Why are people in business/finance so miserable compared to other industries?

Bankerstreet's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 308

Besides a couple of places on this forum (like RE), it seems that everyone hates their lives and their jobs. Obviously the long hours, high-stress situations, etc are to blame for this but in other industries that have their own forums you see far happier people on them.

Like out of curiosity I've been to many different forums of different careers (doctors, cops, firefighters, engineers, sales, programmers, data science, actuaries, even lawyers and diplomats/foreign service officers, and couple others I'm forgetting) and they all seem to have a decent portion of people that enjoy their lives and their jobs.

Though whenever I head to a forum about investment banking, private equity, consulting, accounting, etc something like 90% of the comments are people saying they absolutely loathe their jobs.

The other jobs I've listed deal with crazy hours too (doctors and cops for example) maybe not as bad but still pretty brutal and yet they all don't regret their career or hate it at all.

Are there happier people in lower stress/lower hour positions like smaller investment banks, corporate roles, ECM/DCM roles, etc?

Edit: I've even seen stats on it too. Something like 75% of physicians are satisfied (with 25% being extremely satisfied), engineers got some crazy high rates at like 90% satisfaction and even lawyers have something like a 66% satisfaction rate of their jobs. I can say without a doubt that more than 50% of the investment banking/consulting experience I've read is "I hate my life/hours/boss/whatever" Seeing the phrase "I love my job" is like finding gold in finance forums from my experience.

Comments (12)

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  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 22, 2020

WSO tends to attract people with the either the most free time at work or the least going on in their personal lives (or both), which probably makes for an unhappy existence. The people who aren't on here all the time tend to be much happier / less negative about everything / not obsessed with minuscule differences in perceived prestige of everything / politically moderate.

    • 5
May 22, 2020

That's one explanation I thought of too and I kind of hope this is true as I'm entering into finance and the overall doom and gloom I see about depression, loneliness, extreme stress, suicidal thoughts, etc is a little unnerving.

Though when you think about it, when everything is going well, nobody hops on the internet and posts about it.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 22, 2020

Every single job that is intellectually stimulating will be dependent on the individual not the industry, being a family doctor can be just as rewarding as being a cop just as both can be equally soul sucking.

The herd mentality of muhh finance bad is just a false narrative that is overshadowing engineers and other careers that are flat out nothing more than monkeys. Instead of cranking out powerpoint and excel, they crank out code through Python or C++. Some forums talk about burnout in SWE, law and medicine but don't have as big of a following as WSO therefore it doesn't reach the masses.

May 22, 2020

For sure, every job has a down and upside and burnout is possible in literally any job (and even some hobbies if done too much). Though as a fellow finance interested individual to another, do you believe that finance has the same burnout as other fields like medicine, law, etc or more?

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 22, 2020

Doctors and lawyers are known for being smart and working long hours therefore this normalization has allowed for their struggle to not be heard while conversely the small but elite finance industry that many can't get in are viewed as distant. So bankers, consultants, HF PMs and PE partner struggles are often more revealing about a rather secretive area of society and as such creates more headlines or in this case more attention.

  • Prospect in 
May 22, 2020

For doctors, I think part of the reason they are satisfied is that they're job is fulfilling. It feels good to help people and doctors know
they are helping people and making the world a better place. Some people find finance rewarding or fulfilling but the vast majority don't. I'd like to think finance contributes to the world even though we don't heal the sick.

May 23, 2020

I think it's because finance and consulting have more schemers and social climbers than people in law and medicine. It's more of an elite environment, and so they are probably more likely to feel envious toward, say, a peer that lands a prestigious gig. So it doesn't seem surprising that many people in these industries, motivated by social pressure, are unhappy to be logging hours doing things that they aren't really interested in. To be fair, law and medicine are elite environments too, but I think they attract more of the stoic, bookish sort, and have fewer people that care so much about status.

May 23, 2020

Most of WSO is people at the analyst level and literally no one actually enjoys being an analyst in IB. As you go higher up the food chain you get shit on less and have more intellectually stimulating work and more people that enjoy it

May 23, 2020

People that go into medicine are not looking for "exit opps". A majority of people who enter investment banking and consulting see it as a stepping stone into a later career they will enjoy. For that reason the stats shouldn't be suprising. As someone else mentioned you mostly see first/second year analysts making comments on this site. Generally when VP up makes a comment they seem pretty content with their lives/some even say they're happy.

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  • Junior Trader in S&T - Other
May 23, 2020

Also consider that complaining is not the same as actually hating your job. It has cathartic properties (the stress is real, certainly).

May 24, 2020

I agree with another post on the exit opps POV. Definitely real... Few other industries makes you do a job you don't want before getting to the one you are actually after.

One thing no one else has mentioned is some of the culture in law/engineering/medicine. Speaking broadly here, but a very differently cultivated group of individuals. Would lean more towards introverted thinkers/politically correct/safe sort of thing. I find bankers, consultants, accounting ppl kind of "let it rip" in terms of personality, attitude, opinions etc. My roommate (lawyer) feels like a caged animal surrounded by his peers at work.

With that said, I think you get a more honest POV and loud projection of opinion. Honestly, most people I know don't love what they do and would jump at the opportunity to complain about it. The brash personalities in banking and finance yell it out loud for all to hear. The tone on the other side can be a bit quieter. Even on forums.

Once the tone is set, the herd follows.

    • 2
  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Other
May 24, 2020
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