If Not I-Banking, What?

The academic year is freshly underway and the financial markets, led by the investment banks, are in deep distress.

Which has me wondering: for those of you pursuing a finance or economics degree or perhaps an M.B.A., how have the events of the past several months altered your future plans?

For quite a few years now, investment banking has been the target occupation of a lot of smart young people; what’s your target today, and how has your thinking changed?


JST

Finish up a MEcon. I'm placing all my bets with the US Intelligence Community. After a few years making decent bank and doing patriotic work, the best among the analysts have the opportunity to move into "red cell" analysis. For aspiring economists such as myself, this means I would get to use classified information to develop counterfactual realities of the future macroeconomic environment. All this, and job security to boot. Cue the Bond music here...

Chuck

I'm quitting business school to join the good fight with the regulators if they'll have me. There's a lot of more important work to do for us financial professionals than I-banking.

JAS

I just did an internship at an Investment Bank, from which I was given an offer to come back following graduation in one year. Although these events are generating some uncertainty in my life in terms of job security, I think it's a good time to start this career path.

I think there will be more opportunities as there will be an inherent need to rethink old ways of doing things. This will lead to more scope to prove yourself. Moreover, I think - like Justin above - there will always be a need for banks to sit at the centre of a capitalist system to allocate the resources.

So my only worries is that someone comes in and puts in the wrong kind of regulation or that my bank fails. Otherwise the future is (relatively) bright. But in terms of prestige and remuneration (which is a common reason for doing this line of work, not mine however) things will inevitably be worse.

Tu Tu

whatever you do, dont get into physiotherapy (physical therapy)

ive been a physiotherapist for 5 years in sydney, and we're constantly looked down upon by the medical community. Most people get a degree to AVOID labour work, yet we work physically hard all day grinding our elbows into peoples backs after a 4 year uni degree. at my uni, physiotherapy was harder to get into than law, dentistry, pharmacy, commerce, etc. only med was harder to get in.

you have to suck up to doctors to get referrals and if the doc aint happy with your treatment by setting unrealistic goals, you loose business.

its virtually impossible pushing 100k/year if you are working for someone. good thing ive gone into a b.commerce (actuary/accounting) so at least that will open up opportunities.

PharmD

That's why healthcare field is the way to go. I am a pharmacist working in a hospital and I believe pharmacy as a profession has never been better! To be honest, the economy recently has not affected me in any way. Work satisfaction, good flexible hours, stability, competitive salary (100k-130k), and best of all, there is a HUGE demand for pharmacists.

wallywabash

"MBA education" is an oxymoron.

TC

Thank God I never had any interest in investment banking and didn't seek a fancy, Wall Street job like so many of my peers. After graduation with a B.S. in Business Administration (double major in supply chain management and marketing), I did a year of volunteer work before going into the administrative side of healthcare. With all those baby boomers getting old and sick and increasing Medicare/Medicaid rules to find loopholes in, I'm in a pretty safe place right now. I'm also no longer considering going for the MBA. MHA (Health Administration) or MPH (Public Health) are so much more appealing.

Eamonn

I'm 12 credits out from Finance & Investments major.. and I'm wishing I hadn't switched out from Accounting 2 years back. I'll roll with the punches and while I'm young and not in debt somehow I'm going to try and come up with a strategy which will hopefully involve getting a job somewhere.

Would love to get into an investment management firm..

Ryan Parks

I plan on creating a WallStreetWelfare.com blog and selling it to the WSJ.

SEK

I am still pursueing econ and math major but i've dropped finance. and i plan to work for federal government. i guess in a time like this security is what really matters for me.

Rico Suave

I have recently been admitted to the University of South Florida's international MBA program in spanish-language marketing. However, I am planning instead to pursue a career in international gangja smuggling. If that doesn't work out, I have a hip-hop clothing line and record label to fall back on.

CamilaCMS

The average investment banker lasts for about 2 or 3 years. So with this whole crisis, that just means that those who were planning to go into investment banking will end up exploring other fields of investment and consulting or whatever until this crisis begins to be sorted out. Personally, that's why I'm going to be a nurse because they are in high demand everywhere.

Dylan

I could care less about becoming an investment banker. Although working in the financial business may be rewarding, I want to do something I am adamantly passionate about. For that reason (and because my Ecomics--International Area Studies major orientation group was boring as well as the curiosity I have developed from the influence of my philosophy teacher at Deerfield), I have decided to switch my major to philosophy for the time being. But what I really want to do (and have since the age of eleven) is to be a sports agent for soccer players in Europe. I plan to create and declare my own major: Sports, Philosophy, and Entertainment. Although the sports business is becoming more and more difficult to break into, I plan to follow my dream by attempting to walk on to the UCLA team and then sign my first clients there. I encourage people to really pursue and do a job they feel passionate about (and if that's investment banking great) rather than just go after the money (there's usually money to be made when you follow your passions.

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Su

Backup plans for former/aspiring I-bankers appear to be Consulting, P/E firms and Asia.. in roughly that order.

Sean

Obviously this is a bit disconcerting. But, hopefully by the time I graduating with my B.A. in Economics in 2010, the markets will have stabilized and will be looking for new blood. If not, perhaps head to Asia. Hong Kong, Singapore, etc?

Jay

I go to Wharton, and people are understandably concerned about their job prospects here. We have many people who worked at Lehman or Merrill. But things aren't terrible at the ground level here. BarCap plans to take quite a few people (although that was an intention stated prior to the Lehman debacle), and BofA intends to honor all of LEH's offers. Moreover, whether people like it or not, what investment banks and bankers do is a necessary thing, and while hiring is slower, banks like JPM and Citi are still hiring. Advisory firms like Lazard are still hiring, as are boutiques and middle-market firms, like Gleacher, Evercore, Thomas Weisel, Moelis, Petsky Prunier, etc. Also, restructuring groups are certainly hiring, and as an elite school, we are a logical destination for banks like Houlihan Lokey looking to hire for their restructuring groups.

Moreover, large hedge funds increasingly recruit on campus, like AQR, Citadel, and D.E. Shaw, so the best and brightest are looking to go there nowadays. PE, on the other hand, is pretty much dead. Consulting is still hiring, and many people, myself included, are revamping their resumes to play up their soft skills and dropping them for those jobs.

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Shun-CMS

I agree with Comilia (#42) that some people might change its profession to something else than banking investment. However, this also taught them a real life lesson. That no matter how successful and reputation one or the company has, they can be trampled down due to a change in the whole economy. This would make some think, and actually give incentives to join the banking investment, as they would think: “if ‘I’ don’t contribute to fixing this, who else would”. Those guys could end up being successful. It might not be an easy way but they could.

ADB

i've had many peers going into investment banking. i went to kellogg and given the breadth of the school, luckily i feel we have the skills to move from banking to another profession.. say corporate finance or consulting if need be. the job market is definitely not receptive, but most people from top schools can find an alternative as long as they are not too picky..

Cliff

I'm headed towards a position with the state or federal government. Someone needs to regulate the crap out of these "hung over" (isn't that how Bush referred to them?) investment bankers?

Greg

These comments match my experience in my MBA program, which is that fewer and fewer people already were looking at I-banking as a future plan. Not one person I've met in my MBA program (which is a reasonably respected one) has been interested in I-banking going forward.

The friends I had coming out of college who went into that field have largely moved out of it, citing the insane, thankless hours and the lack of intellectual stimulation. At least one of those friends is now getting an MBA as he moves farther away from the field (he's in private equity now).

In my experience, MBAs, even before the credit crunch became this bad, were being looked at as a way to broaden horizons, not narrow in on one profitable profession. Or perhaps I-banking was last century's way of making millions? Hard to say. For me, the MBA was always an additional qualification that many job markets - including the nonprofit world - demanded for a position that would include any real decision-making responsibility. The students I see in my program are there for the value of the MBA as a product for their lives, not for entry into any specific field enabled by the degree.

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