do in banking. It may take a few more years to make that money in tech unless you hit it lucky by picking the right startup to work for or start yourself, but tech execs can make shitloads of money. Give the type of all encompassing effort necessary in IB (or PE, HF's) in any field and with some intelligence and luck and you can make money. The key is keeping up that effort for the long haul and that's much easier to do if you like what you're doing. The word passion is way over used but you should at least be interested in and like what you do.

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Jul 16, 2015

Fair point, thanks for the feedback.

Jul 19, 2015

I think for myself, and a lot of finance guys, going to tech just doesnt make a lot of sense. I mean, sure theres plenty of money to be made, but im so far behind the learning curve of where I need to be to be able to monetize my value in tech that its not worth it. Finance is straightforward - you make models, get work done, and work a lot of hours to make a decent living. In tech theres thousands of ways to make money and I really have no idea where to start selecting where the real value is, and how somebody with my background can help.

Guys in tech hate finance people. They want younger guys who know the industry, have worked with products in the past, and have that "tech" vibe about them. Finance people, including TMT bankers, really dont know what its like to run a startup and tech guys dont think they "know tech" and are conformists,etc.

Jul 19, 2015
jss09:

Guys in tech hate finance people.

I think it depends on which area you go into within tech. Bankers/consultants with 1-2 years experience are hired to work on the 'business side' of the tech firm as their experience is valuable. I agree with your other points though.

@"HedgeKing" - it really depends on what makes you tick however cliche that may sound. Some people prefer banking, some people prefer tech, each to their own. The grass is greener where you water it ;)

Jul 19, 2015

anyone do fp&a at a tech company?

Jul 19, 2015

I do at an entry level (rotational program though), but did a banking internship last summer. I'm definitely making less money than I could have in banking, but my lifestyle is way better. 50-60 hours a week, but no facetime rules so I'm flexible when I work. There are times when I have to stay late but there are also times when I'm pretty light on work on Fridays and can head home at 3pm.

Some people will make the argument that I'm a young guy and I should be working harder to build my career, but the thing is, working in tech lets me develop in ways outside of just working hard. I'm teaching myself to code on the side and am pursuing a post bacc degree in CS (all company sponsored). I go hike/surf on the weekends and I actually have time to meet new people and live life.

As far as career development goes, sure, I'm probably not on the best track if my end goal is PE/HF, but there is still an abundant network of guys who jumped from Banking/Consulting who work in our internal strategy/dev group who I'm sure could help me out. I'm also in a decent place for B school and to be honest, I could jump around the tech companies and probably make a decent salary with a much better work life balance.

Jul 19, 2015

I interned in finance with a big tech company (FB, GOOG, LNKD, etc) last-last summer, then turned down return internship offer in FP&A to do SA in IB this past summer. I hated myself for it all summer but I might stick with it. As a finance guy, it's hard to argue with the opportunities post-IBD. Culture and lifestyle-wise though, tech is way better than banking.

Jul 16, 2015

Agreed with @Ace Rothstein. If making the most money as you possibly can, as fast as possible is your only goal, then working 2-3 years as a software engineer at somewhere like Google/Apple/Facebook and then going to a Unicorn tech start up is your best bet. You'll make just as much as a top tier IBD analyst, but you'll also be working a lot as well. The top SDEs have pagers and are on call and can work long hours in the 60-80/week range.

The reason why that finance is losing more kids to tech every year goes beyond just a dollar figure. While compensation does play a factor, it's not the only reason. Some are attracted to the tech lifestyle of wearing jeans and a t shirt to work and all the other perks that come with working at a place like Google or Facebook. I know kids who picked tech over banking and say it was the best decision they ever made. At the same time, I know kids who went to into banking and didn't regret it at all. It's really a matter of personal preference.

Also, I don't care how many extracurricular activities you have on top of undergrad, regardless of what institution you go to...the only way to really find out if you're cut out for the IB hours is if you actually go to the office and sit there from 8:30 to midnight Monday-Friday staring at spreadsheets/PP and come in on weekends for months in a row. Nothing you do in college can really compare.

Jul 16, 2015

Makes sense. Making money quickly isn't my goal at all, it's to build wealth over a lifetime. But what you said still applies.

Jul 19, 2015

dude, you've posted some variation of this question like 5+ times now

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Jul 19, 2015

yes, lots of retarded people get in
yes, lots of talent in tech

that is life, my friend

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Jul 19, 2015

pretty sure lots of talented/retarded ppl in both - tho for bigger tech places you actually have to a tangible skill (SQL, etc) versus "financial modeling skills" aka backsolving acquisition price

speed boost blaze

Jul 19, 2015

I think your question is why does tech have so much talent. The answer is because that's where the real money is. That's where the creativity is. That's where the fun is.

Not to mention kids graduating these days were in HS when the banks almost broke the world. Let's not forget that little tidbit of information.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Jul 19, 2015

These questions are ridiculous. Go and do what you like doing, don't be a drone.

Jul 19, 2015

...who cares

Jul 19, 2015

finance is more like a bimodal distribution...lots of insanely talented people sometimes mixed with dumb people

Jul 16, 2015

I forgot to add - and then there's the whole question of what your profession contributes to society, how you add value, etc. Some may choose to go into tech because they perceive IB to being a slave to everyone else who is higher than them on the pecking order and feel that they don't contribute anything valuable to society, etc...Others may truly love IB and believe that the work that they do for clients is really valuable in its own way...all of this, again, is a matter of opinion.

Jul 19, 2015

*selected the wrong tag as I was using my phone. The internship wasn't big4 audit FYI.

Jul 19, 2015

Here's my advice, take the tech offer, enjoy your 9-6 life, and network with the corp dev, bus dev, strategy groups so that in 2 years time you are a top position for it.

Bang a ton of bitches, sip some alcohol, and enjoy your life. That's what I would do.

Don't be a slave to the $

Jul 19, 2015

double post

Jul 19, 2015

N/A

Jul 19, 2015

N/A

Jul 19, 2015

Hi, I would give up the IBD role at tire 1 and 2 banks for now. You are not getting even interviews this year and probably won't get one next year either. This is because most IBD grad analyst roles are filled by good SAs and SA roles are filled by "high performers" (this is a joke, I know) on the Spring or Winter 1 week taster course. These spring and winter taster courses are open to all applicants.

I was in a similar situation and ended up getting a corporate finance job in a small firm. What I do is a mix of structured finance and ECM.

(1) MBA is so risky even at top business school and the number of post-MBA associate positions is a lot smaller than that of grad analysts. Experienced hire is a better route. Deal teams sometimes could use people with the industry CF background. Depends on a role. Your profile has to exactly match what they are looking for in experienced hire, literally tick each requirement stipulated by the HR.

(2) Master's degrees are considered superfluous for IBD teams and transaction teams at Big 4. You can learn most things on wikipedia - I am not joking. That's what most people do. Master's increases your chances for other divisions. If you go to a target already, hopefully LSE, a Master's degree would add no value to your CV.

You can try smaller boutiques. Networking is the key. Do let me know how it goes.

Joined the WSO because I am actively looking for a new job. Hopefully I can move over to a CF role at an oil and gas company or oil/gas/energy groups at a bank.

Jul 19, 2015

Thanks @ball-game.

What do you guys think about going to a 'brand name place' vs 'doing relevant work out of undergrad?

Anyone know about the WSO mentor scheme?

Jul 19, 2015

I got you a coffee date with a country head of a MM and you go ghost. This is why nothing works out, you don't follow through

Jul 19, 2015
c4td0g:

I got you a coffee date with a country head of a MM and you go ghost. This is why nothing works out, you don't follow through

i am surprised how many people helped this kid
why do you all waste time with him...

fake ass liar, using at like 3 same profiles on WSO (something like charlesperry, hopesanddreams, cujo-something etc.), inflating his situation, grades, internships etc.
now he is probably heading back to school to pay for more education
i thought he got banned after that thread few months ago when he got exposed, but obviously mods just removed the thread to his benefit..

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Jul 19, 2015

dayummmmm.

Jul 19, 2015
c4td0g:

I got you a coffee date with a country head of a MM and you go ghost. This is why nothing works out, you don't follow through

let me guess - now you are getting your inbox filled with messages from op with explanations why he was not able to make it to that coffee date and asking you if you could remove your post because it will ruin his terriffic reputation here

Jul 17, 2015

getting a job at Google/Apple is different from getting a job in GS/MS...
they require very different skill-sets, and it's irresponsible to assume that a great tech guy can succeed as a banker, or vice versa.

Observe. Learn. Share.

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Jul 19, 2015

bump

Jul 19, 2015

Hey I'm sort of in the same situation. Right now I'm a Summer Analyst in Equity Research covering Internet. It's a fun industry to cover. So much so that I'm learning Computer Science on the side to better understand the technical and programming aspect of things (it's also just useful to know in general) and I'm starting to consider going into tech somewhere down the road probably in some corp dev/strategy capacity.
In terms of Silicon Valley internships related to finance, I'm not exactly sure about that. The only roles I can think of where IB experience is relevant are sales and corp dev but from my understanding, those are really hard to get right out of undergrad (much less an internship) as they usually require banking/consulting experience, unless you were able to get some hardcore CS experience and go after software engineering internships. So I think your best bet is to do TMT banking and then transition over. just my two cents so take it what it's worth.

Jul 17, 2015

I have graduated in tech, went to an MBB and came back to tech.

First, as others have said multiple times, if you haven't worked before you probably have no idea what it is like to work long hours in a company. I'm sure you work long hours at school -- working world is a different thing.

Second, the culture in tech is very different than the culture in investment banks / consulting firms. The latter are usually super up tight, based around making pretty powerpoints and excel spreadsheets, long hours for the sake of long hours, etc.. Tech tends to be intelectually more exciting, based around tangible deliverables (e.g., launching products, features, etc..). Tech gives you a level of mobility that very few fields do.

Just my 2 cents.

Oct 1, 2018

Thank you! Will working as a Technology Analyst at Accenture help me become a software developer and then later a product manager at the big tech firms (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.)? Or should I take time off (not working) to gain software development skills?

Best Response
Jul 17, 2015

I think people here are missing the point. As he hasn't worked in either tech or IB he wouldn't be able to tell you which he prefers. He is asking why people seem to be telling him to go for tech vs IB and he is asking why that is. Instead of jumping on the guy, how about you answer the question?
I haven't worked in tech, but I can tell you that IB gets really old really quickly. You're doing pretty much the same tasks everyday and it isn't exactly engaging stuff. The excitement of working on big deals disappears quickly and you're stuck doing repetitive work for 15+ hours a day. That being said, if your goal is the buy side or even MBA, it might be the right thing for you.
One thing to consider is the diminishing marginal returns of earning more money. As you get older you will realize that every additional hour spent working will be worth to you much more than the extra money you get. How much better is your life earning US$1m vs US$0.25m when you don't have any tine to spend the US$1m as you are constantly working.
Either way its for you to decide, but you should think about more than just the money.

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Jul 17, 2015
SearedSalmon:

I think people here are missing the point. As he hasn't worked in either tech or IB he wouldn't be able to tell you which he prefers. He is asking why people seem to be telling him to go for tech vs IB and he is asking why that is. Instead of jumping on the guy, how about you answer the question?
I haven't worked in tech, but I can tell you that IB gets really old really quickly. You're doing pretty much the same tasks everyday and it isn't exactly engaging stuff. The excitement of working on big deals disappears quickly and you're stuck doing repetitive work for 15+ hours a day. That being said, if your goal is the buy side or even MBA, it might be the right thing for you.
One thing to consider is the diminishing marginal returns of earning more money. As you get older you will realize that every additional hour spent working will be worth to you much more than the extra money you get. How much better is your life earning US$1m vs US$0.25m when you don't have any tine to spend the US$1m as you are constantly working.
Either way its for you to decide, but you should think about more than just the money.

Jul 17, 2015

Just an anecdotal example, but my girlfriend works for a tech firm here in Chicago and she said their entire finance department is built of ex-banking guys who got burnt out after 4-5 years. And the few people that aren't ex-bankers are either ex-accountants or ex-ER guys who were focused on the tech sector. Even her company's CFO ran TMT at a MM bank before joining her firm. Something to be said for the culture at some of these tech firms. I've never heard of a company treating employees better than her company does (not with pay, but with lifestyle/culture and benefits).

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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Jul 17, 2015

because tech is wassup and finance is nicht-nicht

Jul 17, 2015

There are plenty of opportunities in tech to work more than a 9-5 and make more than 250k. It's called having equity.

Jul 17, 2015

You mentioned you want to pursue an MBA down the road. If you're certain of that, why not try tech now, continue your projects and volunteering efforts (sounds like you enjoy these things, and are important to you), and see what becomes of it. If you decide you still want to do banking you can do so after your MBA, and you'll have much more life experience under your belt to make an informed decision.

Array

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Jul 17, 2015
VanillaGorilla:

You mentioned you want to pursue an MBA down the road. If you're certain of that, why not try tech now, continue your projects and volunteering efforts (sounds like you enjoy these things, and are important to you), and see what becomes of it. If you decide you still want to do banking you can do so after your MBA, and you'll have much more life experience under your belt to make an informed decision.

Spot on. If you go the IB Route chances are it will be harder to break into Tech because you'd spend years out of practice, whereas if you go Tech->MBA you can go to either one more easily.

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Oct 1, 2018

Thank you! Will working as a Technology Analyst at Accenture help me become a software developer and then later a product manager at the big tech firms (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.)? Or should I take time off (not working) to gain software development skills? I also want to pursue MBA down the road after working at a tech company and then getting Masters in a tech field

Jul 17, 2015

I appreciate all the advice. This coupled with a complimentary reddit thread and some thinking has swayed me to tech. And once I made the decision, I actually got pretty excited thinking about the work I could potentially do in the tech field. I guess this is a sign tech is what I really want to do.

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Jul 17, 2015

It seems like you've already made your decision, but one very important factor should be your personality. As a semi-recent graduate, I have friends that went to both sides. They are two very different lifestyles. Tech companies want to spur creativity, which is obviously reflected in their offices, and company events. I don't think you'll find two analysts at a BB wearing jeans playing ping pong on a Wednesday.

I'm in a BB, but not IB, so my hours are a bit different, but not by much. The biggest adjustment if trying to find time for the things you once enjoyed doing during downtime. For example, I love to golf, but not rarely find the time to do so anymore. Even just working out/excising probably hurts my body more than it helps at this point.

You say you want to accumulate wealth, which implicates a very long term view. Maybe look at combing finance/tech and growing your personal finances through investing. Check out Stocks for the long run by Siegel its decent in showing the big picture.

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Jul 17, 2015

Why don't you go the logical route and intern at both types of places and see for yourself.

Jul 17, 2015

do what is right for you. seems you like IBD, so do that. Those skills and experience are transferable to Tech and wherever else and you can always pursue that area later if you want to. take a lot of advice and ultimately choose what you think is best, not what everyone wants you to do.

Jul 18, 2015

OP, do you know how many hours you work at a shop like Facebook or Google as a first year software engineer? 35-40 hrs while making $150k + depending on the restricted stock. For the first few years tech definitely pays more.

After 3 years, join a start up or start one yourself. I can definitely see that having a higher expected value/ desirability than doing 2 years IB, PE recruiting, 2 years PE, getting kicked out of your PE firm, going to business school, and doing corp dev for 80k.

Oct 1, 2018

Thank you! Will working as a Technology Analyst at Accenture help me become a software developer and then later a product manager at the big tech firms (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.)? Or should I take time off (not working) to gain software development skills?

Oct 2, 2018
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Oct 5, 2018
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Mar 24, 2019