Most of the material on this blog is gained from my personal experiences in Investment Banking. In other posts in this section I will tell about how you will know that it is time for you to quit banking and how to go about doing it. This post will be one of the few which doesn’t offer any advice. It is part of my investment banking story and why I ended up leaving investment banking.
I left banking for a few reasons, some of them well thought through and others which were a bit more emotionally driven. However when I distilled it down, there were three real reasons that I left banking:
- My life was all about work and after 3 years that really started to bother me
- I realised that I actually didn’t need as much money as I was making
- I was really marketable in the workplaces and there were other industries which excited me
My life was all about work and after 3 years it was really starting to bother me
In my one of my Getting into Investment Banking posts I mentioned that investment banks like to hire really well rounded candidates. I like to think that I was one of those well rounded candidates. I had a really full social life with friends and family and I had more hobbies than I could count.
When I started banking I knew I was giving up much of my social life and all of my hobbies. I made that decision consciously like most people entering banking do. And for the first two years I was really too busy to notice. I noticed that I didn’t see my friends as much any more and that I was certainly less interesting when it came to dinner conversation but on the whole it didn’t really bother me.
However as I entered my third year in banking someone close to me passed away and I hadn’t spent as much time with them as I would have liked and this jolted me into thinking “am I really happy with the direction that I am going?” I realised all the things that I had given up and I missed them. It’s not that work was becoming any harder. To the contrary – as I continued to move up the ladder I was doing amazing work and I was working fewer hours…but work still dominated my life and I missed the other parts of it.
I realised that I actually didn’t need as much money as I was making
Most people that enter banking are willing and able to put up with less of a life now to set themselves financially for the future. Everyone goes through what I did when I was thinking about what I had given up to do banking…but some people are able to rationalise and push through this because they see the benefits they are accruing for later in life.
I was also one of those people…until I realised that I had already earned a lot in banking and set myself up nicely…and perhaps it was time to do something different:
- I don’t really have expensive tastes: I don’t know whether you would call me an frugal person, but I’m certainly not someone who spends a lot of money on fine dining, expensive holidays and ‘things’ (although I do have a soft spot for tailored suits)
- I was earning far more than I could spend in my spare time: If I had all the spare time in the world then I probably could have found ways to spend the money I was earning as a banker. But the fact was that I had very little spare time and I was earning far more than I could spend. I was saving like crazy…but I wasn’t sure what for
- I had already saved a nice little nest egg: After three years of not having a chance to spend anything in banking I had managed to buy (with a mortgage) a house for myself. It wasn’t huge or in the most expensive part of town but I was happy with it. I had also managed to build up a nice little nest egg outside of this house
- And I worked out that in order to be comfortable I didn’t need to be making as much money: If I had stayed in banking my income would have continued to rise significantly. But the fact was that I had my nest egg all set up and I didn’t need as much to keep going. I worked out what I did need to lead a very comfortable life and it was far less than I was making in that final year in banking
I was really marketable in the workplace
I had already worked out that I missed having my life outside of work and that I didn’t need to earn as much money as I was making but the real ‘aha’ moment came when I worked out how marketable I was after three years in banking.
After three years in banking almost any employer would love to have you. You have an ability to work ungodly hours and not complain and your attention to detail is second to none. Of course there are some fields which are ultra competitive (even for bankers) such as Private Equity or Hedge Funds but these are not the norm. Generally speaking it is not hard at all to leverage a great job after 3 years in banking.
When I looked into it I found that there were jobs that looked really interesting to me, that would pay me really well (less than I was currently getting but more than I needed to be comfortable – per my discussion above)…and I would get my life back. For me it was a no brainer and I had found my perfect time to exit.
So I jumped…and I’ve never regretted it
After finding a job that I was really excited about doing I jumped…and I have never regretted it. I don’t regret at all my time in Investment Banking but I am glad that I left when I did. I now get paid very well to do a job that I love doing and that I can leave at 6.30pm and not think about until the next day.
There are some things I miss about banking (especially the friends I made when I was there) but overall that was the right decision for me.
This was just my story. If you have a story about leaving banking I would love to hear it below. Next I’m going to post about how you know it’s time for you to leave banking and what to do once you come to that realisation.
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