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Investment bankers earn a lot of money, but feel under-appreciated

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"I'm dissatisfied with my work environment and lack of skill utilization."

If you go into an investment banking job you know that the work will be hard and the hours long – but the money is good. Nonetheless, investment bankers are among the unhappiest financial services professionals out there – and among the least satisfied of any profession.

In a survey of 30 industries by career platform Sokanu, finance ranked 28th. Of the 300 individual professions, investment bankers ranked 277th. Generally finance ranked poorly – financial adviser (#252), auditor (#264), compliance manager (#268), financial analyst (#269) and investment banker (#277) were all near the bottom of the pile. In fact, risk managers – which are both in demand and elevated in status within most organisations – were the most satisfied, at 66th. Management consultants came in at 96th.

Saeid Fard, the president of Sokanu, said that money and prestige doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. “In general, financial services positions did not rank well in terms of work environment and skill utilization, two of the five key dimensions that we looked at in this research.”

Investment bankers tend to be given fairly boring work, but there’s surely also a factor that many of these A+ students turned bankers have an inflated opinion of themselves. Juniors going into banking spend their university years getting involved with finance societies, interning at a range of firms and – more often than not – getting involved in entrepreneurial activities. The relatively monotonous work of financial modelling with the occasional bag-carrying client trip doesn’t, perhaps, seem as appealing.

What’s missing?

A common theme among the most satisfied careers is that they allow for creativity and/or control over one’s work, Fard said. For instance, six of the top 10 most satisfied careers are highly creative careers, and two are executive leadership positions: CEO and entrepreneur.

Basically, it’s all down to the fact that many investment banking analysts and associates want to be a master of the universe from the outset of their career or see investment banking merely as a stepping stone and aren’t interested in paying their dues. A significant number don’t enjoy their bank’s working environment and don’t believe that their skill sets are fully appreciated or utilized in their current role.

“You might be interested in investment banking, but can you handle the hours?” Fard said. “Are you okay editing and re-editing a pitch deck dozens of times?

“It’s possible to be very interested in certain subject area, but your overall fit may be influenced by some of these other factors, so they are important to consider when choosing a career,” he said.

Photo credit: feedough/GettyImages

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