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Investment Banker becomes busker - Interesting Read

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    Like a majority of people who are on this website, I used to come on here and write bull**** about a life partly my own, partly fantasy. I'm now going to uncloak the anonymous man and tell you my story.

    My name is Stephen Ridley. I graduated from a top tier British University with a First Class Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics 2010 and went straight into IBD at a top tier European Investment Bank, after interning there in 2009. I worked in the top team (on a revenue basis) for 16 months, before quitting in October 2011. I want to tell you about that experience, and about what has happened since then, about how I left the green to chase my dream. This will be blunt and honest. I do not mean to offend, quite the opposite, I hope to inspire! Again, this isn't an attack on those who choose to be bankers, it's just me sharing my experience together with the lessons I've learnt, and hopefully it speaks to a few people. If you look at the picture above you'll see a picture of what I do now. It's a little different from where I was 6 months ago!

    Banking is ****ing brutal. I knew this after my internship, but I didn't care. I wanted money. I wanted respect. I wanted to be a somebody in the eyes of myself and others. But most of all, I wanted money. Why? Because money is freedom. Money means I can wear what I want, live where I want, go where I want, eat what I want, be who I want. Money would make me happy. Right? Well... not exactly I'm afraid. In fact, money didn't seem to make any of the bankers happy. Not one person in the roughly 200 I got to know in banking were happy. Yet all earned multiples of the national average salary.

    The reality of banking is this. Like everyone there, I worked my ass to the bone, working mind numbingly boring work. My life was emails, excel, powerpoint, meetings, endless drafts and markups about **** I couldn't give less of a **** about, edits, drafts, edits, drafts, edits, send to printers, pick up, courier, meetings, more work, multitasking, boredom, boredom, tired, boredom, avoiding the staffer on a friday, more work, depression, tired, tired, tired, ****ing miserable. 15 hour days were a minimum, 16-17 were normal, 20+ were frequent and once or twice a month there would be the dreaded all nighter. I worked around 2 out of every 4 weekends in some form. I was never free, I always had my blackberry with me, and thus I could never truly dettach myself from the job. These are the objective facts, contrary to what any 'baller' wants to tell you. The only models were excel models, the only bottles were coca cola, which I drank a lot of to stay awake.

    Though I managed to maintain relationships with certain friends (testament to how good these friends were), I never was really 'there' and never really relaxed to enjoy their company, I was either pre-occupied, exhausted, or too self-centred to really have a 2 way conversation. I was constantly tired, constantly stressed, and I had this constant reoccurring thought. The thought went like this. I'm not happy. These are my golden years, my 20s, the years I want to look back on and talk about with fondness and pride. I should be making interesting stories, having the time of my life whilst I have no dependents. I'm richer than I've ever been, yet I'm not as happy as I was backpacking around South America on a shoestring. This is bull****.

    I personally did not find the work interesting, and that placed me in the 95% majority. Your not golfing with CEOs, talking about strategy, then driving your lambo home at 3.30pm to have sex with your hot girlfriend. No, your sat at your computer, haven't spent more than 5 minutes in the sun in weeks, your out of shape, bad skin, tired, overworked, and your facing yet another office dinner before calling yourself a cab somewhere between 1am and 5am to take your lonely ass to your empty bed. In those rare moments you do get out your tie to go talk to a client, you're not having a nice interesting chat with an interesting person, you talking finance to some other depressed office drone in some corporate office, who either pretends to give a **** or, more often than not, doesn't pretend. Of course, every now and then, I did meet that rare breed who got their kicks from debt-restructuring or endless levels of back-solved pseudoscientific analysis, but this only depressed me as it reminded me how little I cared about this nonsense, and thus made me further question why I was spending every waking moment - and half the ones I should have been asleep - devoted to it.

    You're never going to get as rich as the superstars you admire on the TV and watch in films. Even though I got paid well, I wasn't going out buying a different coloured helicopters every weekend, rolling in designer threads, splashing £30k on a night out and holidaying every other week in some exotic location whenever you can be bothered to charter your private jet. You'll be above average, but still pretty average. Sure, you can buy an macbook air without really thinking about it, and you can take taxis instead of the bus. But that's it. I was amazed how modestly people lived in banking given all the hype that surrounds it. They were just sad middle class bland people, with unexciting lives, and unexciting prospects. A bunch of nerds who got caught up in a cage made of money and dreams and greed, and never got out. There had to be more to life than this.

    Eventually, I thought **** this. I got to the point where I wasn't even buying myself nice things because doing so only reinforced my dependency on a job which I hated, a job which was taking over every aspect of my shortening life. I had worked hard at university to have a good life, a happy life, a 'successful' life. And I wasn't finding it in IBD. And nobody above me was either. Even the 'baller' MDs were ****ing miserable uninteresting pathetic old farts. I didn't want to be them. I wanted to be a colourful, shinny person with love in my heart. Someone with passion, happiness, laughter lines, someone who has taken life by the horns and lived on the edge, taken risks, had love and loss and seen the world.

    I made my plan to leave in baby steps. First I started interviewing at city jobs - everything from hedge fund analyst to private equity analyst to inter dealer broker to insurance to wealth management to sales to trading and even equity research. These all looked boring, these all involved wasting away the majority of my life at a desk. These all involved long working hours, even if a little better. None of these lit the fire I once had before being crushed by banking. So I looked at jobs in corporates, in their M&A team, their finance team. Again, I went to a few interviews, got offers, but it was just the same ****. I didn't want to be a drone in a suit and tie. **** that Stephen, **** that!

    Eventually I snapped. Despite being staffed up to my eye balls, I left at 7pm to prepare for an interview I had the next morning at 8.30am. The AD I was working with (5 years my senior) consequently had to work until 5am. The next morning, I wasn't at my desk at 8am as I should have been. I was at my interview. Just another mind numbing 'opportunity' to work in debt refinancing team at Tesco's head office. **** that. I'd had enough. There was nothing for me in any spectrum of finance. I'd had enough. I walked into work at 11am, and by 11.01, the AD had dragged me into a side room to rip me a new ******* (she'd got a little cranky after 90 minutes sleep and a lot of stress). She said that she was going to go and talk to our team head about this and stood up. I told her to sit her ass down, I'd do it for her. I walked over to his desk, and I respectfully told him I'd had enough. I thanked him for his time, he did the same, we shook hands, and I packed my **** together and sent my bye bye email around the team.

    Within 20 minutes of quitting, I was out of the front door. Bye bye blackberry, bye bye security pass, bye bye banking. The sun has never shone so bright, the air has never tasted so sweet, I have never felt lighter, than that moment. I was free. I was free. I was so ****ing free I could taste it!

    Now oddly I chose this moment to go to a shopping centre (long story) with a friend. Upon walking around in a slight state of shock I saw a piano in a suit shop, and this was exactly what I needed. To play a little tune and unwind. I didn't even ask if I could play, I just went in and started playing. A man quickly came up to me, paid me a compliment and then asked me what I did. I responded 'I'm a musician' (why not?!). He asked how much? I said £100 for 2 hours. He hired me 5 days a week. Just like that I'd become a musician, working around a ninth of the hours for about the same money.

    Now I'm going to speed up the story a little. I quit this in a couple of weeks because I realised I didn't want to be a background musician in a shop, I wanted to be in the limelight. I wanted to entertain the world. I wanted to try and make it in music. I rolled a piano onto one of the busiest streets in London, and I started playing. Within 1 month I had 9 management contract offers and had started recording my first album. It's now been 6 months. I've travelled around the world, I've got an album on iTunes, named 'Butterfly In A Hurricane'. I've played to literally tens of thousands of people. I've felt all the love and beauty of the world. I've laughed until I've cried. I've enjoyed more female attention than I thought a guy with my face could get! This is the most alive I've ever felt.

    I used to do something I hated all day everyday, I used to hate myself for doing that. I was bad company around people and nobody really liked me. Now I do something that I love, that makes me bubble with excitement daily. In return for doing the thing I love the most, people are made happy, people are overhwelmingly kind to me, people open their hearts to me, and I do the same to them. I roll my piano around the world sharing this love which grows inside in the soil of my happiness and fulfilment. I never ever thought I'd be this happy.

    Okay, I can't afford the Prada suit right now, but I can't wait to wake up tomorrow, I've got a singing lesson in the morning and I'm meeting Coca Cola in the afternoon to talk about being in an advert for them. My future is unpredictable (which I love), but I know that it will be fine because I'm the one in control. I spent 23 years developing my brain, and now I'm using it.

    I just wanted to reach out to all the people in banking, miserable but too scared to leave, I'm reaching out to all the nerdy kids with the great CVs who want to go into banking, I'm reaching out to everyone who has got this far reading and I'm telling you to take a leap and do something you love. You might not know what that is, but you sure as hell aren't going to find it sat unhappily at your desk trying to multitask all day long. You only progress by taking a leap of faith, not in God necessarily, but in yourself. Know that you have all the tools within you already. You can do and be whoever you want to be, and you deserve to be so much more than a tired suit in an office. Of course if that's where you get real happiness, then that's fantastic. I'm just saying that wasn't my experience, nor was it for the majority of those I met.

    Life is short - you're young, you're old, you're dead. React to that knowledge. You have nothing to lose!

    With all my love,
    Stephen Ridley
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    Awesome story and lesson! Just be careful not to read this wrong, he clearly knows what he wants, and how to fund his way through (i.e. he's not just "doing what he loves" without thinking about how to pay for his bills). If you want to make a change, do it, but do it smart.
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    Investment banking is really not for everyone but this should not discourage a person from going into finance. If there ever was a pathway to becoming rich then this is it.
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    investment busking
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    **** this, i'll sell ships for a living
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    I want to be an investment banker...

    ...This is awkward...
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    (Original post by bhogs001)
    I want to be an investment banker...

    ...This is awkward...
    Even if you don't like it - you can still just grit your teeth for a few years and then move elsewhere.

    Sure - this guy made clear he did not enjoy it, but if you can bear it then I don't see a problem. It is not like you can't have a whale of a time in your 30, 40s, 50s etc. Fun doesn't stop after the age of 30 if you don't want it to.
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    this guy is very patronising though, and i don't get the point of him having to declare his hate for IB in such a way. probably just looking to get publicity for his music .
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    He's ok

    Spoiler:
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    (Original post by bmqib)
    zzzzzzz complains complains
    wut?
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    (Original post by chickenonsteroids)
    He's ok

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    I call publicity stunt.
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    "15 hour days were a minimum, 16-17 were normal, 20+ were frequent and once or twice a month there would be the dreaded all nighter"

    I worked for an asset management company - not quite Investment Banking I know but the salaries and bonuses were great and the hours were no where near this. You would get the odd person coming in on weekends but most people did 8ish-6ish so roughly 10 hour days and the office was dead by 5 on a Friday.

    Edit: Not going in to IB myself.
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    (Original post by Tsunami2011)
    I call publicity stunt.
    Maybe...

    I just decided to find out whether his music was good or not lol
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    Haha, it's funny reading all of you who want to be investment bankers getting defensive. Sure you'll make a s**t load of money, but at what cost? No matter what the job, no one wants to be sat at a desk 15 - 20 hours a day. Have any of you travelled for the summer? Gone away for a few months living off f*** all money? Or have you been to busy boosting your CV. I don't mean to be offensive but these are things that need to be thought about.
    You won't have the same fun in your 30's, 40's etc. as your 20's. That'll be time for family etc. , not the time for going a bit crazy. Careers can take off in your 30's, it doesn't all have to happen straight away.

    (Original post by effofex)
    Even if you don't like it - you can still just grit your teeth for a few years and then move elsewhere.

    Sure - this guy made clear he did not enjoy it, but if you can bear it then I don't see a problem. It is not like you can't have a whale of a time in your 30, 40s, 50s etc. Fun doesn't stop after the age of 30 if you don't want it to.
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    (Original post by cmoloney90)
    Haha, it's funny reading all of you who want to be investment bankers getting defensive. Sure you'll make a s**t load of money, but at what cost? No matter what the job, no one wants to be sat at a desk 15 - 20 hours a day. Have any of you travelled for the summer? Gone away for a few months living off f*** all money? Or have you been to busy boosting your CV. I don't mean to be offensive but these are things that need to be thought about.
    You won't have the same fun in your 30's, 40's etc. as your 20's. That'll be time for family etc. , not the time for going a bit crazy. Careers can take off in your 30's, it doesn't all have to happen straight away.
    Mate, has it ever occured to you that some people want to go into IB, becuase they geniunely enjoy the type of work? Who the hell wants to be stuck in a crappy job working 9 to 5, where the work is dull, the atmosphere is dull and your life is dull. Working in markets is a bloody awesome job. To say it is dull is only highlighting your ignorance.

    My aunt worked at an IB from 18 and got made reduntant in 08'. She made enough to sit back and do whatever she wanted, but because she loved her career so much she went back after a couple of years to work for a Hedge fund - It's great fun working in the City, from the type of work to the relationships you build with people.
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    (Original post by cmoloney90)
    Haha, it's funny reading all of you who want to be investment bankers getting defensive. Sure you'll make a s**t load of money, but at what cost? No matter what the job, no one wants to be sat at a desk 15 - 20 hours a day. Have any of you travelled for the summer? Gone away for a few months living off f*** all money? Or have you been to busy boosting your CV. I don't mean to be offensive but these are things that need to be thought about.
    You won't have the same fun in your 30's, 40's etc. as your 20's. That'll be time for family etc. , not the time for going a bit crazy. Careers can take off in your 30's, it doesn't all have to happen straight away.
    Actually - I do not want to be an investment banker. I was a trader - and I intend to continue doing that. I was only at a desk for 10-11 hours a day. I'm not working at the moment. I can piss around until September if I want to. I am free to 'go travelling' whenever I please. I had hardly any money when I was at university (I worked nights).

    I don't see why you can't have the same fun in your 30s and 40s as in your 20s? If you saved your money well in your 20s such that you were more secure you could arguably be more carefree with less focus on your finances. The chances are you may be working less (or the same) hours in your 30s than you were in your 20s. You could always do most of the groundwork in your 20s. I'm sure you can still travel, still hire a car and take it round a race circuit a few times, and still visit numerous prostitutes when you are in your 30s/40s. You don't have to have a family or moderate your lifestyle.
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    You have to be pretty ****ed up to take up a job that you know you don't like. Or pretty dumb if you don't realise what IB is like after a summer internships.
    I mean, good for him that he's finally sorted his life out, but quite frankly if you don't want a "boring office job" maybe don't take one in the first place? Become a plumber, construction worker, doctor, zookeper or as he did, a musician instead. And if it was 16 month in IB that he needed to figure out what his dreams are, IB served its purpose and he shouldn't complain. He wouldn't be where he is now without having one into IB. Also you have to be on a complete new level of naive to think that you'll be making big bucks (like tv stars, buying private planes etc) in IB after 16 months.

    In short what we have here is, clueless guy with ego problems goes into IB and comes out a better man. Good.
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    (Original post by cmoloney90)
    Haha, it's funny reading all of you who want to be investment bankers getting defensive. Sure you'll make a s**t load of money, but at what cost? No matter what the job, no one wants to be sat at a desk 15 - 20 hours a day. Have any of you travelled for the summer? Gone away for a few months living off f*** all money? Or have you been to busy boosting your CV. I don't mean to be offensive but these are things that need to be thought about.
    You won't have the same fun in your 30's, 40's etc. as your 20's. That'll be time for family etc. , not the time for going a bit crazy. Careers can take off in your 30's, it doesn't all have to happen straight away.
    Plenty of bankers go travelling all the time. Not sure what gives you the idea that they don't. And people boosting their CV by getting work experience (big crime, i know) also have plenty of time. The opportunity is always there. And when you earn money, you can afford to travel in a bit more style.
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    Never once said it was dull and didn't say to choose a crappy 9 - 5 job.....people on this give the impression that IB is the most important thing in the world. The thing is, and be as naive as you may, unless banking is your life (nothing wrong with that) you're not going to enjoy working horrible hours.

    I said what I said to see how people would react, I read too much of this s**t of people going on about IB as if there's nothing else in the world. At the end of the day, it's a job myself. And this isn't aimed at any one here in particualr. I'd like to get into trading, if I can get in...I'm not too dissimilar to everyone else. People just need relax on IB a bit and realise there's more to life, no need to be so arrogant.

    Your 30's and 40's are in no way going to be the same as your 20's, so don't try and sell that. People are older, you're friends who aren't bankers will be settled down. People are more carefree in their 20's (hence the reason banks want people young).

    And finally, you don't need to be a banker to buy a plane ticket.
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    (Original post by cmoloney90)

    Your 30's and 40's are in no way going to be the same as your 20's, so don't try and sell that. People are older, you're friends who aren't bankers will be settled down. People are more carefree in their 20's (hence the reason banks want people young).

    And finally, you don't need to be a banker to buy a plane ticket.
    So you're banned from travelling in your 20s once you become a banker?

    Many students don't have the cash to travel. But maybe there are no poor people in your world. Good for you.

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