Women in Finance—What's Your Long Term Plan?

madlibbyyy16's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 539

Hi everyone! I've been curious for a while about what most women in finance do after their 2 years in banking. I'm still a student, and while I have met a couple of female analysts at pretty much every bank I've networked at, I don't see as many at the VP level and above. Are most women switching to buyside, corp/career paths, getting married and quitting/switching to a less demanding job? Genuinely curious to hear what women in the industry have been up to! Thanks in advance!

Comments (110)

Apr 28, 2020

Thanks for asking the question! I am interested in this as well

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 28, 2020

Yeah I'd love to hear from women who've gone through it and hear their actual stories!

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Funniest
Apr 28, 2020

ask Justine Tobin

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020

God bless this website. One of my friends applied there as a freshman desperate for an IB internship, got an interview then told me to apply too.

We looked her up here and he blocked her on email and linkedin. Really dodged a bullet.

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Apr 30, 2020

I know you just came here looking for cute girls, Lloyd Phattie-pants
Girls, watch out for this one ; )

May 1, 2020

deleted

Apr 28, 2020

I'm still on the grind, but making more many than my last job. Not a fan of my boss or the work, but it pays the bills and then some. I do want to get to the manager/VP level, but chit is hard. Would like some insight from others.

Greed is Good!

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Most Helpful
Apr 28, 2020

While I've been a longtime WSO member and it's a great place for info on finance roles, interviews, technicals, etc., one thing that I haven't really gotten out of WSO over the years is the female perspective. There are a few good threads here and there if you search, but by and large the WSO user base is male, and there's but a small handful of known and active female WSO members. There are some notable members, but I'm not sure if they're all that active now... it's unfortunate. You may want to check out Fishbowl, which has some women in finance groups you can check out.

I'll give you my view at least, and hopefully others can chime in. While there are some mid-level and a sprinkling of senior women in finance, it tapers off due to a multitude of reasons. Choosing to have more free time to start families is one (and this isn't to quit a professional role outright - but to move to other industries or manageable roles from a scheduling perspective).

Another is also you're only now seeing the prior decade/generation of women starting to become more senior or move up the ladder - and this prior gen didn't have as many women start out as analysts or associates vs. what you're seeing today. When I started out, the % of women in an analyst class would have been smaller vs classes nowadays. Similarly, my analyst class would have had more % women than the classes of female MDs or SMDs in finance today. This is because schools, alums, and banks have made an effort to reach out to, and recruit women over the years. I would say the industry has become "kinder" relatively speaking - and not just to women, but to junior bankers in general (e.g. protected weekends, more outreach, slow but steady changing of attitudes towards face time, etc).

While banks are doing a better job attracting women at the junior levels, there's still difficulty for women to move up the ranks in finance, even if some don't plan to start families. Hell, it's hard to move up in finance in general, so add being a female and biases to that. Some may move away from IB and onto the buyside, but you'll probably see similar numbers. Some move to say corporate banking or leadership/senior roles in retail banking where the hours may be more manageable.

I moved over to VC, which is also traditionally a boys' club. But the women VC network is growing, and I've personally found the network to be very helpful and supportive of each other. Maybe because VC tends to have more quirky people, and you can come from all walks of life (it's not like everyone is an ex banker or ex consultant), but I've found people to be nicer. It's still competitive- you are all trying to get into the best deals. But I've found people to be less sharp elbowed. And people tend to value individuals that have interests outside of just finance/work, so people can have families and still be in the field.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 28, 2020

Wow thank you so much!! Those are good points, I appreciate it

Apr 30, 2020

Thank you for your views. Indeed the industry can benefit from more intelligent and driven women. I can only state, that two of the best bosses I had during my career were women. Tough, sharp, very reliable and resilient, excellent rapport with clients, out-of-tge-box thinkers. They had no easy path and nothing granted because of gender, didn't see themselves as entitled to anything (e.g gender quotas), just emphasising best person for role (vs. ol' boys rubbish). Both married to also successful husbands and one with family (it apparently worked well for them). Really grinder mentality. Just 2cts as a male, parent of two girls, interested in widening my awareness on these topics.

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Apr 30, 2020

That's really interesting to hear, and I'm glad you had positive experiences as did they! Thanks for sharing!

Apr 30, 2020

Just curious, why the monkey shit?

Apr 30, 2020

To add on - there are certain areas of finance that seem to be more friendly to work-life balance and flexibility on average that I see a larger proportion of women in: VC, long-only asset management, infrastructure investing as examples). Commonality here seems to be a very long time horizon for investments and not being at the mercy of client (i.e. though long hours and urgency come up at times, it's not often). The "less sharp elbowed" point mentioned above also appears to be more true across the board in these industries. Even so, families where both parents are working and career-focused will probably need to hire outside help and possibly live-in help.

Array

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Apr 30, 2020

Can confirm for long-only AM. I did an internship in the investment strategy team at a life insurance investor. Of 12 people, 11 had children and 6 were women.

Array

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Apr 29, 2020

As a more junior woman in the industry (2nd year analyst), I can echo what @Kanon noted.

The bank I work for has really poured gas on the fire of recruiting more junior women - my analyst class in my large group had 3 women out of ~15. The class younger than me has 9 women out of 20 with a similar percentage of women in incoming class. From there it is a numbers game when you think about attrition to pursue other opportunities.

All three women in my class (incl. myself) are leaving to pursue buyside opportunities; however, there are a number of individuals who stay to be associates throughout the bank.

Overall, however, I think across the street there is a strong focus on getting more women in the middle management roles in order to be able to promote talent up to the senior levels. My group has done a lot of hiring at the VP, Director level which has happened to bring more women into the group at that level.

All that goes to say that, there are a number of women out there that sticking with banking and climbing up the ladder - and if you want to do that and you're good at your job, banks have a real hunger to keep you in house and promote you.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 29, 2020

That's so good to hear, thank you! Congrats on your buyside offer!

Apr 29, 2020

Thanks - and best of luck to you! Always good to see more womem pursuing finance!

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

Definitely PWP haha, and congrats on your role!

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Apr 30, 2020
Disney Disciple:

My group has done a lot of hiring at the VP, Director level which has happened to bring more women into the group at that level.

I wonder where those women come from and if the places where they leave fill these positions with women again.

Array

Apr 29, 2020

Thank you so much for the insight, it's encouraging to hear from women with experience in IB!

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Apr 30, 2020

Women from top schools, especially the really attractive ones, tend to join MBB for consulting

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  • Intern in IB - Ind
Apr 30, 2020

Interested as well. Thanks for sharing!

Apr 30, 2020

There's just something about a woman's voice after midnight in IBD that keeps some from jumping. Just saying/

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Controversial
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

Don't really like the fact people are arguing that X% of the Analyst class should be female. If you're competent , you're hired , plain and simple. Whether that be male or female. The reason there used to be few women in finance is few applied. You really have to be the tomboy to succeed in IB/PE and fewer women have that skill set.

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Apr 30, 2020

This is a tired argument only used by non-targets who couldn't get a single analyst to reply to their typo-laden email.

"If you're competent, you're hired, plain and simple."

Almost every single candidate that makes it to a superday is competent. A bank can choose the makeup of their class however they see fit. You don't know a thing about what it takes to succeed in IB/PE as a man; why should anyone respect your opinion on what it takes for a woman to succeed in finance?

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

For starters I have networked with several analysts so your ad hominem attack is inaccurate.

To say that every candidate that makes the superday is competent isn't accurate. First rounds are mostly behavioral and these questions aren't usually that obscure either. Who makes the superday is largely dependent on who gets the first round interview. Here is where quota recruiting gives women an unfair leg up. Both genders have legacy (MDs have daughters and sons) and both have alumni networks. This can also be extended to diversity quotes as well.

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Apr 30, 2020
CisSiberianOrchestra:

This is a tired argument only used by non-targets who couldn't get a single analyst to reply to their typo-laden email.

Unrelated, but the the whole target school thing is probably a bigger contributor to demographic disparities than anything else.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

Can confirm that going to a non target makes everyone think you are worthless and an incompetent beta cuck.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Apr 30, 2020

False

Apr 30, 2020

I agree quotas are a bad thing but this change is driven by the market, an increasing amount of the worlds income is produced by women, they are significant customers and shareholders in the businesses who are the banks customers. The banks aren't doing this for moral reasons but to garner business. You are right that less women do apply for finance jobs and you maybe right that only tomboys succeed at the moment. But I suggest that these two facts are not independent and that the current perceived culture deters competent women entering the field. Breaking this loop by aggressively recruiting female staff, will change the culture of IB/PE and encourage more talented women to enter the field.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

I can see the argument you are trying to make but at the end of the day the tomboys/workaholics are the ones that will make Director/MD so I highly doubt the tough culture of IB is going to change. The soft girls are going to bail out to something easier or quit. I agree that quota recruiting is done for public image purposes although it's application leads to a very low success rate which just leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If an analyst class has 40 males , 10 females and say 24 guys/ 6 girls stay in IB move to PE it is much more encouraging for a girl then if the class has 25 males / 25 girls and 15 guys stay in IB move to PE while 6 girls stay in IB or move to PE and the rest bail out.

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Apr 30, 2020

I'm not a tomboy and everything worked out pretty good.

I am a member of an amazing women's M&A dealmaking network. Plenty of senior women.

Not a tomboy in sight. Just the opposite. And you're right - hiring women is excellent for business.

Apr 30, 2020

@WallStreetOasis.com : Please reconsider allowing anonymous posts...not sure what the value-add has been.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

It is to protect people professionally. My arguments are not popular and it could lead to potential consequences if my account was compromised. At the end of the day I want to be able to make a stable income and help provide for my family.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Apr 30, 2020

Lol you would love to roast people and destroy careers of those who have anti pc views correct? I refused to add anything substantive in class, and at work because of the risk of blowback. Might as well extend that to online forums

Apr 30, 2020

Thanks for this post! While I'm reading WSJ and learning Python, now I'll make sure to brush up on my tomboy skills, too. Hopefully I can find someone to endorse me on LinkedIn.

Women clearly just need to learn to take more responsibility for their success and develop the skill of being more like men.

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Apr 30, 2020

You don't have to be more like men. Be yourself! It is good to take responsibility for success and promote yourself. Be able to speak to what you've accomplished when you are looking for a promotion or raise. But women are being brainwashed into "we gotta be like the guys." No. Everyone needs to allow everyone to be themselves. Clients love having women on their IB team.

Technical skill are neither "masculine" nor "tomboyish". If you are interested in the field, you'll like this stuff. I've found that women in finance are zero drama, committed, motivated, very cool. But they're not "masculine" or "tomboyish." They're not talking about their hair appointments - but they show up looking like a million bucks!

Maybe it was a sarcastic response and I'm misreading...

May 1, 2020

Honestly agree with Prospect. I'm a female looking to break into CRE which is heavily a boys club-more than banks and realize for the time being I have to adapt to being like the boys. Luckily it's easier for me because I've always been tomboyish and most of friends now are still guys.

In spite of gaining equality, it just may have to be earned and work a little harder to gain your rapport IMO. I'm just thinking it's pain in the short term and overtime it will become more normal for finance women to be at senior levels. Patience.

Apr 30, 2020

How are new mothers thinking through firm policies that encourage extended maternity leave and opportunities for flexible work arrangements? Lip service? Policies that, while beneficial in the near-term, severely handicap a mother's year-end evaluation and professional advancement?

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Apr 30, 2020

It's difficult, and I would say you want to be as senior as possible before maternity leave.
I think leave policies are great. I think intentions are good. Sort of. But in the end, you're not going to get many breaks unless you're really lucky to find management, or a firm, that is exceptional with "flexibility." After this current situation when it's seen how effective one can be remotely, maybe it will be easier to convince an IB firm to let you work from home 1-2 days a week. But there will be a lot of pressure, and a lot of guilt. I've seen a woman at GS have multiple kids and return, but she's someone quite senior who happened to have a lot of support. I think it's a case by case situation.
Ultimately, you may have to choose between being a mom who survives the years of kids with very heavy use of nannies, being super-organized with a very supportive family, or you leave.
Even if there were a year of maternity leave, you eventually have to return. With commuting, travel, etc, work is a big time commitment. And the baby will still be a baby. And then a toddler and a young child and then there are siblings...the kids don't disappear. It isn't impossible to advance, it's very firm/department/supervisor dependent. And they all have kids. But they need your commitment and you have to figure out what you can handle. Even emotionally. It is hard, it is emotional, to leave your baby all day every day, every week, every month, for years on end. And you have to pretend you're fine. All the time. You don't say if your child is sick, if you didn't sleep all night, etc.
Companies have to make certain concessions, and some have some empathy, but they need you to do the job as per expectations. It's your call if you want to do what it takes to keep up.
I don't mean this in a negative way at all. I mean it as a realistic honest response.

Apr 30, 2020

Well, I don't plan on having any kids. Starting a family has never ever been something that I am interested in. I totally want to stay in finance for the long term. The sky is the limit. I haven't quite started my full time career yet. Eventually, I may entertain the idea of starting my own company or my own hedge fund. I also have the goal of becoming a higher up such as a managing director or a partner or CEO.

Array

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Apr 30, 2020

Do you really believe that MDs and partners got to where they are because they don't have families?

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
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Apr 30, 2020

I never said that. Me not wanting a family does not infer me thinking that it is not possible to have a family while being a MD. I don't want kids simply because I don't want kids. It has nothing to do with my career goals.

Array

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May 2, 2020

@Yankee Lol.

Apr 30, 2020

I think there are two important components that need to be separately looked at and that is the recruitment path of analysts vs. associates.

1) It is very difficult for us to retain analysts (female or male) beyond their two year stint. Pretty much anyone who wants a buyside gig can get one and for better or worse the popular sentiment is that they should move over. The financial package for an A2A is about as attractive as we can reasonably make it (NTM comp is probably ~$350K+ with the signing bonus so comparable to most any PE fund) but for the most part that hasn't persuaded a ton of our high performers to take it.

We have a growing pool of female analysts and they are all very talented. There is no shortage of very strong candidates to fill our small class and as a result they are strong candidates for PE roles (PE firms are also seeking higher female representation as well). As a result we maybe have one or two that stay on for A2A so this is not a viable pool at the moment for retaining mid to senior level female employees.

2) The main recruitment pipeline for senior bankers is the MBA program. The problem with this is that the average age of an MBA associate entering banking is say 28-32 years old. Anecdotally (from being ~30 in NYC), the professional population tends to get married later and have kids later than say the Midwest, South, etc. So for most young professionals in finance cities, the start of your 3-4 very grueling associate years comes right as you are getting married/looking to have children. Again anecdotally, I have a lot of friends in business school now but basically none looking for that type of lifestyle at our current age. This makes it really difficult/impossible to have a similar male:female ratio in the associate class and if we end up with 20%, that is a good year.

I think relationship dynamics are slowly changing but there still is a tendency/acceptability in society for males to have more demanding jobs to support the family. I'm not sure what the answer is to any of this but I think these are the dynamics at work for why you don't see many female senior bankers. The last factor is that banking is very much an up or out industry and you can't just have someone switch in at the VP/Director level unless they are already in a similar deals-focused demanding role. Thus once you are off the track, you are more or less done.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020

Those are really good points, thanks for sharing!

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Apr 30, 2020

+1 SB

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

that makes a lot of sense, thank you!

Apr 30, 2020

There is a huge pull for women in PE. I meet far more in PE, commercial banking, accounting than IB in my M&A networking groups (in NYC). And they all work long hours.
I'm not sure if it's a flexibility thing, or a money thing as far as PE goes - maybe both. But business-wise, there is a match in that there are more women in these smaller companies that the PE firms are investing in. Business women just connect very well - it's a zero drama, instant, unspoken comfort zone. It's not like we talk about girl stuff. It's just somehow we recognize we have been in the same boat. It's very good for business development.
It's a shame there's not more acceptance of the simple fact of women being women, and more flexibility being worked into the picture. If firms would just be more flexible around having children, they'd get 200% from their female employees.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Apr 30, 2020

Great Thread! I can speak a little bit from the MBA perspective where you recruit to be a career banker.

The most important thing to me is that all banks have moved to make banking an attractive career long term for everyone, not just women. It was refreshing to have many of the stereotypes of banking shattered as an MBA because more and more students opt for tech or consulting or corporate roles with a better work life balance.

Got my MBA to get into IB specifically and got married during business school. We plan to have children in the next 1.5/2 years. Landed at a great BB where I know of some 1st and 2nd year associate women who have had children and got great support from the firm, but I would be lying if I didn't still think about when the 'ideal' time would be (although you can't control biology as much as you'd like for timing a pregnancy).

There is definitely a pipeline of women (looking mostly at the MBA level vs. analysts who depart after 2 years), but it will take a few years to really see many women at the Director/MD level.

There are many factors at play when it comes to women staying long term in IB, but it starts with the visible top down culture. I think Citi (not my BB) has gone above and beyond to appeal to talented women including explicitly stating their goal of seeing 40% women and 8% Black employees by the end of 2021 (https://blog.citigroup.com/2019/01/global-pay-equi...), they also provide incredible maternity leave packages and it's no secret that Jane Fraser is being groomed to become the first female CEO of an American Bank.

Even if a bank doesn't highlight goals/targets for diversity (which are NOT quotas: https://abovethelaw.com/2015/09/differentiating-di...) I really appreciated the outreach I had from firms, especially MM banks working hard to improve diversity.

At the end of the day, companies (clients) are becoming more diverse and want to see more diverse bankers at the table. I hope to stay in financial services long term with banking as the plan for the time being. I enjoy the work, the grind, the competition and being around interesting people going interesting places.

Looking forward to seeing other people's replies!

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020

Thanks for sharing!! I definitely agree with what you said, and am really happy to hear that BB's like Citi are working to help advance women. Also would like to echo that the few female MDs and other higher level women have been incredibly inspiring women, and I would love to see more in the future!

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Apr 30, 2020

JPM also has a fantastic supportive environment for women, and several very senior execs are women. There are many women with solid titles throughout the commercial bank, I'm not sure as much on IB. They have children and seem to manage it - I'm sure the bank is supportive.

You are absolutely correct about clients being "diverse." In middle market, a solid 80%+ of my clients had female CFOs and accounting/finance chiefs, and probably 50% of the family-owned businesses had female co-chiefs who were just as important if not the lead decision maker.

They LOVE having a woman on their IB team. The connection is instant, comfortable, friendly. It's amazing.

IB is not "doing women a favor" hiring them. It's not just good business. It's EXCELLENT business. It's a NECESSITY.

I don't know what your bank's policies are, or how your supervisors will be. I'm sure they'll be wonderful and supportive during your pregnancy and leave. Staying closely in touch is very important. But what is discussed pre-leave can change when it's time to get back. There are no guarantees. And honestly. you don't know how you'll feel after the baby arrives. Some people can't want to get back, and some have a complete change of heart. Or somewhere in between. You really have to see how it goes. As I mentioned above, firms now seem more flexible, but to some degree, the job simply has to get done. And even with full-time help, it can be complicating, or emotional. I think IB is less forgiving than other areas of finance. My friends in commercial banking were able to maintain there careers more easily than IB, or law for that matter (at least the attorneys who worked the IB deals - sadly, they all left).
I'm very hopeful for your class, and particularly post-pandemic, more flexibility to work from home will be accepted.
Look at all these financial service firms doing return-to work internships for women after they've been out with families. They realize the huge mistake in letting seasoned professionals go. It's a very valuable talent resource. Once you have 5+ years of experience and you've been adding value, losing you is such an expensive error!
I wish you lots of luck, and wait as long as you can tolerate with as much experience and promotions as you can before having your child. I really think it gives you more bargaining power.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

What are everyone's thoughts on kids? I'm pretty young, so I'm not really planning on it, but I feel like that they'd slow down a career. On the other hand, obviously children are valuable and are a legacy. Has anyone held off on having kids in order to focus on their career?

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
Apr 30, 2020

I'm probably same age as you and I'd probably do early 30s, I don't think there's ever an ideal time but I'm hoping in 10 years companies will have both better maternity leave policies (and cultures around it) and equal benefits for new fathers.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

That makes sense. Hopefully as more women get into leadership positions, these things will start to change as well. 10 years seems like a tight timeline, but fingers crossed it will happen

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Apr 30, 2020

They've had the benefits for fathers for decades. Decades! But the men are afraid to take it. You'll be amazed seeing guys in IB take off the day of the birth plus 1. That's it.
I only saw one guy take off real time. 3 weeks. And he was PANICKED about what everyone would think. I assured him that, in the long run, the only one who would remember he took 3 weeks was his appreciative wife. I was right, of course. But he verbalized how concerned he was about the perception. Can you imagine? Like it's a crime to take off to help your wife with your first newborn!
But he was ashamed. Sadly.

May 2, 2020

Don't hold your breath on equal benefits for fathers.

Apr 30, 2020

I waited a very long time to have children and it still really ended my DCM career, sadly. I was commuting 3 hours RT and even with leaving earlier, fantastic care at home, supportive husband, and a healthy baby, I was near death exhaustion. There was zero working from home or 4-day week options. Stupid of them. The people who filled my spot were disasters. But eventually the department was dissolved.
It's hard to say what exactly is going on now, but you truly have to want to stay in the game and knock yourself out to do both work and parenting if you're in IB. And nothing wrong with that! It's your call. How much it slows you down depends on your will, and the people supporting you professionally (and at home). I think it's very smart to focus on your career and get as senior as you can before you start a family. No matter how awesome everyone is around you, at home or at work, nothing substitutes for the fact that is unchangeable: You are the mom. You can outsource everything. But you cannot literally outsource being Mom. How to explain that is not something I can really verbalize. But as you and your friends begin having children, you'll get it.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

Thanks for the reply. I'll never truly understand unless I become a mom, but yeah, agreed. You can't outsource being a literal mother

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May 1, 2020

@Shaynepunim if I may ask what are you doing now? What do you want to do going forward?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

Genuine question for all the women in this thread. I noticed the idea of kids being thrown around. Would you all be comfortable if the dad took the back seat and helped raise the kids while you advance in your career or do you feel like dad should always make the most/work the hardest?

Apr 30, 2020

This is honestly the goal-I don't feel like the man should have to make more money at all. If he's super opposed to staying home I guess I just hope he'd make enough to make up for the cost of full-time childcare. That being said, why have kids if you're just going to hire someone else to raise them?

I love kids, but I don't want them to be the primary focus of my life. Whenever someone asks me if I want to be a mom someday, I say, "No, but I think I would quite like being a traditional 60's era dad."

Apr 30, 2020
executivefunction:

Whenever someone asks me if I want to be a mom someday, I say, "No, but I think I would quite like being a traditional 60's era dad."

Haha, love it! I'd like to be a little more involved with my children, once I have them. But I doubt I will follow the typical mother role. I'm guessing the success of that depends mainly on how much I am able to outsource cooking, cleaning and other chores. Also, how close the school and extracurricular activities are.

Array

Apr 30, 2020

Although sentiment is changing here (see female responders here), I find it hard to believe this will ever be the norm due to evolutionary biology. Not that there is anything wrong with either arrangement, just science.

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Apr 30, 2020

Maybe, maybe not. Sure, at a certain point in human history childcare was incredibly prohibitive for women. It would be pretty hard to go on a hunt while pregnant or feed a baby without breast-feeding, so often men would have to take on more of a provider role.

But now, with birth control, baby formula/pumping, and provider roles that are much less physically intensive, there's not as much holding anyone back from taking on the household role that they want to. Societal expectations and biological barriers are gradually being dismantled, and, as such, you see more people picking the role that suits them best.

If the male=provider/female=caregiver attitudes were really so ingrained in our nature, I doubt we would have seen as much of a shift as we already have.

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May 5, 2020

Why would you ever appeal to evolutionary biology to explain societal changes? I mean, we are programmed to kill each other and we don't. Society has long ago evolved beyond biology. And even if there is indeed maybe a slight biological bias towards women being a primary caregiver, who cares? The only thing that matters is the trajectory of individuals, not society-wide trends. What matters is giving the women that want to succeed at work the means to do so. What matters is respecting fathers that want to stay at home - it's a real full-time work.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020

My long term partner and I have discussed this and he is happy to be a stay-at-home dad. He is a software engineer and has very flexible work arrangements including a paternity leave so him taking care of the kids would make the most sense. I think men who aren't insecure and are confident in themselves don't feel threatened if the woman is working harder and providing financially for the family, while they are taking care of the kids at home. Both roles are equally important.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020

It would absolutely depend on the circumstances, and who wanted to spend more time with children, as well as who it would be easier for. If both me and my spouse have similar work-lives, however, I'd absolutely expect it to be 50/50.

May 1, 2020

It's a totally valid option, and whatever works for a family is great! I'm not really sure what is the negative or why the Dad has to work the hardest/most. I've seen SAHD's at mommy and me, or the playground - they are awesome. Most have some sort of work they do, they just have more flexibility, or switch gears until children are in school (which is really not very long).
Often, over the long term, both partner's careers wax, wane, veer, ramp up, slow down or just change. Just like women think it's unfair to be held back professionally, is it fair to expect men to always be 100% "on" and achieving, earning, striving, "successing"? I think flexibility is key.
One final point - and this is truer than anything - you just don't know how you'll feel when the kid gets here. The most militant, accomplished, educated professional moms sometimes just opt out. And that is ok, too!

Apr 30, 2020

As someone who started in my 20s, worked into my 30s, had a baby (and later, another), had to leave because zero flexibility, and has returned (first with a return-to-work internship, then an IB role), my answer will be a bit different than the younger women here.
You are right. There are not as many women in more senior roles. They tend to go to PE, switch gears to commercial banking, business development, other areas of finance. Yes, there are some more senior IB women who are moms, but it's simply difficult.
Marriage doesn't seem to cause the issue. Even a baby isn't always a problem. But once you have a second, and there's some travel in either career, or you have a child with any sort of issues, things start to give way...
I'd say if you work in a city and live relatively near to your office (which, once you have a family, tends to give way to a house in the suburbs with more space), have excellent full time + help to cover everything, have a senior enough position that you can call some shots, have healthy kids and a supportive spouse and family, are motivated and love the job, and work for a supportive company, you'll be just fine.
That's a long list of ifs, unfortunately.
Nothing is impossible. Even if you have issues with any of the items listed. It's a matter of choice. I think people get disillusioned with work/career/IB after some years. Men and women. But men have less flexibility. Women are allowed to "opt out."
I am hopeful that for your generation things are better. I thought after I returned to work, so many years later, that things would be better. It doesn't seem much different for IB. I found companies are happy to have women back, as long as they really don't need anything. No one knew when my children were sick and I was worried. I felt guilty any time I had to take them to the Dr. and miss a few hours of work. It's hard. It can be emotional. The kids don't just go away once they're not infants, you know? IB at the higher levels is a lot of travel, a lot of last-minute work. This is not very conducive to family life.
I think everyone starts out super gung ho, and then the motivation wanes. There are so many options out of IB. Companies and hiring managers are very impressed with the credential. Lots of women start their own businesses - all kinds.
Good luck - it all works itself out.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
May 1, 2020

What is the difference in lifestyle/work-life balance between women in banking vs women in PE? PE still seems like a pretty grueling career path without a ton of flexibility

May 1, 2020

I wish I had the stats for everyone.
I am responding more from my gut, based on my women M&A dealmakers networking group, which seems to be far outweighed (like 90/10) PE to IB. I'm wondering if there are actually fewer IB women, or if they're just too busy to participate in our events. But I'm not seeing many VP - MD women in IB.
My sense is that many started in IB and shifted to PE. Again, not sure if it's $, flexibility, or some combination, but I want to say my sense is that yes, lots of hard work, but more flexibility and general support and understanding in PE.
Moral support, acceptance and understanding goes a very long way towards motivating a woman. Just knowing there is acknowledgement of their reality (career plus family), even at an earlier stage (younger women who are not yet married even often worry "how will I do this?" and map our their career path long before they're in that boat...because unlike men, they do have to consider it), is very encouraging and motivating. If you know you have people (eg. a partner at a PE fund) who's behind you, you are much more able to psychologically and emotionally handle this huge dual commitment. Even something like not giving a woman guilt for wanting to take her baby to the pediatrician (yeah, maybe a grandparent, father or nanny could, but sometime Mom wants to be the one to be on site, speak to the Dr, comfort their child), not forcing her to pretend she has zero needs as a mother, is huge. Moral support costs ZERO, and long term generates $.
Long answer, but I do sense that the women in PE are given enough moral support and flexibility to handle the intensive work they do.
It's funny - this networking group of "power women" in M&A - they don't discuss work-family challenges. It's kind of an unspoken "we are not here to discuss that." So I can only speak from personal experience, that IB expectations of "all work, all the time, I have zero other commitments" is more common.
Meanwhile, I honestly think there's no reason why there cannot be more flexibility in IB. With laptops, VPN, multiple screens and a phone, I really don't understand why one needs to be in the same room or office to get work done. Who cares about face time if the work is getting done? Here's my answer to "it's perception": if quality work is being done in a timely manner, there's your perception. When you work remotely - with a client, with attorneys, it was always solely conference calls. Did the work get done? Of course it did! I don't have to be in the room with the client or attorney to get quality timely work completed. So I think IB can do a much better job of being flexible. It's 100% purely a mindset. When I work from home, I put in longer hours. I might be at my laptop at 6:30 am, closing down at after 11 pm. I can take a quick break to make a meal or whatever minor item needs to be done, while the family buzzes around you. It doesn't take away from effectiveness or efficiency. The opposite.

May 1, 2020

I wanted to add something really positive to this discussion -

I think the opportunities for young women in finance, including IB, are fantastic and hopeful!

Firms are smartly welcoming and encouraging our participation in the field, because we are needed. Yes, needed. To match who is represented on the client side, at accounting firms or staff, in legal. Clients want us at the table.

I have never had any issue working with men, years ago I was the only woman on my team for a period, and the guys were fantastic. I loved it! None of these discussions are meant to in any way be negative towards men - they are fantastic mentors, sponsors, friends, colleagues, teachers, confidantes! 100%. They care. More often than not, they mean well but just don't fully get it, even the ones with professional wives, and daughters.

I don't think we absolutely need more senior women to further our cause - it would be great, but we can also further ourselves. Simply by doing great work, being authentic, and when the time is right (you'll know it when you see it), having honest conversations with the men or women above about what you need. It's unlikely that what any female professional is asking for is some sort of obnoxious, pretentious ask. Giving us breathing room to continue to perform our jobs and maintain our careers, with a modicum of understanding, through life stages is all that's needed.

Good things are coming and I'm confident you all will make the difference -

May 2, 2020

I can get you in touch with Taylor Mason. Shoot me a PM.

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May 3, 2020

I worked in IB for several years as an A2A, then decided to do a bit of other stuff for a while, now I'm hard chillin'.

Aside from the usual expected vitriol (lol), there's some very sound thoughts on this thread which are pretty consistent with my experience as an "older" finance lady.

What worked for me personally was to focus first and foremost on doing the best job I could at all times, and addressing life as it happened, when it happened. I think this resulted in pretty broad optionality for my career and a very solid financial situation. Even if you decide to totally leave the industry or opt out of working for a while, the achievements and accolades you earn stay with you.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 3, 2020

Thank you for this insight! Many of my fellow female friends and I have been struggling with the idea of starting a career in finance even though we know we eventually want to stay home with our kids for a few years/may not be in the industry for the long-haul, so I found this very reassuring.

I was especially interested in your last point about "the achievements and accolades you earn stay[ing] with you". By this, do you mean that you feel like it is possible to re-enter the workforce (probably in an industry other than finance...likely on the more creative side or education) after staying home for a few years? Or that is was a really valuable learning experience, but not necessarily as it relates to future opportunities?

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May 3, 2020

Personally, I think it's important not to "leave" before you leave, so even if you aren't planning on staying somewhere for the very long term, don't allow yourself to give anything less than your all while you're there. For me, it was always important to excel at whatever I was doing because that's what I found personally and professionally fulfilling, even though, at the time, I wasn't really that interested in staying to MD.

Realize also that life plans can go awry. Assume a highly hypothetical situation in which you just kind of coasted in your early career because you were waiting to get married and become a stay at home parent. Time flies by and now you're much older and are no closer to that goal. Now you have little to show for the time you spent waiting and have passed on enhancing opportunities, like promotions or working abroad, that at the time felt like they would have been incongruous with the life you were planning for yourself. Or, perhaps you were able to get married, but then (god forbid) your spouse passes away unexpectedly or your marriage dissolves. Or, you could fulfill all those goals but later find your family is in dire financial straits. Or, or, or... The life you think you will have and intend to prepare for in 5-10+ years may look vastly different from reality. It has for me!

This is a very personal perspective on my part, so you can take it with a grain of salt. But I feel that while you're young, with limited responsibilities and an expanse of prospects ahead of you, it can be very beneficial to your future by focusing on cultivating you now. That means developing and investing in you, independent of your current or future identity as a mother, wife, homemaker, working mom, etc. The achievements and accolades you earn are then yours to do with as you wish, but you can't do anything with them if you don't gun for them in the first place.

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May 5, 2020

It is definitely possible to pivot, within finance or outside of it - it's all about transferrable skills, and out of banking, there are many. You may have to take some coursework, do some networking, lateral a bit. It might not be even or straight. But there are many opportunities. If you want to do banking/IB/finance, don't worry yet about the long haul. And while the market is up and down, return to work after several years is possible. So please don't talk yourselves out of a finance career just yet. I get this question from younger women all the time. It's a shame that banks are not able to get the message out there that they will support you and work with you, but more and more do now. You show what you can do and want to do, and develop a network (!!!), and you will have opportunities and options.
Meanwhile, go make some solid money and see where it leads you, who you meet - it's a lot of fun.

May 3, 2020

Let me explain to you why there will never be as many women in finance.
Some people are lazy, are not trying to change the world and wouldn't mind having an easy life. This applies to both men and women equally.
Lazy men have to suck it up and move on.
Lazy females (even of average attractiveness) can marry some dude and do something less intense.
The mere fact that men don't have that option(as easily at least) creates an imbalance in attrition.
If you think there are no "lazy people" in finance, think again.
Take an example : me.
I would happily marry a female hotshot, leave my job, and play video games / gym / side project. But women are not really lining up to marry dudes with this type if "life project".
So i am still here trying to get director for the lack of a better thing to do, my girlfriend certainly enjoys the nice trips i can afford and life goes on... And i am actually reasonably good at it, so i am just filling up a slot that my female equivalent(meaning lazy girl) can't be bothered to compete for.

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May 5, 2020

I'm not so sure it's about "lazy." Many young women (who come to me to ask me "how will this work?") plan far in advance, and they simply cannot see a way clear to work through work-family matters. They're worried about it from college. I mean, look at all the comments and questions above! Girls are planners, they map things out - these young women don't even have the family responsibilities yet, but they're already worried about it, unlike guys. So they choose other options. Lemme tell you, people in accounting firms, where there are TONS of women (tons), also work pretty extreme hours! Law as well. But something about IB is truly terrifying, and they simply feel they can't work it out in their minds how to manage long-term. It's not a gentle career, and not everyone wants the hardcore experience, or to work for and with hardcore types. I really don't think "lazy" is the reason women opt out of finance - there are just certain more natural appeals to them. It's not lazy to want to teach, be a social worker, do PR, or a nurse, and I don't think it's about marriage or high-end vacations, because everyone knows most families are dual earners and women can't depend on a husband and expect to never work (if they think they can, try waiting until there are 2 children and a divorce and see how fast the big house gets sold). Men do have options, not all of them are in hotshot careers at all. I just think you are very much seeing things through IB lenses, which is a very small, very particular piece of the work world. No harm intended, just saying.

May 6, 2020
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May 7, 2020