The end of my journey

Bit of a long post here, but wanted to throw it all away and hear from you guys before I make the move. What lies below is essentially a bit of the last three years of my life:

University

Graduated with a first class honours from a top European University and straight landed a job at the M&A group of a Elite Boutique. I was lucky enough to enjoy my uni-life throughout my stun at college and was able to - if you want to put it that way - "collect enough experiences". I meet some girls, had fun, made new friends etc. From my time at uni, I did really know I wanted to land that IB job and what were the items I had to collect: good grades, societies, early internships etc.

IB

And so I did. For the past three years I have been working my ass. Ranked mid to top-bucket consistently, I have been lucky enough to participate on some large and insightful transactions and was able to strengthen my relationships with some managing directors with whom I really enjoy working and from whom I learn a lot.

In these years I have had almost no holidays: both Christmas and Summer periods were somehow always stuffed with new deals in which I was staffed. I said nothing, lowered my head and kept working, cancelling all plans and sacrificing some friendships along the way. My hands-on approach implied that I was a little bit burn-out afterwards, but it felt manageable.

During my first year I practised a gave-it-all approach: gained lots of weight - you can imagine why-, spent lots of weekend at the office etc. I believe this detail to be irrelevant, but I have been so focused and so absorbed by my job that I have not had sex in the last three years - let alone have the chance to have a date

Finance Hardo Starter Pack - FinanceViewer

I learnt to live with the fact that I have no control whatsoever of my schedule. I only go out early on weekdays to run some errands if I have made clear that I will have to be out for a few minutes to my superior, I make no plans in advance for the weekend in case I am required for whatever task might be necessary etc. At the beginning I though of myself as an elite soldier: always ready, always grinding. I assumed and learnt to live with the balance of work hard - play hard and practised it while I could surf the wave.

'------

In exchange, I have both learnt a lot and made a lot. For the first one, I am still amazed and love the fact that I am able to learn new things everyday and thrilled with the reality that I am able to personally speak to CEOs and CFOs of some of the largest American and UK companies.

COVID

And then COVID came and it destroyed the fragile status and balance that I was living in. As it happened to everyone, my work hard - play hard shifted to a work - hard scheme with almost no fun. This situation began around April 2020. By November, I was empty of the spirit and enthusiasm that helped me to land this job and that had always characterised me - and I started thingking about resiging.

Perfectly Balanced | Know Your Meme

Meanwhile, I started to reflect on the fact that I was "growing" slowly with compared to the rest of my analyst class. The vast majority of my colleagues were leaving for PEs or other banks and those who stayed started to get more responsibilities. Except me. Awkwardly, I was rising in the rank - even with the new hires - and getting extremely positive feedback - and bonus.


As of today, my mental health is in a very dark place - I would not say I am in a depression status, but I am certainly starting to enjoy less stuff that I always loved. I have always had anxiety but what I have been feeling in the last two to three months, I had never seen.  I feel tired all the time and do not want to embark on new projects - I am aware is not my decision, pointing out the lack of enthusiasm for new items. I extremely punish myself for small mistakes and I am starting to develop an impostor syndrome by which I always believe I will get caught with lots of mistakes done on current and previous deals. On Monday morning I count the hours till Friday evening, and Sundays are easily the worst days ever. Every email that lands my inbox gives me the chills and all of this is obviously translating in both i) my relationship with everyone at the group and ii) the quality of my work, which is decreasing.

I have always been an intellectually curious person: that is why I loved this job, because I would be able to get to know how different industries work, and get paid for that. Yes, you would have to surf through seas of dreadful work, but for me it paid off. Until it did not.

Conclusion

My lack of energy is translated into my relationship with headhunters: I get called for life-changing-interviews I do not want to make because of how mentally exhausted I am. I feel like the only way forward for me at this moment is to resign without nothing lined up.

As to how I would use my time, with the help of a psychologist, I would deploy all my time and energy into getting back to being myself again: into getting excited for my job and for my profession again. I would use all that free time to invest in me: do things I never did before, read books, lose weight etc.

Yes, I would have a gap in my CV. Yes, looking for a new job while being currently employed is easier. I am aware of all the usual nitty-gritty surrounding these decisions, but I do believe I will not be able to land that life-changing opportunity if I do not stop.

And I think I need to stop.

'------

Apologies for the long post lads, needed to throw it somewhere and would love to hear your thoughts on this

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Comments (39)

Aug 9, 2021 - 3:15am

I agree. It's time that OP should think about himself and focus on mental and physical health now. He already won the Olympics, he's set for life probably. Time to get back on track socially and start living life it's supposed to be.

Aug 8, 2021 - 2:58pm

Damn I have never related more to a post. I'm trying desperately to get out of IB and have multiple interviews lined up, but between working non-stop and being constantly tired, I just have no energy left to put into these interviews. I've started dreading each workday and I can honestly say that nothing in IB interests me anymore. I thought closing my first M&A deal would change my life until I realized that the only people who cared were other bankers. Same thing with my first IPO and everything else I've worked on. What good is prestige if none of your family or friends have even the slightest idea what you do on a daily basis? I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to work in IB, but it's just mind-boggling how toxic this job can be. Great way to put yourself in a financially healthy position, but the tradeoffs are ridiculous and I honestly can't see how anyone can do this job long-term.  

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 14, 2021 - 4:22am

Worse: I work for a shitty-paying bank, so the financial soundness part doesn't apply. 

Aug 9, 2021 - 7:29am

Never have I related more to a post on this website...

Have been at a BB in Australia for 2 years. What was once a job I loved, I now have no desire to complete. 

Spend my days thinking about quitting, but do not have the mental energy to recruit for new jobs. Really feel like I am stuck in this job because I don't have the balls to quit without something else lined up, despite how bad my mental and physical health has become. 

I'm glad that I am not the only one struggling in this COVID environment. Take care of yourself mate. 

Array
  • 4
  • Developer in HF - Other
Aug 9, 2021 - 8:27am

Side comment but consider checking for vitamin D deficiency. It is quite common AFAIK and can contribute to lack of energy and some of the things you mention.

All the best

Aug 9, 2021 - 9:33pm

ha, no, but there is a reason "Oasis" is in the name. Not just for the humor, but for the honesty and reflection.    I felt very similar after two years in IB and I didn't have to deal with Covid/WFH like the OP did.  

I ended up getting fired from my dream PE gig like ~4 months in...  so much for having the next gig lined up and life planned out.

OP, just quit and regroup after a few months of self-help and healing.  

Aug 9, 2021 - 10:30pm

I similarly sometimes wonder if I'm adding or detracting from WSO by typically posting anti-"giving a shit" material.

However, I actually think these sorts of posts do help people with their careers. I never used WSO as a way to break into IB. I used it to find other people who were going through the same crap in IB. By reading the experiences of others, it makes it a little easier to put one foot in front of the other the next day and see the light at the end of tunnel. Also, we have to remember that the ultimate exit-op is not a MF PE.  It's a good life. Reflecting on what you're doing and what makes you unhappy helps you reach that exit-op which is the most important of all.

Aug 9, 2021 - 10:23pm

Intern in IB-M&A

Ranked mid to top-bucket consistently, I have been lucky enough to participate on some large and insightful transactions and was able to strengthen my relationships with some managing directors with whom I really enjoy working and from whom I learn a lot.......

.....In exchange, I have both learnt a lot and made a lot. For the first one, I am still amazed and love the fact that I am able to learn new things everyday and thrilled with the reality that I am able to personally speak to CEOs and CFOs of some of the largest American and UK companies......

....I have always been an intellectually curious person: that is why I loved this job, because I would be able to get to know how different industries work, and get paid for that. Yes, you would have to surf through seas of dreadful work, but for me it paid off. Until it did not.

Chose your quotes above for a reason.....I'm gonna tell you something which may seem insane right now. I think that you're gonna be a lifer in finance.  What it sounds like is that you need a really long hard break to rest up and recoup, but from your quotes above, it's clear to me that you're one of the rare people who really does enjoy this. Get better and take time and re-evaluate everything but I don't think this is the end of the road for you. 

Aug 10, 2021 - 2:11am

You need to get laid to clear the head. 3 years with no sex is not explained by IB. It's the other way around: you are overdoing work to compensate for lack of other things (sex, relationships, you name it). The job is what it is, but if you want to stay you should find the way to make it balanced. I've known great ANL that were great without taking it to the extremes you are describing. So do some self reflection - otherwise you'll have the same issues at any job.

Aug 10, 2021 - 9:18am

You have developed a great skill set / finance knowledge which no one will ever be able to take from you. You can use that to personally invest, or join a better WLB corporate job, become a master in your industry and go into VC or PE Operational Roles. 

Aug 10, 2021 - 11:22am

OP - 

A final thought.  As one gets older, relationships and activities outside of work becomes increasingly relevant as it is better to have a well-balanced lifestyle (for a variety of health reason, whether physically and/or mentally).  As you are regrouping your thoughts, consider what kind of lifestyle you want to live as well.  Plenty of professions in and outside of banking would cater to such.  There is no doubt that your skillset is highly sought after in today's environment.  In terms of recruiting, they want to know your story, and how you were able to conquer the challenges in your life.  

As one of my favorite authors who passed not long ago, Terry Goodkind, "Your life is yours alone, rise up and live it." 

No pain no game.

  • 2
Aug 10, 2021 - 11:37am

Don't worry you'll be fine with your pedigree. Banking is not for everyone.

I dropped out of BB as I couldn't handle the stress, I didn't like the (what I thought was menial) tasks, and I didn't like the culture of aggro people at 2am.

These days I've gone to do other things (HF) and make multiples of what the best bankers in my year would make and more than what most average team leaders would make. And work 30% the hours, doing something I enjoy. Banking is not the be all and end up. In fact I look across the street these days and wonder why they work so hard for so little money, if money was what mattered.

so good luck take your time to recover life will work itself out. And if you look making money, you'll find another angle that suits you.

Aug 10, 2021 - 12:22pm

It honestly sounds like you need a break, but also have been very successful to date. I would seriously consider taking some time off, reconnecting with friends and family, maybe travel a little bit. Once you are a good 3 months out (average of how long it takes to change mentality based of me and my friends consensus), you will have a much clearer head and I think you'll be surprised at how much confidence you have in whatever direction you choose. Good luck and congrats on a job well done. It's time for some R&R. 

Aug 13, 2021 - 8:03am

Congrats.  You made it.  3 solid years with great relationships and great pay. Hopefully you saved and invested a lot of it because the last few years have been incredible.  

I think it's fine to quit now.  A solid plan would be take 3-4 weeks off from everything and get your sleep, health, exercise, and diet in check.  You're physical and mental health will soar.  After that, I would think about getting back in touch with any friendships/relationships you wish you didn't have to sacrifice.  Perhaps get a few friends together and take a trip down to Miami or something. Maybe casually try some dating.  Just get your whole life into a different perspective.

Towards the end of month 2 pick up on recruiting and hopefully you can land something and start in the new year.

Aug 13, 2021 - 2:33pm

Loved your post. Having been in the job 5 years, I just quit 3 months ago. Decided to take a motorcycle license and travel the world by motorcycle with my wife until I figure out what's next (yes, she's as crazy as me and also quit her job)

There's so much beyond that work that we cannot really appreciate while at it.

For the future, well... Maybe IB, PE a personal venture or really something else).

Keep your head up, it not you... It's the work, sometimes the teams you work with and mainly the lifelong relationships you established that you got sloppy during that time that need care.

Aug 13, 2021 - 3:37pm

Do it.

I left 1 month ago without anything lined up. For the first time since my freshman summer I was able to enjoy a summer month hanging out with friends, boating, golfing, and reading by the pool. I lost 25 lbs and get to feel the sun on my face as much as I want.

Casually started sending out resumes after two weeks all across the street and the interviews piled up (that's w/o the immaculate deal exposure you've had). Mentally reset and charge your soul, the grind will always be waiting for you, but life's clock doesn't stop ticking.

Stay happy and healthy OP.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 13, 2021 - 5:49pm

Thinking about doing this too since I need to get my physical and mental health back in check. Are you interviewing for similar IB roles, or are you looking into Corp dev / strategy roles instead?

Aug 13, 2021 - 5:33pm

OP - I totally feel you and understand the burnout. I recently quit IB to move into a slightly more relaxed PE role. One thing I would also suggest is perhaps consider pushing back a bit at work and taking on a bit less work. You've been at the bank for a while, and I'm sure you've done a great job and thus you have goodwill and a good reputation built up. It's time to cash in on it, and tell your staffer / seniors you need a little bit more personal time. Since you've performed well and you're in good rep with them, they'll likely understand, not take it personally against you, and go slightly easier on you for a bit. Take that time to recharge, focus on what matters to you in life and go from there.

This is what I did recently and helped a lot for me. I realized that no one will stand up for yourself, except yourself. Cause if you don't people will just take advantage of you and continue staffing you to no end. Head up brother.

Aug 14, 2021 - 2:28am

Wow, that story made me laugh - "haven't had s*x in 3 years" lol. I've always wanted to be IBanker but due to many reasons never managed. So, I've been a data scientist in a couple of the FAANG tech giants in Asia (first Tokyo, then Bangkok, now Hong Kong) for several years. For the 3 years before the covid (let's compare your time frame of 3 years) i've been with a different girl every other night, some of them were Thai actresses, taiwanese singers, japanese swimsuit models, and so on. I've also been travelling 4 months a year - Bali, Tibet, Africa, you name it. AAANNNDD i just checked that my annual compensation is the same as IB associate 3. Reading such blogs makes me happy i am not IBanker, and petty bankers. THANKS A LOT :))))

Aug 14, 2021 - 2:51am

lol thanks for the sh*t. tho I didn't mean to offend anyone, honestly. just my thoughts. maybe instead of getting angry, you can come to Asia as data scientists and have some fun? :) food for thoughts (ps we are hiring).

Aug 14, 2021 - 2:54pm

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Aug 15, 2021 - 9:25am

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