What do Investment Bankers Think of AntiWork

I am curious what this board thinks of the growing trend (mostly on Reddit) to oppose work:

reddit.com/r/antiwork

I am somewhat mixed on the section. On one hand, if you have a boss who is actually exploiting you, fuck that, get out. On the other hand, it seems like these people have no concept of what it actually means to put their head down and grind to enable themselves in their careers. I am curious to hear this forum's thoughts, as everyone here likely works extremely long hours in order to advance their careers. 

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Comments (31)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 26, 2021 - 1:33pm

The population of Reddit on r/antiwork is just the opposite side of the same coin as the population on 4chan, or for that matter, the younger posters on WSO nowadays. Whereas the 4Chan population are a bunch of right-wing bootlicking losers with no life and no accomplishments and a permanent victim mentality, the people on r/antiwork are mostly a bunch of young progressive whiners who have accomplished nothing, have zero motivation to accomplish anything, don't take responsibility for their own actions, and also have a permanent victim mentality.

For what it's worth, I'm really not the stereotypical "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" conservatives, but there's a difference between spending all your free time online whining with a like-minded population of people with a victim mentality than recognizing the unfairness in life and each individual's circumstance and working hard in spite of that and also fighting for the betterment of others.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Oct 26, 2021 - 4:46pm

This is a fair response to "the elite ruined my life" but it's not a fair response to "the elite ruined my civilization". There are probably both groups in each of the ideological camps you mention, but I don't think you can completely dismiss people's concerns by implying that the only reason people are upset is because they're annoyed with their personal situation. Plenty of otherwise successful people, for example, are annoyed that a small class of rootless billionaires and tastemakers agitate for insane IDpol nonsense at home and fly to Epstein's pedo island to fuck kids while grandmas in rural Oklahoma are overdosing on Sackler Snacks. 

Oct 26, 2021 - 2:36pm

Mixed feelings. I do sympathize because we view hard work through the lens of our pretty damn good compensation. We grind 6 figure sellside jobs to work towards 6-7 figure buyside jobs. I couldn't imagine the frustration of putting in shifts doing backbreaking, physically demanding work and coming away with either low pay or not enough hours to pay bills. 

Oct 26, 2021 - 8:55pm

Having done it - it's way easier.  Most that you'll ever work in a day is 10 hours, stress related to work is 0, you take absolutely nothing home w/ you, and you get the satisfaction of knowing exactly how much progress you've made on your work at all times.  The pay is generally very fair for manual labor jobs because literally any able-bodied man could do the work that you're being asked to do and it's enough to live on if you're not in a high COL area (which you shouldn't be if you're doing that work). 

Having worked IB and construction, I have an impossible time believing that anyone else who has done both would say that a manual labor job is more difficult and/or that they didn't earn the fuck out of their money in finance.  

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

  • 1
Oct 27, 2021 - 8:59am

It's not often you see someone in our field who's seen both sides. Thanks for sharing.

Tbh, I'm thinking of things like food service and retail, which most of the anti-work stories are about. No unions, no benefits, minimal hours, shitty customers, commoditized labor type of stuff. 

Construction is fucking demanding for sure, but up here in Canada, construction is good $$. Like really good $.

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Oct 27, 2021 - 10:20am

This is some crowd pandering nonsense. 

While I haven't worked construction - I have worked in retail and as a waiter. And IB is infinitely better. Being a waiter is a ton of stress and a daily grind of dealing with horrific personalities for mediocre pay. Retail is generally OK in terms of personalities, but the pay is worse and the hours are insanely boring. In banking you're surrounded by intelligent people, you know you have a great jobs, you know you make great money, and much of what you do is infinitely higher impact than what you would get in a typical job. Now consider exit options.

I appreciate the pander attempt - but come on. Don't mislead. Blue collar jobs in America today are total trash compared to white collar jobs, and IB is a top tier white collar job. 

Funniest
Oct 26, 2021 - 3:05pm

Lol at anyone that takes that forum seriously. One of their highest upvoted posts is about a kid annoyed that his dad asked him to mow the law and is now contemplating existentialism. It's filled with fat loser neck beards that believe in a utopia world where they can get paid to sit home and Jack off to anime comics.

Oct 26, 2021 - 5:00pm

Basically all of Reddit's subcommunities are divorced from reality and skew heavily towards one or the other side of the extreme political spectrum. I honestly don't think there's a lot of highly educated people using Reddit or at least they are a vast minority. The super liberal camps for the most part strike me as uneducated self-pitying progressives working low-wage jobs, and the super conservatives camps are basically the same. I think the common denominator is lack of education.

Oct 26, 2021 - 7:30pm

An important consideration here is that most of those Redditor's from antiwork work in retail and consumer service jobs. It's one thing to work these jobs as a temp but for you to be in a situation where you do it to make a living without prospects for upward progression, life can be pure dread. At least with banking, you have exit opps to better things and there's implied progression just from sticking around. 

Just imagine, you're getting called in by your boss at 9pm on a Saturday to clean up a vomit & shit cocktail in the bathroom floor and to take up Joe's night shift because he got arrested for a hit n' run. You make $15/hr and have to choose between treating your cavity before it turns into a root canal or paying for your community college class credits. Meanwhile, customers are berating your incompetency and insulting your work ethic as if you didn't just work a double shift and they leave a $1.50 tip. How can you not think work is pure suffering and you're stuck in a situation like this because capitalism?

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  • 16
Oct 26, 2021 - 8:25pm

100% agree. I worked a food service job for $4.50/hour in college and it inspired the fuck out of me to finish college.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 26, 2021 - 9:00pm

"Just imagine, you're getting called in by your boss at 9pm on a Saturday to clean up a vomit & shit cocktail in the bathroom floor and to take up Joe's night shift because he got arrested for a hit n' run. You make $15/hr and have to choose between treating your cavity before it turns into a root canal or paying for your community college class credits."

lmao what? 

This is how progressive elitists view poor people. Literally the same perspective as 

"But what if the girl trying to get an abortion is a working mother of 14 and is working on her Juris Doctoris while putting herself through medical school and MBA so she can cure cancer"

What you're describing is more the exception than the rule, I went to community college for two years and believe me bro, 80% of them were just lazy as hell and all they did was want to smoke weed after class.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Oct 27, 2021 - 10:20am

Yeah nah.That's also how the populist right views things ( the group that propelled Trump to victory in 2016). Far from exclusively a "progressive" view. 

What you're describing is an extreme rarity - what he pointed out is troublingly common. The unstated points in this entire topic are IQ and genes. There is a large contingent of the population that won't succeed because they can't. Do those people deserve adequate lives? Historically, they had them. Now they don't. I think that's a problem. 

Oct 26, 2021 - 9:02pm

The good and natural reaction when in that situation is to blame yourself rather than to blame capitalism.  Spoken by a guy who shoveled asphalt for 3 years to pay for JUCO - that shit was 100% my fault for not realizing that my athletic career could end at any moment and fucking around in HS as a result.  Never crossed my mind that I didn't go to class and took my SAT drunk from the night before (w/out studying at all) because of capitalism. 

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

  • 1
Oct 27, 2021 - 3:11am

that's actually a great comment. I bet you're right and there are people like that in that community, and I hope these people persevere and get out of that situation. but the majority of that community must be fucktards who didn't do shit and expected life to be a piece of cake.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 26, 2021 - 8:31pm

I don't care if I sound like a boomer or get MS for this, but I think a lot of young people are soft and lazy as shit.

One of the reasons I chose to go into finance (besides money) is because I wanted to be around other hardworking, competitive people and frankly there aren't many areas like that. I don't have any issue with the idea of a 4-day workweek or extended vacation or whatever, but it pisses me off when I see people my age who don't work hard and want to complain about how much other people make, with no concept of the grind it took to get there. Again, I don't care about the anti-work movement in itself, but feel like a lot of the same people are complaining how successful some others are.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 26, 2021 - 8:48pm

That forum reeks of privilege lmfao, it's like the whole communism debate between who communism is supposed to appeal to and who it actually appeals to. The problem with having such a utopian perspective where "ableism" is part of your biggest concerns is that in real life, no one cares. I don't think most of these people understand that outside of the internet, no one cares. Nobody cares that you hate your life, no one cares that your dad asked you to mow the lawn, you're completely irrelevant unless you make yourself relevant. See how existentialism can actually HELP you if focused on in the right way?

They're all a bunch of fucking losers at the end of the day and I'm sure our huge tax drains probably help some of those sad people thrive online, but at the end of the day nothing changes unless you change it yourself. I immigrated to this country from a communist country (go figure) and while I dislike many aspects of American life (mainly Americans themselves, not America the country nor the constitutional thesis), I love it here more than anywhere else.

People like those who are "anti-work" have grown complacent and probably think they live in the worst possible iteration of reality, while they unironically live in the best possible position on earth. Very easy to talk online, but much harder to suffer it out in real life. My father was born in a small village in Latin America where there weren't any floors and his father was a factory worker, we were homeless when we got to America. We come from literally less than nothing and I am incredibly proud of that. People like those on that forum are just losers, I pity them. While I'm sure they'll find solace in calling bankers "ruthless capitalists" they'll fail to realize in all their ignorance and contempt that at the end of the day, they will never close on a deal nor learn what it's like to bleed and sweat for themselves.

Oct 27, 2021 - 10:11am

While I'm sure they'll find solace in calling bankers "ruthless capitalists" they'll fail to realize in all their ignorance and contempt that at the end of the day, they will never close on a deal nor learn what it's like to bleed and sweat for themselves.

Lmao, the fuck?! Anti-work aside, this is some "God's work" type bullshit. Not that we don't work hard but damn man we aren't "in the trenches" "going to war" type shit. You bleeding on your keyboard when you align logos? 

Oct 27, 2021 - 12:06am

The government and society the last 30 years have made decisions at the cost of our generation and we should absolutely be pissed. The power dynamic between companies and individuals is out of balance more than before (we're seeing that revert slightly) and the only way to fight back is to be more organized and unionized as a labor force. Middle management is a cancer in most corporate environments and the workplace is full of incompetent people who treat you like absolute shit (yeah you can just accept it and 'focus on yourself' but doesn't mean it can't change with a little effort). For people with salaries, it's harder than ever to run in place and the pace at which you need to run faster in order to get ahead is horrible, everyone that's in a wage job should agree with that. Capitalism might be the least worst system but there's still a bunch of improvements that can be made 'just because we can' in the same way companies cut costs infinitesimally because they can.

Do any of you actually disagree that we shouldn't actively be trying to better (reality check a lot of us arent because 'we don't really have to' as high demand workers) and the best case in life for most people working for 40 years, then enjoying the last 13 with health problems is any actual way to live (78 year average life expectancy) when in a lot of ways it doesn't have to be like that? I don't think most people complain about working or work itself, but rather that superiors are disrespectful without cause, really shitty and mean, etc.

Sure, no one is entitled to 'enjoy' their life (they are entitled to pursue enjoyment) or avoid struggle, but longer life expectancies are only met with a longer working lifespan, and that shouldn't necessarily be the case. It's HARDER to enjoy your life if the WLB is out of wack- I think it's common knowledge that every company is psychopathic except for the ones that compete for the most in-demand talent, which is a tiny proportion of companies. Even then the cost cutting companies take is ridiculous, and this level of efficiency just wasn't as commercial as before (which is how it's happening now, as there's an incentive to). A friend works in banking at a BB that cleared BILLIONS in profit (and their coverage group alone made 100s of mils) and the company made the cups at the coffee machine lower quality to cost cut. Like seriously???

You need assets to work for you to fund non-wage / passive income and about $1-1.5mm to get the initial amount before your investments can take care of minimal expenses. I think this is a somewhat reasonable number historically (~$60-80k wage over 40 years living a somewhat moderate lifestyle and saving/investing prudently) now but the ball is moving much faster with inflation and OUR generation is the one that's getting shafted. Talk 'start a business' all you want but everything has insane barriers to entry and is reaching perfect competition (e.g. restaurants). Our society is oriented in a way that it benefits the previous generations at a cost of ours/ the future, which is ABSOLUTELY a fair thing to complain about.

College tuition, house prices, etc. ARE insane and sets people up to be at a NEGATIVE starting their career (like what the fuck, college itself isn't even that valuable)- and the actual reason (government involvement) doesn't matter as much as realizing it IS a HUGE issue. The investments everyone makes have lower NPV, and the costs are much higher to begin with. Everything is overlevered. We still live in a country with the same underlying amazing principles but they've been warped and deviated from 1000%. It IS unfair.

Corporations can have NOLs but individuals can't? We're 5x taxed on all income earned (wage, sales taxes, dividend/capital gains, property taxes, death taxes, every point in which there's a transfer of money there's a fucking tax. What the FUCK???)

Yeah you can make a bunch of caveats to what I'm saying, but even for someone like ME - loves capitalism, loves America, who's willing to grind and basically do anything to get ahead, except making my personality about work / become psychopathic as a habit, it's WAY the fuck harder than before. All the historical levers that people pulled to get ahead before have been used to a point that it's borrowing from our generation (and there a lot of people who make bad decisions and don't have to bear the cost).

I know I didn't live through 80s American Psycho culture or the 1930s so my perspective can be misguided, but it feels like there are just too many useless bodies now (physical labor, and unskilled labor is just not valuable anymore at ALL). This has bled into low effort corporate functions (marketing, finance, accounting, etc). I would personally hate to work in these jobs where you don't gain any real skills, just do some arbitrary robotic function over and over. It's in IB and PE where we are just robots too. Mobility just isn't what it is. The PE partners of 20 years ago are still here because you can be an owner forever, and the universe of companies to invest in are basically the same for any PE company with checks >100mm. EVERYTHING is WAY more scrappy than before and that's not a good thing…

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Oct 27, 2021 - 1:08am

I'd have to both agree and disagree with your point that life is harder now than before. I think a lot of your points are due to recency bias - much of the world, America included, is living in the most prosperous time in history. The world is the most peaceful and stable it's been since the beginning of civilization, science advancements and technological developments have enhanced the quality of life for billions around the world, and poverty levels are at the lowest levels since international organizations and individual countries began recording that data. A lot of us younger people like to complain about rising costs, a relatively stagnant economy, COVID, etc, but every generation grew up with it's struggles. Just speaking about America, we didn't have to live through the stagflation period of the 70s, the turbulent civil rights era and Cold War of the 60s, or the Great Depression of the 20s and 30s. Although I'll admit WWII affected the average American life much less than most other countries, we haven't lived through any major world conflict like that, or Vietnam. Overall, we've had a pretty decent time.

That being said, what you said about social mobility is right. Social mobility in America has decreased, which is completely following the pattern of every other maturing economy. The best period to fiscally "make it" is during an emerging booming economy. As an economy matures, job and wage growth begins to stagnate. My dad grew up in China, and he's also mentioned somewhat of the same effect in China: the 80s were the beginning of the "boom", and as a result many people of that generation made it, and while the Chinese economy today is still growing much faster than that of the United States, I've heard about how the younger generation in China's seen a decrease in social mobility their parents once had.

However, I think America's biggest problem is that American culture today is consumed by nihilistic individualism and commodification. The real cell of society in the United States is the individual. Everything has a dual nature, and the glamour of high commodification abounds. Human flesh, sex, knowledge, politics, power, and law can all become the target of commodification. This commodification, in many ways, corrupts society and leads to a number of serious social problems, and in the end, the American economic system has created human loneliness as its foremost product, and nihilism has become the American way. Feeling alone and unable to get ahead in a ruthlessly consumerist society, American youth increasingly describe existing in a state of nihilistic despair, and individuals and society have "turned inwards" due to a prevalent sense of being stuck in a draining rat race where many inevitably lose. This despair has manifested itself into ideas like those on r/antiwork, in which people attempt to escape that rat race by doing hte absolute bare minimum amount of work required to live.

Oct 27, 2021 - 10:17am

Well said, quite enjoyed this. Just want to add that we might live in the most prosperous, peaceful time in history but the benefits of that aren't shared universally. Many have prospered, many haven't. Many don't even have the opportunity to do so.

The resentment you see in anti-work is a product of that. There are the lazy ones, but there are also the ones who did everything they were "supposed to" for the American dream. Worked their asses off and still stuck in that same cycle of poverty. 

Oct 27, 2021 - 3:07am

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  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Oct 27, 2021 - 10:20am

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