What assumption of yours was broken shortly after you started working?

My parents are both fairly educated and have great jobs, but neither of them is in the business world. So I used to have some embarrassingly naive views about Corporate America. I learned a lot after my first year of business undergrad. And much more now, after graduating and working full time a few years. 

1.Prestige

My first dumb assumption is I assumed there was some level of prestige and excitement around any type of corporate work in a downtown highrise building. I pictured anyone wearing a suit and tie to work was very smart. 

I quickly learned just how (for lack of a better word) shitty a lot of office jobs are. Whether it be operations accounting, or risk and compliance, etc. A lot of this "back office" type work would be universally unpleasant work. In fact, these types of jobs often have the same kind of internal controls or approval systems that a fast-food worker would be subject to. There are (many) people whose whole jobs are basically just to maintain an ERP system for the company. Not to disrespect doing that for a living, but front-office types of roles are obviously way better for an ambitious and capable person. WSO sometimes gets criticized for the hyper-focus on prestige, but I think it's pretty justified to steer people away from a lot of back-office, retail banking, etc type jobs. I think they would suck for most college-educated and ambitious people. 

2. The Importance of Endurance

Another thing I didn't know was the importance of endurance. Whether it be for the right or wrong reasons, being able to continue working and taking career steps is probably the biggest contributor to long-term wealth building. So many of my university peers have gotten a good opportunity and left with nothing else lined up (quitting is especially bad). This really, really hampers where you will be in 5 years compared to someone who can stick with it. 

3. A Vast Difference in Capabilities

The third thing is I can understand why there are pretty big pay gaps within companies. I'm not saying CEOs should be earning 300x more than an average worker. But it's fairly justified IMO. Like what I mentioned about some back-office type jobs, working has made me realize the vast difference in capability between different types of workers. Not to mention - the expectations of different types of roles are vastly different as well. There is a pretty big level of dependency on a few revenue generators within a company. So it's fair that those people get paid a lot more. 

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Comments (104)

Controversial
Mar 5, 2021 - 4:51pm

pobisi5201

The third thing, is I can understand why there are pretty big pay gaps within companies. I'm not saying CEOs should be earning 300x more than an average worker. But it's fairly justified IMO. Like what I mentioned about some back office type jobs, working has made me realize the vast difference in capability between different types of workers. Not to mention - the expectations of different types of roles are vastly different as well. There is a pretty big level of dependency on a few revenue generators within a company. So it's fair that those people get paid a lot more. 

My experience has been the complete opposite of this. In business school, I would idolize successful CEOs. After meeting tons of them in my career, I would say that most should have their comp cut by 80% if not more as they contribute little to nothing and simply say "yes or no" to innovative idea generation coming from further down in the ranks of the organization.

Mar 5, 2021 - 4:59pm

True, perhaps you are correct about CEOs. 

I was more referring to...say a Financial Controller with a CPA, vs an Accounts Payable Analyst. Working alongside some of these people, it's absolutely shocking how much more capable one is than the other. Again, totally different roles and backgrounds. But I think it's justified for there to be a stark pay difference, if it's equated in terms of productivity. 

Mar 9, 2021 - 3:49pm

I agree, I see what you're saying, but what you have to realize is its just about being "capable".

Think about QB in the NFL; we don't line up everyone in the league/world from being able to throw the ball the furtherest to not, and then the top 30 people get to play QB. Theres more too it than that, can you read the defense, study film, lead the team. Is an accounts payable analyst "better" than the Controller at using a macro, maybe?, does that make them better at being controller, maybe? but probably not. 

Mar 7, 2021 - 2:33am

This definitely makes sense from a value-add point of view, but CEOs of let's say mid to larger size companies, especially those which are public, tend to be the high level leadership guidepost but are in my pov compensated for the risk they bear being that person. Basically their outsized comp compared to the general employees or even other senior folk is predicated upon the fact that they are single-handedly responsible for being the figurehead of someone who will provide returns to shareholders. Bearing that responsibility and taking the risk of being chastised by the street or shareholders when things go wrong can arguably warrant a compensation premium. Not arguing how much that premium should be but I think it's reasonable to place a higher price on a figurehead (and obviously the extent of involvement is super subjective).

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Mar 7, 2021 - 1:48pm

Same reason Roger Goodell can make $40-50 million a year for being the lightning rod that takes a lot of the heat NFL owners should be receiving

Array
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:24pm

Eh....in some cases where the CEOs are very public like Jamie Dimon, Tim Cook, or Elon Musk, I'd say this is true. But the vast majority of random public company CEOs are fairly anonymous and just hide behind a wall of IR people. Basically, it's IR's job to take flack from the investors and that's not a 7-figure position.

Also, most CEOs, big or small, are very pretty protected by their boards. I would say that they are rarely held responsible for their failures.  A middle manager will get fired way more quickly than a CEO for screwing up.

Mar 9, 2021 - 3:57pm

TheBuellerBanker

This definitely makes sense from a value-add point of view, but CEOs of let's say mid to larger size companies, especially those which are public, tend to be the high level leadership guidepost but are in my pov compensated for the risk they bear being that person. Basically their outsized comp compared to the general employees or even other senior folk is predicated upon the fact that they are single-handedly responsible for being the figurehead of someone who will provide returns to shareholders. Bearing that responsibility and taking the risk of being chastised by the street or shareholders when things go wrong can arguably warrant a compensation premium. Not arguing how much that premium should be but I think it's reasonable to place a higher price on a figurehead (and obviously the extent of involvement is super subjective).

You guys are both making good points about this. All the times I've heard a high ranking leader respond "I defer to the team" then also change that team by firing them when said leader could've stepped up a little more to help the team out.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:06pm

the ceos worth idolizing are the entrepreneurs who founded the company. finding your way into a CEO position without taking on any risk yourself is impressive, but no where near as much as someone who goes out and builds a successful company 

Mar 5, 2021 - 5:06pm

people who work for investment management companies are good investors and that it's a meritocracy.

luck doesn't play a part. I personally know 2 people who were essentially gifted a clientele that gives them $1mm a year each in income - not through merits, but through connections and charm alone.

age = maturity. I've heard some horrific things from older male advisors about females in the office, and while I've never snitched, I wouldn't bring my wife around anyone outside my team that works in PWM, some real dogs there.

people in positions of authority got there because of leadership prowess.

investing is incredibly complicated. the more experienced I get, the simpler it gets, and it's not cause I'm super educated or anything

it's possible to predict what's going to happen in markets if you have the right data points.

wealth = happiness. 

great career = great life. some people with the best careers may have fidelity problems, shit for brains children, weight problems, lack of discipline outside the office, leave work for the strip club at 4pm before the kids get home from sports (true story), and more.

large organizations are incredibly structured and organized. if anything, it's the opposite. the bigger an org, the more fragmented and disorganized it seems. 

Mar 5, 2021 - 5:18pm

Yeah, when I have to deal with one of the biggest companies in the world, it is extremely frustrating. I have no idea how they even function. That's how disorganized and backwards everything is.

Agreed to the male "dogs" out there. Obviously guys chase just about any girl in college. But some of these older office guys - sleazy in a much worse way IMO. Heard of some really crazy stuff. 

And yes, I do think the old boys club is still very alive and well. After being out there for a while, I've seen how the cycle can perpetuate, and also how hard it is to "fix" some of the systemic things. 

Mar 5, 2021 - 6:47pm

Actually it's broader, I do think it's possible to beat the market, I've done it in my PA the past decade, although it's near impossible to know if that's luck or skill if I'm being intellectually honest.

what I mean is that being a treasure trove of macro knowledge may not turn into actual financial benefits apart from speaking fees. The most successful investors don't forecast or try to be accurate at predicting, and I did not expect to see that, especially coming from an Econ background

Mar 7, 2021 - 8:21am

thebrofessor

age = maturity. I've heard some horrific things from older male advisors about females in the office, and while I've never snitched, I wouldn't bring my wife around anyone outside my team that works in PWM, some real dogs there.

I sorted that out by telling my girlfriend who they are and what they do, and she doesn't want to be anywhere near them. 

I am good friends with some of them and I do not want to burn bridges unless necessary

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 1
Mar 5, 2021 - 7:27pm

Biggest misconception for me was that you had to work incredibly hard to get promoted / do well vs. working fairly hard (in both cases working smart). I notice analysts at my firm who work till 11pm and yet are less successful than those work till 4-5pm but are good 'talkers'. Figure out path of least resistance (low input / high output)

Other big learning was if you are going to overshoot expectations do so on quality of work, NOT time. Higher quality of work impresses the shit out of people & they respect you more. However, while getting the deliverable done faster will win you some respect it also gives people license to walk all over you as now they're expectations for you are calibrated to get work to them faster & suddenly you're asked to do 5 projects in the time that you may have done 3-4. This leads to pure misery. I've learned to manage expectations so I'll present stuff in 5 days that takes me only 4 days to get done, but will make sure the work product is of high quality. This way I get an extra day's worth of time to relax a bit / get some reading done / study stocks I'm personally interested in / join calls where I can learn a lot more. Maybe the simple way of saying this all is, if you get 50% efficiency gains as you improve / get smarter, only feed 25% back to your boss. Keep the remaining 25% & use it to improve quality of life / job satisfaction 

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 6, 2021 - 8:32am

I used to look at IB analysts and say "wow, they're living the dream making such great money at such a young age". But once I was that person making that kind of money, I realized it's not that special (it's also not that much money), and there are so many other things that matter outside of money in terms of both career trajectory and overall life satisfaction.

I guess the realization is similar to the saying "show me a beautiful woman and I'll show you a guy tired of sleeping with her". I don't know if there's a dream job out there, at least until you own a business or are a key principal with equity in the business. Even then, I know a CFO of a fairly reputable company who quit because he was dissatisfied with the job

Mar 6, 2021 - 11:32am

Lots of good stuff already posted in here. My 2 cents on wrong assumptions:

  • IBD is the promised land to riches
  • People at top firms have all their shit together
  • People at top firms got there because they are smart and work hard. (AHAHAHA)
  • Successful people are good and likeable people
  • People who preach good morals are morally good
  • There's an optimal way invest
  • Being a good research analyst means you're a good investor
  • People at work care about you

Basically massive disillusionment

Array
  • 5
Mar 6, 2021 - 11:53am

haha nice

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Mar 6, 2021 - 4:23pm

Biggest and best example I share. At our bank, the difference b/t the Front Office and Back Office is HUGE in terms of talent, aptitude, skill, problem solving, intellectual. I have prior experience at our banks but as you move around in your career you'll notice this gap is massive at certain places.

Array
Mar 6, 2021 - 4:39pm

Disclaimer: Work in tech 

1.$100K salary is peanuts after tax/rent/student loans.

2. Money doesn't bring you happiness. But it has the potential. The key is figuring out how to use it to create fulfilling experiences with other people. There's some creativity involved ;) If you want to hate yourself, hoarding cash will do it for you. Go make a sh*t ton and inject it back into the economy. 

3. A lot of people crushing it financially dress very low key / casual 

Mar 8, 2021 - 12:56pm

#1 is very true, and then the next realization you will have is that 80%+ of the population in a given city isn't even taking that in household income. The next question is how are they supposed to survive, much less save and invest?

#2 is true, probably on a curve (positive returns to a point, then diminishing returns, then positive again once you're past some breakpoint where you get involved philanthropically)

#3 is very true, not for everyone obviously, but for enough that I've stopped judging. 

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 1
Mar 6, 2021 - 7:05pm

I used to think that people on the trading floor were all psychopaths, like depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street. Then I went to work at the trading floor of a BB and, as it turns out, people were in general really nice (still aggressive, but in a well behaved way, not assholey like one might expect). From what I know from friends and WSO, the real psychos are in IB.

Mar 6, 2021 - 7:20pm

ChanandlerBingo

the real psychos are in IB.

I think Quants are the real psychos. Nice psychos though. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Mar 6, 2021 - 8:06pm

You sound like the bizzaro version of every social science undergrad

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!
Most Helpful
Mar 6, 2021 - 8:55pm

1. Exit opps: I realised for a lot of revenue generating roles in finance it isn't that hard to break into other areas that interest you. I work in audit and there's tons of people that aren't particularly bright that got banking roles within the firm, at a competitor or even at BBs and EBs. WSO made me think that someone in FIG or DCM would have a hard time breaking into buyside roles but a few of my buddies have made the jump from those areas and it wasn't all that hard. I know people in college that turned down advisory roles at the big 4 level and even DCM at Scotia(I remember when this happened clearly) because that did not want to be pigeonholed and today all i see them do is exhale weed smoke on snapchat and even ask me for money sometimes. A lot of recruiters do not really care if you are at GS TMT vs Morgan Stanley Industrials or Evercore M&A, there is no "top" team once your foot is in the door. So do not be ashamed that you only got that consulting job at LEK or Oliver Wyman or even audit at big 4, you're already in the race, you can work out your strategy to try and win from here instead of sulking, lot of people did not even get to qualify. Do not let the anticipation of a big happiness make you miss out on the little joys of life.

2. On large companies: I realised that multinationals are not all that sophisticated when you are actually working there. There are dumb people, people who look unkempt and clearly cannot take care of themselves, people who are boring as hell and truly gifted individuals who are smart and hard working and guess what, they all get promoted at similar rates.

3. On standing out: I learnt that the work and efficiency of the smart and driven person in a large organization is watered down by the morons they work with or work for so they just end up looking like an average employee and treated as such. Its better to not sacrifice your health for these firms they would rarely even notice your grind unless you're bringing in clients and single handedly bringing in large revenue. Think about it this way if you make 50m in a hedge fund team slaving away and giving up much of your life and your moron colleagues lose 49m your salary would still be the same and you would barely get a bonus to recognise your individual effort, it'll go to your boss and be used to cover the loss of your colleagues, unless you become a PM.

4. On what matters: A partner at my firm died suddenly from a stroke at home and he gave in a lot of his time to the firm. Finance and this company was his life and he lived and breathed it. When he was alive he was a top dog in the firm and was known be be a revenue titan plus most times when I stayed past midnight he would be there on his computer and he complained to me personally once about not spending much time with his family and hating that about himself. After he died all we got was an email 'We lost one of our own' or something like that and the firm moved on. The guy didn't even get a meeting room named after him. The new hires do not even know who he was. He spent most of his adult life doing a job that stressed him constantly and probably contributed to his death and barely got acknowledged. Make sure you know what matters to you and hold on to it do not let them go because of these soulless firms. 

Mar 6, 2021 - 9:04pm

i.can.make.it

2. On large companies: I realised that multinationals are not all that sophisticated when you are actually working there. There are dumb people, people who look unkempt and clearly cannot take care of themselves, people who are boring as hell and truly gifted individuals who are smart and hard working and guess what, they all get promoted at similar rates.

True. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Mar 7, 2021 - 1:31pm

Absolutely on 4. Once you leave the firm or die, life moves on super fast. They'll send out an e-mail about some super senior guy retiring or leaving, people pay their respects and then it's back to business as usual. In a month their name is forgotten. 100% do not destroy yourself for the company.

Array
Mar 9, 2021 - 7:03am

I went to a semi target so was kinda sad when I "only" got audit, a few of my friends were depressed about getting ECM and DCM roles and some even did not accept their offers.

I genuinely thought my path to IB on any level was 0/zilch/none because of the garbage advice people give on this forum. I was surprised when I started working that it didn't warrant much of reaction when someone made the jump to IB or consulting or some other role since so many other have done it. Some seniors even gave me advice on how to do it and promised to recommend me to teams but I would have to do really well in the interview.

That coupled with other acquaintances who made it to the buyside from less than prestigious teams really opened my eyes.

Now I cringe when I see a "I only got an offer at JP Morgan Nat Res group, is my career in finance over?" post. Which is followed with a top voted reply of "Dude you're screwed for buyside recruiting, you have to get an MBA from H/Y/P to stand a chance to break in from there. Trust me, I am a principal at KKR".

There are a lot of people who inflate their titles on this chat and give horrible responses and people believe them and upvote thinking that's how it works.

Mar 6, 2021 - 11:01pm

I learned that simple is genius. If something takes too long or is too difficult to explain to someone or a group, you'll have lost everyone and it won't matter how good your analysis is.

Being liked by the right people trumps creating a good work product in many atmospheres

The people that move up quickly aren't always the best workers, but probably liked the most

 People  who are rockstar idea generators but not great at debating will have a really hard time no matter how many times they're right.  Social skills, story telling, debating, are just as important as being able to crunch the numbers.

Array
Mar 6, 2021 - 11:26pm

- It doesn't matter how good your idea is if you can't succinctly explain it in a compelling fashion. 

- Working on tasks/deliverables for a long time doesn't mean you're a hard worker, just means you're most likely inefficient. 

- The largest, respected F500 companies have very convoluted internal systems. For example, in my position, I need to navigate through 7-8 systems to be able to do my analysis. For some reason, nobody in IT has been able to combine all the systems together (probably never will). 

- In college, I was always thought only the smartest people can get into positions at top firms. Not true at all. I've seen some pure idiocy on display. I've seen FO people write up emails, draft memos, etc. with obvious typos and cringeworthy syntax. 

- Used to think that the professional world was a tough nut to crack into after college. Now, I think it's not a walk in the park but it ain't necessarily that hard. Just a lot of college grads like to make excuses on why they failed to land a position in their chosen career - poor choice in major, lack of connections, no internships, etc. 
 

Mar 8, 2021 - 12:21pm

The writing thing is huge, it's really insane how poor some people's communication skills are. I studied engineering and there were some pretty smart people who were really good at engineering, but couldn't put together a lab report to save their lives. I had a few where I basically said look, we'll do the experiment and I'll let you do the data synthesis and I'll just write the thing up, because if we split up sections I'd have to just rewrite their parts anyway. 

Mar 7, 2021 - 1:26am

- Used to think people who went to great schools and had brand name jobs were some 200+ IQ prodigies. Mostly they were just polished and came from good means. In fact, turns out there are still a good number of morons I've come across with pedigrees that would suggest you otherwise.

- Consulting/banking is where the most successful and smart young professionals work.  In reality these are not neccessarliy places where you find top talent (ha!), but places full of undecided people with some basic intellectual horsepower (and even that - not always). With all that said it can be a good career strategy hedge though, because nobody ever gets fired for hiring someone ex-Mckinsey + Harvard. In my experience few people with that (or similar) combination tend to think that way though.

- Allocating your money to a "very serious investor" keeps it safe. Just check the 10-yr returns of some of the high brow value funds and it will tell you everything you need to know. Investment fund profitis typically driven by AUM x mgmt fee, not returns. As a result, funds, especially traditional AM firms with no carry or profit share structure, are better off asset gathering and signaling competence than actually making money for their clients. Incentives, incentives, incentives.

- "Very serious investors" are long-term oriented. That's the marketing tagline, but if you look at how they manage their own investment businesses it tells you a different story. Typically the CEO/board/IC average members have maybe 10 years of careers left in them. That's also the timeframe in which they typically think about the firm. This runs particularly rampant in firms which have partnership structures but is better at single family/majority owner funds. If you are at the beginning of your career and work for the former type you better hope that the industry trends are in your favour because trust me the management doesn't give a sh*t if the fund still exists 20-30 years down the line when your career earnings should be peaking. Incentives, incentives, incentives again.

-Loyalty will be rewarded. LOL. Well, there is definitely some truth to this, but you better choose the firm to be loyal to and believe that after decades of loyalty the people you were loyal to are still there. At the end of the day you and only you are responsible for your own happiness and career progression.

- Talent and hard work always gets rewarded - part I. Truth is your comp is much more determined by your negotiation skills, industry, group and what the market is doing than your marginal individual effort or performance. It's easy to be generous when the pie is growing, so being in a good industry or a business division is often the easiest way to success and good comp. With all that said, you're not gonna get more than you ask. I recently negotiated a salary (when many people advised against it) and my manager was insistent that I'd make up for it in the years and offered me a higher signing bonus. In the end I didn't budge and ended up raising my base by 25%. As a result, just this year I'd have to have been an exceptional, off-the charts performer just to reach the comp level I now get for simply pulling my weight. For this reason only it's typically easier to grow your comp by jumping firms rather than getting promoted internally. 

- Talent and hard work gets rewarded - part III. IME being consistently mediocre can be a pretty good career strategy especially if you manage to find a good niche in a growing industry. Can't stress this enough - make sure you're riding the right wave and your life will be so much easier!

- Wearing a suit every day and traveling for business is a mark of a successful person. In reality, the truly successful persons are those who get to choose what they wear every day and don't need to spend their nights and weekends away from their families.

-Finally.. finance is a meritocracy. The higher up you climb the less that is true. This leaves a lot of Excel jockeys and ppt wizards jaded,  because at some point beyon d your analyst and associate years your "gravitas" (LOL), "relationship skills" and "judgment" [signaling] matter more for your career progression than anything else.

I think the TL;DR of this could simply be - success is measured by you, happens by putting yourself in the right situations, doing the math, seeing through the incentives and doing your own sniff tests. 

Mar 7, 2021 - 1:26pm

Agree fully about the Consulting/Banking point. 
 

Only thing I disagree with is with respect to loyalty. yeah, at BB's that couldn't be further from the truth. However, at many and I mean many F500's, those who stay at one firm their entire career are promoted greatly. Look at CEO of J&J, GM, Disney, and many others. I think loyalty isn't rewarded nearly as much on Wall Street. However, at F500's. it is a totally different story. 

Mar 8, 2021 - 12:34pm

For every C-suite executive there were probably 5 top-level managers gunning for that slot, and 10 mid-level managers for each of those guys, and on and on. You can only promote so many people, loyalty matters for those types of decisions but at the end of the day you'll still have 75% of the loyal workers getting the short end of the stick. 

Mar 8, 2021 - 2:24pm

kinda disagree on the meritocracy point

i think it is a meritocracy, but literally the only thing that matters is how well can you sell. i think the people you mentioned that get disillusioned with that just don't understand that the required skillset dramatically changes as you move up the ladder.

at least at my firm, the best person for the job tends to get promoted. now if you're the best person for the job because you're smart or because you have a rolodex, that's a different story, and frankly idk if it even matters (though the people with big rolodexes tend to be white men - there are negative impacts to diversity for sure)

Mar 8, 2021 - 4:57pm

That may be true in consulting where you (I assume) have roughly the same going rate for all projects, but outcomes in finance are not determined by the billable hours and payoffs are highly convex. In finance, there are only some many 10-baggers to go around the table and it's in your best interest that your name is stamped on them, because one good deal/call correctly placed can make your entire career. You obviously need to be baseline competent to take advantage of opportunities, but there are some spots where opportunity arrives on the frequency and magnitude like jumbo jets in Heathrow and others that look more like planes at a regional airport in North Dakota - scant and small. 

To illustrate this, if you've been a retail analyst and missed lululemon early, you're probably not getting another opportunity to make your career for years. Meanwhile, a new ten bagger is born every month in the tech space. Your coverage matters because that will massively affect the opportunity set you're dealt. Who decides your coverage? YOUR BOSS'S BOSS. You better hope he likes your boss and later you, because if you're sitting in a warm spot there are 10 dogs who would love to replace you.

I've seen a good number of people ride on the backs of others who rise through organisations including mine. Granted, these people were baseline competent, but frankly the vast majority of people who go through the often rigorous interview process in investing know their technicals cold, can put together a model/deck, answer phone calls and demonstrate that they know their stuff. If you can't say this about your colleagues I feel sorry for you, but in most places where I've worked this is a given. In short, they're prepared. The luck strikes out whenever preparation meets opportunity and I can tell you that the distribution of opportunities is all but equal.

Mar 7, 2021 - 9:40am

On the Venture side, the idea that the average VC knows anything meaningful about tech, especially emerging tech.

The people at the top of the VC profession that do prestigious fireside chats (Andreessen, Thiel, Gurley) generally know a ton about the industry, but this thing happens where we conflate that tier with the entire profession.  The average VC is an MBA type that has never operated a truly early stage startup and is just a mimetic pattern-matching ape spending their whole day playing signal games, the types of questions they ask about subjects that they claim to be experts in is fucking shocking, truly.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
Mar 7, 2021 - 11:29am

In fact, these types of jobs often have the same kind of internal controls or approval systems that a fast-food worker would be subject to. 

I worked in a MO/BO role at a BB and I can confirm that this is true. The work was mind-numbingly dull and pointless, and required almost no brainpower. I genuinely believe that the average college sophomore could have performed the jobs that some associates and middle managers were doing. The people were completely uninspiring. Had to get the hell out of there after a year.

Mar 7, 2021 - 11:47am

Assumption: Just stick out tough opportunities for the long term benefit. In practice: It's very hard to do something you don't like every day even if you should on paper "stick it out". 

Assumption: 80 hours is just something you can stick through and grind it out. In practice: 80 hours + spent working is no joke and those that can sustain this are either impressive, money hungry or psychopathic this I haven't quite determined yet. It still boggles my mind that I know a bunch of people with multiple kids working these hours and they aren't close financially to leaving this lifestyle. 

Assumption: I have a long career ahead of me whereby I can figure it out as I go (happiness in the long term takes preference over happiness in the short term). In practice: I've found high performance work plus the issues related to COVID have contextualized how short life is. Losing a tenth of my 20s has certainly been eye opening and has put additional focus on the now. The risk of losing my youth, losing my ability to travel, having not had any true fun in over a year has emphasized that I shouldn't work myself to the bone for money (in my opinion). 

Assumption: Fancy investment banks and private equity firms do good work. In practice: A lot of the work you see is trash to get past IC / get a CIM out with tons of mistakes, oversights and laughable commentary. It seems we've pushed the investment timelines up so much that a lot of participants can barely take a good look at stuff before they need to fire something out to IC. 

Mar 8, 2021 - 2:38am

Number 3 resonates

absolutely love my job and public markets finance is one big puzzle begging to be solved (one of those weirdos) but the restrictions imposed on me by my BB employer, and hence wasting a lot of my free time these past months unable to see those important to me, mean I am ever more seriously considering saying fuck it and running with my startup idea. In 20s, why not take risk..?

Offshore liffe
Mar 7, 2021 - 1:19pm

Most investors are only very good at one sector/product/style and the "Master of the Universe" HF/PE/VC/PM largely doesn't exist (save a few people at the top). 

For example, Chamath seems like a legitimately talented tech investor - but the idea he can actually do competent diligence worth paying a huge premium for on a space company (Virgin Galactic) or MCO (Clover Health) is laughable. The guy has zero healthcare experience and you trust him to 'disrupt' healthcare on name-brand only? No wonder the CLOV SPAC deal has been such a disaster. Guy has no idea what he's doing investing in MCOs. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 8, 2021 - 9:13pm

Chamath knows exactly what he's doing. He makes millions of dollars on his sponsor allocations in each SPAC as long as he can get a deal to close. Doesn't matter if it's a shitco, as long as it goes public he can then dump his shares and leave other people holding the bag. Ex: He just sold all of his shares in SPCE. He cheated on his wife, he has a reputation as a bully, he skips leg day, etc. He's just human garbage that should not manage anyone else's money.

Mar 15, 2021 - 10:30am

I 100% agree with this. No idea why people think he can land anything on a different planet or has any idea how to run a healthcare company. Good for him for making a S*** ton of money for being the sponsor. When he sells stock it is ok, b/c he is putting the money into climate change co. 

  • Analyst 1 in CorpStrat
Mar 7, 2021 - 1:22pm

People who went to top Ivies are smarter than me. 

I went to a semi-target (Duke, Vandy, NYU). Always assumed that if you attended Harvard or Yale, you were that much smarter. Def not the case. 

Mar 7, 2021 - 2:06pm

My two broad, naïve misconceptions that were violently disproven upon working a few years in each respective industry

1. Investment bankers know what they're talking about and provide a valuable service to clients

2. Private equity professionals are good investors, and are great critical/analytical thinkers

These are not to say that every banker is a schmuck and that most PE deal teams can't even hit onebaggers, but I was, and continue to be, blown away by the sheer amount of incompetence I see from both PE and IB people. Also, this is not to say I'm gods gift to finance, for I too, am an idiot. But I have learned more from mistakes and how not to do things than I've learned from successes over the last 5 or so years.

Side note: I named my account on this here forum after #2. There are a lot of onebaggers (returning nothing but your invested capital from a deal), and goose eggs (zeros) in PE. I almost went with GooseEgg but onebagger reads better IMO

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:16pm

general incompetency of some people I work with, absolutely horrible internal technology systems (this might just be my bank)

Mar 8, 2021 - 10:28pm

I'm with you, Roger.  Accounting can be an extremely creative field if you know what you're doing.  IME, there are lots of very smart, humble, and hardworking people there, especially compared to the bloviators in other service professions (*cough* consulting *cough*).

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:15pm

I've come to the conclusion that prestige is much less important than culture and the people you work with in terms of maximizing your long-term success. Yes, I do think, for the record, that you should take the job at McKinsey or Goldman right of school if you get it because you do get a lot of good experience and those brand names do initially open some doors. That said, after you've checked the box that you're competent in recruiters/employers' mind, who you work for matters a lot more than chasing more prestige, IMO. Yes, a CFO of a F500 Company (in my case), will earn a lot more than a CFO of a mid-size company. That said, if you're not working with somebody who will take interest in your career or will set you up to be promoted, you won't even make it to Controller at the mid-sized firm and, statistically speaking, you probably weren't going to be CFO of Google anyway. I have to imagine it's probably similar for you Lords of Finance in that it's better to be a top dog at a middle market PE fund with people who you like and will help set you up for success/moving up quickly versus getting stuck at the sub-manager level at KKR with no one that's willing to bat for you.

Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that being a big fish in a small pond is the smarter choice for most people to maximize comp & happiness than being a small fish in an ocean. That isn't an answer that will likely satisfy the hyper type A folks that frequent this board who want to be the best of the best, but given how many others have already commented how hard work doesn't always get you as far as perceptions do in Corporate America, I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.

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