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IB in the US - how many days off per year on average?

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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 16:45
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I did banking for 4 years, most recently with one of the top bulge brackets firm before moving to VC. I would say you are in for a rude awakening if you think you will be able to take more than 2 weeks vacation at the most especially the first year. Even then you will be tied to your blackberry and be expected to respond (and even do considerable work) on your existing projects.

Now sure, every banking group is different, you will learn that not everyone works as long hours and some groups are more brutal than others (i.e. you can't expect someone from Equity Capital Markets to work as much as someone in M&A or Financial Sponsors). I personally worked for one of those brutal groups so my experience may be different than others. Than again most bschool students glow at the idea of doing M&A or working with LBO clients and these are exactly the type of groups I am talking about.

I used to tell people - make sure you do banking for the right reasons - interest in global markets, passion for finance, exposure to landscape changing decision-making, etc. instead of doing banking for the money. If you do banking for the wrong reasons, you will not last. However over time I think I've changed my mind - the people that survive this industry and stay for the long haul are the ones that money defines who they are and what they stand for, their place in life and society. The ones that love the job but decide no price can justify the lifestyle, these people move on to other more forgiving careers in terms of hours.

I've had this conversation with many people and for most there is no way to understand until you try banking. My only advice would be to go in there with your eyes wide open and really understand what this is worth to you. I think banking is a great place to start and looking back I would probably still do it all over again, but it's by no means the type of job that a sane person does for the long haul.

And I don't want to burst any bubbles for anyone but I think some of the "perks" need to really be evaluated in context.
- Dinner allowances are great if you would rather spend your Friday nights having dinner in the conference room with the analysts instead of a hot date. Also $20-$25 allowance won't buy you a steak dinner every night, not sure what part of the US that's possible
- Black Car service is definitely enjoyable at 4am in the morning when the only thing you wish is that you stupid driver would pick up the pace that is costing you an extra 10 min of lost sleep. In the satellite offices (SF, LA) where black cars are not used analysts / asssociates frequently crash their cars falling asleep at the wheel. Just ask any "friendly" banker from Merrill Lynch San Fran to tell you about the tally of their junior bankers (analysts+associates) that have crashed their cars in the past year alone. I think they even have awards for it!
- First class flights - sure let's take the typical business banking trip in context - take red eye flight to arrive at xxx destination in the morning for the 9am meeting. Spend most of the night on the flight working on presentation, model, etc. Arrive at xxxx location at 7am. Check into the 25-star hotel that you will probably see for no more than 2-3 hours during the entire trip. Run to business meeting half asleep. Get through meeting. Go to another meeting or work at a business center until hours before your flight back home. Swing by 25-star hotel room to pick up your stuff. Luckily you never had time to unpack anything since you barely stopped by so all is good. Catch red eye back home. Spend majority of night working on some other upcoming presentation for the meeting in 2 days. Arrive back to home city just in time to catch your lovely black car back to the office in time for some more work. Contemplate pulling a gun on the driver and making him drive off the bridge to end misery. Then suddenly remember you are one of the most risk adverse people in the world (after all that's why you joined banking) and suicide definitely involves some risk. Put idea to rest. Arrive back to office and prepare to do the above over and over and over and then one more time again :)

P.S. And guys please understand life does not get considerably better once you get above the analyst / associate role. Sure you won't be spending 100 hours a week being a monkey and crunching numbers or putting together pretty slides anymore. But you will be spending these 100 hours from red-eye to red-eye from visiting one client to another, going to never-ending diligence sessions, conferences etc. Your work-hours won't change considerably - the only thing that will is the type of work you will be doing. I like to think of it as being the true investment banking monkey during analyst & associate years and then moving towards more of a mgmt consulting lifestyle once you reach more senior levels (i.e. constant traveling from place to place mainly on red-eye flights. This is true to such an extent that they even have a name for when a non-MD takes a day-time flight. They say "Wow, How did you manage to get on the MD flight?")
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 17:38
+1, sebycb976 - you paint quite a picture.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 18:55
sebycb976:

I admit that you have sufficiently scared me to a degree. That is absolutely insane about the analysts/associates in SF/LA crashing their cars, and it somehow being a badge of honor to the office. Please tell me you're exaggerating that one by a bit? I was hoping to work in SF/LA. That bit really turns me off to the culture. I don't mind working my tail off and perhaps putting my health at risk a little bit in my younger years, but I have a serious problem with risking my life as well as the lives of other people on the road. Driving on 2 hours of sleep is illegal in most states - and I can't believe that banks would actually encourage this. From what I have seen, banks seem to be some of the most straight laced employers out there today (i.e. one of the few that still make summer interns take drug tests, and one of the few that block personal e-mail at work).

I agree with a lot of the points that you said. Dinner allowances and first class flights don't really make up for the lifestyle and the hours, but they help cushion it just a touch. As far as people only being in it for the money - I suppose you're right to a certain degree, but there are many other finance oriented careers where you can make a lot more money. I agree with you that banking is for the risk averse. There is no other career where you can make 7 figures for being mediocre and just conforming to the lifestyle/culture and doing what people tell you to do. You'll have to earn it through performance in Sales & Trading and you'll have to earn it in Private Equity.

From all of the accounts that I have seen and heard about, life does get a lot better after the associate years? VPs/MDs can often work from home in the evening, and yes they do travel quite a bit - but what high powered executive doesn't? And that's only really if you decide to stick with it. I think the main reason that most sane people do banking is for the exit opps, not the junior-level money. The skillset that you develop and hang on to for the rest of your career is very valuable and will ensure you highly paid/glamorous positions either in the corporate world or in finance.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 19:19
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No problem, I'm not trying to scare anyone from going into banking or making it seem less glamorous (even though in reality it really is). Banking is a great place to start a career, earn your stripes, open doors, whatever you want to call it. It's definitely true. However keep in mind - many (really the majority) of people leave banking after a number of years just to join the same careers (corporate, start-ups, etc) in roles that they could have earned just by starting out in that said job to begin with. When you put it that way, there's little benefit of going that route except for some health problems, a failed marriage and maybe an ulcer (too many people fall into the trap of the lifestyle and end up spending all their bonuses anyway) It becomes hard to leave not because many like the job but because they have fallen prey to an unrealistic lifestyle that cannot be maintained. Dropping $1000 on a dinner or a strip-club gives a very small sense of personal fulfilment at the end of the day.

And for the ones that switch from banking to VC, PE or Hedge Funds is simply a change of name not of profession or environment. PE is absolutely no different than banking and you work just as much, period. The work is absolutely the same, just switch xx financial product for Leverage Finance and you got your glorified investment bank (ugh I mean PE shop). Hedge Funds are probably slightly less hours but more stress. VC can definitely be less hours but you are not making as much as banking, you really can't bank on it unless you get to Partner level and that's way harder to do than banking or PE. I speak of all these industries from first hand experience having many of my closest friends in it.

I spent 6 years in those industries to come to this conclusion. I don't regret it one little bit, but I had none of this knowledge when I walked bright-eyed and hopefull into my first banking job. At the end of the day, to each his own, right?

If I can answer any other questions, do let me know.

Last edited by sebycb976 on 21 Jul 2008, 20:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 19:24
With all due respect, if you're saying something because your friends are in it, that's not first hand knowledge.

sebycb976 wrote:
I speak of all these industries from first hand experience having many of my closest friends in it.

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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 19:31
sebycb976 wrote:
No problem, I'm not trying to scare anyone from going into banking or making it seem less glamorous (even though in reality it really is). Banking is a great place to start a career, earn your stripes, open doors, whatever you want to call it. It's definitely true. However keep in mind - many (really the majority) of people leave banking after a number of years just to join the same careers (corporate, start-ups, etc) in roles that they could have earned just by starting out in that said job to begin with. When you put it that way, there's little benefit of going that route except for some health problems, a failed marriage and maybe an ulcer (too many people fall into the trap of the lifestyle and end up spending all their bonuses anyway) It becomes hard to leave not because many like the job but because they have fallen prey to an unrealistic lifestyle that cannot be maintained. Dropping $1000 on a dinner or a strip-club is a very small sense of personal fulfilment at the end of the day.

And for the ones that switch from banking to VC, PE or Hedge Funds is simply a change of name not of profession or environment. PE is absolutely no different than banking and you work just as much, period. The work is absolutely the same, just switch xx financial product for Leverage Finance and you got your glorified investment bank (ugh I mean PE shop). Hedge Funds are probably slightly less hours but more stress. VC can definitely be less hours but you are not making as much as banking, you really can't bank on it unless you get to Partner level and that's way harder to do than banking or PE. I speak of all these industries from first hand experience having many of my closest friends in it.

I spent 6 years in those industries to come to this conclusion. I don't regret it one little bit, but I had none of this knowledge when I walked bright-eyed and hopefull into my first banking job. At the end of the day, to each his own, right?

If I can answer any other questions, do let me know.


I can't comment on VC because I have no clue about it. As far as PE goes - you're right that people at shops like KKR, Blackstone, Carlyle, Apollo, etc. work the same hours as bankers. However, I have a few friends who work at the middle-market shops ($500M-$5B AUM) and they tend to work 60 hours/week (70-80 during crunch times) and still take home $200-300K all-in at the pre-MBA level. Not a bad gig.

You're right that you can get many of the same positions by skipping banking altogether - but you certainly won't get them as fast as if you put in your 2-3 years in banking. Most F500 corporate jobs are very stagnant and have slow progression up the ladder. Consulting and Banking are generally a faster track to the top of the food chain.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 20:04
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sebycb976:

I admit that you have sufficiently scared me to a degree. That is absolutely insane about the analysts/associates in SF/LA crashing their cars, and it somehow being a badge of honor to the office. Please tell me you're exaggerating that one by a bit? I was hoping to work in SF/LA. That bit really turns me off to the culture. I don't mind working my tail off and perhaps putting my health at risk a little bit in my younger years, but I have a serious problem with risking my life as well as the lives of other people on the road. Driving on 2 hours of sleep is illegal in most states - and I can't believe that banks would actually encourage this. From what I have seen, banks seem to be some of the most straight laced employers out there today (i.e. one of the few that still make summer interns take drug tests, and one of the few that block personal e-mail at work).

I agree with a lot of the points that you said. Dinner allowances and first class flights don't really make up for the lifestyle and the hours, but they help cushion it just a touch. As far as people only being in it for the money - I suppose you're right to a certain degree, but there are many other finance oriented careers where you can make a lot more money. I agree with you that banking is for the risk averse. There is no other career where you can make 7 figures for being mediocre and just conforming to the lifestyle/culture and doing what people tell you to do. You'll have to earn it through performance in Sales & Trading and you'll have to earn it in Private Equity.

From all of the accounts that I have seen and heard about, life does get a lot better after the associate years? VPs/MDs can often work from home in the evening, and yes they do travel quite a bit - but what high powered executive doesn't? And that's only really if you decide to stick with it. I think the main reason that most sane people do banking is for the exit opps, not the junior-level money. The skillset that you develop and hang on to for the rest of your career is very valuable and will ensure you highly paid/glamorous positions either in the corporate world or in finance.


Terp, as I mentioned my purpose was not to scare anyone from banking, as you perfectly stated it yourself, there are certain undeniable benefits that you can't necessary get from other careers. Skills that will be helpful in any career you pursue post banking. You are a pretty sharp guy, I've read a few of your posts over time as I was prepping for the GMAT and lurking on the different forums, I just couldn't help weighing in on the banking related conversation. Take what I say with a grain of salt because everyone's experience is different from firm to firm and even from group to group under the investment banking umbrella.

Unfortunately, the comment about crashing cars is entirely way true for the mentioned bulge bracket firm in SF. I did not personally work there but I had frequent interaction with their bankers and some of the victims themselves to know it to be true. And there are other banks in the area, where although they may not take such a "pride" in this fact, such accidents do happen. My suggestion to you - when you do pursue that associate gig, do your due diligence thoroughly. Cultures vary from place to place, sometimes even considerably from office to office of the same investment bank. Make sure the culture resonates with your own background (teamwork vs. superstars, meritocracy vs. bureaucracy, etc) Just as the top ten bschools are very similar in some ways but have slight nuances, so are the investment banks.

Life does get better as you move up the ranks in the sense that you are not cranking so much monkey work but having more variety in your workload - travelling, diligence sessions, conferences, deal structuring, etc. But you are still very much tied to your office as you not only have to manage clients, SVPs and MDs upward (when you are a VP for example) but also downward in the sense of your associates and analysts. I would work with VPs that stayed up all night from home and bombarded me with emails to do this and that. Then they would want to review it and give comments. Just because someone is laying on the couch vs being inside their office, doesn't change the fact that they are doing work till 3am.

Feel free to ping me offline if you have any other questions about banking or west coast banking specifically. I spent enough years in west coast banking to learn a thing or two at least I could give you some thoughts on the banks and groups with a better reputation vs the chop shop ones.

Good luck
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 20:10
jallenmorris wrote:
With all due respect, if you're saying something because your friends are in it, that's not first hand knowledge.

sebycb976 wrote:
I speak of all these industries from first hand experience having many of my closest friends in it.


First hand knowledge for banking and VC. "Second hand" knowledge from speaking almost daily to friends in those places, or working with them directly on deals (high finance is really not that big of an industry especially in satellite locations like the west coast)

General observation....jaleenmorris you must be a lawyer.... :lol: You definitely learn in banking how "your kind" thinks... no offense intended :-D
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2008, 20:19
terp06 wrote:
sebycb976 wrote:
No problem, I'm not trying to scare anyone from going into banking or making it seem less glamorous (even though in reality it really is). Banking is a great place to start a career, earn your stripes, open doors, whatever you want to call it. It's definitely true. However keep in mind - many (really the majority) of people leave banking after a number of years just to join the same careers (corporate, start-ups, etc) in roles that they could have earned just by starting out in that said job to begin with. When you put it that way, there's little benefit of going that route except for some health problems, a failed marriage and maybe an ulcer (too many people fall into the trap of the lifestyle and end up spending all their bonuses anyway) It becomes hard to leave not because many like the job but because they have fallen prey to an unrealistic lifestyle that cannot be maintained. Dropping $1000 on a dinner or a strip-club is a very small sense of personal fulfilment at the end of the day.

And for the ones that switch from banking to VC, PE or Hedge Funds is simply a change of name not of profession or environment. PE is absolutely no different than banking and you work just as much, period. The work is absolutely the same, just switch xx financial product for Leverage Finance and you got your glorified investment bank (ugh I mean PE shop). Hedge Funds are probably slightly less hours but more stress. VC can definitely be less hours but you are not making as much as banking, you really can't bank on it unless you get to Partner level and that's way harder to do than banking or PE. I speak of all these industries from first hand experience having many of my closest friends in it.

I spent 6 years in those industries to come to this conclusion. I don't regret it one little bit, but I had none of this knowledge when I walked bright-eyed and hopefull into my first banking job. At the end of the day, to each his own, right?

If I can answer any other questions, do let me know.


I can't comment on VC because I have no clue about it. As far as PE goes - you're right that people at shops like KKR, Blackstone, Carlyle, Apollo, etc. work the same hours as bankers. However, I have a few friends who work at the middle-market shops ($500M-$5B AUM) and they tend to work 60 hours/week (70-80 during crunch times) and still take home $200-300K all-in at the pre-MBA level. Not a bad gig.

You're right that you can get many of the same positions by skipping banking altogether - but you certainly won't get them as fast as if you put in your 2-3 years in banking. Most F500 corporate jobs are very stagnant and have slow progression up the ladder. Consulting and Banking are generally a faster track to the top of the food chain.


Agreed with you Terp. Everyone I know at the likes of KKR, Blackstone and TPG work same or more hours than banking. THe middle market shops are hit-or-miss. You could be at a smaller, $500 mm or less fund, for example and work absolutely ridiculous hours. I know plenty of people at those and I almost went to one myself. On the other hand you could be at a larger fund and work reasonable hours. It all depends on the culture, the people, the types of deals and the degree of involvement in portfolio companies. Hell, I can even tell you Corporate Development (M&A) groups within Fortune 500 companies where you are expected to work 80+ hours a week...
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 22 Jul 2008, 07:43
Excellent posts Seby, very insightful! It's not scary, but it's certainly daunting...
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 06:29
I second that ... thanks a lot ... it is always instructive to hear it from the horses mouth so to speak as opposed to trying to construct the image from isolated pieces of information.

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Excellent posts Seby, very insightful! It's not scary, but it's certainly daunting...

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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 07:15
What about Investment Management? Is the work environment/workload similar to IB?
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 07:23
lumone wrote:
What about Investment Management? Is the work environment/workload similar to IB?


Nope, the hours aren't as bad.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 07:31
kidderek wrote:
lumone wrote:
What about Investment Management? Is the work environment/workload similar to IB?


Nope, the hours aren't as bad.


Thanks, would anyone know any website/book on "working as an investment manager"? This is a field I am considering, but I need to do my research before registering for the CFA.
I've read tons of books on investing, but I am not familiar with the "work life style" of IMers.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 09:31
top quality post Pelihu ...
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 14:54
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pelihu wrote:
If you look at an executive roster at any top company, you're going to find that a substantial portion have experience with big 3 consulting and bulge bracket banks. It really is the fast-track to the top. In fact, I'd bet that most top companies (depending on industry, competitiveness, things like that) will have more people with top consulting/banking experience than pure home-grown talent.


While I think this is basically correct for big3 consulting, I think this is severely overstating the prospects for former IBers in industry roles. IBers are useful to corporations for strategic M&A and raising capital, which is a valuable thing for companies, but really they should be a support or advisory role to the real senior management. This is because they have no experience in running a business or solving business problems. (At least the consultants have vast experience thinking about how to solve the business problems that managers face.) I think the reason you might find IBers ending up in real leadership positions at corporations is because they prove over time that they are smart enough to move into that role from the advisory role, but I definitely don't think they're on the "fast-track" to get there.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 17:02
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cougarblue wrote:
While I think this is basically correct for big3 consulting, I think this is severely overstating the prospects for former IBers in industry roles. IBers are useful to corporations for strategic M&A and raising capital, which is a valuable thing for companies, but really they should be a support or advisory role to the real senior management. This is because they have no experience in running a business or solving business problems. (At least the consultants have vast experience thinking about how to solve the business problems that managers face.) I think the reason you might find IBers ending up in real leadership positions at corporations is because they prove over time that they are smart enough to move into that role from the advisory role, but I definitely don't think they're on the "fast-track" to get there.


Can you think of any IBankers that are leading large corporations other than financial firms. Ex McK/B/B guys end up leading companies quite often, so I'm curious if Ibankers end up in CEO positions rather than CFO positions.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 17:25
I don't think that bankers generally enjoy or like the role of a CFO. CFO's usually come from public accounting and controller backgrounds. I can't think of any prominent bankers off the top of my head that head up Fortune 500 companies - but I think that you will see plenty of bankers heading up smaller, entrepeneurial companies backed by VC/PE firms. This is especially true if the small/entrepeneurial company is one that seeks to grow and create value through rapid acquisitions. Fortune 500 CEOs tend to be very polished, schmoozer types - almost like a politician. Although bankers know how to sell - their basic personality type is very different from most guys that head up large public companies.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 20:20
terp06 wrote:
I don't think that bankers generally enjoy or like the role of a CFO. CFO's usually come from public accounting and controller backgrounds. I can't think of any prominent bankers off the top of my head that head up Fortune 500 companies - but I think that you will see plenty of bankers heading up smaller, entrepeneurial companies backed by VC/PE firms. This is especially true if the small/entrepeneurial company is one that seeks to grow and create value through rapid acquisitions. Fortune 500 CEOs tend to be very polished, schmoozer types - almost like a politician. Although bankers know how to sell - their basic personality type is very different from most guys that head up large public companies.


Could you elaborate a bit on the personality type most often seen in IBankers? I haven't been around v. many - more so around the consultant types - so am curious!

cheers,
ac.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2008, 20:25
ac8706 wrote:
terp06 wrote:
I don't think that bankers generally enjoy or like the role of a CFO. CFO's usually come from public accounting and controller backgrounds. I can't think of any prominent bankers off the top of my head that head up Fortune 500 companies - but I think that you will see plenty of bankers heading up smaller, entrepeneurial companies backed by VC/PE firms. This is especially true if the small/entrepeneurial company is one that seeks to grow and create value through rapid acquisitions. Fortune 500 CEOs tend to be very polished, schmoozer types - almost like a politician. Although bankers know how to sell - their basic personality type is very different from most guys that head up large public companies.


Could you elaborate a bit on the personality type most often seen in IBankers? I haven't been around v. many - more so around the consultant types - so am curious!

cheers,
ac.


They're driven by the excitement of making the deal, the adrenaline rush, and the power/status. CFOs and accountants tend to be a bit more conservative and vanilla in comparison.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average?   [#permalink] 23 Jul 2008, 20:25
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