[cle] wise nuggets from a veteran of the finance industry

For this interview, I aimed to explore the finance industry and obtain insights into my current target industry. I found myself with the opportunity to chat with an established wealth advisor, Simon, who has an additional 3 years of knowledge in investment banking as well as a set of diverse internship experiences. 

I gained three very impactful nuggets from this elucidative chat: 

  1. explore the industry, your passions, and life goals before entering and dedicating time to it
  2. start early, but realistically 
  3. really, really, really try to maintain a healthy work and life balance


Upon learning that I wanted to go into this field of finance, Simon immediately asked me to reconsider; in fact, he dishes out this same advice to everyone who has chatted with him about a career in finance. He suggested that I research and learn more about finance, examine my passions more closely, and consider my life goals before deciding to enter the industry and working toward it. As finance is a very profitable industry, there are tons of people that flock toward it, but not everyone truly resonates with the work and stays in this field. Simon then shared stories from his time in university and as an investment banker. In his recounts, there were a number of his friends and coworkers who discovered that they didn’t actually suit the industry after dedicating years to breaking into this field. It’s critical to avoid blindly pursuing a career in banking and to analyze oneself before setting a possibly life-changing goal. 


While discussing Simon’s trajectory and how he came to be where he is today, I took note of the importance of starting early. If you decide to work in a highly competitive field, such as finance, it’s never too early to start working towards your goals. Simon recommended a variety of realistic ways to strengthen my understanding and learn more about the field. He also stressed the value of opportunities and networks. These opportunities may be a simple coffee chat with an established professional, connecting with a mentor, or even an internship opening, but, when used properly, they will be beneficial and transformative. As a student interested in finance, Simon strongly urged me to network with those within the finance community, actively seek out opportunities, and seize them when they appear. 


Simon was also very honest about the general work-life balance of the finance industry. When asked about what he disliked about his past job as an investment banker, Simon quickly answered, “the work-life balance, no, wait, the work-work balance. I didn’t really have a life.” He was very candid about his mental state in that environment and advised me to prioritize my physical and mental health above all. His depiction of an unhealthy work-life balance and its harmful impacts left a long-lasting impression on me. It’s both a warning of what my dream industry entails and a reminder to always strive for a healthy balance. 


I am so grateful for this interview and the insightful experience. Simon was an amazing, outspoken, and genuine interviewee; I really appreciated his advice and will apply the nuggets of wisdom I gained in the future chapters of my life!

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