Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
x Turn on thread page Beta
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Hi guys,

    Although it has been quite a while now, I completed two years in investment banking (M&A) at a major bank, after graduating from a top University in Economics.

    I am posting this here as to give advice to students wishing to pursue a career in IBD / M&A, to ensure people don't make the same mistake I did.

    Doing investment banking was the worst decision I have ever made. The hours were horrific, the work was extremely arduous and some of my colleagues were some of the biggest douches imaginable. I am sure everyone knows this already about M&A careers at big banks. But I sucked it all up for 2 years because I was under the impression (from University careers advisors / general internet discussions / word of mouth from others etc.) that once you do your 2 years at a bank (in M&A), many interesting doors would open for you, and it builds a great foundation for your career, gives you a jump start etc. In hindsight I wish I had done more due diligence. This advice was complete and utter rubbish of the highest order. I left my bank in London after completing two full years in M&A, with closed deals under my belt, expecting to find something decent outside banking.

    A year later? I had found absolutely nothing.I had nothing. My only real option was to go back and do M&A at another bank / boutique, which I really did not want to do (horrible hours / stress etc.). My whole reason for doing banking was to only do it for two years and then find something more interesting afterwards e.g. an interesting a corporate development / finance role or PE. However I soon came do discover that for example, that the small to mid market PE funds that i was interested in preferred consultants / ACAs (I was targeting these because I didn't want to be slave at a big PE fund). In addition corporate roles were completely out of the question. No interviews / interest whatsoever. I thought I'd get IR / corporate development / corporate finance interviews but a lot of these roles seem to go to ACA types. Even other areas of banking were next to impossible.

    I may as well have become an accountant, and enjoyed a life outside work and not have to deal with abusive colleagues for two whole years. I honestly believe that I wasted to two years of my life doing something I didn't particularly enjoy (although I enjoyed financial modelling, this was only a small part of the job) and putting up with needless abuse from colleagues for absolutely no reason.I tried to break into consulting. No luck. Corporate development? Absolutely nothing. I tried recruiters but only got calls for other M&A roles 99% of the time. And these were at boutiques were you'd continue being an M&A slave. So I was basically pigeon holed into a miserable job.

    The lesson here is that investment bankers DO NOT have good exit options in the UK and Europe (they do however the US but this does not apply here).

    So please don't do M&A just because you think a few years of M&A will open lots of doors. It won't. Unless maybe you are at a top BB and very lucky. And even then if you end up at a top PE fund, chances are you'll still be treated like a glorified slave. Apologies for being so negative, but just thought I would try give some honest advice / thoughts.

    A final point of note about M&A careers and something I was surprised by, was how the job continues being miserable even as you climb up the ladder. I saw VPs pulling all nighters / getting yelled at by directors. Even being an MD is incredibly stressful. And the compensation while great is not really worth the amount of hours / stress. If you are considering a career in M&A I would strongly advice looking at other areas of finance instead, where you still do valuation / modelling type work e.g. corporate banking, asset management, maybe equity research. Sure these might not pay as well as M&A but earning an extra 30% more really worth all the additional hours and stress? Especially when some of the other roles mentioned can still pay six figure salaries? I know a guy in AM who leaves at 5.30 another in corporate banking who never works past 6pm and these guys still get very good pay checks. So think really long and hard before deciding to embark on an M&A career.

    If you are dead set on M&A maybe try get big 4 ACA first (e.g. in transaction services) then you'll have something to fall back on when banks sack people or if you get burnt out you can just leave for a solid corporate role.

    This experience is not unique to myself. There are plenty others I know of who have left their M&A jobs and ended up in places which really aren't that great e.g. recruiting, or gone onto set their own business (which is great but it is also something they could have done without slaving away as an M&A analyst).
    • TSR Support Team
    Online

    21
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    (Original post by Quadruple Helix)
    Hi guys,

    Although it has been quite a while now, I completed two years in investment banking (M&A) at a major bank, after graduating from a top University in Economics.

    I am posting this here as to give advice to students wishing to pursue a career in IBD / M&A, to ensure people don't make the same mistake I did.

    Doing investment banking was the worst decision I have ever made. The hours were horrific, the work was extremely arduous and some of my colleagues were some of the biggest douches imaginable. I am sure everyone knows this already about M&A careers at big banks. But I sucked it all up for 2 years because I was under the impression (from University careers advisors / general internet discussions / word of mouth from others etc.) that once you do your 2 years at a bank (in M&A), many interesting doors would open for you, and it builds a great foundation for your career, gives you a jump start etc. In hindsight I wish I had done more due diligence. This advice was complete and utter rubbish of the highest order. I left my bank in London after completing two full years in M&A, with closed deals under my belt, expecting to find something decent outside banking.

    A year later? I had found absolutely nothing.I had nothing. My only real option was to go back and do M&A at another bank / boutique, which I really did not want to do (horrible hours / stress etc.). My whole reason for doing banking was to only do it for two years and then find something more interesting afterwards e.g. an interesting a corporate development / finance role or PE. However I soon came do discover that for example, that the small to mid market PE funds that i was interested in preferred consultants / ACAs (I was targeting these because I didn't want to be slave at a big PE fund). In addition corporate roles were completely out of the question. No interviews / interest whatsoever. I thought I'd get IR / corporate development / corporate finance interviews but a lot of these roles seem to go to ACA types. Even other areas of banking were next to impossible.

    I may as well have become an accountant, and enjoyed a life outside work and not have to deal with abusive colleagues for two whole years. I honestly believe that I wasted to two years of my life doing something I didn't particularly enjoy (although I enjoyed financial modelling, this was only a small part of the job) and putting up with needless abuse from colleagues for absolutely no reason.I tried to break into consulting. No luck. Corporate development? Absolutely nothing. I tried recruiters but only got calls for other M&A roles 99% of the time. And these were at boutiques were you'd continue being an M&A slave. So I was basically pigeon holed into a miserable job.

    The lesson here is that investment bankers DO NOT have good exit options in the UK and Europe (they do however the US but this does not apply here).

    So please don't do M&A just because you think a few years of M&A will open lots of doors. It won't. Unless maybe you are at a top BB and very lucky. And even then if you end up at a top PE fund, chances are you'll still be treated like a glorified slave. Apologies for being so negative, but just thought I would try give some honest advice / thoughts.

    A final point of note about M&A careers and something I was surprised by, was how the job continues being miserable even as you climb up the ladder. I saw VPs pulling all nighters / getting yelled at by directors. Even being an MD is incredibly stressful. And the compensation while great is not really worth the amount of hours / stress. If you are considering a career in M&A I would strongly advice looking at other areas of finance instead, where you still do valuation / modelling type work e.g. corporate banking, asset management, maybe equity research. Sure these might not pay as well as M&A but earning an extra 30% more really worth all the additional hours and stress? Especially when some of the other roles mentioned can still pay six figure salaries? I know a guy in AM who leaves at 5.30 another in corporate banking who never works past 6pm and these guys still get very good pay checks. So think really long and hard before deciding to embark on an M&A career.

    If you are dead set on M&A maybe try get big 4 ACA first (e.g. in transaction services) then you'll have something to fall back on when banks sack people or if you get burnt out you can just leave for a solid corporate role.

    This experience is not unique to myself. There are plenty others I know of who have left their M&A jobs and ended up in places which really aren't that great e.g. recruiting, or gone onto set their own business (which is great but it is also something they could have done without slaving away as an M&A analyst).
    The words of someone who failed to exit to PE/Corp Dev. What about all those people moving over to the buyside in each and every cycle? Are they posting on a forum about how their supposed inadequacies are the cause of preferential treatment towards Consultants and Accountants? No, they're too busy making money. They don't have time to write a memoir about their shortcomings.

    I mean, come on, just go on the profile pages of most MMs/MFs and you'll see the intake is 70-80% bankers - don't know where you pulled that enormous horse manure from.

    Listen man, you can come up with as many bloody excuses as you want, but the simple truth is you a) didn't do your research, b) you were simply not good enough for the buyside gigs, and c) you didn't have a game plan.

    Coming on to a student forum to stroke your own ego and feeling, marginally, better about yourself isn't the answer. Check yourself; look for faults in yourself, don't blame the recruiters for opportunities you could have gotten by yourself.

    Don't blame your tools, blame your skills.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    gr8wizard10
    welcometoib
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I think you're missing the point of my post. A lot of guys in these buy side gigs you speak of are still working crazy hours, and don't have a much better life than they did when they were in M&A. Yeah I agree most PE places look for bankers (it is only some of the smaller places, probably that look at accountants / consultants) and you are right, vast majority of their employees are bankers.

    But whether you'll be happy with the 90+ hour work weeks and insane stress (in both banking /PE) is another question. I personally was looking more at corporate roles where I would have a life and am still targeting corp dev roles (at big 4 at the moment in advisory team and am much happier here).
    • TSR Support Team
    Online

    21
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    (Original post by Quadruple Helix)
    I think you're missing the point of my post. A lot of guys in these buy side gigs you speak of are still working crazy hours, and don't have a much better life than they did when they were in M&A. Yeah I agree most PE places look for bankers (it is only some of the smaller places, probably that look at accountants / consultants) and you are right, vast majority of their employees are bankers.

    But whether you'll be happy with the 90+ hour work weeks and insane stress (in both banking /PE) is another question. I personally was looking more at corporate roles where I would have a life and am still targeting corp dev roles (at big 4 at the moment in advisory team and am much happier here).
    So it was more of a cultural mismatch rather than 'gloom and doom, I want to go boom'? I realised the point of your post fyi, I just couldn't understand why you went on such a massive tirade about buy side opportunities being mostly for consultants/big4 or even why you went to such lengths as to encourage people to pursue TAS at a Big4 over banking.

    If you had rephrased your post, telling us a bit about why you made the switch to the Big4 and why you felt the hours weren't (personally) worth it, I wouldn't have replied so hastily. It just felt overtly damning for no apparent reason.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    21
    ReputationRep:
    thanks for the heads up
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Guys, seriously, it cant be repeated enough, the money is worth f all for ib if you dont find interest in the work, its sad seeing all these people at bb networking events who have no clue at all, seriously do something that interests you.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Princepieman)
    The words of someone who failed to exit to PE/Corp Dev. What about all those people moving over to the buyside in each and every cycle? Are they posting on a forum about how their supposed inadequacies are the cause of preferential treatment towards Consultants and Accountants? No, they're too busy making money. They don't have time to write a memoir about their shortcomings.

    I mean, come on, just go on the profile pages of most MMs/MFs and you'll see the intake is 70-80% bankers - don't know where you pulled that enormous horse manure from.

    Listen man, you can come up with as many bloody excuses as you want, but the simple truth is you a) didn't do your research, b) you were simply not good enough for the buyside gigs, and c) you didn't have a game plan.

    Coming on to a student forum to stroke your own ego and feeling, marginally, better about yourself isn't the answer. Check yourself; look for faults in yourself, don't blame the recruiters for opportunities you could have gotten by yourself.

    Don't blame your tools, blame your skills.
    please stop with the pretentious teenager rhetoric. this was an informative post
    • TSR Support Team
    Online

    21
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    (Original post by Table dust)
    please stop with the pretentious teenager rhetoric. this was an informative post
    Lol, the tone was excruciatingly 'apocalyptic' but yeah, the key message about the lifestyle/hours was spot on.

    He even said afterwards that some of the details in his post were exaggerated to make a point; for example: consultants/big4 being more attractive to PE shops, which is just not the case.

    Signed,
    Pretentious Teenager





    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    The real lesson to learn here, is that if you want people to bust their asses for your benefit, make vague promises to them about their lives becoming great in the future so long as they stick with you.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by welcometoib)
    Guys, seriously, it cant be repeated enough, the money is worth f all for ib if you dont find interest in the work, its sad seeing all these people at bb networking events who have no clue at all, seriously do something that interests you.
    Hey empty your messages so I can PM you.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    Would love to see the responses of students pre and post spending time in IBD
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Econight)
    Would love to see the responses of students pre and post spending time in IBD
    same, they just stop posting which is understandable but a real shame. ofc some are lamenting their lives over on wso after leaving here.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Table dust)
    please stop with the pretentious teenager rhetoric. this was an informative post
    This.

    Lol @ all the 17/18 year olds on here who talk like this
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    I really want to do IB but damn man, thanks for the heads up, if I face this I won't say 'I didn't know'
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Econight)
    Would love to see the responses of students pre and post spending time in IBD
    Hopefully I'll be able to :laugh:
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Princepieman)
    Lol, the tone was excruciatingly 'apocalyptic' but yeah, the key message about the lifestyle/hours was spot on.

    He even said afterwards that some of the details in his post were exaggerated to make a point; for example: consultants/big4 being more attractive to PE shops, which is just not the case.

    Signed,
    Pretentious Teenager





    Posted from TSR Mobile
    I'm not disagreeing with you here but out of curiosity what is your background in finance? You seem to constantly post from the viewpoint of someone in the industry.

    I will agree though, it sounds like OP didn't successfully navigate buyside recruitment and now is disillusioned with their path. OP, could you list a couple of "major bank" comparables so we know what sort of background you're coming from?

    Besides all this, thanks for the heads up OP. There are a lot of students who really don't know the level of **** the role can often entail.
    • TSR Support Team
    Online

    21
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    (Original post by Kiltennel)
    I'm not disagreeing with you here but out of curiosity what is your background in finance? You seem to constantly post from the viewpoint of someone in the industry.

    I will agree though, it sounds like OP didn't successfully navigate buyside recruitment and now is disillusioned with their path. OP, could you list a couple of "major bank" comparables so we know what sort of background you're coming from?

    Besides all this, thanks for the heads up OP. There are a lot of students who really don't know the level of **** the role can often entail.
    From the viewpoint of several friends in the industry.* I may 'just' be a gap year student but the level of research I've done into this industry and the contact I have with people who are at the top shops at the moment is nothing to dismiss. I've at least bagged some deferred spring weeks, for what it's worth. I can almost see the eyes roll after I post this hahaha.

    For clarification, OP's post is a good heads up but it also should be taken with a grain of salt.



    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Princepieman)
    From the viewpoint of several friends in the industry.* I may 'just' be a gap year student but the level of research I've done into this industry and the contact I have with people who are at the top shops at the moment is nothing to dismiss. I've at least bagged some deferred spring weeks, for what it's worth. I can almost see the eyes roll after I post this hahaha.

    For clarification, OP's post is a good heads up but it also should be taken with a grain of salt.



    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Even if someone came on here and said they were an MD some other guy, probably a nerdy teenager, would come and dismiss them as knowing nothing hahaha

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Princepieman)
    From the viewpoint of several friends in the industry.* I may 'just' be a gap year student but the level of research I've done into this industry and the contact I have with people who are at the top shops at the moment is nothing to dismiss. I've at least bagged some deferred spring weeks, for what it's worth. I can almost see the eyes roll after I post this hahaha.

    For clarification, OP's post is a good heads up but it also should be taken with a grain of salt.



    Posted from TSR Mobile
    I certainly agree. Good post, albeit sounds all doom and gloom. Plenty of people who did make the jump who will tell you 2 years in banking is the best thing they ever did career wise.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
Turn on thread page Beta
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: October 19, 2015
Poll
Do you like carrot cake?
Useful resources

Articles:

Guide to investment bankingGuide to consultancy

Featured recruiter profiles:

Deutsche Bank logo

Deutsche Bank is recruiting

"Thrive in an international banking environment"

Quick link:

Unanswered investment banking and consultancy threads

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.