Brokerage from hell


Confused about dryer sheets
Jul 16, 2006
Hi all, my first post.

Thank you all for being such an inspiration. After getting annhilated at work I like to come home and log on and get motivated to get FIREd as quick as possible. This place pumps me up like nothing else!

A bit about me: I am a 29-year old dude working as a broker for one of the US investment banks, I'm too afraid to spell it out but it does rhyme with "Gloldman Slachs". This place is brutal beyond belief. I'm aging 3-years-for-1... but that's okay, I'm hoping I'm out in several years (hoping!).

No property, no mortgage, no debt, currently have a little over 500,000 split evenly between Vanguard VTI's and 5-year CD's. If our firm ends strong this year I hope to have 700,000 by January (hoping!).

For the number-crunchers, I started saving ambitously 2 years ago, which somewhat explains the savings-to-salary ratio. Before I get reamed I will say I feel extremely blessed for the opportunity I've been given to work in my industry, and how much I credit good luck in my ending up in my current situation.

But boy how I dislike my job! I will walk out the day I know that I can. Working with mostly alpha-males and alpha-females we float our "number" to each other casually and wistfully, with 5 mm USD the median for most, and with the managing directors probably twice that amount. I am too embarrassed to share with them my ambitous "number" of 28,000 / 0.035 = 800,000. (28,000 = I'm a closet hippie, 0.035 = I am still young).

28,000 a year might be cutting it close. I think I can do it. My hope is to spend 6 months every year on a hiking trail.

I dream of clean air, spending lots and lots of time with mom and dad, growing a tree, hiking the North Country, maybe even find "the one".

Anyway. I just wanted to say hello and thank you. You guys give me hope. Something I don't get at work. Bless you all.

Sounds like you are looking at this from too desperate a perspective. How about hanging in at the mad house for as long as you can take it to build up a nice nut, then quit and hike a bit, re-aquaint with your parents, get laid, blah, blah. Then go look for some work that might actually be fun. With the nest egg already laid, and some time for it to grow, employment could be on your terms. If you find that significant other you mention and, particularly, if kids result, it might be nice to have some income to let the SWR build up a bit more than the bare bones 28K level. Heck, at 29 you won't even have worked enough to get social security.
Welcome to the board, Doby.

Doby said:
split evenly between Vanguard VTI's and 5-year CD's.
I must admit that you sound like a broker's nightmare customer. How can GS ever hope to churn any commissions from an account like that?!?

At your point in life-- 29 and no spouse or family-- your needs are probably a lot less than even your hippie-modest wants. It might surely be worth sticking it out for one last bonus check but you're in the enviable financial position to walk away from it any time you want. It's perhaps a bit premature to claim financial independence-- especially with the specter of finding affordable medical insurance-- but you sure have earned a few years off the treadmill and you have the resources to afford it.

I'd say that you can quit whenever you want and decide what's next. Have you read Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More"?
I agree. Take 6 months to a year. Get a round-the-world ticket. Go on an Earthwatch (tax deductible too! ;) ) expedition. Sleep in.

Then find less stressful work. Working at a university could be nice...surrounded by 20 year olds, regular hours, plenty of vacation. Though I do think 28,000 is plenty if you're not living on the coasts and if your health holds.
Hey Doby, I like your plan! You're at a great age and a great place (no property, no debt, modest lifestyle) to do it. And obviously you could get a job in 10 years if worse come to worse. Making a lot of money can be a huge trap. I say go for it when your hit your mark!

I think I am familiar with the kind of job that Doby has. A friend of mine had a similar job in NYC until he moved up in the world. To say that it's stressful is akin to pointing out that downtown Nagasaki was unhealthy on August 9, 1945  :-\

Coach said:
And obviously you could get a job in 10 years if worse come to worse.

If it's the kind of job that I think it is, then it may not be available to Doby 10 years from now. He will probably be able to get a different, less stressful/lucrative, job.

As far as living on $28K/y, sure, it's possible, but keep in mind that your needs and wants may change over time. Interestingly enough, I am spending much less at 40 than I was spending at 30, but for most people it's the other way around.
[quote     Though I do think 28,000 is plenty if you're not living on the coasts and if your health holds.

Get your individual health insurrance policy dialed in before you jump.  The health insurance carriers actually want your business, unlike the old (46 ?) broken down posters like me.     Good Luck, and Welcome to the board !
donheff said:
Sounds like you are looking at this from too desperate a perspective.   

Thank you donheff for your reply. I think about this a lot - is it the irrational desperation in me urging me to call it a day, or is it the part of me that actually knows better... Most of the time I can't tell the difference. Maybe it's both?

Anway the suggestion you lay out is fantastic. Getting a job I'd like sounds awesome. Right now I can't think of any job like that. But maybe I'll think of something once I've quit and on that trail out in the mountains for months with nothing to do but hike and think. Unless I get mauled by a bear on the way. That would suck!
Doby said:
Unless I get mauled by a bear on the way. That would suck!

But I guess not much worse than getting mauled by my boss...
Nords said:
I'd say that you can quit whenever you want and decide what's next. 

Thank you Nords, this is sweet music to my ears. It's so easy to get caught up in my everyday life and forget that there can be a "what's next" if I want one. No one I work with would ever think of doing anything else outside of what we do - at least no one that I'm aware of. I feel a little bit like the renegade broker!
eridanus said:
Working at a university could be nice...surrounded by 20 year olds, regular hours, plenty of vacation.

Eridanus that does sound nice. Working on a campus lined with trees (every college seems to have beautiful trees! at least online they do) and surrounded by smart kids who haven't (yet) been beaten down by the corporate world. Would you know if non-teaching staff members at universities get summers off?
Just my opinion. You have "enough" to bail financially if you live a modest life style. All I know about GS I learned from The Economist & other financial papers but it does sound like a high pay/high pressure place. You may come to miss the pace. If you look at the more successful (and by that I mean any happy, senior partners you can see if there is a potential fit. I assume the senior folks use numbers differently then junior folks.
I just saw The Devil Wears Prada, great movie. I think it reflects the pace and attitudes of some successful people. It didn't work for the main character and it wouldn't work for me but the Maryl Streep character was sort a good fit. I imagine GS has a pace like that, maybe with less attitude by the manager? AFAIK GS is a difficult place to get into and I wouldn't toss away that accomplishment at least until 1) I had gathered a nice nest egg and 2) I had an idea about what I wanted to go towards more than away from.
Get one of my favorite books: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie (in your library). You need to reframe your current environment and start enjoying it. Or get out and make more money while having fun.

Everyone has a vocation that they can enjoy. Believe me. When you are retired, you just fill up the day with stuff that is not gainful. Why not find something you like and make some money doing it?

Not that there is anything wrong with ER.
You don't need to leave your current job to find the next one.  Network.  In the worst case if your boss learns of your interest he'll fire you but if you have your ducks in order - no problem.

Contact the head of the department, or key prof, from your old U.  Tell him/her what you are doing and of your interest in making a change, perhaps teaching.  Most will require an advanced degree but with your background you can get on staff in a Finance Department (assuming they have some $ in their budget) while taking care of that detail.  They LOVE to have someone with real world experience.

Some Us are better than others at tending to the employment needs of their graduates.  You are they type of graudate they want to brag about.  Make an appointment and tell them that you are looking for a change, you don't want your cv on the net but if they hear of something suitable ... 
Welcome Doby,

I'm a fellow 29 years young member. Oddly enough, our professional and financial backgrounds are somewhat similar: just finished off the largest, insanelyx10 stressful project in St. Louis (rhymes with "Blush Stadlium") for my father's construction company, and actively looking for a new career due to the stresses, etc......current NW of about $590k, expected eoy bonus to be about $350k after-tax.

While it's always easier for someone not in your shoes to ask "can't you simply last just one more year/month/quarter/etc.", I am curious why you initially chose the brokerage industry? For me, it's a loooong story as to why I ended up in my father's construction company, but I started out as a summer intern in college, I excelled at it, and the total compensation package was fair. I was going to leave back in 2003, but we ended up with the project, and to leave my father's company at that point would have been disasterous for my father's company.

I, for one, devour anything financially-related, and your position sounds like it would be one of my preferred jobs (at least, potentially on paper). What specifically don't you like about it? What are some of the sources of your stress/aggrivation/vein-busting frustrations? Perhaps if you vent a little bit more descriptively, a few members of the forum can help isolate the specific cause (as opposed to symptoms) of some of your troubles, and either suggest ways to view/cope with them differently, or help try looking for another career path at GS?

As for pulling the plug, I would echo the comments of others on the forum about planning on making it for 60+ years on your projected nest egg. There are simply waaaaay too many unknowns to factor in for someone in your situation: ranging from items already mentioned like future significant other, children, accidents to things like extended family health history (which can impact your health insurance premiums, not to mention make you more susceptible to certain health conditions), to even helping take care of your parents financially (if they needed it - and don't underestimate what the costs of skilled nursing/home aides will cost in 20-40 years!)

After all - if you're 45 years old and something happens, would you seriously want to have to look for a job then, and be stuck with a minimum wage position (or trying to tell employers why someone out of school for over 20 years with no industry experience in the past 15 years should get a job over someone with 15 years of industry experience), or when you're 45, will you want to be able to look back and say "Yeah, I'm glad I (stuck it out / changed departments at GS) and built up another 500k so I can relax without worry"?

I realize that the job can be stressful and mind-destroying - but first let's see what we can do to try a different take on things.

My son also loves hiking. He's almost 27, teaches middle school science, and does a lot of hiking during summer vacations, weekends, spring breaks, etc. This summer it's Shenandoah Mtns (he loved it--saw bears among other things!), and a couple of Natl Parks in Canada to come--also visits to DC, Montreal, and Quebec City. He doesn't have $500,000 or "the one" or real estate. In fact he has $12,000 and the MA teacher's retirement plan. But he's happy, has plenty of time for hobbies, friends, and family, and seems to have little stress.

If you were my son, I'd suggest sticking to your plan (i.e., reach your number and get out of Dodge before the stress carves your tombstone), then take a year off to hike and regroup, and figure out what sort of work would suit you, earn a few bucks (enough to leave your stash alone to compound), and allow lots of free time for other activites such as hiking. I urge you to read "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and "Work Less, Live More" by Bob Clyatt.
I think I am on the other end of suggestions... and it would be what I would have done if I had been in your shoes....

I would stick it out for a couple of more years... why:confused: I do not think you have enough for the rest of your life... if I was going to retire in my early 30s, I would want at least $2 mill.... that give me cushion for what others have posted such as wife kids etc...

BUT, have you talked to your management to see if there is a place they can put you where you would enjoy your work a bit more and still take down your salary:confused: Maybe you could do an overseas assignment... I did and it was one of the best experiences I had... and I was PAID to do it...

But, there are still many twists of fate that you will have in your life.. enjoy them all..
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