The best job in banking, by a Citi VP who tried them all
Charlie Mortimer knows a bit about front office banking jobs. Before he quit Citi to set up fintech firm and financial modelling platform Stellar Fusion in June, he'd worked in Citi's sales and trading, equity research, and the investment banking divisions.
Of those three areas, Mortimer says one was more interesting than the rest: research.
As a researcher, Mortimer covered small and European mid-cap companies, including industrials and waste recycling. It took him from Portugal to Scandinavia and gave him exposure to a broad array of industries. "It was the most intellectually stimulating of the jobs I did, and I met a lot of very interesting companies across Europe doing different things," he says.
By comparison, Mortimer says sales and trading (he was in sales after starting on Citi's markets graduate scheme) was the most sociable of the banking job he did, and that sociability was enjoyable alongside building client relationships and learning market fundamentals. Lastly, he says that working in the investment banking division (he was latterly a vice president in investment banking in London for nearly two years) on M&A and bringing companies to market was "fascinating" and far more complex than he'd realized.
If you're looking for a finance job with a good lifestyle, though, research may not be it. "You have the most control over time in sales and trading," says Mortimer, adding that the trading floor was also where he saw the greatest number of people with side gigs. In M&A and corporate finance, almost no one has a side gig because long hours make it almost impossible.
As he moved from sales to research to the investment banking division, Mortimer says the number of hours he worked kept on increasing. In sales and trading, he says hours were close to 60 a week. In research, they were more like 70. In investment banking, they were closer to 80.
As the chart below, taken from our most recent salary and bonus survey, shows, sales and trading jobs also pay the most.
When he worked in research, Mortimer says he was working longer hours but had control over them. In investment banking, he was working longer hours still, but had almost no control at all. "Investment banking is much more hierarchical. I was working for several people and I was constantly at their beck and call. You lost control over time and your evenings and weekends can disappear," he says.
Despite this, Mortimer was one of the few people in investment banking who did have a side gig. - He started Stellar Fusion with Aneek Haq, a Citi director on the small caps desk, during his break in December '21. He finally quit when they achieved VC funding.
The plan is to build a tool that gives retail investors access to the kinds of financial models that institutional clients have access to. They intend to launch in October '22.
"I am back in control of my hours," says Mortimer. "We are working to our own time frame. Within the day, I need to get a certain amount done, but I can then reset and recover and go to the gym before working in the evenings."
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