“Friends and colleagues,
After two very educational years, the time has come for me to leave Goldman Sachs. Beginning in August, I will be moving on to my next adventure, The Carlyle Group in New York. I have attached my updated contact information below, and look forward to keeping in touch.
Most of you want to get into finance. Why else would I write so much about investment banking resumes, investment banking interviews, and what to do if your summer internship plans don’t quite work out?
But every year in late June and early July, there’s an exodus of 2nd and 3rd year Analysts at investment banks (and even some 1st years who have found an exit opportunity and are brave enough to leave early).
And with that exodus comes a flood of “Farewell” emails.
I hate reading them simply because the standard message is so…. boring. It goes something like the following:
“Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As some of you may know, today is my last day at Morgan Stanley. The experience has been highly rewarding and challenging, on both a personal and professional level.
I will be taking some time off and then moving to KKR in August for the next leg in my career.
I look forward to staying in touch with everyone – my contact information is below.”
I look at emails like this and one thought comes to mind:
Show me some signs of life. A pulse. At least a heart rhythm? Please, anything but a cookie cutter “goodbye.” Forget about investment banking fashion in terms of your wardrobe: remember that even your emails must be fashionable.
That’s not to say everyone writes a boring farewell email; some departing Analysts go to the other extreme as well. 99% of the Farewell emails I’ve seen have been carbon copies of the note above, but occasionally someone out there is just so bitter that they write a legendary, bitter farewell email.
The most famous example was sent from someone at JPMorgan in 2007 – rather than copy the whole thing here, let’s just examine a few excerpts.
“Dear Co-Workers and Managers,
As many of you probably know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Today is my last day.””
Comments: This is a solid, attention-grabbing beginning. Without getting too violent, the author shows us that this is not just the standard “personally enriching/rewarding” farewell email.
“Over the past seven years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects – an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.”
Comments: The last line seals the deal. I can’t believe he put up with everything for 7 years – no wonder he’s so bitter.
“And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.”
Comments: A well-executed acknowledgement of a hidden truth of investment banking: no one looks you in the eye while walking through the office. Or at least they didn’t in my office.
“To those who I have held a great relationship with, I will miss being your co-worker and will cherish our history together. Please don’t bother responding as at this very moment I am most likely in my car doing 85 with the windows down listening to Biggie.
Comments: I feel this could have been executed better with a vacuous threat leveled against everyone at the office.
So, How Should You Write Your Farewell Email?
This classic JPMorgan one may be funny to read, but it’s a bad idea to write anything like this if you want to have a future in finance.
My recommendation: “Appreciative with an edge.”
You want people to remember you, but you don’t want to burn any bridges. So if you write about the all-nighters or that philandering Managing Director (actually, don’t touch that one), make sure you also include some positive anecdotes.
Closing dinners, roadshows, and international travel can all be sources of inspiration for your farewell email with an edge.
One word of caution: carefully assess your group before making it too edgy.
Some would laugh at all those “One time in Vegas…” stories, but you might destroy your reputation with others by recounting your days of living the dream.
So you may want to limit your audience and avoid sending it to everyone in investment banking – just include Analysts and higher-ups whom you know well.
One final tip: make sure your bonus lands in your bank account before sending out the Edgy Farewell Email. Yes, they’re not too high anymore, but you still want to get more than just an IOU and some coal in your bank account, right?