What the F are we all doing?

This probably won't go over well, but can we have a discussion about why many of us are working the vast majority of our waking hours basically helping the richest people in the world become a little bit wealthier? I work in markets, which is a bit more shameless than IB, but still... despite what Lloyd Blankfein says I think we can all agree that we are not doing 'God's work.' 

Please consider the following questions: 

Why do we really need so much money? It is well known that vast amounts of money do not bring fulfillment, joy, or meaning to one's life. How many times do we see a wealthy and 'successful' (as traditionally defined) person go down in flames? Greed is a base human trait that has plagued us since the beginning of civilization, but why do you personally need so much money every year? Is it truly worth the opportunity cost? Are there more important things to this life than acquiring material goods, showering ourselves in luxury and comfort?  

Is this what we want to do with our lives? How do we find this fulfilling? The world desperately needs smart, motivated, and hard working individuals. I think it's safe to say that most of us fit this category, yet we decide to use these talents and attributes in order to enrich ourselves and others who are privileged. *I am using privileged as broadly defined. In other words, you can't control where you are born or how your parents treated you or what IQ you have. 

I am a believer in capitalism, but I think things have gone a bit too far. We all know about the data behind the 'wealth gap' and the problems it is causing. I think it is possible to live a comfortable life while also dedicating ourselves to an important and worthwhile purpose. Am I crazy here or have any of you had similar thoughts? Many fellow analysts also find the work unfulfilling and culture unpleasant, but have not gone as far as to seriously consider quitting (although I have spoken to many who plan to leave in a year). 

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Comments (148)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 23, 2020 - 11:28am

Is this the type of work we want to be remembered for?

No one here will he remembered mate. Give it a hundred years and it will be as though you never even existed in the first place, regardless of your occupation

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 23, 2020 - 11:35am

I didn't necessarily mean it in a nihilistic way. My point was that your odds of actually making an impact on the world are next to nil, so what you do doesn't matter. Don't do finance if you're not interested in it and/or if you don't really care about the paycheck. But it can be an interesting field for some, and not just because of the money. Arguing about whether finance is inherently good or fulfilling is pointless. Nothing in the job market truly is

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:35am

All we have is the present, I am not talking about legacy. Legacy is driven by the ego. What I am saying is that we all have this life, and we should think hard about how we want to spend it. There are countless people suffering and we could all alleviate some of that burden by dedicating ourselves to a worthwhile mission.  

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 23, 2020 - 11:33am

I just spent an hour changing font and formatting on a model because the director, who last week liked the model, now saw a different one and wants it to look similar. So yeah not quite "God's work".

I'm in year 2 in IB and this job is shoveling clients' shit at the lower levels and sales at the higher levels.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 23, 2020 - 11:33am

What's the alternative? Corp dev to have more free time? Let's say you're a finance guy who has this thought and you want to quit/exit to something else. What do you do?

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:39am

If you like finance you could pursue something in micro-finance or economic development via Peace Corps or other non-profits that are trying to help certain countries achieve self-sustainability. There are also social impact funds that invest in struggling communities. The overarching concept is to use your talents/passion/skills for something greater than yourself 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 23, 2020 - 11:44am

Microfinance is a fucking joke, absolutely no proof of positive impact on development. Actually, commercial microfinance in India led to credit crunches and the suicide of dozens of farmers

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:53am

Please confirm if your firm is hiring. Haven't received any of this "vast" amount of money. Upper middle class at best. Guy makes it sounds like we're making Bezos coin. The point of working this hard is so I don't have to think about shit all when it comes to finances. Basic Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I gain freedom by doing this job in the long-term versus doing "God's work" plenty of time for that "later".

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:59am

As first-years we make more than 90% of people will make per year at the height of their careers. "Later" is not guaranteed. If you're working in Investment Banking in order to gain freedom, I would refer you to my first question. What are you going to spend the money on? 

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:03pm

Few problems with what you've said. A. I don't know everything about in the US but most people in Canada are not working anywhere close to 80-90 hours a week. So you're working multiple work years in one year. Not really "vast" and the 90% is a bit inaccurate if you're thinking on any level other than gross. B. Most of those 90% of people don't live in the highest cost of living centres - again this takes down the relative "vastness". C. Tax rates are marginal; again cutting this down. You're acting as if I'm going to end up with some f*43 you amount of money. That's just not really accurate. The job simply to try and gain skills such that I can live the upper middle class lifestyle my parents enjoyed which is now 15x the price thanks to low interest rates. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:10pm

The only reason you're asking these large questions is because you haven't answered the truly big ones. Figure out what the meaning of YOUR life is, and work on nothing else besides achieving that. Figure out a goal(s) for you life, put together a plan, and make that a reality. It may mean quitting your high finance job in 3 days or 3 decades.

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:14pm

I'm asking the questions to gauge if others have had similar thoughts and to try to get people to ask themselves important questions before too much time goes by. I've already determined what I'm going to do. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 12:32pm

I think you need to step back and realize that we're small ants in the bigger picture, but we're still doing something useful in society.

It's kind of like being a bricklayer. Every day, you're stacking bricks and thinking that you're doing nothing in this world. You're not the engineer or the architect. True, you're just laying brick after brick. It seems pretty boring and without purpose, but combine that with all the other tasks and before you know it, you have a building. People get to live in that building.

We're kind of like highly paid bricklayers doing repetitive tasks over and over. However, it's part of keeping capital markets efficient, of properly allocating capital to useful projects, and prudently managing assets. In addition, don't forget that it's not just about MDs making money and year end bonuses. There are investors behind each of those companies in a M&A deal....those investors include spoiled rich princlings to college endowments to pension funds to 401Ks of regular people on main street. If through prudent financial decisions, you can increase the returns of a pension fund or 401K by just a few percentage points in your lifetime, you've helped a tremendous amount of people.

So, yes in the finance world, we're all unimportant and each of our efforts only lays a few bricks in the system, but the bigger picture of what we're building is actually really important.

Controversial
Nov 23, 2020 - 12:44pm

I think you're giving this whole thing a bit more credit than it deserves and drinking the kool aid. You're right that efficient and reliable capital markets are crucial and help people around the world, but am I wrong in thinking that the system has gone too far? People get paid millions to help corporations buy back their own stock and issue records amount of debt for seemingly pointless M&A transactions. PE firms enrich the billionaire class by obliterating working class jobs in order to cut costs. Wall St. has had a record year as the rest of the world recoils from the worst public health crisis in a 100 years... We all know there is more to the story than what you're putting forward. Also, look at what happened to pension funds in '08. In my experience, those are the players who are taken most advantage of and ripped off constantly in order to boost PnL. The whole thing has become a circular feedback loop that enriches the most wealthy and privileged of society while completely disregarding and in some cases harming the ill-informed/vulnerable. This job is not about helping anyone, it's about enriching ourselves. Read most of the posts on this site and that becomes very clear. "What car does your MD drive? What are bonuses going to be this year? Luxury apartment rentals in xyz city?" the list goes on. We all know deep down.   

Nov 23, 2020 - 2:24pm

To address the social impact investing point: Bill Gates has created more value and done more good for the world through Microsoft than he ever will do through philanthropy. Creating Windows and Office has had a profound impact on streamlining business processes, improving education, and allowing for the growth of global commerce. In my opinion, micro-finance is cool. I love the IPA and J-Pal, but micro-finance's tactics are still new, its efficacy is unproven, and it will not have an outsized impact on improving the quality of life of the world's poorest people as a whole. Micro-finance and other forms of social impact investing have not, by any comparable scale, had the impact at improving the mean/median quality of life that rapid economic growth has had on the world.

I think you are trying to look at the big picture, but I think you are not stepping back far enough. It may feel like greed and your work means nothing, but the system you feed into has brought billions of people out of poverty in the last half-century. Easing access to capital markets may feel like helping rich people get richer, but those people are offering something to someone that is willing to pay for it. Everyone's quality of life, around the world, is improving at an exponential rate.

I am not saying people don't fall through the cracks or that everyone in the world experiences the improvement in the quality of life and expanding wealth in the same fashion. What am I saying is that, on the aggregate, people's quality of life is improving faster today than it ever has in history.

People love to hate on greed but it is the accumulation of wealth that allows for people/funds to invest in new business processes and technologies that improve our quality of life. You can discuss the wealth gap all you want but massive economic growth means the pie is bigger. Do you think the world would be better without Amazon? Apple? Microsoft? Just because a few people are orders of magnitude richer doesn't mean they stole money to get there, it means they offered a good/service that hundreds of millions of customers are willing to buy over and over again. Many of the most successful companies got to their current scale through investments by wealthy people and ease of access to capital markets.

Nov 23, 2020 - 3:03pm

I agree with you more than you probably think. I agree with you when it comes to Bill Gates. He dropped out of college to pursue a passion, and absolutely has contributed positively. The jury is still out on micro-finance, but that was merely a suggestion for someone investigating more impactful fields within the realm of finance. I am in full 100% agreement that capitalism and globalization has been a net positive for the world and for reducing global poverty. I support the concept of free and fair open markets.

However, there a few points I would like to bring up to you and get your response. 

(1) Financial incentives are the underpinning of free and fair markets, but unchecked personal greed is a bit different. Staying at a PE firm for a couple of more years because you want a new apartment, expensive watch, or luxury car is a lot different than Bill Gates inventing Microsoft and revolutionizing the computer. Of course there needed to be a sophisticated financial system in order to finance his risky endeavor, but that doesn't have much to do with why there are so many talented and hardworking individuals focusing their potential into things like raising money for billionaire PE investors, helping corporations buyback their own stock, securitizing student loans, the list goes on and on. There is a reason why a lot of posts on this website are people trying to grapple with whether all of this is worth it. You seem to be talking more theoretical, I think things are more complicated than free markets theory at this point. 

(2) The wealth gap is extremely troubling. Real wages have stagnated for the past 60 years and we are living in a society akin to the medieval era. We literally have the 1% being driven around and catered to by the working class via uber, food delivery services, etc. Amazon has wrecked local businesses and has made it more difficult to pursue the American dream of starting your own mom/pop shop. There are benefits to globalization and there are massive drawbacks that must be addressed. Overtime this country's financial system has shifted further and further away from producing Microsofts, Apples, Amazons, and more towards circulating/allocating the wealth of the elites. Not to mention the massive disconnect we have between the people who have benefited from globalization (all of us) and those who have been destroyed by it (almost all Trump voters). These divides have been building for a long time and have to do with the wealth/opportunity gap resulting from tech/globalization/central banking policy.   

I am not saying that there should be no rich people. I am not a 17 year old self-identified socialist  who demands free college, guaranteed employment, and a gift bag to boot. I am a capitalist who got into this business because I believed in exactly what you are saying, but I've become disillusioned given what I believe is the new reality. i think things have shifted for the worse.

Nov 23, 2020 - 5:46pm

(1) We know Bill Gates because he was an incredible visionary with a great product offering. Well after Bill Gates, there are people like Elon Musk who are revolutionizing old industries via vast improvements in technological efficiency. There still are great innovators who are making the world a much better place. As to your point of seemingly "money for money's sake jobs", fair point. Every free market system is going to have its faults where there are market efficiencies but net public inefficiencies. It's still part of a largely good system. That's going to happen no matter what. I work as an infrastructure developer. The PE billionaires who raised these massive funds with the help of banks are deploying their capital into improving the telecom infrastructure of entire cities. We work w/ cities where we price in internet access for low income (135% of the poverty line and below), far superior to what most Americans have access to, at cost. The PE firms we work with, many w/ billionaire founders, are able to take the loss of 50 bps of potential return in order to improve that infrastructure and engage in a net public benefit by serving impoverished areas. Sure I am still returning $100mm+, net, w/ a 2-4 MOIC in 10 years, to an already wealthy consortium of investors, but I would have no other way to complete this project w/o an investor w/ that profile. People work in these industries doing these "money for money's sake jobs" because someone is willing to pay them to do it. Some will break away and be able to add great value. It's just hard to see those people when they are helping improve cities or counties instead of offering goods/services globally and inter-generationally.

(2) I agree with you on this point. I also work on supply-chain projects to reconcile the issues between the beneficiaries and victims of globalization. My focus is bringing a lot of exported jobs back to the United States by engaging in new low-skill industries w/ economies of scale and working w/ the public sector to identify where there can be economic improvements, trade value capture, and net public benefit. Also, it helps to look at different investment approaches for industries that maybe the old strategy is outdated. That's what I am trying to do. I definitely think that there can be issues w/ pure free market if you don't take into account net public loss (homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, depression). It takes people who care about utilizing market forces to do what charity aims to do, but cannot. If you create a Venn Diagram w/ economic value and net public benefit, there exists a subset of outcomes where the two cross. That's where I focus my efforts and so can you!

Most Helpful
Nov 23, 2020 - 2:59pm

like any service industry, many people wonder "what is the point?" but here's the deal, people want these services, regardless of the value generated. so long as there are humans who do not want to live a pastoral subsistence lifestyle, there will need to be industry. with industry comes a need for funding and capital markets and mergers. when people have money, they need advice on what to do with that money, whether it's with a broker or investing in PE/VC issues as an LP. so I do think the financial world serves a purpose, and there are questionable "service" businesses all over the place. sure, industry needs funding, but do bankers need to do that? no, but it's a helluva lot easier to pay someone a fee for generating your funding, just like you pay a fee to have someone wash your car. you don't actually "need" to wash a car (or have a car in some parts of the country), but you do it for convenience. 

as far as the world needing smart hard working people, what do you suggest we do? I see questions like this all of the time and I would say if you feel you're not in a high value field and you feel guilt about that, change your field. it's that simple, if you don't like your circumstances, work to change them. I'd also argue that while finance definitely enriches the employees and the clients, plenty of fields do that, it's just banking has less of a "product" that is offered. let's take a high potential value person, a drug researcher. let's say you spend 40 years working on looking for therapies to cure a whole slew of diseases as part of a university's research work. let's also say you never discovered anything, except maybe a slight improvement to a drug (maybe you extend 40% of the test subjects' lives by 2-3 months, but they're still terminal). compare that with someone who makes a fuckload of money in finance and sponsors scholarships for underprivileged people, sits on the fundraising committee for a local VC group helping raise funds for entrepreneurs, and who's single handedly helped dozens of kids get jobs. who has made the bigger impact? I'm not saying the finance guy's work was more meaningful, but I am saying that he made a bigger impact on society. the researcher added value, sure, he discovered a whole bunch of ways something won't work, which is very important, but I think you get the point here. you can spend your entire life doing "meaningful" work and never make an impact.

finally, on the wealth gap. this is a more complicated question than you're giving credence to. the seemingly endless money supply has helped buoy asset prices and rewarded holders of capital rather than labor. I think our nation is cronyism at its worst and both parties are culpable, so until that changes, don't expect anything to move. specifically, look at how businesses' taxes work and then look at yours & mine. businesses get all sorts of deductions and favorable treatment, whereas we're supposed to say thankyouverymuch to a standard deduction and pay a higher rate than our employer.

I also wanted to insert some broader comments here. you live in the world you live in, not the world you think should exist, so make your peace with that and move onto something productive. if you want to leave finance to work for a charity, I do think you can make an impact there, just realize it'll be a life of poverty and thankless work. me? I like to think "how can I do well for myself, while also leaving the world a better place?" and often times that leads me back to working my ass off at work, making more money than I need, and giving my time and money to organizations and individuals I think need it more than I do. I find fulfillment in achieving goals I've set out for myself, in helping others both through the work I do (hey, people still need to figure out how to invest their money) and the philanthropy I do on the side. I find fulfillment in being a good husband, being in shape, being kind as much as I can (still need to improve there), and so on.

I guess what I'm saying is, you can make as much of an impact as you want, your career does not dictate that. sure you may spend more hours on "worthwhile" work, but if you're going for impact, that's a more complicated equation. so let me flip the question back on you, if you left, what would you do, specifically? I find that when you really pull on this thread, you end up with the same frustrations about how the world works, except that now you make $25k a year and live in a shitty apartment. me? I choose to make the most amount of money I can so I can take care of who's important in my life, and leveraging my expertise and assets to benefit others. that's not the same impact as others have chosen, but I'll tell you this, I go to sleep with a clear conscience, and I suggest that if you're not, do some more introspection.

Nov 23, 2020 - 3:23pm

Appreciate the well thought out response. These questions are not easy and none of us really have the answer. To answer your question, I have been looking into alternatives. Mostly non-profits in Africa that help develop agricultural infrastructure and the Teach For America program in NYC. Let me also point out that there is a vast difference between spending your money/time on philanthropy & community vs. buying multiple homes, cars, boats, and private school tuitions. We both know that the vast majority of posts on this site talk a lot about the latter and there's almost no talk of the former. I also know from experience that there is a lot more summer home buying than there is non-profit funding going on in Wall St. banks. 

I know that the financial services industry serves a purpose as I stated multiple times. To your question of "what do you suggest we do?" We need smart/motivated people working in education, local communities, and abroad. If you look at my prior comment in response to another user, I mentioned that the wealth gap is partially due to central banking policy - there are also other factors such as technology and globalization. You have set up a false dichotomy when you say that a life of charity will equate to poverty/thankless work. Many people in finance do this: they say you either have to work at top-tier PE or die broke starving on a rock with the vultures circulating. There are ways to devote yourself to a great cause while also living comfortably. It goes back to my question of why do you need so much income? Also, who cares if the work is thankless or not, we should not pursue work in order to be thanked. We should pursue work in order to get things done, solve hard problems, and reduce suffering however we can while we are here. 

You're last sentence about introspection... why do you think I'm asking these questions? I have been doing lots of introspection lately as I think we all should. That's why I originally wrote this post.

Cheers

Nov 23, 2020 - 3:58pm

thank you for your well thought out reply. I would recommend you concern yourself less with the affairs of others. I think your heart is in the right place, I love what orgs you're thinking about, and the good you're considering will not motivate many people to reallocate some of their funds charitably, but you cannot save everyone. the kids you impact will spread your kindness around, it's more contagious than Covid my guy, so good on you. I've arranged my life so that I don't ever have excessive amounts of anything, but I've done it in the sense of being antifragile, because I realize that shocks will occur and the less expenses you have (2nd homes, private school), the better. people that are always thinking about lifestyle and material possessions will never be truly happy and will live meaningless lives. you cannot change them, but you can show them an alternative, so live your best version of yourself, and hopefully someone notices and they change.

on the thankless work bit, that's me being jaded about charities and anything centralized, and I should've been better with my word choice, I do not think you should work to be thanked, but I do think whatever you do should be deliberate, and I still have questions over the differences in aggregate impact between someone who is a high earner with a charitable mindset and behaviors versus someone actually working in the charity. plenty of horror stories about charities mismanaging funds, but it sounds like you've done your homework

on the introspection bit, I was just suggesting you do more. your OP did not mention that you'd already gotten as specific as TFA and others, but now that I know that, I'd say you're on a good path.

all the best

Nov 23, 2020 - 4:45pm

Options. All money gives you is options. Finance (and all high paying high work fields) allow you to trade years where you lack control of your schedule for more years later of complete control (assuming you don't blow your wad on gucci loafers and living lavish like a complete asshat). Read the psychology of money. The thing that humans hate the most about working is the lack of control over your time. If you work a less demanding less paying job you may have more control over your life and schedule now but it'll be much harder to gain COMPLETE control at some point. And a huge leap to true happiness is that complete control.

Nov 23, 2020 - 4:54pm

I will check out the book, but I think it is dangerous to assume you will be whistlin' Dixie later down the line with a bag full of money and complete control. Not sure if complete control is even attainable. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 7:34pm

Absolutely - not saying that it is. Nobody knows what is going to happen 5 minutes from now let alone 20 years from now - I think COVID taught all of us that. You have a greater opportunity to get a satisfactory level of control, that's all that matters. That is my 2 cents and I'm not sure its even worth that. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 6:37pm

"Why do we really need so much money? It is well known that vast amounts of money do not bring fulfillment, joy, or meaning to one's life."

Because even if having money won't buy me happiness or meaning- not having enough will bring me pain and suffering. And more importantly- I like fancy cars and nice houses- fuck you. You're free to donate your money to buy poor people socks- I however will not be.

"Greed is a base human trait that has plagued us since the beginning of civilization, but why do you personally need so much money every year?"

You say plague- I say greed is the greatest asset we have. I'm not religious myself but if there was a god- he knew what he was doing by making us greedy and not a bunch of do-gooders. The entire rise of humanity is a result of greed. Indirectly- it has benefitted everyone. All of us are better off because of the greed of our ancestors. We are where we are because of greed. Greed is good. Why do I need so much money every year? Because the shit I want to buy and the things I wanna do aren't cheap. Why do I need so much money? Because fuck you that's why. 

"Is it truly worth the opportunity cost?"

Yes.

"Are there more important things to this life than acquiring material goods, showering ourselves in luxury and comfort? "

Sir this is a Wendy's. Dude I don't fucking know if there's more to life. What I do know is that I wouldn't want to do the opposite...shower myself in shit and backbreaking labor. 

"Is this the type of work we want to be remembered for? "

Nobody will remember us. Even if they did, fuck do I care? I don't give 2 shits what happens after I die. Know why? Cus I'll be fucking dead. 

"The world desperately needs smart, motivated, and hard working individuals. I think it's safe to say that most of us fit this category, yet we decide to use these talents and attributes in order to enrich ourselves and others who are privileged."

What makes you think I give a fuck what the world needs. Fuck the world. The world isn't my responsibility. Putting food on the table and accomplishing my material goals are. Buddy if someone would pay me IB money to knit socks for starving children you bet your ass I would do it. Unfortunately, the only thing that pays IB money is IB. If it means enriching someone else who's priviledged so be it. The world that needs me so much isn't paying my bills or putting food on the table. 

"I am a believer in capitalism, but I think things have gone a bit too far."

No such thing as too far in capitalism. Capitalsm is beautiful. 

"We all know about the data behind the 'wealth gap' and the problems it is causing."

What's wrong with the wealth gap? It's a good thing IMO. The wider the difference between the richest and the poorest person the higher the ceiling is. I see Jeff Bezos and fucks like that and think "good for him, hope I can get there one day". The fact that a kid born to a 17 year old high school student mother, worked at McDonald's during his weekends, and made it to the #1 in the world is awesome. If he did it from roots more humble than mine, then there's no excuse for me. America has more millionaires and billionaires in it than every other country combined. And that's wonderful. It's beautiful. because I want to be one of those people. I have no issue with a wealth gap so long as there is class mobility. Bezos, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, hell even Oprah are shining examples of class mobility. 

"I think it is possible to live a comfortable life while also dedicating ourselves to an important and worthwhile purpose."

Like I said find me a job that pays IB money that also helps the world or whatever and I'll do it. In the meantime I'm gonna go back to work.

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Nov 23, 2020 - 8:28pm

Moving past the fact that you sound completely insane and should probably seek counseling, none of us know if death is an infinite void or that our actions in this life are meaningless. We have that notion due to our concept of what it was like before life, but past performance is not an indicator of future results. Your animalistic response is a prime example of why greed is not a 'good' human trait. Also if you're referring to Bezos as the 17 year old who worked at McDonalds, he was also born with a very high IQ and extraordinary intellectual abilities. None of us can control those attributes, no matter how hard we work and there is a massive amount of evidence to support the thesis that IQ (something none of us can control) is the #1 predictor of success in all areas (wealth, longevity, social mobility) within our current system. Your views are ill-informed and outdated. You sound like a mix between Satan and Gordon Gekko on meth. Also never knew IBD analysts had so much free time that they could respond in detail to a WSO post point-by-point.

Edit: I now see that you are a prospective. Automatically disregarded. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 10:48pm

Listen dude like I said I'm not religious, but if there was a god he's gotta be a right piece of work. Children with cancer? C'mon man. Anyway, that's beside the point. You can choose to knit starving poor people socks in the hopes that the same guy who set up a world that allows kids to die of starvation will give you brownie points and send you to a nice place with everlasting happiness or whatever. I, however, will choose to do the same shit I've been doing. It's your prerogative if you choose to live a "morally sound" life or whatever, it's just not my cup of tea. You do you and I do me. 

"Your animalistic response is a prime example of why greed is not a 'good' human trait."

All animals-even down to the tiniest amoeba trying to get as many little specks of food as it can at the cost of the other amoeba which isn't as well suited for survival is greedy. Evolution is built on greed. Species evolve BECAUSE resources are limited. Greed is the result of the fact that resources are limited- and evolution is a macrostructure of greed. To say that greed is not good is to go against the very nature of life as we know it. 

"...he was also born with a very high IQ and extraordinary intellectual abilities. None of us can control those attributes, no matter how hard we work and there is a massive amount of evidence to support the thesis that IQ (something none of us can control) is the #1 predictor of success in all areas (wealth, longevity, social mobility) within our current system"

You're right. I can't control those, and neither can anyone else. I can only play the cards that I've been dealt. There are dolts who are born to trust funds with millions of dollars that are dumber than a doorknob. To quote Milton Friedman (the real guy... not the account on WSO) "it's good that we don't get what we deserve because none of us deserve anything". I don't deserve my IQ any more than Bezos, or the trust funds some kids are born with. They're outside of my control, so why waste time thinking about them? As I said, I can only play the hand I'm dealt. 

"You sound like a mix between Satan and Gordon Gekko on meth"

Well... username checks out then ;)

By the way, I'm an incoming summer analyst at en EB, not a prospect. So yeah take everything I say with a grain of salt because I don't really have any life experience, but hey I've been thinking all this for like 8 years, so yeah maybe I do need therapy. I was born to lower-class parents and my mom died when I was a kid. I literally lived in low-income housing most of my life. I know what it's like to not have money, and all I know is that I never want to live the same way I grew up ever again. So maybe my mentality is a reaction to my upbringing, I'm self-aware enough to admit that. But I don't think that makes it any less true or valid (well as much as an incoming SA's view is anyway). Like I said, just my 2 cents. Maybe in 10 years, I'll be working for the Red Cross...but...not a bet I'd take if I were you ;)

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Nov 25, 2020 - 5:21pm

TLDR: I'm ok with people being greedy in their life, but I don't think you should be able to pass down a huge net worth to your children after you die. 

You should probably take a history class. Civilization is defined as "the stage of human social and cultural development and organization that is considered most advanced." Homo Sapiens have been greedy before civilization existed back when we were small clans of 20-30 people hunting and gathering. Although greed existed around this time these groups would be considered a semi-communist group with a social hierarchy. There are alpha males and more important individuals in hunting and gathering societies who eat first and mate with the females while there are lower class individuals who may never mate. Greed even extends outside of the the Sapien species.  

People did not just decide to be greedy when electricity or the internet was discovered. That makes no sense.  At least know the definitions of the vocabulary you use, you are not impressing anyone.  

Talking about the wealth gap I don't think you understand what is occurring. The Bezos family/foundation will control wealth unimaginable to most individuals for hundreds of years after he dies and does not sign the giving pledge. Generational wealth is bad for society in my opinion, you have multibillionaire heirs doing a bunch of rich stuff just because they can. They are not contributing anything to society. I think a death tax should be implemented in some way. A death tax will not dissuade potential entrepreneurs to take the risks of starting up and help push humanity further. I don't think you really need to pass down more than $50 million to your children. You said it yourself you don't care if you die, because you will be dead. Might as well not pass down your $800 million net worth to your children, and hopefully redistribute a little bit of it to those who need it the most. People are still starving in America. 

Also looking at the wealth gap here is a video that is very informing.  

Nov 25, 2020 - 5:32pm

Hey Nickh, at first I thought this was a response to me, but I think you are talking to the unhinged LucifierStar. Beware, as he is a feisty one who has not yet entered the industry and has no idea what he is talking about. He sounds like me in high school when I was first introduced to Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys. I completely 100% agree with you about the detrimental and frankly anti-American wealth gap. Out of all our current issues, this will be the one that destroys us. I love how many people work their lives away just to hand down wealth to their children for them to splurge it and have their kids resent them for working all the time anyways. 

I have seen this video before and the scary part is that it's a almost a decade old now. Things have gotten exponentially worse and society is the most stratified it has ever been. These people do not realize that if things go to far, they will lose everything and be destroyed by the masses. Like you said, everyone needs to read a grand total of two history books to understand this basic trend. Oligarchies do not end well for the oligarchs. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 7:43pm

This is the type of thread that pops up when an analyst switches from V60 of the deck/model back to V30 after Global head shuts down regional MD on last 30 iterations. 

But in all seriousness, I came to this realization towards end of my analyst stint and reneged on buy-side opp and left to start 2 businesses. Haven't looked back. I think the key is you need to actually find something your passionate about as cliche as that sounds. Fuck all the "being remembered" bullshit. If you like what you do, you won't be writing threads like this.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:09pm

I'm in trading so I have no idea what the first part of your comment means, but I'm glad to hear that you came to a similar conclusion. I don't like what I do whatsoever hence why I wrote a thread like this. I was trying to gauge how many others have similar feelings. As I stated in a previous comment, I didn't mean 'being remembered' literally (poor choice of words on my part). What I meant is, 'what do you actually want to do with your one life?' Glad to hear you have not looked back. Cheers

Nov 23, 2020 - 9:40pm

The notion that "money doesnt buy happiness" is misguided imo. Yes, it's not going to solve all your problems. You're not going to become a multimillionaire and then not have any worries anymore. But it will give you financial freedom and the ability to never have to work a day in your life on things you don't enjoy. The opportunity to travel all over the world and stay at amazing locations and do interesting things. It will make you more attractive to the opposite sex and will given you more options for things to do with your social circle (lakehouse with a nice wakeboarding boat and you have a great weekend). It will give you the ability to set your kids up for success which will bring you tons of fulfillment later down the line. 

I also think most people who have this "money doesn't buy happiness" mentality haven't been truly poor. Try working 2 dead end jobs so that you can live in a shit house to support your family, with no money for leisure and no savings for a safety net, all while watching other people make exorbitant amounts of money and tell me you're "happy". 

Nov 25, 2020 - 5:01pm

I find it interesting that many posters here see IB junior salaries as nothing and the "good" comp only starts at more senior levels making millions. Being able to make six figures right away and save/invest a decent amount even for a few years puts you ahead of most Americans in any age group. That level of financial freedom, even while not being close to financial independence, is a huge privilege when you don't have to worry about each paycheck or the difference a few hundred bucks in your account makes. Pretty annoying to hear that "its basically minimum wage if you do the math" argument. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 24, 2020 - 10:41am

lmfao fucking millennials and their stupid fucking 'mOnEy bAd.' Live outside of the U.S. for more than a week and you'll learn why I want so much money you fucking clown.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 24, 2020 - 3:23pm

'lived abroad'

Not talking about going to Madrid in a college dorm with daddy's money for two months. I'm talking about Malaysia or Dominican Republic, you know, countries closer to what average living is like. Get some perspective.

Nov 25, 2020 - 10:31am

You have to believe that you are necessary, and you are! 

I don't know... Yeah. Almost definitely yes.

Nov 24, 2020 - 9:38pm

to address your wealth gap point: you can get frustrated at the Fed for keeping rates artificially low

What do you call an economist who forecasts? Wrong!
Nov 25, 2020 - 8:17am

Op I will keep it short. Your questions while good are not unique to some in our industry. That is not to say they are important. Quite the opposite actually. I know I often think in a similar vein.

Perhaps an easy first step is to actively volunteer some of your spare time with groups or causes that you are interested in potentially working with. For one it will  make you feel better. And two it's a way for you to do active due diligence on something before jumping in. Three you'll meet a lot of different and cool people and that may help you in expanding your horizons and get you closer to the ultimate goal of feeling more fulfilled / doing better for the world. 

Good luck 

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
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Nov 25, 2020 - 9:10am

@ell29 completely agree with most of your points. Also in a similar position as you – I'm nearly 1 year in in a junior s&t role and I'm absolutely hating it. Just wanted to let you know you're not the only one. Feels like all I'm doing is just pointlessly moving a bunch of money around and helping the ultra rich get even richer. Don't wanna sound entitled but the pay is absolute shit (40k USD zero bonus) so I suffer the same hours/stress/intensity of the average junior s&t monkey but get paid a third, and the culture and team environment on my desk is also toxic af which doesn't help at all – as a result I find myself thinking about all the things you mention almost on a daily basis.

I don't think this is exclusive to my current role because prior to this I've had stints in several other areas of finance (e.g. corpdev, ER, trading, CRE) and despite occasionally learning interesting things/valuable skills I ultimately end up finding myself dreading to go to work every morning and pushing myself to exit to another job that I think I'd dread less. However after some recent introspection and thinking about previous instances in life where I've felt some sort of fulfillment, I've started to realize that for me it comes from directly helping other people and generally just making the world a better place – I believe that we should strive to leave the world better than how we found it. I've yet to figure out the steps I need to take to sustainably transition into a career that focuses on that instead, and I don't expect it to be straight forward especially coming from a junior s&t role but I'd say that's my long-term goal.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reading your argument with LuciferMorningstar felt like good brain exercise – despite myself leaning towards your view it really got me thinking from both extreme ends of the spectrum and I found it to be quite valuable.

Nov 25, 2020 - 9:31am

im from the uk and its insane to me, your guys democrats are like out right wing party. from what my family tells me there is much greater disparity between social classes over there. add to that the fucked up healthcare and stuff, and it seems kinda out of whack. just how it feels reading these types of debate as someone from london. also i had an epiphany kind of like yours when i was at uni and gave up recruiting for high finance, but i find it hard not to think about being in a more prestigious career sometimes so idk how i feel about it

Nov 25, 2020 - 10:43am

Just Type A personalities.. grinding to be that "rich person" you mention or to gain financial freedom/enjoy life ($$ makes life better, lets not kid).

Juniors hope that a few years in the trenches gives them the exp/traits/pedigree to move on and up (and either maintain or enter into a certain and sought after lifestyle).

Certainly not Gods work (but what is?)... nothing wrong with any of it, basic psych... and a means to an end.

Nov 25, 2020 - 2:33pm

The lifestyle we seek is just plain old greed and ego, nothing new to the human species. Once you see things for the way they truly are you can never unrealize that fact. Life isn't about being comfortable or wealthy. My entire point is that type As need to grind for something else. Not for wealth or self-preservation but for a specific mission that improve the human condition and leave the world a better place for our species. 

Nov 25, 2020 - 2:46pm

Call it whatever you want. There are various social impact funds in cities across the U.S. doing exactly as I described. They put profit behind helping broken communities reaching self-sufficiency. Horrific, I know!  How could anyone do such a thing and not reap the absolute maximum amount of wealth to the cent in every single interaction they have on this earth! 

Nov 25, 2020 - 10:59pm

I think people likely feel this way every now and then regardless of what industry they work in. Finance just so happens to be one in which the end-result is a bit more nebulous and difficult to see the tangible, real-world impact of. That's just reality of division of labor: all of the work we do on our own, when removed from the greater context in which it's done, probably looks and feels completely pointless.

As human beings, we're all mostly just optimizing micro-scale processes and solving seemingly arbitrary problems when looking at it from just our narrow point of view. However, when you take all those small contributions into consideration, they all add up to the world working as it does.

Nov 26, 2020 - 5:22am

Lot of people above are totally on point but simply put, a lot of people get into banking because it allows those who don't have a lot of money to make a lot of money or those who may have a lot of money to put themselves on an "elite" track which will propel themselves to higher ground later in life. The second part of what I said before also applies to the first group of people I mentioned, and yes I know I am making broad fucking generalizations, but no one is being a banking analyst because they believe in the greater good or are trying to be an active part of the financial lubricant society requires. We all have our reasons which vary person to person and some might be shallow and some might be deeper set with a meaning in mind. No real use pontificating about what everyone is trying to do in this industry or job. At the end of the day to some people the title or firm might be of utmost importance for their self-esteem or their parent's view on them, and for some it may be a financial bridge to help make their families meet ends.

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Nov 29, 2020 - 7:41pm

Part of the problem as some people have mentioned is the lack of a particularly compelling alternative. Microfinance? Peace Corps? Just because something has a "do-gooder" image doesn't mean it's a bigger net positive to the world.

There are some extreme cases where the whole money thing is unfortunate. On that thread about the person making a mill out of college, someone mentioned that there were undergrad hires who were the only ones able to conceptualize things correctly for their HFT strats. Could that brain power be better spent on something like cancer research?

One of the places I see needing the most real talent is the whole govt/defense/natsec/media complex. The level of grift in that field is so astronomical, and is becoming so obvious, it just seems like it's begging for people without moral blinders to join the field. Problem is I don't see how you can enter that field without being hopelessly corrupted by it or spat out entirely.

Nov 29, 2020 - 11:04pm

You have to think long and hard about a better alternative. For instance, I have been thinking peace corps or teach for america. You have to determine how you can be most useful given your sets of strengths and weaknesses. Many other things are slightly better than S&T, such as green energy financing or ESG for instance. There is no easy answer.  

Nov 29, 2020 - 11:48pm

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

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