Wondering if I'm cut out for banking

I'm starting to wonder if even if I somehow manage to make it into ibanking if i'm even cut out to work in an industry like this. I've realized that I get offended very easily, don't like sleeping late, deal with stress very poorly, have a huge complex about not going to an ivy league school, etc. The only thing that even suits me for ibanking is that I don't mind doing other peoples' bitch work, and that I don't complain out loud (I get offended easily, but I don't have outbursts in front of others but just bottle it up and keep it to myself).

From what I've read, people like me get chewed up and spit out on the street, so I'm wondering that even if I get in if I will survive. What do you guys think?

Comments (20)

Jan 26, 2010

you need to get some on a regular then reevaluate your profession

Jan 26, 2010

1) get offended very easily,
2) don't like sleeping late,
3) deal with stress very poorly,
4) have a huge complex about not going to an ivy league school

If you can be the exact opposite of all of those things, you'll be an amazing Ibanker

Jan 26, 2010

A lot of now very successful people at I-banks came in as state-schoolers with that kind of attitude. I guess the one thing that's missing from this description of yourself is your work ethic.

Assuming you've got the work ethic, I think you can pull it off. Here's my advice for some of your concerns:

STRESS

When an emergency comes up, try to tune out the consequences and focus on the situation at hand and what you can do to make it better. Don't worry- this is a learned skill, not something that's supposed to come naturally.

IVY LEAGUERS

Don't focus on people's degrees or backgrounds- focus on your work and making sure that it's of higher quality than everyone else's. Chances are, they're intimidated of you, too because it takes a lot of skill, work, and professionalism to make it into banking from a non-target school.

BOTTLING UP STUFF THAT OFFENDS YOU

If you make it into banking, you have to keep things bottled up a little while you pay your dues. But whatever you bottle up during your first year on the job is what you spend the rest of your career leaning against. For me, it was incompetent people taking credit for my friends' work. Just, whatever you bottle up and fume over, make sure it's worth spending the rest of your career fighting against it.

Jan 26, 2010
IlliniProgrammer:

A lot of now very successful people at I-banks came in as state-schoolers with that kind of attitude. I guess the one thing that's missing from this description of yourself is your work ethic.

Assuming you've got the work ethic, I think you can pull it off. Here's my advice for some of your concerns:

STRESS

When an emergency comes up, try to tune out the consequences and focus on the situation at hand and what you can do to make it better. Don't worry- this is a learned skill, not something that's supposed to come naturally.

IVY LEAGUERS

Don't focus on people's degrees or backgrounds- focus on your work and making sure that it's of higher quality than everyone else's. Chances are, they're intimidated of you, too because it takes a lot of skill, work, and professionalism to make it into banking from a non-target school.

BOTTLING UP STUFF THAT OFFENDS YOU

If you make it into banking, you have to keep things bottled up a little while you pay your dues. But whatever you bottle up during your first year on the job is what you spend the rest of your career leaning against. For me, it was incompetent people taking credit for my friends' work. Just, whatever you bottle up and fume over, make sure it's worth spending the rest of your career fighting against it.

I work hard I suppose and give everything my all. Now obviously, I'm not the smartest guy in the world and I make mistakes and whatnot, but I aim for the absolute best and I shoot for it. For example, even with grades, I am always aiming for 97%+ and a 4.3 (again, not saying I come anywhere near that, but I always aim for it), so I definitely work hard and am more than willing to make sacrifices.

The problem is that whenever I don't reach these expectations for myself (i.e. the whole not making the ivy league thing), I get really stressed out and irritated with myself and go crazy on the inside if someone makes fun of me for it. That's why I'm wondering if I'd survive in an industry like investment banking where people are going to give me shit all the time, especially since a lot of these guys went HYP and all.

My dilemma though is that I really like investment banking and the subject of M&A, IPOs, and all the other high finance stuff. Lets say, for example, that investment banking payed about as much or even less than Big 4 accounting, and still didn't have amazing hours. I still think that I'd strive to be in this industry because I find the subject matter interesting. Yeah, I know I sound naive and I'm aware that a lot of it is just grunt work in the beginning, but even if I'm not the hands on guy doing the M&A advice and just doing the bitch work, I can put up with it because I think being involved with all that stuff would be very interesting.

So I guess since I'm not cut out for banking, is there anything else that I can look into that will still offer good pay after I reach a certain level of seniority (not being anywhere near investment banking salary fine as long as its above 6 figs with a good amount of experience) that might be less stressful?

thanks for the info btw.

Jan 26, 2010
ibankingreject:

I work hard I suppose and give everything my all. Now obviously, I'm not the smartest guy in the world and I make mistakes and whatnot, but I aim for the absolute best and I shoot for it. For example, even with grades, I am always aiming for 97%+ and a 4.3 (again, not saying I come anywhere near that, but I always aim for it), so I definitely work hard and am more than willing to make sacrifices.

That's a good overall attitude- just make sure your friends think you've got a good work ethic, too.

The problem is that whenever I don't reach these expectations for myself (i.e. the whole not making the ivy league thing), I get really stressed out and irritated with myself and go crazy on the inside if someone makes fun of me for it. That's why I'm wondering if I'd survive in an industry like investment banking where people are going to give me shit all the time, especially since a lot of these guys went HYP and all.

It's ok. You've got to learn how to deal with failure, because you're not going to succeed at everything, and a lot of the time, you're going to go through a long losing streak. The key is to focus on the quality of your work today relative to your very best. If you're doing your very best and they don't like it, there's a good chance the problem is with them rather than with you, and you'll probably be a better fit somewhere else.

My dilemma though is that I really like investment banking and the subject of M&A, IPOs, and all the other high finance stuff. Lets say, for example, that investment banking payed about as much or even less than Big 4 accounting, and still didn't have amazing hours. I still think that I'd strive to be in this industry because I find the subject matter interesting.

I can definitely say that about the TAs and quant development analysts in capital markets, but most I-banking analysts have very banal existences working on Excel spreadsheeds that focus on a very tiny cross-section of a deal. Maybe they will become an expert on the furniture and fixtures at five factories owned by a certain manufacturer that is getting acquired. You may not be as happy as you think as an I-banking analyst, and one path into IBD as an associate is to spend two years at a Big Four accounting firm, get an MBA, and THEN become an associate. At least that way, you get some semblance of a life for your first two years out of school.

Yeah, I know I sound naive and I'm aware that a lot of it is just grunt work in the beginning, but even if I'm not the hands on guy doing the M&A advice and just doing the bitch work, I can put up with it because I think being involved with all that stuff would be very interesting.

It's grunt work for two years. The real difference is in what kind of manager and mentors you have. If you can find someone that gives you the context of the deal (or trade) and explains WHY the grunt work is so important, the grunt work is actually a lot less painful. I worked on derivatives pricing system and there was a lot of grunt work to be done fetching data. But I had mentors who explained the quantitative pricing model to me and WHY they needed to pick up certain numbers, and that made the process a lot less boring.

If you get in, do the grunt work, but try not to put up with not getting an explanation for why they need this done.

So I guess since I'm not cut out for banking, is there anything else that I can look into that will still offer good pay after I reach a certain level of seniority (not being anywhere near investment banking salary fine as long as its above 6 figs with a good amount of experience) that might be less stressful?

thanks for the info btw.

I think you might enjoy financial research, which IMHO, is underrated because most college students think it's less sexy than trading, investment banking, or investment management. Assuming you've got an accounting degree, it would really put your understanding of GAAP, financial reporting, and even taxation to use. To someone who enjoys finance and a faster-paced work environment, it's certainly a lot less boring than being an auditor or tax accountant, and while it's still extremely competitive, it's not quite as bad as the other groups. Research also comes with a lot of good exit opportunities and typically a 60-70 hour work-week instead of an 80-90 hour one.

Jan 26, 2010

You don't need to be a genius to work in IB. Just need to make it past the interviews. You need to work on those issues you have first and foremost. Every job entails stress, getting along with individuals and working with people who might have more money or better schools than you have.

Jan 26, 2010

Quit being a little bitch.

Jan 26, 2010
<span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/sac-capital rel=nofollow>SAC</a></span>:

Quit being a little bitch.

I've been working for three years and survived almost half as many layoffs as some of the most senior people at the firm, so I think I've got the right to be a little straightforward about the job. The first two years aren't quite what they're cracked up to be just about EVERYWHERE in the professional world- then it gets a lot more interesting. In Capital Markets and Research, though, we had a little more fun in the process than our friends in IBD.

Jan 26, 2010
IlliniProgrammer:
<span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/sac-capital rel=nofollow>SAC</a></span>:

Quit being a little bitch.

I've been working for three years and survived almost half as many layoffs as some of the most senior people at the firm, so I think I've got the right to be a little straightforward about the job. The first two years aren't quite what they're cracked up to be just about EVERYWHERE in the professional world- then it gets a lot more interesting. In Capital Markets and Research, though, we had a little more fun in the process than our friends in IBD.

I was referring to the OP, are you him ?

Jan 26, 2010

Just a thought, but maybe you should change your screen name to something a tad more positive?

Jan 26, 2010

ER involves a ton of math if you consider division complicated. Just do a good job and no one is going to care where you go to school. If you can't do a DCF or find Kd your going to be looked at as a moron whether you are from Wharton or Middle of No Where University.

Jan 26, 2010

No offense to the OP, but you sound like the whiny crybaby no one can stand to be around. If you're seriously questioning yourself on all the things you mentioned, a career in finance is probably not for you. And you can be sure a superday of 8 back-to-back stress test interviews will make this apparent quickly.

Unless you undergo a major attitude adjustment and sack up, you need to realize that you can't have your cake and eat it too. Have some confidence for chrissakes and stop wasting your time online fishing for compliments and a shoulder to cry on. Buy a Tony Robbins DVD or something. Connery said it best:

"Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen. "

Jan 27, 2010

He's just a college student. If he's still saying, "I can't cut it" when he's thirty, that's a serious problem.

I'm not sure if you guys remember what it was like to come out and interview here. When I got off the plane, it was several firsts for me (though I came from a non-target school):

-First time I traveled more than 300 miles or gotten through airport security on my own.
-First time I had ever been in New York (or in the Northeast, for that matter)
-First time I had stayed at a $300/night hotel.
-First time I had to wear a suit to an interview, or take an elevator to an interview, for the matter.

You have to understand what's going through the mind of a kid from a Big Ten school when they get out here. Their parents are probably middle-class and the most successful person who ever went to their high school probably owns a car dealership with a few million dollars in equity. Professors ignore them and the career service people have no idea how to help them with a Wall Street interview, but they're just as smart as the kids from the target schools. (I would actually argue that most students in the top quartile of several Big Ten engineering programs are smarter than the average Capital Markets analyst.) They're going to do their very best to appear calm and confident, but it's a much bigger ordeal for a kid from a state school to come out and interview than it is for a kid from a target school, and if they simply get 1/3 the assurance that a target school kid gets from the fact that his friends can pull this off, they can do just as well in the interviews.

If it's any consolation, back in September 2008, most of the analysts were in a total panic. Nothing they'd been through had prepared them for a market crash. But I was able to calmly focus on my work- what was going on in the markets was a whole lot less foreign to me than the idea of interviewing in NYC was back when I was in college.

Jan 27, 2010

based on my own experience, as i'm from a total non-target as well, i think you need to be that much more confident than the target crowd to compete. maybe i just look at it different because, if anything, being at a superday with kids almost strictly from ivies & top 20 schools gave me even more confidence.

be agressive, cause the best finance jobs are never going to find you coming from a no-name school. approaching recruiting with a chip on my shoulder and having something to prove i think has definitely helped me, and it keeps you from getting down on yourself. i've also found playing up the underdog card in interviews also usually elicits a pretty positive response. basically you need to convince yourself to not accept no for an answer, without coming off like a prick. just throwing out my honest opinion.

Jan 27, 2010

Yes; I'm suggesting a double major. You're up against Math majors from Harvard and engineers from MIT- all of whom probably had at least 60-70 required hours of classes. A 36-hour finance major without any really tough math courses isn't gonna cut it.

I would choose Accounting and take a lot of finance courses. It's a tougher major, and all things being equal, can make you a little more competitive. After that, if you can get a hard math major like Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, Stats, or General Engineering, that would look really good. One alternative would be Econ if your university offers it through the liberal arts school.

This actually sets you up for the perfect Plan B; if you don't get into the front office of an investment bank right away, you can get in through their accounting department, or you can go to work for the Big Four for a few years and then get an MBA or MS in Financial Engineering.

One of the things you've got to take care of in undergrad to keep all your doors open, however, is to make sure you take a lot of math courses- particularly stats/probability and Calculus all the way through Calc III.

Jan 27, 2010
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