Women of WSO, when did you decide to have children and why, if at all?

paradeit's picture
Rank: Baboon | 107

I'm wondering when you decided to have kids and how it affected your career. Was there a point at which you felt ready to have a family? Did some of you start off wanting children and then decide not to, or vice versa? I know that family life is traded off with a career in finance in the early years but I'm curious to know how that changes for women.

Also, if you're willing to share whether or not your spouse/partner is in finance and how that worked with kids, it would be interesting to know!

Comments (49)

Oct 8, 2018

Thanks, but I wanted to hear the careerwoman perspective

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Oct 8, 2018

I didn't realize WSo Members are so into having kids. Why the MS thrown at me?

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Oct 10, 2018

Lol at you thinking a 9 will drop to a 5 post pregnancy. Probs not nowhere near a 9 pre kiddo

Oct 10, 2018

Lmfao sounds like you grew up in a modern day american shitty family

Oct 11, 2018
Pizz:

Having kids sounds awful. The sleepless nights, the college fund you have to start, the stress from losing your job and having to support kids etc. and not mention say good bye to traveling the world. Also your wife goes from a bangable 9/10 to a 5/10 after pregnancy.

I will NEVER have kids. Like I don't understand why people feel so special when they have kids. CONGRATS, U and 10 billion other people have the same thing

You know that moment when you could tell how retarded and immature a person is? Well, reading this comment is it.

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Oct 11, 2018
Pizz:

Like I don't understand why people feel so special when they have kids. CONGRATS, U and 10 billion other people have the same thing

Spoken like a true prestige whore. Who cares if other people have children. You literally just said "I don't want kids because other people have kids, which makes having kids not selective enough for me to want to have kids".

Forget about the joy / love that comes with having children.
Forget about starting a family, having someone to live / succeed / become better for.
Forget having someone to carry on your legacy / lineage (though based on the type of person you seem to be, might not be a bad thing if you didn't procreate).
- You see how detrimental ad - hominem attacks can be? Maybe leave out the whole "bangability" analysis next time then...

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Oct 12, 2018

"good bye to traveling the world"? You know kids have like 4 months of holiday per year and are allowed to leave the country?

Not sure what your childhood was like but I, like many others, got to travel with my parents growing up..

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Oct 8, 2018

Paradeit's topic is a good one but I would say that the percentage of WSO users who are female would be very low. While we have several participants who offer thoughtful comments, there are also many people who make locker room style comments which I think many women would not like.

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Oct 8, 2018

While I don't have any personal stories, I do know this one bad ass female PM who had 4 kids and still crushed it in her career.

The trade off, however, is that even when your body literally went through hell to give life, you are still expected to put up results. The PM I was talking about never took any maternity leave and traded from the hospital. She was a straight workaholic and loved what she did. Obviously as a result she didn't get to spend as much time with her kids.

I think if you are in direct investing, you will have to sacrifice something if you decide to have children especially if you are in a PM/CIO/investment role - be it your career or your family life. It's just too fast paced for you to miss even a day of trading. That, however, might be avoidable if you're in a less fast paced part of finance.

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Oct 9, 2018

Thank you for the helpful reply! Do you know how old she was when she had her kids or what her position was when she did? Just trying to get a sense for how this even works because no one talks about it

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Oct 9, 2018

Not sure how old she was - probably early to mid 30s. She was already managing a portfolio at that point. And even then she faced push back from senior management, who were worried that she'll have a kid then disappear off the face of the earth. Not sure how it would be at a more junior level - probably more difficult and more of a career buster. Silver lining, however, is that this woman probably made more profits for her firm than any of the guys she worked with - even through the pregnancies, etc.

Guess the moral of the story is that:
1. yes it's a career buster - definitely have to accept that if you're working in a fast paced trading oriented environment - especially true if you're in hedge funds and hope to make it as a PM/CIO
2. It's do-able without killing your career but it means extreme (almost an over compensation of) discipline and dedication - also be ready to say bye to your family life
3. If none of the 2 above points are something you can accept, move out of the fast trading oriented space of finance and into something that has a longer investment horizon - PE, VC, etc etc

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Funniest
Oct 8, 2018

When @theaccountingmajor in his munificent magnificence deemed my fertile womb a vessel worthy of incubating his scions, thereby perpetuating an illustrious lineage destined to ensure accurate book reconciliation with GAAP standards until the entropic heat death of the universe

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Oct 8, 2018

@theaccountingmajor is the only reason I'm pro choice.

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Oct 8, 2018

lol

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Oct 8, 2018

Is that what you call forgetting to pull out?

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Oct 10, 2018

I've known a few very successful women in high finance. I started my career as a trader, and there wasn't a single girl from my analyst class who became a trader, but there were several who did quite well on the sales and structuring desks. It's hard to leave a trading role for any meaningful amount of time. It's a lot easier to step away from a sales or structuring role for a couple months while someone covers for you.

That said, one of the directors on the hedge fund sales desk at the start of my career was a woman. She had a kid and left the desk for what seemed like forever (at least 6 months), came back for perhaps 4-5 months, had another kid, and was gone for the rest of my analyst stint. I was in London at the time, so the bank had lenient maternity leave policies, but she really left her desk hanging. When she finally returned after her second kid, a lot of her clients were used to dealing with the other people on her desk who had been covering for her, and she just didn't put up the production numbers she used to. She then sued the bank for allegedly giving away 'her' clients, and I think got some sort of settlement because the bank didn't want to deal with more negative press at that time (during the financial crisis). I guess the lesson here is--if you're working in Europe for a European bank, take all the maternity leave you are allowed, then sue your employer post pregnancy if you don't get your job back (the bank is meant to leave the post open throughout your maternity leave).

If you're working in the US, that's not really an option, but I've seen women on both sides of the Atlantic do well in private equity, venture capital, I-banking, hedge funds, equity research, sales and structuring. Trading and portfolio management are special cases where it's seemingly quite hard to step out of the role then step back into it after any time out of the markets. In all cases, though, the commonality among the women I see is that they return to their jobs quickly, and they tend not to be in a trading or PM position. Moreover, they all were at least VPs or even directors before they had kids.

This latter point is especially important. If you leave 'the path' too soon, you'll have to re-enter as a junior. You analytical and computer skills atrophy faster than your network, and it's easier to keep in touch with your network while on maternity leave than it is to force yourself to crank through an LBO model while breastfeeding just to 'stay current' on your analytical skill set.

This is where biology butts heads with career timing. If you work as an analyst, do your 2-year pre-MBA associate position at a HF or PE shop, then do your MBA, you're going to be 28 at the end of your MBA. If you then do your post-MBA associate role, you're going to be 30 before you get promoted out of the junior ranks. There are obviously other career paths, but I'm selecting one of the more common ones people on this site seem to desire. You really need to put in a couple years above the associate title before leaving to have kids if you don't want to have to return as an associate.

To be honest, I don't actually think it's very easy to go back to become an associate again if you've already diverted from the path, so if you don't get a bit of seniority before having kids, you're going to struggle to reenter high finance at the level you left it. If you're a solid VP or director, though (let's say a Principal at a fund), then you're in much better shape. While there are far fewer roles available at that level, you're valued on your knowledge and on your network, not on your modeling skills by that point.

The successful women I know in high finance that have kids had them only after they had enough seniority to return to their original position after a hiatus. The problem most women encounter is simple--they want to have kids before their mid-30s or early 40s. Invariably, that hurts careers in rigorous professions like law or investments. There is some misogyny left in those fields, but there is also a lot of selection bias away from women in senior management roles because such a large number leave to have kids. Women leave for other reasons too, but leaving to have children is quite common.

If you time it right, though, leaving to have children doesn't have to kill your career. In general, you just have to wait a bit longer than you might ideally like. If you do that, you'll be one of a very small number of quite senior women remaining in the bank or at the fund. Strategically, that makes a lot of sense to me since I think we'll probably see a greater push toward having more gender diversity on boards and executive committees. If you wait a bit to have kids, it seems the long-term career benefits might outweigh the potential side-effects associated with older pregnancies.

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Oct 11, 2018

Going back to someone else point about being tired of seeing stupid content on this site. I was literally annoyed at this thread since no real useful information was being put out until this man...the fucking brotherbear decided to throw his insights into the mix. I hope you never stop man......these days you and APAE are fucking WSO

Ty

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Oct 11, 2018

Second what Pierre said, thank you for the fantastic reply. I agree with everything you said and it's what I expected, honestly, given how involved this career is. Most of the women around me are pretty young and aren't really thinking about any of this, so their input is mostly "I'll deal with it when it gets there".

To your point about the push for diversity, this is the biggest problem I've had with diversity programs in finance. I met a lot of great women through them, but I feel the bigger problem isn't that women aren't getting these positions, it's that retention of top female talent is so hard because of the work-life difficulties unique to women. That's where the push should be happening in my opinion, not out of college (although I'm not complaining). Like you said, some positions are very involved and I understand not being able to really do anything about maternity or paternity leave, but if a push for gender diversity happens I would like to see it on this front in general. It is difficult to be a woman in finance and have a family, and I don't want this to have to be a tradeoff in the future ideally.

Although this is down the road for me, it's good to know what to expect. Thanks again for the reply and if you know any women on this site who would have valuable input please tag them!

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Oct 12, 2018

I had a close female friend who used to work as a strategy consultant for the CHRO at one of the BBs. She started at the bank out of undergrad, and working through the bank's strategy for attracting and retaining female talent was the primary focus of her role. I remember the awkward conversation I had with her when I suggested that the primary reasons women leave high finance are a combination of two main factors. The first and most obvious is having kids. The second (also pretty obvious) is the societal acceptance of women not working or working less to raise their kids when in a two-parent home.

We are still a long way from living in a society where men are generally happy to take a back seat to their wives' careers to stay home and raise children. I might never live to see that day. It's becoming more common, but if men are honest about it, it's emasculating. Moreover, there aren't a lot of high-quality women who would be happy with a house husband. I think some might imagine they'd be okay with it, but it's difficult to respect a man that society at large doesn't respect (your colleagues and your clients included).

As an anecdote, imagine a situation where your firm buys a couple tables at a charity event. Normally, it's a work event, but this time you're encouraged to bring your spouse, so you bring your husband. He might have had an interesting career, gone to great schools, and be an excellent husband and father, but when he's asked in that sort of setting 'what he does for a living', there is some shame in his answer. A stay-at-home-dad isn't a respected answer in that setting.

There are plenty of people who will say that doesn't matter, and they'll pretend like it's a noble thing to do. The truth is, though, your peers will not respect him. That diminishes both of you as a couple. It's a ruthless viewpoint, but we're talking about a very specific group of people that value themselves and others off their careers/wealth/power/etc. And while it has become more socially acceptable, it's nowhere near fully accepted.

I explain this because the type of women who go into high finance are generally not willing to procreate with someone deeply below their social class. In many cases, they're social climbers (not necessarily in a negative sense), and marrying/procreating with a man who stays home to take care of the children isn't doing much to advance their careers. Mind you, we're talking about the career-minded women in high finance/law/consulting/etc. They might fool around with a personal trainer or aspiring chef, but at the end of the day, they value the money, prestige and power than comes from their career. It would be odd to just value that in themselves, but not value that in their partner.

As a result, there are very few women in those professions who really climb the ranks because they leave work to have children, and the majority of childcare responsibilities fall on them. They don't seem to want to have kids with the type of guy who would want to give up his career and stay at home for all the reasons I explained above. And because of that, you lose a lot of very talented women at the associate/VP levels at banks (maybe 5th or 6th year associates at law firms and engagement managers at consultancies).

If they're married to someone their own age, it's quite rare that one of them by age 30 will be completely secure in their career, so unless they make enough money to afford excellent childcare (which is very expensive), or they're fortunate to have grandparents around to help, one of them is going to have to make some sacrifices at work. Until societal perceptions of a man's worth being tied to his job change, the principle burden of child-rearing will continue to fall on women's shoulders, and this is going to stymie women's careers.

You rightly observed there are a lot of diversity programs across The Street. There is also an enormous amount of attrition. By the time they hit 30, a lot of women get out of high finance to have kids. HR departments have attempted to combat this by offering 'returnship' schemes so women can more easily reenter the workforce. I think these programs are a good first step, but they seem insufficient because women in senior executive roles are still anomalies in high finance. Perhaps we will start mandating a minimum percentage of board directors be women at public companies, but I worry about that too. I don't think corporate affirmative action is a good idea, and I'm not sure we'll implement it any time soon at the C-suite or board level.

In any case, the CHRO I mentioned at the beginning of my post eventually came to the same conclusions I posited before ever seeing the data. Banks like Goldman have much better gender ratios than other banks, but the other banks can't replicate Goldman's strategy. What's that strategy? Simple--they poach the best women, and because they're the highest paying, most prestigious bank on Wall Street, they get those women. UBS can't do that.

I'm not sure there are any easy solutions to this problem. You have to change societal perceptions of men and how they're valued. You have to change societal perceptions of women and their role in child care. You have to have more returnship programs, more in-office child care, and shared family leave. And you need to have access to more affordable child care for more people. Even if you do all of this, though, you still won't have gender equality in board rooms until we can grow babies without women getting pregnant. Men are just never going to fully share in a pregnancy. We have no recovery time after having a child because we don't birth it. And in all but quite rare cases, we are significantly less useful in raising children for the first year or so of their lives.

All in, this leads me to believe the status quo will perpetuate for a very long time. As I said in my original post, your best option is to have children slightly later than you might ideally like and return to the workforce as a VP or director, rather than attempt a return as an associate with a toddler at home.

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Oct 10, 2018

Most of my female friends (30-35) moved into corporate development (Apple), investment research (Morgan Stanely), index development (S&P), and quant (BlackRock) roles - where there is less face time. Most Asian parents (both side of the family) usually help out by moving in with taking care of their grandchildren as well.

Oct 11, 2018

Thanks! This does seem like a feasible route to go for women who want to be more involved in family life. Did they also move cities? It seems like some people move to lower COL cities when they have families too

Oct 11, 2018

The Apple lady was previously doing PE in NYC - she had to move to San Fran to be with her tech husband. The rest are all in New York City. All of their husbands make decent amount of money - surprisingly - all the husbands are investment bankers.

Oct 10, 2018

My boss is a top ranked Equity research analyst and has two kids. She had her first kid in late 30's and at that point had already established herself as a top analyst. She is definitely a success story of high powered moms in finance. She has dropped a few spots in the rankings in the past few years as she spends much less time on the road marketing than peers but that is the tradeoff she is making. Overall it hasn't impacted her career that much and she is a role model for all females out there.

Conversely, the number 2 on the team who will probably take over when she retires is in her early 30's. She wants to have kids, but I think she is scared that it would impact her career because she hasn't made it to the top analyst spot yet.

I know other moms are on the floor and it seems like overall ER is a more accommodating part of high finance than other areas in terms of child/work balance. However, most do wait until they have reached a point of being established and have built a name for themselves.

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Oct 10, 2018

/sees a bunch of dudes in the comments talking bangability and theaccountingmajor's comeback
/resists urge to feed kid hating troll
/goes back to reading PE/MBA thread

Oct 11, 2018

The most damaging aspect is not the maternity leave itself, but the trvial details of child raising from day to day, things such as hiring nanny, visiting daycare, arranging for food delivery, remember appointments, maintain relationships with school PTA, extra curriculums and logistics of paying different child care providers... all take up precious bandwidth in your head, so it's hard to stay very focused on our main commitment (work) like pre-kids.

Even in my MO risk position, at senior associate level, ppl are expected to pitch ideas to investment team, catch up on market risk implications and stay on top of managing external service provider performance. And it's much harder to be creative when you don't have "down time" to process all the information at work.

I knew that maternity leave could delay promotions and raises. But not able to remain on top of intellectual curiosity is not something I expected. I imagine this is 100x more important in FO roles.

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Oct 11, 2018
ChloeOrc:

The most damaging aspect is not the maternity leave itself, but the trvial details of child raising from day to day, things such as hiring nanny, visiting daycare, arranging for food delivery, remember appointments, maintain relationships with school PTA, extra curriculums and logistics of paying different child care providers... all take up precious bandwidth in your head, so it's hard to stay very focused on our main commitment (work) like pre-kids.

This is something that I've noticed a lot of men I know don't seem to give any credit for being taken care of well, as if all the unpaid household administration tasks weren't integral to family success.

It's kind of tough too, because I want to point out how some of the older guys I hear complain about how things are going at home don't seem to contribute much on this front. It doesn't all happen by magic.

:

And it's much harder to be creative when you don't have "down time" to process all the information at work.

I knew that maternity leave could delay promotions and raises. But not able to remain on top of intellectual curiosity is not something I expected. I imagine this is 100x more important in FO roles.

This is interesting and not something I thought about.

The stereotype of how guys compartmentalize and shut off certain parts of the brain (e.g. "I'm not at work so I'm not thinking about work") would make it easier (or at least different) to recharge the battery as opposed to women being 'always on' (e.g. juggling all the above-mentioned household admin tasks whether they're at work, getting drinks with girl friends, or running weekend errands).

That's a valuable insight and I appreciate you sharing it, thank you.

You should message Patrick (@WallStreetOasis.com) and get 'Certified'.

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Most Helpful
Oct 11, 2018

@brotherbear crushed it. I'll chime in how I can. Since his is a (great) framework-based answer. I'll make mine anecdotal.

I'm not a woman. I don't have many female friends in the industry; I know many more women outside finance than in finance.

I've spoken about this topic heavily with both my core group of friends (all male) and the group of friends just outside that (male and female).

When I say core, I mean the single-digit number of men who have seen me grow over a lengthy stretch of years where we mutually feel fortunate enough to have earnest conversations about tough topics like self-development, family issues, health, and other serious stuff and hold nothing back.

Here it's been a candid conversation of what I am discovering I personally value in a partner as a potential spouse and co-parent, then weighing the perspective someone who I trust has on what I shared. It's immensely valuable to get insight from someone who knows me remarkably well on how what I say I'm looking for matches what they know of me. I obviously won't share anything from here.

When I say broader group, that's a number of educated, thoughtful, ambitious people who are hard-working professionals (women and men) who know me well enough to have a rational and fruitful conversation with the assumption of good intent, no interrupting, no defensiveness, and so on but where I find I don't receive the same level of honesty (transparency may be a better word) built through trust like I do with my core friends.

Here it's been a respectful conversation that's much more discursive than incisive. I love to ask people questions based on what they share with me, but when you aren't as close with someone, you can't hone in the same way on key things they say or ask penetrating follow-up questions that get to the real heart or the 'why' behind an answer. I can share from here.

The overwhelming majority of women I've discussed this with have had either a head-in-the-sand or an 'I'll figure it out later' approach.

Many women had a "that won't be a problem for me" mentality that I couldn't comprehend. Mentally running through the list, these were all girls from really strong undergrad schools working at Evercore, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone, Pepsi, Capgemini, BCG ... so it wasn't a lack of intellectual firepower. I would ask questions and get a stonewall ("I'll figure it out", or "I'll make it work").

By the time you get to business school age, the tenor of the conversation has shifted universally. Then everyone I spoke to treated it like a really practical matter, almost something of a rules-based game, an if-this-then-that system. You'd get:

  • "If I do banking and my boyfriend does too, then two years of work will mean our combined savings lets me take one year off after the first child, work another two, then aim for the second baby but only take six months off after so I can really focus on the VP promotion."
  • "My husband's an architect, I'm going to BCG so the travel requirement means I can't work at all until our kids are old enough for daycare, and I'm worried we won't be able to pay off my MBA loans and his from undergrad if I stop working within six years, so..."

It felt like the majority of people weren't shaping their life to make the outcome they wanted possible.

The couples I know who managed child-birthing most successfully from a career perspective universally share two traits: (a) they were engaged in their 20s and (b) they were really intentional about a duration-based approach.

(Note that this says nothing about how good at parenting they appear to be, I'm speaking solely from the perspective of how it disrupted the parents' careers.)

It makes sense. Couples who find each other early in life and have honest conversations about their desires for children enjoy a longer runway to plan for it.

What this meant was that they committed to each other in a way a lot of young people today struggle to. They placed a lot of trust in each other, and with that trust, were vulnerable to pick respective career opportunities that benefit them worse as an individual but set them up for a better shared outcome that enabled the parenting dynamic they wanted.

  1. One couple (fantastic humans that I respect a lot) chose to have one person pursue high-stability moderate income and the other pursue low-stability extreme income. She worked in MBB consulting for three years, then IR at an upper middle market fund that's effectively a megafund. He worked at a startup as an early employee (<25, wasn't technical so joined as one of the first business hires). She cleared low $100s in consulting and then low $200s in IR. He was earning $60, $70, $80 the first few years until the thing took off and he flipped to the $200 range as an executive managing a team. They got pregnant at 28. She was able to quit working because he was able to get high six-figure liquidity thanks to a secondary sale of half his equity grant. For context, they met in college and he proposed about two years after. He still has half his equity grant, and he can join any startup, larger or smaller, given his valuable skill-set.
  2. Another couple (who also met in college, but were two years apart) chose to split on lifestyle. He did banking to private equity and then a hedge fund so he could avoid the double hit of foregone income and expensive tuition at business school. He legitimately has never had it easy. His banking group was a facetime culture, the private equity shop was middle market but unfortunately a sweatier place, and the hedge fund role was at a Millennium pod where he was one of only two analysts under a PM who scaled from $100m to $3b in three years. She joined a late-stage e-commerce startup in a non-technical role. When her boss' boss decided to launch a new startup, she was part of the original team (of less than 10), so while she wasn't a co-founder in title, she had a lot of relationship capital. In short, the combination of a flexible lifestyle industry plus some clout or cachet in her job meant that she never had to take formal maternity leave when they began having kids (two under four right now). Startups tend to equal 'work from wherever', so she has been able to be the primary child-carer without it affecting her job at all.
  3. Another couple (they met at 25(f) and 29(m) while he was at HBS) actually both changed careers three years into their relationship in order to make it work. He had been on 'the track' (three years at a really strong bank, two years at a megafund, HBS) but was feeling some fatigue (as I think a lot of WSO users in that situation would relate to) at being sold a somewhat false bill of goods. He didn't feel too rewarded or fulfilled despite having the 'best' resume possible in finance. She was one year into a middle market private equity job (strong shop). His goal was to be an involved parent and wanted to work legitimately 40-50 hours a week to make that happen. He ended up joining a headhunter firm directly out of school and has been able to turn himself into a go-to guy within the HBS community for mid- or late-stage finance guys trying to discretely switch between private equity firms. She did not finish her associate program and instead lateraled to a venture capital role. She was frank up-front about the fact that she wanted kids, that she loved investing, and if she was going to juggle both kids and a career, wanted to get as far into that career as soon as possible. They got married after dating a little over three years. (No one who knows them feels that was rushed; they have a strong overlap in background and are both mature beyond their years.) She miscarried at 29. That was awful to see and I hurt for them just watching it. Thankfully they just had their first, she is 32 now. She's pre-partner but on two boards. She simply won't make any new investments for a year or two. It's a good fund and they're all supportive. It's also a role where your output doesn't correlate perfectly to hours worked, so she enjoys a structural advantage there.

This got really long, so I won't take the time to detail the instances I've seen it work out poorly. You seem to want advice broadly, so I'll go back and reiterate the contributing factors that I've seen lead to success: finding a partner early, and being willing to sacrifice "me" for "us".

There's no getting around the fact that having children impacts your career. Unfortunately there are a host of factors (both biological and cultural) that leave the bulk of that burden on women.

What I've learned over my not-yet-long life (all those people I mentioned are older than me) is that you truly cannot have it all. I have had outpaced career success relative to my age, but that means other areas of life got less attention.

(e.g. I haven't watched just about anything that people my age consider to be a staple. I don't maintain a wide social network; I prefer a narrower set of strong relationships than a broader set of weak ones. I'm constantly declining drinks and dinner with people I don't care a ton for. I don't check out all the latest video games. The list goes on.)

If you want to have a family, I recommend you be honest with yourself about exactly what sort of family dynamic you envision. Most importantly, recognize that that family starts as a couple. How you interact with (communicate with, trust in, sacrifice for) your spouse shapes what your experience will be with your children.

Second most importantly, communicate that vision. If you don't invest in figuring out the similarity of your vision, you can't ever truly know how willing your spouse will be to sacrifice for it ... which shapes your own willingness to sacrifice for it, whether consciously or unconsciously.

If you bring children into an ambiguous situation like that, you have no idea how your partner will contribute. The lack of clarity around the shared ideal means a lack of symmetry in execution (sacrifice, compromise, investment on behalf of each other and the children).

Lastly, re-frame how you think about your career success. If family life is the identifiable value you're optimizing for, don't think about it as "not getting to live your dream career", think about it as a new objective of identifying the career that enables you to live your overall dream life.

This makes sense if you think about it. By definition it can't be a 'dream' career if it doesn't let you live your life dreams. Now the phrase "you can't have it all" makes more sense. It's not that you can't have great things in multiple arenas of life. It's that the classic saying "No man can serve two masters" holds true.

This also highlights a powerful mental technique: thinking of things not as lost, but as a matter of finding the right pieces to add to build the outcome you want. If you (even subconsciously) feel you've lost something, you may (either of you) harbor resentment -- unvoiced resentment is a tumor that will bury a healthy relationship.

Hopefully this is helpful. I recognize I'm coming at it from the perspective of the other player plugged into the same console as you, but this is something I've spoken to a lot of people about as I invest in making myself a healthy partner and prepare to share that burden.

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Oct 11, 2018

This was an incredible reply, I can't thank you enough for the time you took to write that. You're absolutely right about the relationship aspect of it- a huge part of figuring out a family is about being with the right partner and working with them to build your shared vision.

The reason this came to mind for me in the first place was because I was discussing this with my long-term boyfriend, and we're still in the hypotheticals phase of life. He's been very supportive of my pursuit of finance (he's not finance at all), but wants a family young and definitely will be more involved out of the both of us. Like you and previous replies have mentioned, that's not really great for women in finance and it's not what I want either, and we're trying to find a way to compromise on it. It's hard to make people without this background understand why a young family isn't generally possible and that other things have to take a backseat for a while until you establish yourself within your bank/firm and have a bit of job security and a solid network.

All of that aside, everything you said is spot-on and really gave me a better idea of what to expect and what others' experiences have been.

Oct 11, 2018

This was post simply amazing... Hands down the most candid and helpful post I've ever read on this site. And here I thought WSO was getting overrun by immature high schoolers.

Oct 12, 2018

"Lastly, re-frame how you think about your career success. If family life is the identifiable value you're optimizing for, don't think about it as "not getting to live your dream career", think about it as a new objective of identifying the career that enables you to live your overall dream life."

I think this is excellent advice. I'm something of a math dork, so if we think of this problem as a constrained optimization (or in economics terms, a utility maximization), we can think about the various weightings we might attribute to different success factors. Career success is only one dimension of your overall utility function. Family success, health and longevity all generally factor into the equation as well. I weight career success probably a bit too highly, but I made a choice a couple years ago to give up a big job to help take care of my mom until my dad retired. It certainly hurt my career in the short-run, but I made that choice knowing full well what would likely come of it.

If I were to marry or have kids (neither of which are especially likely outcomes), it could only be with a partner who fully understood the optimization problem I was trying to solve. My issue--and this is truer for most people than they might like to admit--is that I know my utility function changes over time. I don't value the same things today quite the same way I did the day I left college, and I don't expect my utility function to remain static a decade from now. I think less dorky people might characterize this phenomenon as 'growing apart.

In any case, I think it's quite difficult to have two partners move in parallel over long periods of time, so it's probably a worthwhile idea to candidly reassess your relationship periodically to make sure you're still working toward the same goals that brought you together in the first place. For most people, this seems to occur when their kids move away to college or perhaps boarding school, as they no longer 'have the kids' to keep them together. I suspect those sorts of conversations should happen much more frequently.

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Oct 12, 2018

Since it seems like a lot of men are opining on this. I figure I would give my two cents. I don't have a popular opinion in this case.

I personally don't want to have children. I am enjoying life too much and I am someone who never gets bored.

I don't really like children don't have a strong dislike so they just don't instill an emotional response. I think the reason I formed these opinions is from taking care of my siblings when I was over +10 years old. It wasn't fun policing, monitoring and caring for them as well as taking care of horses.

@FinancelsWacc listed reasons people do have kids allowed me to really break down my thoughts.

First is "Forget about the joy / love that comes with having children."
This joy is going to exist if you wanted kids to begin with. I personally would be so anxious and would be questioning what I am going to do with my life other than work because I am not looking forward to the commitments and activities I am going to have to do.

"Forget about starting a family, having someone to live / succeed / become better for."
I have been living, succeeding and bettering myself just for me and my wife. I don't really need another motivator.

"Forget having someone to carry on your legacy / lineage"
Not sure why this would be a requirement in this day in age. They don't inherit your titles and I wouldn't leave my kids my money if I had them. I would just donate it to a useful cause. You also have the added bonus of no one can taint your legacy after you pass.

I recently had a dinner with my in-laws and the couple with kids looked like they were fighting for survival in the Walking Dead with the lack of sleep they were getting and they looked so unhappy and stressed I felt pretty bad for them. Then I thought they probably have another 10 years left before they are all 18+ and then what is the probability at least one lives with them until they are 30?

Compound that with my health being weird (high functioning but painful and a lot of time goes into management.) which means who knows how bad it will be in 10 years.

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Oct 13, 2018

Why wouldn't you want to have kids?
The inconveniences and work?
Having a kid is the greatest joy and privilege of my life .
This little dude is my best bud.
We go to Disneyland, kick the ball around, and now he is started to run with me.
Why are we putting in work in school and work if not to earn some financial freedom and security for our family ?

Oct 14, 2018

@APAE and @brotherbear dropped some good intel. I'll share mine.

I've known a fair few women who have done very well in finance and managed to launch families.
To say it's NOT easy, is an obvious understatement.

But it is possible.
Most employers are reasonably understanding these days, with providing the standard time off of work, and returnships have become common, allowing women professionals to step back into the professional world after having kids.

Having kids is one of the most worthwhile things one can do in a lifetime, so I definitely recommend that anyone consdiering doing so, to go ahead.

However, in order to not be a major disruption to one's carer you'll want to think of when to do so, and what help you can involve to take care of the baby in the early years.
Without exception everyone of the women I mentioned that managed to keep their high finance career going while having kids hired help, and/or had families to help.
A kid that is less than 4 years old is pretty much an all-encompassing responsibility.

So all the women had hired nannies/au-pers.
So they took off a month or so after having the baby, then got right back to work.

The women I am referring to by the way are pretty bad ass.
One is head of Asia for a bulge bracket's PE arm, though she had her first baby when she was an ED, not at her present level.
She has a full-time nanny.
Just had her 4th kid.

Another just had her second kid. She's MD at a mid-sized but well-branded hedge fund, but had her first kid when she was VP, 2nd recently as MD.

So, it's possible.

It requires time away from the baby for sure, and someone else to step in and care for the child.

But it IS possible.

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Oct 16, 2018

Since we have some female voices in the thread (but not a ton), I'll throw another one into the mix.

I haven't decided to have kids. I've gone back and forth several times over the years - to the point that I've decided I will be happy with my life whether I have them or not. If I meet a partner and I know they'd be a good parent, I won't hesitate to have/adopt/foster children.

IF I really wanted to, I know I could have and raise one on my own and easily afford a nanny on the ~$225k/year which I make in a coastal major metro. As long as I had a nanny I really don't think my career would suffer. I'm at a point in my career where most of my professional peers have children and no one balks if they say "I'm unavailable for a 4pm meeting because my daughter has a school play".

If I was younger and just starting out, say 21-25 or so, I do think my career would have sputtered a bit... but I also don't think it would have been unrecoverable. I know women that stepped out of the workforce for a few years or went part time while their children were young. In the grand scheme of things they are MAYBE a level behind me career-wise. It's not like mine has grown leaps and bounds over theirs as a result of my opting to not have children.

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Oct 16, 2018

@chicandtoughness @InfoDominatrix

and shot in the dark @bankerella

you all know where I stand on kids

Oct 17, 2018

I do not know where you stand on kids. Are you for or against?

Oct 17, 2018
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Apr 25, 2019
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Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

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