TLDR: I'm a 1st year Analyst at BB in London, unhappy with current situation. Life is tough, but we all know that and am trying to cope.
Realising recently that I respond better to intrinsic than extrinsic motivation factors, one of them being learning, "figuring things out" and the desire to acquire a tangible skill set that will allow me to add value not only in banking but also broader finance and business/society in general (and with that achieve financial security and independence at a modest standard of living).
Feeling like I don't make any real progress in that sense, so was wondering whether I am too entitled / need to change my perspective / banking is not for me / that's just how things are and if there is a better or smarter way to approach this?**
Also wondering what really constitutes the Analyst skill set, what makes it valuable (why is it so desired?), what are the specific skills you learn and how you maximise learning.**
**Full post: **
I am currently a 1st year at a BB in London and, like many others from my intake, reached a point in recent weeks where I am doubting whether my decision was the right one.
Obviously the hours are grueling, the lifestyle is tough and no time for anything remotely private is a given. I knew that before I started (although I underestimated the impact it would have on my physical and mental well-being - but this will be for another discussion). Somehow I believe there can be a way to rationalise all that. However, what is really getting to me recently is that I get the feeling I am not building a tangible skill set that will help me to add value in one way or another in the future, may it be in banking, finance in general or some other area of business or society.
I knew from the beginning and to some extent realised even more over the past months that extrinsic motivation only gets me so far. I have a high preference for a clean and modern living space, although I don't need a lot of space. I like "nice things", although I tend to buy a special item in a certain category only after doing extensive research over longer periods of time (and spend rather more than less on it) to then keep it for years on end. I try to have the least number of "things" as possible, as I believe each material possession comes with a certain mental toll (starting to sound a bit hippie here). I like nice experiences and enjoy spending money on fancy dinners and the likes, although I prefer to have these experiences only every once in a while to keep them "special". When I think of bonus season, I don't feel any particular emotion at all, other than the happiness that comes with seeing my savings go up (and the security and freedom that comes with that) and maybe spending a couple of hundred on something nice for myself.
At the end of the day I could live happily on my current base for the next few years - although I would like to build more wealth (again financial security and personal freedom are very important to me) and maybe get a studio on my own.
In terms of other extrinsic motivation factors like prestige, social standing, etc., I realise that it is only a way for me to cope with my past emotional and mental baggage, lacking self-confidence (not nessecarily in interaction with the outside world, but rather in terms of perceived self-worth) and as way to feel superior to others ("I am worth something because I made it into this industry, whereas thousands of others did not"). I am becoming aware that these will never make me truly happy and the only way to achieve happiness will be intrinsically.
I am understanding that I am getting a lot of satisfaction from learning new skills, figuring out "puzzles" and seeing myself improve vs past versions of myself (I am still too often falling into the trap of comparing myself to others, but I am working on it). Recently, I am also thinking a lot about the concept of "adding value".
To a certain extend I knew all this before and I chose banking to gain valuable experience, build a tangible and diverse skill set and have exposure to high calibre individuals from whom I could learn. I knew that it would only be a temporary step ("maybe a few years"), while I figure out my "true calling" or the "next best thing" subject to my views in the future.
Now what is slowly killing me, is that I feel my progression in these terms is lacking significantly. Yes, I have gotten better at certain tasks, however, I do not feel like these are skills that are adding value outside of banking or will allow me to keep me financially well off (well enough) should I leave or be made redunant say in a year or two. Furthermore, I am missing a feeling of intellectual stimulation.
I am wondering, what is this Analyst skill set that is so desired and that everyone is talking about really?
Financial expertise? I feel my technical knowledge has actually gotten worse since finishing my degree, since almost all modelling is backup or template driven (DCF/LBO? Build op. model plug it into template and shoot it off to LevFin to add structure, maybe add/tweak some sensitivities or additional cases later). Yes I can spread comps faster than ever and know more obscure FactSet formulas by now, but is that it? Every once in a while there is some non-off the shelf stuff that actually requires building novel models from scratch and actively thinking about things. I get great joy from figuring these things out and time just flies, but it happened about two times in the past six months. I feel I could learn more simply by reading, studying and practicing on my own.
Client interaction? What client interaction. The amount of times you get invited to a client meeting by a senior and actually have time to make it is rare (again about two times in the past six months, one of them with about 5 hours of sleep total in the two days prior, so not really in a state where you can absorb a lot of information). Although attending is very interesting and extremely insightful, given the right circumstances.
Administrative/Process skills? Figuring out which courier delivers books fastest, scheduling calls and keeping WGLs, DLs etc. up to date is fine and I appreciate that it is part of the job, which I want to do well in its entirety, but not really what I understand to be a set of very unique skills to learn.
I could go on like this...But most of all it is not getting a sense of the big picture. Day after day you execute specific, given tasks as precisely and fast as possible, churning output after output, always someone chasing you, always the next staffing awaiting. There is no time to just take 15 minutes to actually try and understand what you are doing, why you are doing it and where it fits into the grand scheme of things. And if there is a day where you get off an hour earlier, you just want to go home, talk to no one, and sleep.
Furthermore, with the the occasional rare exception, seniors don't go out of their way to give this kind of perspective to you, even just for a few minutes per week (which I can understand from their perspective, don't want to sound entitled here). They are also not really approachable during day-to-day business, so it is hard to find a way to actually benefit from their experience. Churn is extremely high (e.g. not a single Analyst or Associate was still in the team about 1-2 months after I joined for full time that was already there before I started my Summer Internship) and I am getting more and more the feeling that juniors are viewed as a resource that is to be depleted with no intention of personal development. I have talked to other Analysts about this and they feel the same.
I could go on, but I notice this post is getting quite long, so I am going to stop here for now (might edit later) and would be happy to get your take on this.
Am I too entitled? Do I need to change my perspective? Is it a culture problem? Is banking not for me? Is this just how things are? Is there a better/smarter way to approach this?
And what really constitutes the Analyst skill set? What makes it valuable and what are the specific skills you learn? How do you maximise your learning?
I am looking forward to your answers!