Day 1: Breaking Wall Street

I did it.

After nearly 6 years on Wall Street (10 including internships), moving across 4 different teams & industries, and dreaming of striking out of my own nearly the entire time – I did it.

On Friday, March 16th, 2018 I had an amazing conversation with my boss that while my interests and passions remain in business & strategy, financial analysis, and entrepreneurship (3 traits which are a necessity to excel in equity research), the next move in my career will be to start my own company. While the exact timing of my exit remains uncertain, I expect to work for another 4-8 weeks and have committed to completing a successful transition and leaving Morgan Stanley and my team on good terms and in the best possible position to excel going forward.

As a side point, my exit timing and logistics was actually a hotly contested point among the many friends I consulted, with two very different points of view prevailing. On one hand, primarily pushed by my younger wall street friends, was the “quick exit”. Give your 2 weeks now. Morgan Stanley would not think twice to lay you off if necessary, you don’t owe them anything, and you can figure out any out-of-pocket expenses. Better to start your travels sooner (more on that below). The second, with fewer votes, although possibly more logical, was the “successful transition”. Commit to helping transition responsibilities to a new member, use the extra pay checks to continue covering your fixed expenses (my $2k/month lease doesn’t end until August), and generally leave on better terms. Obviously, I chose a more transitory path with the expectations that I will be able to work on my startup and plan my trip more and more as the transition progresses. I have worked at Morgan Stanley for 6 years and while I don’t agree with everything my department’s management has done (and lean more towards disagreeing), they have helped me transition to multiple teams, I have a sense of loyalty to my current boss, who would be in a tight bind if I left quickly, and do value the financial benefit and added flexibility staying longer affords. Regardless, I remain flexible and realize Morgan Stanley can now kick me out at any time.

I digress.

Leaving is great. But the better story is: What is next?

The answer: my own thing. A 100%, all-in bet on myself.

For as long as I can remember I loved business. My dad showed me the stock market at a young age and I still remember using an extremely preliminary mock portfolio tool through our local library in elementary school. I started fixing my neighbor’s computers for cookies in middle school and worked in the warehouse of a successful entrepreneur who became an important mentor to me through high school.

A fun side fact: I convinced my parents to buy a riding lawn mower so I could cut the neighbors’ lawns. They will tell you the debt was never repaid – I will tell you there’s no proof a debt existed. Either way, I never cut anyone’s lawns, but I at least took care of theirs. An important lesson: you can sell anything with the right numbers.

Over the years, I have toyed with starting my own “real” company. Some good ideas, some bad ideas, some large, some smaller. However, there was always excuses. No time, no money, no experience. Sound familiar? My GoDaddy domain account is the graveyard of good ideas that were never started.

And that REALLY started to grind on me.

I have (had) a great job at arguably one of the best companies in the WORLD for Equity Research. I learned more in 6 years that I could possibly imagine, worked with some of the smartest people I’ve met, and led meetings with top CEOs. But the same questions kept surfacing in my mind: What do I really want in life? Where do I see my self in 5/10/20 years? Is this it? What is next?

One of my biggest regrets was not traveling during school. While everyone was studying abroad I was networking, taking MBA classes, and working to get top internships. While I succeeded, looking back that definitely came at a huge opportunity cost. I’ve worked towards fixing this recently and have had the opportunity to now visit Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and India. But how much can you enjoy trips when you’re still checking your email multiple times per day and know you only have a week until its back to the grind? That’s not enjoyable. That’s not unwinding.

My first action is to “move” abroad. My initial plan is to make roughly 3 trips abroad over the next 12 months to different regions of the world, staying in each location for approximately a month. I say “move” instead of “travel” because I want to immerse in the local cultures as much as possible, meet new people, and have the experience be as relaxing a possible vs. focusing on traveling to the next location every few days. While nothing is set in stone, I think my first trip will be Portugal, Barcelona, and Florence. Followed by stints in South East Asia and Central/South America. Who knows, my friend keeps pushing Cape Town pretty hard.

Which leads me to my next action – launching my own business. More on this to come as this easily deserves its own blog post with more in-depth thoughts and plans. However, it will be focused on FinTech and lending to lower-income individuals. I hope my series of trips will allow me to connect with others who could provide valuable insights and advice to achieve this goal and successfully reach my target market. Stay tuned!

What is Breaking Wall Street? First and foremost, it’s me. For the past 5 years, I haven’t had my own voice. I largely write what my boss and Morgan Stanley want and any public writing is tightly restricted to protect Morgan Stanley’s “Brand” and comply with various financial regulations. I have not fully decided what this website will morph into longer-term, but as of now, its a personal blog where I will discuss my plans, travels, and business adventures. A sort of continuous status update and public accountability on my end. The name: Breaking out of Wall Street and eventually breaking down outdated Wall Street lending paradigms.

Lastly, I hope to use this site as a way to connect with other people around the world with similar interests, goals, and experiences, namely surrounding exiting Wall Street, traveling the world, starting a business, and low-income lending.

Please reach out if you want to connect!!!

I’m excited! I hope you will join me in my adventures!

8 Replies to “Day 1: Breaking Wall Street”

  1. Good luck man! Nomad list is a cool site to get a feel for (and filter + analyze) the expenses and cultures of different cities abroad. Let me know if you need recommendations in Italy. Also check out Iceland – WOW and Icelandair tend to have good transatlantic flight deals with extended layovers in Reykjavik.

    1. Thanks man! Hope you’re doing well. Have checked out the website, its a great resource. Will definitely be using it for Asia/LatAm.

  2. Hi Thomas! Congrats on deciding to take the plunge and pursue your dream! I also care very much about bringing financial education and options to low income individuals. Would be great to connect and chat!

  3. Enjoy this learning adventure and am confident you will be very successful in this endeavor.

Comments are closed.