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Quitting your job: What happens next in banking and trading

Bank employees are, generally speaking, rather transient people. Many bounce around, working at several different banks in multiple countries over their career. But if you’re a junior banker or one who’s stuck with one employer through the years, you’ve never had the pleasure of telling your boss that you’re leaving.

Quitting is different for front-office bank employees than it is for people in other industries, as information, security and relationships are more heavily guarded on Wall Street. Needless to say, it can be an interesting experience. Below is a taste of what you may see if you quit your job as an investment banker or trader. Tell us your version in the comments below.

Investment bankers

For investment bankers, the entire process is dependent on how senior you are and if you are leaving to join a competitor.

As an associate or analyst, quitting isn’t terribly awkward if you are leaving for a new line of business, according to one former investment banker who just left the industry.

“In my case, since I was going on to something completely different, I gave my two weeks notice like a normal person and then didn’t do any work for two weeks,” she said.

If you are headed to a competitor, however, quitting day is often your last day in the office. “They let you go around and say goodbye to people and then down to HR for the exit interview,” she said. “Then you get to go on gardening leave and get 4+ weeks of paid time off so you don’t take any insider info with you.”

The turnaround time is short, though. Your email access is immediately cut and you are escorted out rather quickly.

Quitting day is an even colder experience if you are more senior investment banker – one with relationships and revenue generating capabilities, says one current VP who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Most of the time you are out of the door in minutes,” he said, with your old co-workers dialing up your best clients.


For traders, the experience all depends on whether the firm thinks you are worth a damn, according to Wall Street trader-turned-standup-comedian Raj Mahal.

“If they like you and think you are going to a competitor, the Spin Zone starts,” he said. Conversation after conversation about all the new and exciting possibilities that would lie ahead if you stayed. They may also bring in an employee who used to work at the firm that poached you to talk about the downside of working there, Mahal said. “They will promise everything they never gave you.”

Meanwhile, while you are listening to the sales pitch, “they are preparing for you like the FBI did for Hannibal Lecter,” he said. “Your Bloomberg [terminal] will be immediately shut off, along with email, your phone and your ID Card. They call all your accounts and tell them how much they will miss you, but the guy replacing you is twice as good.” You are walked to the curb by security.

As for your colleagues, expect no big send-off or heartfelt goodbyes. “The moment you quit, they are eyeing your seat and extra monitors,” Mahal said. “And often, they are mostly trying to find out what the competitor gave you and how they can get over there too.”

So, who knows, you may see some of them again soon.


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AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor
  • Be
    8 September 2014

    and if you're a trader leaving without a next job, you shouldn't expect your former boss to recommend you to a competitor when you're trying to get back in. that is unless you were really so bad that he does not mind you leaking proprietary information

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