Reality Check: Investment Banking From The Outside Looking In
To me it invokes an interesting thought process.
I am learning to do things I have never done before, realizing I don't have all the answers and must welcome help when it is offered, meeting incredible people from all walks of life, and challenging myself each day.
Isn't that was life is all about?
Coming out of McGill I thought I had done all the right things. Graduated with a Finance degree, earned Distinction honours, and secured a job with what was at the time the largest financial institution in the world, Citigroup. At 22 years old, in terms of my life's trajectory, things were looking pretty good.
Looking back on my time as an investment banker; however, it appears that perhaps no other point in my life reflects what could be considered "putting my life on hold." I literally stopped everything that was not work related. Family. Personal health. Fitness. Girlfriend. Everything.
I was paid very well but there was lots more to be made. I worked very hard but could always work harder. I was steadfast in never missing a deadline much to the detriment of my own personal life.
I am thankful to have such a great partner in Jacynthe. You are meant to find someone who totally understands you, supports you in any way but most importantly has no problem calling you out when needed.
Below is an email from my days at Citi where Jacynthe does exactly that.
To provide a little context this is about 2 years into my time at Citi as a Financial Analyst at the height of what was a raging bull market (little did we know what was in store 5 months later...). I had been working nearly 7 days a week for the past 2 years and had missed the majority of family events, trips and Sunday night dinners all in the pursuit of my next bonus.
In the midst of a "live" deal that I had been working on I had not been home from the office in over 3 nights. I was nearing my 80th straight hour at the office when a little button on one of my two monitors popped up that said "Email. From: Jacynthe Simard, Subject: Reality Check!".
I'll give her credit, she knows how to title an email.
Here it is in all its glory:
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2008 18:32:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Reality Check!
I know you would say that this is the last thing you need right now. But I think you're wrong. I think you need a ****ing reality check. Call me crazy if you want. I don't care. I'm asking you to come home to sleep for 5 hours not because you went out last night and partied but because you've been working 11 days straight with on average 3-4 hours of sleep every single night. Oh yeah, I forgot, you didn't come home last night and you're not planning to again tonight...this is INSANE.
You need to explain to me what you do. I thought I knew your job but I must not. Who do you think you are? A surgeon? Is there someone dying on the operation chair? Are you Jack Bauer? Are there some terrorists out there waiting to bomb Toronto and you're the only one that can stop it? THAT would be worth staying at work! I think I've been really good but now it just came to a point where it's beyond ridiculous. If your boss doesn't understand that you need a couple hours sleep not to rest but to prevent a nervous breakdown well this is slavery my friend. There's a human rights charter against all this by the way.
I'm not asking you to quit your job (at least not now). I'm asking you to come home and sleep for a bit.
Anyway, this is what I think. My opinion doesn't matter I know because as you keep repeating to me "you don't understand".
I guess I'll see you next Monday!
After receiving this email I was home within 10 minutes. Jacynthe and I had a great dinner. Shockingly the world did not explode. The deal did not fall apart. Nobody died.
Delicious dinner at home in our apartment with the girl that would be my future wife. For the first time in a while I was living life.
Life gets hectic sometimes and you can "put it on hold" even when you think you are doing the complete opposite. Every once in a while you just need a reality check.
Now, I'm off to bed. Have 7:00AM speed skating practice. Time to get some sleep ;)