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If you’re considering going to Wall Street, you should really know what you’re getting into.
Yes, you will get paid better than average people all over the world. Yes, you will get to learn new things constantly, and yes, you will be involved in important transactions (well, hopefully) and meet interesting clients.
However, there is a downside, and it’s generally all in your head.
A Wall Street veteran, who will remain anonymous, gave us a laundry list of ways working on the Street can actually ruin your life.
Wall Streeters have to deal with a distorted sense of money, questions about self-worth, arrested development and most importantly, the fact that they never ever have enough time. They can try and pay for it, but that only gets you so much.
The point is — you better love finance if you’re getting into this business, because it’s going to take over your life.
You’ll be working 80-plus hours a week, so it’s going to be hard to date.
“You will work insane hours in your first five years meaning stable relationships are a no go.”
Expect to always be on your work BlackBerry.
“And it will be a huge problem with any significant other.”
And you’ll be so tired you can’t even go out when you’re still young and single.
“You won’t have the energy to go out on Friday nights by 30 even if you’re still single.”
Because you work so much, you’ll likely miss out on important events with loved ones.
“I had a girl break up with me because I had an assistant call to check on her…everyone has a story like that. Missed a sister’s wedding…didn’t see grandma before she passed away, etc.”
When you’re in your 20s, your friends will think you make more money than you actually do.
“You’ll make more money than everyone else, but much less than anyone else thinks. Friends will think you are cheap when you are being frugal because they think you got a $ 300K bonus, but actually you got $ 150K. That’s when you are 25, 26.”
You’ll likely be stuck doing the same type of work your entire career.
“You will be recruited into a group. Unless you reinvent yourself (grad school, starting from the beginning in a new position) you will remain in that exact discipline for the rest of your life.
“Who hired you? The M&A MD or the bond trading MD? That will dictate what you do 20 years later. There’s not changing disciplines within a rigid Wall Street culture. It’s also arbitrary. If you hate your first job, you’re screwed.”
You’ll fantasize about what you’ll do after working on the Street for a few years.
“Your constant fantasy will be a plan on what you will do when you quit, making you identical to factory workers pining for retirement.”
If you’re still there, you’ll eventually start to question what societal value your job has.
“You will turn 40 and realize that your accomplishments have no real societal value (except those rare bankers that do stuff that really is beneficial for GDP).”
Just hope that you’re still in good shape physically.
“As a [portfolio manager] at a hedge fund, the best you can hope for is the satisfaction of being an athlete.”
You’ll probably feel awkward at high school and college reunions.
“Your high school buddies that became nurses, teachers, etc., they will make a real impact on peoples’ lives. Your buddies from college who start businesses and make/discover things will have an impact on the economy. You’ll feel awkward at reunions.”
You will develop distorted views of money.
“Your view of money will become distorted. You’ll get screwed on your bonus and be depressed/enraged while you make more money in a year than your parents made in their entire lives.”
There’s no living a simple life at that point.
“Your distorted sense of money, combined with the company you keep, will lead to a lifestyle that is as leveraged/precarious as any normal middle class one. It’s just that the numbers are bigger. The need to pay that huge mortgage, expensive private schools, will keep that fantasy of the simple life always elusive.”
It may take you a little longer to mature.
“Years of constant work will also delay some life lessons. When you get into serious relationships later on you will be immature in some ways, you will have never learned some basic stuff about how relationships work.”
No kid wants to be you when they grow up.
“No grade schooler will ever say they want to be you when they grow up, even your kids. What’s more, if your college age kids do want to emulate you, you’ll probably feel bad.”
You’ll even feel odd explaining what you do to adults.
“When you are at dinner parties and people ask you to explain your job, you’ll feel silly as the words come out of your mouth seem so frivolous.”
Because you’re kicking butt at work, you won’t even recognize the bad habits you’re picking up.
“When you first taste success in five years or so, any bad habit/tendencies will become a problem. Booze, whatever. You will literally not be aware of any self-destructive tendencies so long as you continue to kick a** at work.”
“It’s like being a rockstar. You will feel invincible at 29 with a seven-figure salary. Trust me on this.”
There will be tension between your co-workers.
“If you are a legacy, you’ll dislike the greedy graspy newbies. If you are a first generation, you’ll despise all the legacies.”
Especially when you’re all competing for a piece of a shrinking pie.
“You’ll be competing with your closest co-workers for a piece of that pie at all times. Sometimes it’ll feel like a team, except at bonus time.”
You’ll be paranoid about getting screwed in any deal.
“One no one talks about: You will become paranoid you are getting screwed in any real life financial transaction.”
Your vision will suffer.
“It can facilitate a healthy lifestyle for some (with the exception of your eyes. Your vision is going to get shot) but many people on Wall Street are health nuts.”
You will covet time and even find ways to buy more of it.
“Other people covet material things. Their version of frivolous spending is a watch, car, new shoes. You will covet time. And your frivolous spending will be on things that carve out a little more time. You’ll spend twice the money to get from point A to point B faster. You’ll hire professionals to do your yard even though you don’t need to. Anything that saves your precious time, you’ll buy.”
“Although I’m sure that’s true of other, time intensive professions. You work a lot. You have less time of your own than normal people. So any way to cut out anything that eats that personal time is what you spend most freely on. You have the house in the Hamptons or a partial or private jet and you take the jet so you can get home from meetings faster. That’s an extreme example, but that’s how it really is. Commute reduction will be an obsession.”
People will try to take advantage of you, especially if you’re young.
“Bonuses and salaries are down… industry in doldrums. However, all wealth is RELATIVE. You are perceived to be well to do, you are young, you live in a large city, therefore there will be a small army of people there to help you make bad choices. Yes, gold diggers exist, yes, high-end escort agencies exist, yes drug dealers with Wall Street clientele exist, yes expensive doctors who write prescriptions for things you don’t need exist.”
You may hate your co-workers.
“You will work with jerks: Wall Street rewards unbalanced personalities. Enjoy.”
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