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

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IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2008, 08:31
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Title is pretty obvious I guess.

With the crushing schedule, days off is an important factor to take into account. In the UK 20 days off per year is pretty much standard; what's the situation in the US? I heard 14-15 days, is that possible?

Thanks for the information!
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 19 Jul 2008, 09:12
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Well, I think that's a short-sighted view. There are a lot of people that do banking (or consulting) for 2-3 years, and transfer into general management at an accelerated level. 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. We've all heard the statistic that people graduating from business school these days will change jobs 10 times on average in their careers. Having Bain or Morgan Stanley on your resume, especially as VP or senior manager or something like that, gives you instant credibility in future job searches regardless of industry.

Another way to look at it is to browse company websites and look at the qualifications they value for senior roles. It's unbelievable how often you will see things like "investment banking and consulting experience a big plus". This is true for roles in all fields and different types of firms, including finance and strategy of course, but also marketing, business development, any type of business or quantitative analysis...pretty much everything. If you go straight into general management, you can be sure that 6-8 years down the line, when you're trying to make your move into upper management, you will be competing for jobs with folks with 2-3 years of consulting and banking experience. That's just how it is. And of course, banking and consulting are well-beaten paths to the highest paying jobs of the day, whatever that may be. During the tech boom, many top leaders came from Goldman, McKinsey, BCG, etc. even though they had no tech background; these days, PE/HFs recruit from the same places; and 5 or 10 years from now, whatever industry or business is most desirable will cherry pick top talent from...you guessed it... big three consulting and bulge bracket banks. It really is a great way to position yourself for the future, even if your future isn't in banking or consulting.

A third way to think about it is that you make enough as a banker to take a year-long sabbatical after every two years of work - and you actually see this happen. You'll make more money in 2 years at a bank than people working 4 years in general management. It's relatively common to see people who switch banking jobs take substantial time off between jobs; and when people get laid off from banking, many are in no hurry to transition to a new job because they can afford the time off. Of course, some people spend every penny they have, but those that plan ahead, but those that plan ahead have the option of taking substantial breaks during their careers.

A fourth way to look at it is that bankers will make more in 10-15 years than people in most other industries will in their entire careers. The implications of this are obvious, especially for those that plan ahead and see the big picture. If you're good at what you do, you can start seeing 7 figure paydays after 5-7 years; how many million dollar paychecks do you need before you can start thinking about hanging them up? It's silly to just think about life as a first year associate and the salary of a first year associate. Many SVP/Directors leave before 6PM every day and take home money by the barrel - in fact I just had a chat about this yesterday with a soon-to-be MD as he headed out the door at 5:15 (he leaves before 6 every day). I doubt it's the goal of very many people to work 100 hours or be on the road 4-5 nights every week to make $2-300k; but I think many people can see working 60 hours a week and bringing home $1mm or more (maybe lots more). The thing is people, aren't just going to hand that to you your first year out of business school - you're going to have to work and learn and perform to get to that level.

Another thing that cannot be ignored is that (yes I'm going to come right out and say it) money does matter. Sure, everyone has a different threshold for how much they'd like to make, the things they'd like to have and do, but I think few people are shelling out cash for MBAs without doing some type of calculation on future returns. And statements like "money isn't everything" and "money can't buy happiness" are folksy and sweet, but they aren't implicit truths any more than "a stitch in time saves nine" (whatever the hell that means). They are just sayings. For a lot of people, the ability to afford a nice car, or go to nice restaurants, or live in certain cities, or in a nice neighborhood, or vacation in top destinations, or send their kids to private school, or provide elder care for their parents, or fund their wine or car hobby, or any number of the million other possibilities, are reasons to work harder and make more money. Sure, if you're main concern is yourself, and all you want to do is live a quiet life with plenty of free time, then take whatever job makes you happy; heck go work for the government and count on a steady paycheck and 40 hour work weeks. Back when I waited tables in college, I knew a lot of people that went through this same decision process; they decided that surfing was their top priority and that they would work just enough to afford the rent on their shack near the beach. Hmm, doesn't sound too bad actually, and woe to the dumbasses that wasted their lives attending college. Don't know what those guys and gals are up to these days though...

In a lot of ways, competing for a top consulting or banking job is a lot like choosing to get an MBA (probably why such firms are favorite destinations for MBAs year after year). To get an MBA you have to go above and beyond and spend time doing things that a lot of your peers do not (GMAT, applications, visiting schools, interviewing, all a lot of work you're not getting paid for). Business school itself is an intense experience, to say nothing of sacrificing salary for two years and paying a buttload of money to go. But once you do it, especially at a top school, your career is accelerated and you shoot out the back end ahead of peers from your former career. Same thing applies to banking and consulting roles. These aren't easy jobs, and they aren't the easiest jobs to get; and you definitely have to make lifestyle choices in the short run (sounds like getting an MBA huh?), but in most cases you'll come out ahead of people that don't do it.

To say someone views their life as equivalent to their pay of $300k is silly and lacks vision. Perhaps someone believes their life is worth $2mm, but nobody is willing to pay them that yet - what's the most certain way to get there? I think it's stupid to try and impose a particular viewpoint on what others are doing. A lot of the bankers I know live fairly modest lifestyles (some flashy big spenders as well of course), and have the ultimate goal of financial security. You can weather downturns a lot better if you have some cash tucked away and everything is paid off. Personally, I'd love to put away enough change to quite work and help with mental health and animal charities, but you need to achieve some measure of financial freedom before you can so something like that.

Which leads to the final point. A lot of people take banking and consulting roles out of business school because it's the best way to pay off student debt. It's the most direct way to make a dent after two years of not working and accumulating debt. We have an analyst here where I work who ran up $120k in loans as an undergrad (not that rare for people from private schools that now charge $30k for tuition plus room, board, etc.). Pile on another $150k to attend business school and maybe some more for deferred interest, and such a person would be highly motivated to take the highest paying job possible, at least in the short run. I'm not sure exactly, but I think even with extended payments, debt service might be $3k per month at today's rates. Taking a $100k job would be absurd, and I think pretty much all people pursuing MBAs at top schools have thought about this (unless they have rich parents or something). But a lot, even before applying to business school, plan to work their asses off for 2-3 years in banking or consulting to ramp up to the next stage of their lives. It helps pay down debt and it definitely opens doors and accelerates your career. One might argue that it would be shortsighted to not give banking or consulting some serious consideration given these circumstances.
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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 11 Aug 2008, 11:47
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Audio wrote:
Great post, Pelihu, kudos.

These myths are hard to get rid of though, because they are constantly perpetuated - on this forum and even in this topic. Anyway, thanks for the info and the website.

Last thing, what is your view on the holidays issue I mentioned?


Thanks. Regarding vacation time (holiday to you crazy Europeans), I think you really need to think about it based on the level of the people in question. Life is much different for an analyst than it is for an MD. Here's how I see it.

Analyst (college graduates, usually 2 year program) - These people just aren't going to be taking much vacation. Many of the horror stories about banking come from this level. They generally work a couple more hours per day than associates, they work most weekends, they get work dumped on them at 9PM on a Friday night. The flip side is that in average years get get paid 3-4x more than other college graduates. I think of it as a sprint for these folks. It's two years, after which they are in prime position to transition to a hedge fund or private equity (4 out of the 4 2nd years in my group went on to top PE firms earlier in the summer); and of course they are prime candidates for busniess school after a few years. We all hate them because they will be filling lots of seats at Harvard, Wharton, Columbia et. al.; but it helps to remember how hard they have to work as analysts. It's crazy for these people to plan vacations because they have no control over the flow of a deal, and in order for more senior people to accomodate clients and deadlines, someone has to do the grunt work. As their two year program winds up, a lot of analysts do take vacation time, so really it's one year with little to no vacation. It's funny how people come to attribute a banker's entire career to equal the lives of first year analysts.

Associate (MBAs and a few promoted analysts) - I think these people do take vacation time. Whether they can get in 3-4 weeks per year depends a lot on their practice group, the people they work with, how busy things and their own preferences. I think it has relatively little effect on career progression - in other words people who take vacation will not be blackballed for promotions, they are responsible for making sure deals don't get f'd up because of their vacation. I think it would be highly unusual for someone at this level to take 3 consecutive weeks off; it's just too much of a break and would really screw things up because of ramp-up and ramp-down time. Just think about the work that these people do - they are responsible for getting deals done, and it's impossible to predict when things will heat up. People at this level are much more likely to take a few days at a time, extend some weekends, maybe take a week during slow times. For example, August is considered a slow period and I'm on a deal where several people will be taking the entire week off next week. People seem to be planning for it, but ultimately associates are responsible for getting the work done. I think that as associates learn their roles, get used to the people they are working with how deals flow they are able to extracate themselves from work for a little R&R. For example, my full-time associate buddy for the summer is taking 2+ weeks for his wedding & honeymoon, and it seems perfectly normal.

VP (what associates become after 3 1/2 years): These people are responsible for executing deals that are brought in my more senior bankers (some manage their own clients as well). These people seem to travel a lot (varies greatly with practice area of course), pitching ideas, meeting with clients and negotiating and executing transactions. This is also the level where people really have to decide whether they want to make a career out of banking by developing their own client base - associates can be promoted to VP by doing a good job with what they are given, but VPs probably need to branch out to get promoted. VPs can and do take vacation time. I've also observed that VPs close to being considered for promotion tend to work their asses off (no different thank law, consulting, or most other professions I believe). As with most service industries, bankers must accomodate their clients, but VPs have a lot of control over when meetings and things take place, and thus have some control over planning their vacations. VPs sometimes have late nights, but generally leave earlier than associates (who in turn usually leave before analysts). This isn't some sort of face-time conspiracy; VPs can hand off certain work to associates, and associates to analysts (sucks to be at the bottom of this pile). At this level, it really starts to be more of a personal decision of when and how much vacation to take. It's also at this level that people can leave banking and jump to other gigs at a pretty high level (a VP title from a bulge bracket carries substantial weight).

SVP/Director (what VPs become after 3-4 years): SVP and director are exactly the same thing, just different titles at different firms. These people have full control over their schedules. They can take as much vacation time as they feel like. A couple of the SVPs around here leave before 6:30 every day. One is out on vacation right now for two weeks. At this level, it's really up to the individual to decide how much work they want to take on. Many spend their days flying around schmoozing with old customers and courting new ones. On rare ocassions they might get their hands dirty executing a deal, but not often because that's what they have VPs for. Their jobs involve planning, strategy, thinking up new financial instruments and new sectors to target. It's hard to generalize too much because these people really set their own schedules. Some work from home a lot and some are on the road all the time. I think they can take as much vacation as they feel like, and some do while others don't.

MD: These people do whatever they feel like doing. One of the MDs here has a big 4 PE firm as a client. He's in the office about 5 days a month, and his work consists of playing golf at exclusive clubs, dining at top restaurants and traveling to resorts around the world for conferences and things like that. I'm pretty sure he takes home an 8 figure salary as well. Again, it's impossible to generalize at this level. I've heard of some MDs that still keep the hours they did while they were analysts. I have heard of many firms establishing branch offices in places because an MD decided he wanted to live there - so essntially their entire job is a vacation.

So, that's about it. I agree completely that first-year analysts probably average less than 5 days of vacation; but many second-year analysts do take vacation as their program winds up. Keep in mind that they are only in it for two years. People at other levels can and do take vacations, but how that breaks down depends a lot on the individual. For example, I personally don't like to be gone for weeks at a time. Among other things I have a couple of dogs to take care of, but I also don't like the hassle of making sure all my responsibilites are covered while I'm gone. I'm usually happy most happy with a couple of days tacked on to a weeked; and I'm always happy when I return home. Even when I was working for myself, I never took extended breaks, and I don't believe I will if I go into banking full-time. I think the important thing to remember is that at the associate level, as you learn about your role and plan ahead, you can take vacation time; and of course that's even more true at levels beyond. You can't just look at analysts and assume all bankers are sutck like that for the rest of their careers. When choosing a career, it's silly to just look at what life will be like during your first or second year on the job.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2008, 14:05
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riverripper wrote:
You need to remember that in the US there is a huge difference between days of vacation you get in your benefit package and what you are actually able to take. Also with the modern wonders of blackberrys dont think you can get away from it all even when on vacations. Especially the higher up you move.

IB has the WORST work/life balance you will find.


All the comments about work & vacation in IB are true - at least for the associate level. I will say that I disagree with the comment that IB has the worst work/life balance. I believe it is true that you will work more hours in IB than in any other industry (at least among the major MBA destinations), but I think there are a lot more factors in the work/life thing.

Let's think about some of the major issues. First, would you rather work till 10PM on average, and go back to your own home each night, or would you rather be a consultant and return to your hotel room at 8PM four or five nights a week? In this comparison, I prefer banking because if I'm able to get off at 10 (no guarantee this will happen of course), I can still catch up with friends if they are out or whatever. I don't like being on the road all the time, but beyond that I'm not a fan of spending time in the aiport and on planes.

This kind of leads to the next point. I was lucky enough to land an internship in LA; and the other destinations for banking are NY (the vast majority) and SF. When my work day ends, whenever that may be, I'll be in LA (or NY or SF). I won't be in Omaha or Detroit or Kansas City. No offense to anyone in those cities (well, maybe just a little :lol:), but I'd rather leave the office at 10PM in LA than at 6PM in Cleveland. Yes, yes, I know people from Cincinnati and Oklahoma City and Boise (have I insulted enough places yet?) are going to get all fired up to write about how great it is to live in those places, but let's be serious. To me, work/life balance would be unbearable if I had to live in [INSERT CITY I HAVEN'T YET INSTULTED HERE], or if I lived in a great city but had to spend 4-5 days a week traveling to various unsavory destinations. I couldn't take that. It kind of reminds me of the argument about cost of living. It's so bad in SF or NY, and it's so much cheaper in Milwaukee...yeah, but you have to live in Milwaukee!!! If I'm able to slip away from work at midnight, I can meet friends for drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel or a night club with a single name (yeowie); big difference from handing out at the hotel bar in Peoria.

Which leads to a final point (kind of related). If you work in SF or LA or NY, when you do get some free time, you have world class ammenities at your fingertips (these aren't the only cities of course). Exciting new restaurants, cultural events, music, sports, etc. In other cities? Not so much; I mean how many times can you visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (sorry Cleveland). And in LA or SF, if I happen to find on a Friday afternoon that I'm free for the weekend (it does happen from time to time) I can make a last minute decision to drive to Santa Barbara or Vegas or Malibu or Napa or La Jolla or Carmel/Monterey or Mammoth or one of dozens of world class beaches or ski resorts. If I worked in Minneapolis, I could drive to, I don't know, Milwaukee? To me, one of those is living, and the other is not.

So, IB is definitely tough. I'm not saying it's a picnic, definitely not, and it's defintiely not for everyone. But I do think it's incorrect to just look at the hours and slap on a work/life rating. If you do IB in NY or SF or LA, you will have everything at your fingertips, and the ability to afford it. If you're in LA and you needa new BMW every two years, fine. If you're in NY and must spend $1000 on dinner and wine once or twice a month, that's OK too. Your work load will be intense, but your life metric will be large as well. To me, that's preferable to a smaller workload and a crappy life quotient (obviously, everyone will take their measurements differently). There are definitely arguments for and against the IB lifestyle, as well as for and against consulting, management, marketing, and other career choices. But there is certainly no shortage of people who try to get into IB every year in spite of the work load, because hours are just one factor in work/life balance.

Regarding the actual number of hours worked, it's pretty straightforward (at least where I'm at) that there's a direct relation between seniority and hours. The analysts stay later than the associates, associates leave after the VPs (deal depenent of course), the SVP/Directors leave earlier than that, and the MDs are often out of the office. There's an SVP/Director here who leaves at 6PM every day, though he does work from home; and at that level they take him $1M+ in good years. Not a bad target lifestyle for 7-8 years down the road.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 20:26
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There's something that's really bothering me here. Those of you who have been around the board for a while know that I don't like it when BS is perpetuated around here. For example, I've always hated it when people say things like "hey that's a great GMAT score, now just go write some stellar essays (as if that's easy to do) and you're getting in to the school of your choice!" I can hardly control my upchucking reflex just reading what I just typed.

I've posted dozens of messages about banking life, and it really bothers me when people perpetuate myths, rumors and just plain incorrect information. People at investment banks do not work until 2AM every day on a regular basis. I've never met or even heard of anyone who claims this. People do not work longer hours for the sake of staying longer. In fact, the people that I know (I can only base this on my personal experience and interactions) who work for banks are encouraged to take advantage of downtime, because frankly it is rare. When someone is able to leave at 6PM, I always tell them "great, enjoy yourself". I've had the same response when I've had the chance to leave early.

Now, I realize that myths persist about bankers at the associate level working 100+ week after week. I'm going to say it, flat out, this is not true. THIS IS FALSE. THIS IS A LOAD OF BUNK. Again, I've covered this in multiple threads, but associates do not regularly work 100+ hours a week. Now analysts, some of them do regularly work 80-90+ hours a week. I've seen it. I've suggested in other threads that somewhere between 60-80 hours is normal at the associate level. This can depend a lot on the practice group your are in, the deal flow, your location, and in large part who you're working for (this can make a huge difference).

For those that want to do a little data analysis of their own, I would suggest http://www.bankersball.com. It's a website where bankers go to commiserate - and generally the attitude leans towards comedy and cynicism about banking. You can take the site as you will, but they have a section on salary surveys and compensation reports. Now, the data is self-reported by people who browse the site, and you need to enter your own salary information to access the website, the I find the data to be extremely credible and accurate. The compensation report on banking now has over 5000 entries, with data on compensation, perks, benefits, whether they are happy, and for the purposes of this discussion, hours (again, all self-reported). If you filter the list for associates, you'll see that people reporting sub-50 hours work weeks outnumber those reporting 91+ hours (the lower and upper limits). Just by eyeballing, responses for 61-70 and 71-80 hours per week are by far the most common. Again, this data is self-reported but I find it to be highly credible because 1) it's anonymous, so there's no reason to lie, 2) it's a bunch of bankers reporting among themselves so there's really no point in trying to lie about it and 3) it is completely consistent with what I have observed myself and what I've learned from my friends.

So, here are things that I am quite comfortable dismissing as pure bunk, lies, falsehoods and trickeration, whether they be purposeful lies or simply misstatements that people mindlessly perpetuate.

1. Bankers at the associate level regularly work 100+ hours per week. No. Certainly, I'll agree that most bankers have put in 100 hour weeks at some point, but somewhere between 60-80 hours is where the vast majority of folks fall (can't really help it if some outlier decides they want to work 100+ hours every week, but the same could be said of entrepreneurs or even hairdressers). Now analysts, maybe. I wouldn't be shocked.

2. Bankers at the associate level regularly work until 2AM (or 3AM or 4AM, I've heard a lot of silly crap). False. IB associates get in between 9-10AM usually (let's call it 9:30) and stay until 9-10PM. Obviously, there are thousands of individuals out there and everyone has their own schedule, but I'm confident that most people are not sitting around at midnight regularly to score points for face-time. If the stuff you're working on isn't time sensitive, there's no reason to say into the middle of the night. In fact, earlier in the summer one of the VPs noticed I was working very hard; when handing me a new project he said specifically that there was no reason to stay late to get this done (again, it makes a huge difference who you work for). Now analysts, well that's another story. I've seen first hand this summer that it really does suck to be an analyst.

3. Bankers stay long hours for the sake of working longer hours. This just doesn't make any sense to me. The people that I work with (my friends around the street confirm the same) are happy when someone is able to take off early. Nobody is generating work or trying to extend their time in the office. People work hard enough that the concept of face-time is just unnecessary (now, if you leave at 5PM every day you will stick out like a sore thumb). People always ask whether you need to stay late or come in on weekends, and are legitimately happy for you (even the senior people are happy for you) when you don't. Now, this is definitely predicated on working hard regularly, and being someone that they can count on.

4. That working harder is better than working smarter. This was something that edwarise suggested multiple times. The suggestion that working harder and working smarter are diametrically opposed, to quote Mike Tyson, is just ludicrisp. Working smarter is definitely well respected among bankers. You're always told to not reinvent the wheel and to fully utilize your support network; and if you're smart enough to develop a new business area or type of financing, you'll be rewarded as a genius. However, working hard is important as well. Edwarise suggested that he could do his job in 4-5 hours a day - the question then becomes well why doesn't he work just as smart and do twice as much? For bankers, there's always another client that can be wooed or another financial instrument that could be developed. If you're smart and efficient, you an get in on more deals, learn a lot more, get promoted more quickly and make tons more money. Why do people think that you need to be a slacker to work smarter? A lot of the most successful people out there work smarter and harder (just off the top of my head, I recall Donald Trump talking about how sleep is a waste of time, and Jack Welch talking about work-life trade-offs rather than work-life balance).

Anyhow, the discussion will be more useful if we can cut through the BS. I encourage people who are interested to check out the data at Banker's Ball. Less than 1 in 10 report working 91+ hours a week (eyeballing tell me it's like 1/20 or maybe 5%), and way more report working less than 50 hours in an average week.
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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.

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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2010, 09:35
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tan888 wrote:
Great post. Having worked in both US and overseas, I feel sort of sad and disappointed in how little vacation/time off people get in the US. I know so many people in the US get less than 10 days of vacation in a year and have to work beyond the age of 65 to retire.

I took time off between school and FT work, and I was amazed at the number of Australians, Canadians, and Europeans doing the same thing. I held my head in shame and was somewhat ostracized for my 6-month break by people back home, so of course my jaw dropped when I saw this was the norm for young people in other countries, many of them taking 1-2 years on average. I then was amazed by the fact that most other countries get around 6 weeks vacation as the norm.

I definitely do not think the American system of excruciatingly long hours (even for modest jobs), hesitance to actually leave the desk and take a lunch break, vacation hours going unused due to "hidden pressure" is conducive to our overall work culture or productivity. I really wish we would wake up and realize that people who have time to pursue recreational interests along with work are a lot more productive and make for better people to be around in general. Alas, I don't see that happening in our culture at all, in fact, I see us running even further into work overload (just look at the number of people doing two jobs due to layoffs), it's just our (damn backward) system.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2008, 10:21
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riverripper wrote:
The issue is if you want to keep your job then you dont want to have the reputation of the guy who is always going on vacation. If everyone else takes 1 week and you take 3 then it will stand out. Also, if a big deal is going on its very likely your vacation can be canceled. These days with so many layoffs going on its a safe bet that everyone is working harder and more often than usual.


To be honest I don't really care if I stand out because I take what's due to me. Might sound naive but I don't really agree with the work-more-than-your-colleagues-for-the-sake-of-working attitude; I think - read hope - that I'll be judged on other criteria. Moreover I'm not sure that people really do that, even in IB (I'm talking about Europe here). But I do agree on the canceled vacation issue, than can happen quite often.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 19 Jul 2008, 02:41
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hmmm maybe an MBA is not the right thing to do for me ..... or actually a career in the US is not the right thing for me.

It is amaizing how so many people see nothing wrong with working untill midnight on average. I mean ... even prisoners would complain if they were only getting 2 hrs of sleep per night.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 19 Jul 2008, 04:59
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yeah I guess some people were not born to live, they were born to make money :)

It is not like I expect to not work overtime at all, but ... back-to-back all-nighters ... all the time ... It is actually sad that these people value their life only about $ 300K per year
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 03:16
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sudden wrote:
Audio,

I appreciate where you are coming from, but I think you are being naive here. I work in finance (not ibanking) and any vacation whatsoever is frowned upon at my firm. Sure, we might get 3 weeks, but try taking all of the vacation and you will be met with snide comments and dirty looks. In finance, as in most careers, reputation is pretty much everything, and the fastest way to hose your career is to cause management to think you are not a team player or 110% contributor.

In one example, a woman worked for my firm and took the longest possible maternity leave (it was around 3-4 months since she had triplets). Most people take a week or two tops. She got canned for something "unrelated" shortly after she got back.


I'm really shocked with American working culture. 1-2 weeks of a vacation per year? People evaluated on a basis of hours they spent? How is it possible to live in this way? Really crazy nation:)

I usually take 5-7 weeks of vacation every year (but spend some of them for own education and development purposes). And I evaluated well because I give results, not just hours. No one interested how many hours I spend in the office, I'm absolutely free in this issue. The performance is the key, not the time.

Why you are better team player if you are living in the office? I don't understand this logic. How you can contribute on your full abilities, be effective and creative, if you are too tired and not rested well? What about time for reflection, development, self-education, family, hobbies? They are not important things? They are not contribute to success? And do you really believe that just spending hours as much as possible for work makes you millionaires in the future? I think it looks like propaganda of employers to make employees zombies - telling about ladders, bonuses in the future and so on (that's why I don't like big corporations, especially Western). I don’t like to be like a slave.

I think it is important also to keep balance between time you spent for your current work obligation and for your future work/business (study, development and so on). I think it should be about 50-50. If you concentrated on current duty only it is difficult to grow well and quick.

And another question. How many for example IB analysts/associates become MDs and partners? Why one people can do it and other (most of them to be honest) can't? Do you really believe that the main reason is hours? Think about it sometime. You definitely should work hard, but it is better to work hard by head (be effective) than by ass (spent a lot of time just to be like others). And spending time at work think every time how what you do right now prepares you for what are you going to do in the future and is this the best way for it.

For me 1M+ bonuses are not associated with hours I spent, but results I achieved. This is the same in your own business. And results more depend on your personality, level of your human development, qualities and knowledge. Which are acquired usually outside the working time.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 05:30
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pelihu wrote:
Well, I think that's a short-sighted view. There are a lot of people that do banking (or consulting) for 2-3 years, and transfer into general management at an accelerated level. 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. We've all heard the statistic that people graduating from business school these days will change jobs 10 times on average in their careers. Having Bain or Morgan Stanley on your resume, especially as VP or senior manager or something like that, gives you instant credibility in future job searches regardless of industry.

Another way to look at it is to browse company websites and look at the qualifications they value for senior roles. It's unbelievable how often you will see things like "investment banking and consulting experience a big plus". This is true for roles in all fields and different types of firms, including finance and strategy of course, but also marketing, business development, any type of business or quantitative analysis...pretty much everything. If you go straight into general management, you can be sure that 6-8 years down the line, when you're trying to make your move into upper management, you will be competing for jobs with folks with 2-3 years of consulting and banking experience. That's just how it is. And of course, banking and consulting are well-beaten paths to the highest paying jobs of the day, whatever that may be. During the tech boom, many top leaders came from Goldman, McKinsey, BCG, etc. even though they had no tech background; these days, PE/HFs recruit from the same places; and 5 or 10 years from now, whatever industry or business is most desirable will cherry pick top talent from...you guessed it... big three consulting and bulge bracket banks. It really is a great way to position yourself for the future, even if your future isn't in banking or consulting.

A third way to think about it is that you make enough as a banker to take a year-long sabbatical after every two years of work - and you actually see this happen. You'll make more money in 2 years at a bank than people working 4 years in general management. It's relatively common to see people who switch banking jobs take substantial time off between jobs; and when people get laid off from banking, many are in no hurry to transition to a new job because they can afford the time off. Of course, some people spend every penny they have, but those that plan ahead, but those that plan ahead have the option of taking substantial breaks during their careers.

A fourth way to look at it is that bankers will make more in 10-15 years than people in most other industries will in their entire careers. The implications of this are obvious, especially for those that plan ahead and see the big picture. If you're good at what you do, you can start seeing 7 figure paydays after 5-7 years; how many million dollar paychecks do you need before you can start thinking about hanging them up? It's silly to just think about life as a first year associate and the salary of a first year associate. Many SVP/Directors leave before 6PM every day and take home money by the barrel - in fact I just had a chat about this yesterday with a soon-to-be MD as he headed out the door at 5:15 (he leaves before 6 every day). I doubt it's the goal of very many people to work 100 hours or be on the road 4-5 nights every week to make $2-300k; but I think many people can see working 60 hours a week and bringing home $1mm or more (maybe lots more). The thing is people, aren't just going to hand that to you your first year out of business school - you're going to have to work and learn and perform to get to that level.

Another thing that cannot be ignored is that (yes I'm going to come right out and say it) money does matter. Sure, everyone has a different threshold for how much they'd like to make, the things they'd like to have and do, but I think few people are shelling out cash for MBAs without doing some type of calculation on future returns. And statements like "money isn't everything" and "money can't buy happiness" are folksy and sweet, but they aren't implicit truths any more than "a stitch in time saves nine" (whatever the hell that means). They are just sayings. For a lot of people, the ability to afford a nice car, or go to nice restaurants, or live in certain cities, or in a nice neighborhood, or vacation in top destinations, or send their kids to private school, or provide elder care for their parents, or fund their wine or car hobby, or any number of the million other possibilities, are reasons to work harder and make more money. Sure, if you're main concern is yourself, and all you want to do is live a quiet life with plenty of free time, then take whatever job makes you happy; heck go work for the government and count on a steady paycheck and 40 hour work weeks. Back when I waited tables in college, I knew a lot of people that went through this same decision process; they decided that surfing was their top priority and that they would work just enough to afford the rent on their shack near the beach. Hmm, doesn't sound too bad actually, and woe to the dumbasses that wasted their lives attending college. Don't know what those guys and gals are up to these days though...

In a lot of ways, competing for a top consulting or banking job is a lot like choosing to get an MBA (probably why such firms are favorite destinations for MBAs year after year). To get an MBA you have to go above and beyond and spend time doing things that a lot of your peers do not (GMAT, applications, visiting schools, interviewing, all a lot of work you're not getting paid for). Business school itself is an intense experience, to say nothing of sacrificing salary for two years and paying a buttload of money to go. But once you do it, especially at a top school, your career is accelerated and you shoot out the back end ahead of peers from your former career. Same thing applies to banking and consulting roles. These aren't easy jobs, and they aren't the easiest jobs to get; and you definitely have to make lifestyle choices in the short run (sounds like getting an MBA huh?), but in most cases you'll come out ahead of people that don't do it.

To say someone views their life as equivalent to their pay of $300k is silly and lacks vision. Perhaps someone believes their life is worth $2mm, but nobody is willing to pay them that yet - what's the most certain way to get there? I think it's stupid to try and impose a particular viewpoint on what others are doing. A lot of the bankers I know live fairly modest lifestyles (some flashy big spenders as well of course), and have the ultimate goal of financial security. You can weather downturns a lot better if you have some cash tucked away and everything is paid off. Personally, I'd love to put away enough change to quite work and help with mental health and animal charities, but you need to achieve some measure of financial freedom before you can so something like that.

Which leads to the final point. A lot of people take banking and consulting roles out of business school because it's the best way to pay off student debt. It's the most direct way to make a dent after two years of not working and accumulating debt. We have an analyst here where I work who ran up $120k in loans as an undergrad (not that rare for people from private schools that now charge $30k for tuition plus room, board, etc.). Pile on another $150k to attend business school and maybe some more for deferred interest, and such a person would be highly motivated to take the highest paying job possible, at least in the short run. I'm not sure exactly, but I think even with extended payments, debt service might be $3k per month at today's rates. Taking a $100k job would be absurd, and I think pretty much all people pursuing MBAs at top schools have thought about this (unless they have rich parents or something). But a lot, even before applying to business school, plan to work their asses off for 2-3 years in banking or consulting to ramp up to the next stage of their lives. It helps pay down debt and it definitely opens doors and accelerates your career. One might argue that it would be shortsighted to not give banking or consulting some serious consideration given these circumstances.


Very good post. Interesting point of view. Many interesting thoughts. I'm little disagree with some things.

1. about money. I think you are a quite young guy and I understand you because I was the same. Its standard case. But usually with ages people get some wisdom and understanding the life and their values become different. And you are also American as I understand, so American (white-American to be more precise) culture and values are very close to you now. But if you look at this point globally you would probably understand this issue more wide. Believe me, no everybody calculate money return on their education.

2. about hard work and money. Maybe in some societies the relationship between working hours and incomes are strong positive, but I believe that it's not so straight. Do you really believe that all billionaires are just the guys who work harder than others? It's not true. I believe that work smarter is the better way to success than work harder and harder. Especially in 21 century. I can illustrate it by my own experiences - than less harder I worked - more money I got. 15 years ago when I was a child I work really harder than any IBanker may imagine - 12-15 hours of hard physical work every day plus study at school. What I get that time for it? In money terms it may be about 100-200 USD in a year. 5 years ago I worked quite hard as an young consultant for about 10K per year. Now I get about 220K after taxes working for 4-4.5 h per day in average (I calculated all my time spent - it's only useful time without senseless meetings and other wasting time). The reason - I always think about future job no less than about the current one. Now its about 70-30 proportion.

I agree with you that some experience very helpful in the future, but I think you should consider any experience not as an opener some doors, but as a development process for the future and think how what you do now is useful for your entire life and strategic goals, how it contribute to your personality.

3. And actually I can not understand why living in NY its so great for you:) May be because I am a rural guy. I live in megapolis but I can not imagine to live here all the life. San Francisco is really beautiful city, I liked it very much, much more than London and NY, but anyway I would prefer to live in Palo Alto. So everyone has own preferences in this issue.

Last edited by edwarise on 10 Aug 2008, 05:58, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 08:19
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edwarise wrote:
1. about money. I think you are a quite young guy and I understand you because I was the same. Its standard case. But usually with ages people get some wisdom and understanding the life and their values become different. And you are also American as I understand, so American (white-American to be more precise) culture and values are very close to you now. But if you look at this point globally you would probably understand this issue more wide. Believe me, no everybody calculate money return on their education.

Just so you know Pelihu is 30+ a former lawyer and ent. He is of chinese decent and from what I remember the company he started and ran was involved in China. Not everyone calculates money returned on their education but most people wouldnt do it if it was a negative value.


edwarise wrote:
3. And actually I can not understand why living in NY its so great for you:) May be because I am a rural guy. I live in megapolis but I can not imagine to live here all the life. San Francisco is really beautiful city, I liked it very much, much more than London and NY, but anyway I would prefer to live in Palo Alto. So everyone has own preferences in this issue.

People have different lifestyles and preferences you cant put your opinions on where you would want to be on others. Lots of people love living in NYC the entire lives.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 12:10
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Well, I don't really want to make this post about myself personally, but riverripper in pointing out that most of those assumptions do not apply to me.

I did want to comment on the relationship between money, education and work. Obviously, it would be great if everyone could make big piles of money working brief hours doing something that they love and taking lots of vacation. The dream was busted for me when I realized in jr. high that I probably wasn't ever going to be point guard for the Lakers.

I think by-and-large, college graduates and people getting MBAs are smart and thoughtful. It would be silly to commit to an MBA without first considering the alternatives. To do this, you have to consider the costs (actual, opportunity cost, personal, social, whatever is important for you) and then decide whether it is worth it. A key factor that edwarise ignores is that there are not absolute calculations for this - it must be based on estimates, projections and assumptions. Nobody knows what the value of a Stanford MBA is to each individual, but almost everyone will agree that it is worth the cost (just to reinforce, cost means all costs). Will you have a better quality of life in 10 years if you instead take the $160k and 2 years and launch a start-up? Maybe. What about if you bet on commodity futures? Maybe. How about the lottery? Maybe. But most people will look at the Stanford MBA and conclude that with the given risk and reward (very low risk, very high reward), it would be a smart investment of their time and money. If your name is Lebron James, playing basketball might be a better use of your time than getting a Stanford MBA (all costs considered); for the other 99.9999999% of the people, the alternatives do not measure up.

MBA students, being thoughtful people (and somewhat risk adverse) make the same sort of calculation when deciding what type of job they want to take. For many people, the calculation begins with the big pile of debt they have to start paying down when they graduate. I think the jobs that interest MBA students most are the ones that offer the best combination of good pay and valuable experience. As a result, it is no surprise that jobs with the top consulting firms and banks top the list of most desirable MBA destinations year after year, along with the best rotational management programs and firms in hot industries. People do not necessarily take these jobs because they are planning to build careers in banking or consulting, but rather because it gives them a comfortable start financially and makes them highly marketable if/when they decide to make a different work/pay/lifestyle decision 2-5 years down the road. If your dream job is to be a marketing manager and a chic authority on fashion at a luxury goods brand, it still makes sense to cut your teeth with McKinsey for three years where you can gain tons of experience and stabilize your situation financially. Many people are not comfortable diving into an entry level position that doesn't allow them to meet there financial obligations, even if it leads to their dream job.

Again, MBA students, for the most part, do not make career decisions willy-nilly, and most take a long-term look at their futures. Nobody takes a banking job because their dream in life is to work 80 hours a week and make $300k per year (well, not many people); however, a lot of people take a look at all the alternatives and after running through some Monte-Carlo simulations in their heads, decide that banking is the best way to achieve their goals. Sure, some entrepreneurs will be making a lot more money than bankers 5 years out, but it's crazy to look at outliers in various fields and compare them to average participants in others. The clear and simple bottom line is that from the risk/reward standpoint of graduates of top business schools, a job in banking (and related finance fields) is the most well-beaten path to a top paying job in the short, medium, and even long terms. Sure, many associates do not make it to MD, but more follow that route (or hop over to more lucrative positions with private equity and hedge funds) than rise to CEO or become mega-successful entrepreneurs. For the given amount of risk, banking probably provides the greatest reward, by a large margin (everyone's calculation will be different - perhaps some are sensational entrepreneurs, or maybe others are world class golfers, who knows).

Sorry to break this to you, but living in Palo Alto is just as expensive as living in San Francisco. Some people will be happy making $200k 5 years after graduation, others will not. Let's do some quick math here...$200k salary, $120k after taxes, about $10k per month take home. Mortgage on a $1.5mm house (about the average in Palo Alto) $7-9k depending on your down payment (which ain't gonna be much given that salary), $1-3k for student loans depending on how much you took out, car payment, 401k contribution, paying for that 7 weeks of vacation you plan to take. Hmm, even if you never eat out, don't have any kids and opt for basic cable, the numbers don't quite work out. Well, maybe you're the type of person that doesn't need to own a house to be happy, have a nice car, kids or a wine cellar; fine. But if you want to live in Palo Alto, or San Francisco, or any other with top notch amenities where only 10% of the population can afford the average priced house, you'll need a salary in the top 10%. If you're happy living in Peoria or Toledo (sorry people), then your needs are considerably smaller.

Again, banking is not for everyone, but it's silly to dismiss it out of hand as a dumb or illogical choice. Some of the most anal-retentive bean counters out there (I'm talking about MBA students) make the choice every year to go into banking, while a further multiple wishes that they could have those jobs. Take edwarise's example of someone making $1mm+ in his field (whatever that is). Is it common, is it easy to achieve, do many people get there (apparently, even with all of his success, edwarise doesn't even make 1/4 that amount). Compare with the average bulge-bracket investment bank. You don't need to be an MD to make $1mm+ per year; that's a typical level (I wanted to really emphasize, typical, not some outlier, not a one-off, not some random guy you heard about, but rather a very normal level) of compensation for people about 6 years out (at the transition from VP to SVP/director at most banks). Compensation isn't everything, but $1mm is a nice whole number that we can put our minds around - let's say that will allow you to be comfortable in most big cities. With your freshly printed MBA degree (and relying on nothing else like an NFL career or adoption by Donald Trump), what's the best way to achieve this level of comfort? Start your own business? Risky, very very risky. Joining an existing start-up? Still very risky; let's not forget that you might spend years in these two situations and end up with bubkas. Management track in a traditional big company? Very low risk, but the chances of achieving this level of comfort ($1mm annual compensation in today's dollars) is pretty slim; not to mention probably at least 15 years away. Consulting or consulting then management? Low risk, and pretty good chances of reaching 'financial comfort'; not hard to see why this is an extremely popular choice, but longer time-frame and higher likelihood of not getting there when compared with banking. Finally, banking. Low risk (assuming you can land the job), and considering the alternatives a very good shot at reaching 'financial comfort'. In fact there's probably a greater chance of realizing 'a whole-lotta-financial-comfort' (say $5mm+ per year) at a bank than 'financial comfort' at most other positions. And people that reach the SVP/Director level aren't putting in 80 hours a week typically, more like 50 and they are taking their vacation time (things vary, of course); the SVP/directors in our office are almost always gone by 6-6:30PM, virtually every day. It's a pretty good combination of work/pay/play that can be reasonably achieved.

Certainly, there are more ways to look at things. Maybe you're the type of person that really values doing their own thing. Maybe you're the type who would rather take substantially more career risks; or less risk for substantially less pay. Then again, maybe you're the type staring at $250k in college and grad school debt and would love to get that monkey off your back in short order. Maybe you're the type that plans to take care parents who worked hard all their lives but never had the chance to save for retirement. Maybe you're the type that just really loves money. These, and a million other things will determine how much job risk you're willing to take on, and how much money you hope to make. But let's not write off the 20-40% of students at top business schools every year who choose to go into a perrineally popular and high demand field like banking. Thousands of students before you have looked at the broad field of opportunities open to students at top business schools and decided that banking was for them. They weren't stupid.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 10 Aug 2008, 18:30
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I didn't read all the posts fully (math exam coming up - doh!), but I do agree with one of edwarise's points: the concept doing long hours for the sake of doing long hours is plainly ridiculous. I think you can spend time more efficiently in the office and not stay till 2am every day (I'm talking about the big picture here, I do realise that there are specific cases).

Also, receiving a holiday package and not taking it, not because you don't have time (I understand that), but because it's not in the culture to take all your holidays is just silly (I'm criticizing the culture here, not the people who do it; I'd most probably do the same). I get the impression from the posts that I read here on this forum that you tend to have that a lot in IB, more particularly in the US, and I don't agree with that. Yes, I know IB is a "take it or leave it" thing, yes I know it's an investment to jump to something else, yes I might not be cut for IB, but I'm just trying to make a global point here.

Feel free to correct me though on these 2 points if you feel that I'm wrong about them.

To give a personal example, my bank has 2 main M&A offices, one in Brussels and one in Amsterdam. The cultural difference is quite striking: the Brussels team tends to work fairly relaxed hours (60 hours per week tending to be the average); on the other hand, the guys is Amsterdam work their bollocks off - 90 hours per week or more is not uncommon. However, every time I worked for the Amsterdam team (me being in the Brussels office), what struck me the most was the inefficiency and the time waste. These guys KNEW that they were going to be in the office till midnight anyway, so they tended to take their time more. Obviously this is a generalisation, but globally I think it's a fairly accurate description. Does this sound familiar to anyone? (would like to have some feedback from other people)

In conclusion, my point is that while I do realise that IB is hard work, I think it's worth noticing that corporate culture in some IB departments is nonsense.

PS: for the record, while I was in Amsterdam I continued to work 60 - 70 hours per week, and everybody was happy with my work.

PPS: I apologise for the poorly written post; I do hope I got my main point through though.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 11 Aug 2008, 17:27
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I’d like a say a few words to continue our discussion.

To pelihu

1. Time and money.
pelihu wrote:
However, working hard is important as well. Edwarise suggested that he could do his job in 4-5 hours a day - the question then becomes well why doesn't he work just as smart and do twice as much? For bankers, there's always another client that can be wooed or another financial instrument that could be developed. If you're smart and efficient, you an get in on more deals, learn a lot more, get promoted more quickly and make tons more money.


Did I understand you right that you are thinking that all the time should be devoted to work and money? Why do you think so?

For me it’s not the true. I usually reject about 50% of projects which I get (because they are not interested for me, they don’t give me useful experience and connections for future, I have not time or I just don’t want to execute them).

2. Question # 3.
pelihu wrote:
Did you really use cooks as an example of passion and hard work? Seriously? I watch the food network almost every day and I'm pretty damn sure it's easier to make it to the Major Leagues (as in baseball) than it is to make $5mm as a cook. For every cook that makes $5mm I'll be happy to point out 1000 or 10000 working at McDonald's, Olive Garden and your local diner. And seriously, is it passion that got them to the top, or is it a combination of things unrelated to their passion for cooking, like being photogenic and quite frankly really lucky? What if I'm plain looking and not very charismatic, vivacious or talented? Will passion for the job really be enough, or will it propel me into a rewarding career as a line cook at Outback Steakhouse? I have lots of friends who have a passion for literature (used to be an English major), and the most that passion will every get them is tenure at a small liberal arts college. Realistically, passion and dedication in most lines of work will not be enough to allow you to afford a house and lifestyle in Palo Alto.


I have just one question. I want to understand your better. Do you really believe that to be a good successful cook (or smb else) is worse than to be bad ordinary banker? Why? My idea was that it’s much better to make smth you are really love and where you can really contribute to the society with your abilities using them in a best possible way. And do it in a way you like whenever the fashion, culture and other people do it.

I think it’s normal for every industry – for every one successful banker there are hundreds who just spent their time and best ages for nothing. I’ve seen it many times. I’m sure that many people in the world make wrong decision about their designations, and IMHO it’s one of the biggest problems of the human race. It’s really so boring to speak with such unrealized people in their forties.

3. Could I ask you about something personal? Never mind to skip it if you wouldn’t like.

As I understand you are Chinese in original, but spent all your life in US. I feel you are quite American-oriented in your thinking, their values areclose to you. What do you think about greatest Chinese culture and traditions? Are they close to you? Do they affect to your life-style, values and life-decision making process?

Are there any contradictions between them (Chinese and American) from your point of view?

You wrote you was going to be back and develop own business in China. Are you thinking about it yet or decided concentrated on IB career in US?

Thank you very much!


To everybody
4. About working hard and smart.
I meant that working smart is being strongly oriented on your result and understand clearly what do you do right now and why do you do it. And think every moment about do you really need to do it, is now the best time for it and how you can do it better, faster and more efficient. Focusing on real results of any efforts (personal results, not anybody else!) not so easy as it may seems. Many years ago I decided to analyze every minute I spend and found out that 80 % of my working time are useless for me in general – it brought no performance, no satisfaction, no money in the end. If you spent 50 % of your working time really right – I would admire you as much as possible.

Another important thing is reflection. It’s persistent analysis of the way you go. Just an example. When I was I child I grew potato for surviving on 5 lands in 15 km area around place I lived. I worked really hard and might work harder and harder, but for what? For just another few kg of harvest? I found that it’s better to look for other opportunities to use my abilities. I began trade on market and so on. And then I always think what can I do better for me right now, how I can better use my talents? The main problem of long ladders in big companies is that they psychologically fetter many young people, who became oriented on one long way and reduce attention to the world around. They became reflect on yourself and think about opportunities around less and just wait critical points on the straight way to make next decision. And some people (I’ve meet these cases) even if their young decision were obviously wrong just endure for years hoping for better. That’s why I like such guys as pelihu (he is really close to me in many things) – who are not to be afraid of thinking deeply and changing wrong decisions as soon as possible.

Work harder is good, but for me analyzing every moment why you do smth and how to do it better is more difficult and harder than just spending tomorrow more hours than yesterday or to leave the office later than the next table guy.


5. About hours and success
I don’t know how hours affect promotion in US. It does obviously depend on country, industry, company and even persons and their culture. But my experience says that orientation on final results, taking your own hours and projects under your full control, being more independent in managing your work usually helps. When I was younger I usually went to office later and left earlier than others (ever than my directors) and despite it grew much faster than anybody else around. I think it may show your leadership, result orientation, confidence and self-sufficiency. Now I also like more subordinates who just take the task and manage it yourself, not trying to be always in a field of view. If someone stays later than others he does not manage his time right or he tries to impress by his diligence. I don’t like both types.

And no less important factor mentioned by Audio. Many people just wasting their time at office waiting for appropriate time to go without any sense for them or for the company. It’s obviously common thing.

6. Factors of success
What are the real factors of life success? Hours you spent of course important. But I think not last in the list are family (it can really stimulate and inspire as nothing else), hobbies (they can develop many traits which difficult to develop by other things), general development and education (which is really important for business, for example in communications or understanding global trends, understanding people better and so on), sport (good fit is obvious), character improvement, traveling and rest of mind (it opens your creativity and vision) and so on. Hours do not help with them, they prevent. How the best way to combine all the things? It’s very individual question, but the balance between many factors are important for success in any field.

I know one guy, he is multibillionaire (Forbes-100, 11-digit capital though he lost a few billions this year). He got his fortune in the last 5-6 years. I think he will never work 100-hours a week in his life. But he is really interesting person. He has not MBA or great education, he is not a genious, and he has never planned his ladder. But he look around and see current opportunities very well. He likes to think and take things into doubts. Really great guy.

I knew also some people who really got his fortune by spending all their lives in the office. Some of them are really successful. But for me they often are quite boring. It’s difficult to speak with them about smth interesting but cars, money and shops. They look like they’ve never thought or discussed about serious things. Just chatting for politeness. Many bankers I’m working with are that type. They sold their human development like Faust sold his soul.

7. Age and money.
I believe now that money in a young age when the personality is not strong yet may be a bad thing. Bad for the person of course. Maybe it’s very rare in Europe and not very common in US, but in my country a lot of people became multimillionaires and even billionaires very quickly, under their 30. I know a few. For many it has bad effect on personality and character. I can understand it because even I has big problems with the prou after some quick success. It really hurt later and I think you are always need to pay for it. So it’s not a easy question – do you really want it al right now? I know that all young people want as much as possible and as soon as possible, but maybe it is better to get most benefits later and get the greater life early. Also question for consideration. Anyway it’s better to be very accurate with huge money in young age.

8. Once upon a time I decided to think how I can motivate young men better. How to pay them lower wage but get the most efforts and all the juice? And I realized that the best way – to promise everything great in the future if they would work as hard as possible for modest money right now and a few years. In one great poem it was written “hopes nourish youth” – great words. And then I realized that it’s a common thing to exploit people for centuries. Give me all your life for 5 (10, 20…) years, forget everything and then you will be free/happy/respected/rich whatever. It’s common business principle to manage youth. In NBA managers say “Play 5 years for 1M, be good and discipline, and you will get 5. And then 10. And maybe after 1o years on the decline of your career you will get 20 if you would be the good guy. You are playing now much better than those who get 20 right now? You deserve more? You can get awful injury? It’s not your issues, stupid boy, believe us!”. ...“Look at this Partner, his life so great and happy, he almost does do nothing and get millions! Do you want such a life? Do what we say and maybe sometime you’ll get it! You are ours!”. ...“Just 25 years in the army – it’s almost nothing! and see how big your pension will be! And what a respect! Isn’t it great?”.

In many industries this principle became dominant. And why in those industries there are not any trade unions? It’s contradicted with my previous point, but it’s also thing for consideration.

Sorry if I offence somebody, I don’t mean anything personal. I just like to speak with smart guys and discuss non obvious and interesting questions.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2010, 09:22
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agold wrote:
pelihu wrote:
A fourth way to look at it is that bankers will make more in 10-15 years than people in most other industries will in their entire careers. The implications of this are obvious, especially for those that plan ahead and see the big picture. If you're good at what you do, you can start seeing 7 figure paydays after 5-7 years; how many million dollar paychecks do you need before you can start thinking about hanging them up? It's silly to just think about life as a first year associate and the salary of a first year associate. Many SVP/Directors leave before 6PM every day and take home money by the barrel - in fact I just had a chat about this yesterday with a soon-to-be MD as he headed out the door at 5:15 (he leaves before 6 every day). I doubt it's the goal of very many people to work 100 hours or be on the road 4-5 nights every week to make $2-300k; but I think many people can see working 60 hours a week and bringing home $1mm or more (maybe lots more).

Excellent, thoughtful post. I agree with most things you just mentioned. The only thing that I disagree with is when you mentioned that many bankers tend to be "thrifty" or save a lot. I'm really not sure about the banking culture in LA, but from what I know of the bankers in Chicago - almost all of them are big spenders. The junior guys live in some of the city's most expensive neighborhoods and the senior guys almost all tend to live along the North Shore suburbs lining Lake Michigan. They did not go into investment banking so that they could live alongside the upper-middle class families making $250K/year - they went into banking so that they could reasonably fit into the upper class. Along with living in these neighborhoods and maintaining this social standing obviously come several other demands - private schools for the kids, new cars, jewelry, designer clothes, etc. It's really just part of being a conformist and living in a large metropolitan area. I don't think you're going to find very many investment bankers living like Warren Buffett. From what I have seen in Chicago, most of them seem to consistently upgrade their lifestyles as they move up the ranks and they become slaves to the year end bonus check.

The entitlement on display in both posts is barf inducing. $250k/year salary is not chump change and can easily buy you most of the houses in the North Shore suburbs as well as a very large condo in a nice neighborhood of the city. The average household income in the nicest suburbs of Chicagoland don't even surpass $80k.

It's hard to become a Director/MD. Most who pursue the IB track fall quite short of that goal. Don't start fantasizing about that $1 million plus salary before you even start B-school.

Last edited by carlos1 on 30 Mar 2010, 09:37, 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 16 Jul 2008, 08:58
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You need to remember that in the US there is a huge difference between days of vacation you get in your benefit package and what you are actually able to take. Also with the modern wonders of blackberrys dont think you can get away from it all even when on vacations. Especially the higher up you move.

IB has the WORST work/life balance you will find.
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Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average? [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2008, 10:42
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I think, esp in IB, working is looked at as a macho thing and vacation as being weak. It really is true for much of corp america, face time counts for a lot.
Re: IB in the US - how many days off per year on average?   [#permalink] 16 Jul 2008, 10:42
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