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Morning Coffee: Lessons from the man with an amazing finance career and incredible life. Why M&A bankers work weekends

Peter Muller

A pictorial representation of Mueller making jazz

If you want an exceptional finance career that does not squat like a Larkinesque toad across your whole life, you will need a containment strategy. The man with the best containment strategy yet is Pete Muller, portfolio manager at hedge fund PDT Partners.

There’s none of the getting up at 3.30am and sleeping five hours a night for Muller: Institutional Investor says he gets a solid 7 hours. Nor does he rush out of bed to his trading screens: he spends an hour exercising and doing yoga before going to the office. Work does not consume his downtime, much of which is spent with his wife and family, writing crossword puzzles that are published in the New York Times, or playing poker.

Muller’s most impressive achievement, however, is music. Whilst carving a career as an exceptional trader he’s also carved a career as a professional jazz musician, and taken time off to promote his oeuvre.

Muller’s method shows how this can be done.

Firstly, if you want a major facet to your life outside finance, you must develop it in parallel with your finance career. – Don’t give it up and plan to come back to it later. Muller began playing jazz piano as a child and continued throughout his time at Princeton and Morgan Stanley. Secondly, don’t undersell yourself in finance. – Muller wasn’t desperate to join Morgan Stanley, and only did so when they agreed to let him have a proprietary trading outfit within the bank (which he late spun out as PDT). Thirdly, recognize when work is becoming all-consuming, and step back. – Muller took a seven month sabbatical from Morgan Stanley when he felt burned out. He trekked, kayaked and busked (on the New York subway). And lastly, don’t be binary: there’s no need to do one thing in life to the exclusion of all others. “I realized that in your life, you can have more than one passion. The energy you get from one can go to the other,” says Muller of his passions for music and for money management.

Separately, Business Insider helps explain M&A bankers’ proclivity for working weekends. – The $69bn CVS Health Aetna deal, which was closed last weekend, is thought to have generated up to $600m in advisory and financing fees.


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