Why does every highschool kid want to be in IB

As you can see from my name, I fit the script, but its more of a joke. There are so many opportunities in finance (even entry level) and it seems that kid who is going to an ivy league wants to be an investment banker. Then when I ask some kids if they actually know what a banker does, they have no clue except "invest in the stock market". Its cool and all to have some aspirations but I just saw some incoming freshman make a spreadsheet of alums at a school for IB. Between the hardo losers like that guy and the non-hardo CS/Humanities smart kid, all I see is obsessed kids. Bankers here, is this normal? Of course its a competitive industry but do you all really want to work with these losers? Maybe it is just from my perspective that I am seeing this, but what ever happened to semi-cool driven people. I am no ivy-caliber, and I will probably end up at a semi-target and have to grind my way there, but I plan on actually enjoying college somewhat. I have talked to a couple senior bankers and other than the usual "get good grades in college and network" I was told that there are only 4 years of college, and 40 years of corporate BS so I should have fun in college while I can. I would bet one million dollars that the spreadsheet kid would suck off an MD for an internship position. Most of these WSO HS kids have no life, at least that is what it seems like. Bankers, were you preparing for IB in HS? I love finance and love reading the classics from Graham to the new hot shots like Dalio, but I wouldn't call myself obsessed. So far, every single kid who is going to an Ivy and claims they want to be an investment banker has sounded like a complete loser with no friends. Heck, maybe to you all I fit the hardo description except I am not a smart ivy kid and I am without the 4.0 and 1600. Hot take, and hate me if you want, but can I hear some bankers opinions on all of this? Why the obsession?

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (66)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:27pm

Yeah. Hardos give the industry a bad rep and make it more difficult for normal people to get the job. The freshman in college spending 20 hours/week prepping for IB and 50 hours/ week on classes and never going out just makes it much harder for a normal person to get the job. Not talking about frat stars, but just a run of the mill smart kid who enjoys going to a bar or a party. That person then has to up their own study time to not look like comparative shit on the technicals and networking and then 90% of your coworkers are just lame fucks. People who have no desire to have fun and socialize in college carry it into IB (my own opinion based on others in my class coming into IB with me). If the hardos would just chill tf out, everyone could have more fun and still get offers.

Maybe I'm a boring person or some shit, but I'm relatively proud of my ability to land my gig and not be a no-life. 

Jan 7, 2021 - 9:36pm

Yeah I see what you mean and that's a great point. In my experience as a highschooler who had a blast in HS and made great friends, and went out to parties every weekend or so, just loving finance and being knowledgeable wasn't enough for me to land myself into a great college. I sacrificed my potential 4.0 and 1600 for a great experience, and I see HS kids all around this forum who clearly didn't. Now, I am going to compete against these kids in the upcoming years when they are at ivies and I am at a school like IU Kelley. At this point, who knows with these HS hardos. It is what it is.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:39pm

and I see HS kids all around this forum who clearly didn't

Correction: who clearly couldn't

Don't forget that a good 70% of investment bankers are betas who think they're alphas while still being unable to talk to a girl

Don't be anxious, nobody likes hardos. Once you have an OK knowledge of technicals it's all about networking and not sounding like an absolute loser

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:43pm

Jeez you guys are so bitter before recruitment even starts. Save the bitterness till after life truly takes a shit on you instead of being angry about how competitive it is. Then you can proceed to bitch about diversity programs.

Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:44pm


Thankfully I have some connections and can potentially pull something off in the future.

I sympathized with your post up until the moment I read this. Those hardos who are working hard to get the job they want don't have the chance to have these connections, which is usually why they work hard. I'm not too fond of people who only live for finance either, but I hold them in higher esteem than people like you who rely on their connections. Now, you're still in high school so I'll excuse that mentality, but I hope you gain in maturity once you get to college 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 8, 2021 - 7:50pm

Not a fan of the hardo culture either, but you need to stfu and worry about yourself.

Everyone is looking for an edge. You sound spiteful towards these bookworm kids because they're working harder than you for it.

And by the way - people can be social, party and hold near 4.0s in high school all at once. You just couldn't.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:34pm

idk it gives someone a goal to go for. A lot better than drifting through college w/o direction

Jan 7, 2021 - 9:42pm

You said a lot there. I'm also in HS. I'm not 4.0 but I'm close enough. I could end up at a target but we'll see. Now since I'm not a banker I can't answer to your comments however i can give you my position. Personally I started to take interest in Finance and business at a really young age. It started with Corporate Law and wanting to be lawyer and i continued to explore from there. My interests spread from Law to Business and finance etc. I'm not from an affluent family at all so my interest did not form from my parents. I just found interest in economics as someone else might find interest in Dance or history. I know what people say about how "every guy is going into finance" or "we need more doctors" but I really found it interesting. Aspects of the business world clicked. I learned more and more over time and a lot of what I took was very interesting. Now as for IB. I guess If you had asked me 6 months ago if I wanted to be an investment Banker I'd say YES! I would try to explain everything I know (likely sound retarded) and I would tell you about "My pLAnS tO ExIt InTO PRiVatE EqUiTy or S&T." You get it. I'd sound like everyone else. To be honest, I've lately felt discouraged. I still think I want to go into finance. I live in Manhattan and my "Obsession" hasn't really changed. Wall Street is what I want to do. But It's changing for me. I'm not set on being and investment banker at all. I would love to work on Wall Street in what I like and in what makes me money. I think I'm going to have to wait and see by the time I'm in College. Things I believe are going to change. I'm not sure what work will be like in the next 5-6 years. Things don't change drastically but I feel it may be different. No, I don't believe it's the end of the world and that PE and everything is gonna fail and die but I believe IB will be looked at differently and that I need to keep my options open. I would talk more but I don't wanna waste your time seeing as I'm not really answering your questions. So really all it is in MY perspective is I'm not so fucking in love with IB. Yes I would take a job of fucking course but I'm not obsessed. I hope you understand what I'm saying I don't know if I even do but whatever. We're both in HS so keep your options open. When I say that don't take it as "settling". If you want to work in IB there's nothing wrong with that. So "keep your options open" doesn't mean lose interest i finance, it means keep your head your shoulders. I've always been afraid of fucking settling bro you have no idea.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 9:49pm

would honestly consider u a loser also... being on a WSO as a high schooler, let alone ranting on it.

Jan 7, 2021 - 9:55pm

I have a question though. Do you think IB is in its state right now because of the Hardos? Like that's not it's only attribute. From what I've seen the mix of people who say there going into IB range from hardos to people who simply are quite so to speak. Like I'm pretty optimistic about the culture and I'm not sure why. I've never seen it so I have no place to say. It's really what I read on here and other places that people seem like they could just relax a bit. I'm not relaxed at all but I'm not a hardo Douch. People seem very quick to jump into action in the wrong places. Maybe it's misplaced competition. Idk

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:11pm

What the fuck. You high schoolers get weirder and weirder... no one gives a shit about your opinion regarding other students who choose to spend their time as they wish...

I'm sure you sacrificed your 4.0 gpa and 1600 sat to party every weekend like you said.

Jan 7, 2021 - 10:12pm

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 16
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:29pm

Multiple reasons why.

I'm not smart enough for the hard STEM stuff. I like money. I'm risk averse. I actually know what it is and I think I'd be good at it. I'm good enough at math, know excel blah blah and good at grinding through all-nighters of work so I could be good at the junior level. I'm good at connecting with people and sales so I think I'd be good at the senior level too. I'm not particularly interested in, nor can I afford grad school.

I'm probably going to get MS but it's the truth. Everyone on this forum says just have fun be a kid. The intentions there are good, but having a specific career in mind and targeting that gives you a path and it gives you structure. It gives you a reason to work hard, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Plus, for naturally competitive people, you have to realize that there's already a shit ton of high schoolers on here. Many of them will be recruiting for the same roles I will be, so if I just leave WSO I'd give them a leg up and I can't let that happen.

Finally, don't hate on hardos and people that want to grind if you're relying on nepotism.

Jan 7, 2021 - 10:50pm

Many of them will be recruiting for the same roles I will be, so if I just leave WSO I'd give them a leg up and I can't let that happen.

What does this even mean? You are exactly the person I am describing in this post. How would leaving WSO give other people a leg up? How is your spreadsheet going?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 10:54pm

No spreadsheet bro thanks for asking. Just like you, I plan on having a shit ton of fun in college as well, same as I'm doing in HS. There's a plethora of useful information here. So many good threads not just on getting into banking, but on life as well. Exposing yourself to it only helps. As for giving other people a leg up, they'd have information that I would no longer have. There's your leg up.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 9:20am

"I'm so cool but every other wannabe investment banker at my school is a loser except me I'm very cool and normal and special. Also I'm too dumb to get into a good college"

You sound autistic, not gonna make it for sure

  • Intern in AM - Other
Jan 8, 2021 - 10:11am

Yo, I'm not going into IB because I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do immediately out of college, but holy crap-I didn't even know WSO existed or what investment banking was until my sophomore year in college. My background is super different than majority of y'all (i.e. my parents never went to college so I had zero guidance for my career). I think you should see the context of your situation. Reading what you posted, I wouldn't say you necessarily have the right to be frustrated. I mean...the fact that you're aware of so many things at such a young age reveals that you're more hardo than you realize

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Jan 8, 2021 - 12:50pm

This isn't common in HS at all. I went to a fairly good public high school and nobody knew what the fuck IB is outside of the few who's parents work in finance/law. Sounds like you're living in an extremely privileged area / go to an elite high school where "general consciousness" of IB and finance is higher than average. 

Jan 8, 2021 - 3:33pm

Prob money/prestige. 

It's a prestigious job along with doctor/lawyer/etc. so prob for the same reasons people pursue those roles.

If you know what IB is in HS, then you probably are in a well-off neighborhood/HS and if you've expressed an interest, probably someone has pointed you to that direction. Who tf would tell you to look into a back office job lol

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 5:37pm

Jeez, firstly, learn to be concise. Secondly, you are talking shit to people who are committed while you, a non-obsessed finance kid, can "potentially pull something off in the future" due to daddy's or some other family member's connections. At least respect people who work hard.

P.S. For everyone here who doesn't see the quotation part, it is because he edited his post.

Jan 8, 2021 - 8:55pm

It was pretty much the same when I graduated a top HS in the nyc area in 2019. I don't know where these high school IB prospects are coming from lol. People were definitely hyperfocused on the college application process but that was it.


  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 10:17pm

Told myself I would never post on this forum until I graduated but here goes. I'll keep this brief ffs, I know nobody cares lmao

•I'm a somewhat driven ADD kid who decided to channel said ADD towards the stock market (game –– can't trade real money) instead of video games. It's been two years since I started, and although I've learned a lot, I'm down to that "valley" section of the Dunning Kruger effect. 

•IB appeals to me because I heard it's a great place to start for anyone who wants to work in business or finance. Still haven't decided what I want to do specifically.

•I think I go on here because I'm still at an age/maturity where I give a few too many flyin' ones, and I'm afraid I'll mess up my future. 

•Overall, I'm actually way too much of a hardo, but I can't take my foot off the gas cuz I'm afraid it'll hurt my college apps. On that note, I really hope Tesla stock fucking crashes within the next nine months, because I might actually get beat out by a bunch of windbags who genuinely believe they are the next Warren Buffett

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 9, 2021 - 2:22pm

Somehow this is even worse than OP's comments. 

Here's a reality check: You are exactly the same as these "windbags." Stop trying to make yourself sound smart by spouting off about the Dunning Kruger effect. You are exactly the type of kid we're trying to screen through networking calls.

Edit: I am a 1st year Analyst, not an intern

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 9, 2021 - 5:39pm

Thanks for being honest lol. The intent was to show humility, but yeah, the way the post came off was douchey af. Tbh I'm kind of a "windbag" IRL, but tried to be concise in the post; didn't work out too well.

I'm not gonna write an essay justifying myself, but I have confidence that I can be normal enough. Still have plenty of room to improve obviously, so won't sleep on your feedback.

Jan 9, 2021 - 2:35pm

I am kinda in the same boat as you. I'm a high school senior but I didn't really drive into finance until last summer when I found IB. I thought I wanted to be a doctor but I now know I like finance more. My family pushed me into medicine cause doctors are always needed but I just can't see myself sacrificing more than eight years to go into a TON of debt. I grinded for all of high school mainly because in my boring city there's nothing better to do than smoke weed. But I think it has been worth it!

Jan 9, 2021 - 3:50pm

At 15/16 years old, every Asian teen goes through a rite of passage known as choosing career. In an attempt to look magnanimous, Asian parents give you a whopping 5 option, namely doctor, lawyer, engineering/tech, finance, or scientific research. Becoming a doctor pays well and has respect but going through 8+ years of schooling and accumulating a crap ton of student debt isn't feasible for many including myself. Scientific research is cool until you realize that it doesn't pay enough (exception to this is pharma/biotech research). Being a lawyer seems cool on TV, but most of the lawyers that get paid the big bucks never even see the inside of a court, which is probably the best part of being a lawyer. Tech is probably a safe option but when all of your peers simp for FAANG + M and your parents and everyone else you know is in tech, it doesn't have much of a novelty/coolness factor. This leaves finance as the definite option. Also helps if you have a genuine interest in the markets, investment, current affairs and economics. I say this now but come college apps time, I will still probably end up applying to schools as a CS/CE major.

Jan 11, 2021 - 11:40pm

Dude you guys need to chill the fuck out and go smoke some weed and maybe touch a boob. I can't think of a single person in my entire high school experience who ever went to IB, let alone knew about it in high school. just fuckin work hard and build social skills. You're already reading this site. You guys won't interview for like three years. You'll know the technicals. I'm concerned you won't know how to be a normal person. IB is just a sales job at the end of the day. Go work as a salesperson at some retail store and learn how to conversate and be normal. Work out and stuff. Skim WSO in your free time. Stop glamorizing this industry. The happiest investment banker still would rather be doing other shit when they're at work. I think the combination of fin memes and Wolf of Wall Street made every little kid want to be a banker. 75% of bankers are dorks.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Jan 11, 2021 - 11:52pm

Jesus fcking christ how do high schoolers even know what investment banking is? I'm going to take a wild guess and say they don't, and just read on here that IB is the most prestigious and well paying finance career and have subsequently developed an "interest". I didn't even know wtf finance was when I was in HS. Boys, we are in for a real treat in a couple years when these try hards start reaching out for coffee chats. Can't wait to hear about how your interest in M&A started when you were 10 years old. Kill me now

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

July 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (36) $363
  • Associates (210) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (121) $152
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (28) $146
  • Intern/Summer Associate (102) $144
  • 1st Year Analyst (449) $132
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (357) $82