London Specific AM/IB/ER confusion

I've taken a series of decisions and need to sort out my thoughts.

Background- Did BSc Econ and Fin (non-target), with a MM ER internship in the summer (in Asia), and a non-name boutique internship- M&A analysis after graduating (think 10 employees) and now starting MSc from a target uni in UK.

Have been weighing ER and IBD SA roles in London and I'm super confused. Have CFA L1 in two days (yeah). I view AM as a LT career path (10-15 years down the line), but want my initial career path to leave the door open for AM some day down the line.

I have been told:

  1. CFA is useless for IBD- Ugh, broke my heart, but love Mark Meldrum any way and I'm doing L1 for knowledge, not recruiting honestly <3

  2. Have been told to choose ONE: ER or IBD, not both, when applying. One BB application opened up and I chose IBD. Usually, London internships have Global Markets- have never been part of it, so I kinda focused on IBD (have been doing the technicals alongside CFA L1). But, then I released that there are only a handful BBs so I must decide wisely. Should I split? 3 IB and 3 ER and then just pray, or honestly idk what to do.

  3. IBD is shit-work. I honestly wouldn't like to think of whatever I'm doing as shit work :/ IBD long hours are okay with me. I don't care, I don't have a life. It's just that when people speak of the work being too boring, it makes me sad, cause I wanna learn. My ER internship was interesting but my analyst didn't give a fuck about me so I didn't get to do anything, I basically was reading their reports. My point is I'm shit at modelling, so need a formal internship to learn things formally. 

I wanted to decide on whether to apply for IBD/ER and I'm super lost. I like ER cause it'll help me continue my CFA without any worry/constraints. And I like IBD cause learning about M&A is interesting. All in all, I enjoy valuing and looking at companies and listen to Mark Meldrum speak. In the longer run, I think I'd love to being some sort of an asset manager- my rationale is that I enjoyed CFA L1. 

However, since IBD is much harder to get into and I only have a year of recruiting left right now, I thought I'd focus on getting an IBD internship in London, and actually decide whether it's for me or nah. But I'm worried about two things-

  1. How useful is IBD for AM? Do people do IBD > PE > AM, or is this a US thing and is ER > AM the real thing? Or are both okay?

  2. If I like it, can I do IBD and CFA together? Cause I truly enjoy the curriculum even if some mofos say it's a waste.

  3. If I hate IBD, will I be able to shift to ER? I'll be out of recruiting, so I don't know how to deal with this.

I really want London specific advice. I've recently realized that IBD doesn't have THAT many exit opportunities. People I've spoken to sound dead. I don't really mind putting in 80 hours daily, since I tend to get depressed when I'm not occupied, but really, this is a cry for help. Anyone reading this please shed some light!


I am by no means a veteran in the AM industry but I would recommend you to focus on AM if this is your LT career. All the best AM firms don't hire laterally or only in case of emergency. Culture is very strong in AM and they would prefer to promote a hard-working and ambitious middle office guy than an IB guy for front office AM. A lot of people in AM started there and will remain there for the rest of their life because it's probably the best place in finance to be in terms of comp, work-life balance, and how interesting the job is. The most ambitious will go to HFs at some point if they can't get PM. Nonetheless, recruitment in AM is tougher than for IBD and ER. So focus on applying in AM and ER because ER is a good way to set foot in the industry, especially in BB to transfer to theAM branch of the same BB


Thank you for your perspective. I've seen asset management firms that specialize in high yield bonds, leveraged loans, private credit, distressed debt, structured products, emerging markets, private equity, credit-themed equities etc. So thought IBD would leave doors open. Honestly, I looking into some buyside profiles- they're too good. With IBD- at least, there are resources online to prep and then, during the job, one has to learn. No other option. But with AM, as you said, the recruiting is hard and the candidates are really excellent. I have a target uni on my name right now, but my undergrad was sort of bad. Didn't have any clubs, so I feel that I know very little and my immaturity will be seen. Preparing for the CFA L1 was useful in terms of skills, but without hard experience, it's kinda hard for me to pass up applying for IB. I think I'm too dumb for anything else.

Most Helpful

IBD isn't that much harder to get into vs ER in London, due to the sheer lack of seats in ER available.

Very simple - if you're very undecided right now (not talking about long-term plans), then go with IBD. The optionality will benefit you, since you don't 'actually' know what the work is like day to day in either right now.


Yeah. Are you an IB applicant too? Since I'm international, sorta struggling with all the jargon flying around. A couple of students from my country had aimed for AM, and they settled for audit in the end. I thought about IB seriously after that.


Gonna comment sequentially then give my overall thoughts:

I view AM as a LT career path (10-15 years down the line)

Why 10-15 years? That basically takes you to MD level on the sell-side lol. Why would you wait this long to jump?

Have been told to choose ONE: ER or IBD

This is good advice. Some banks will let you apply to multiple internships, some don't even have ER internships but I would focus on ER if you have to choose. Ex-SS ER people are generally taken pretty well by the LOs.

IBD is shit-work

ER can also be shit work. Don't think you'll be covering stocks and making calls from day 1. And don't think that making stock calls is all its cut out to be necessarily. There's a lot of hidden politics, admin, marketing grunt work, red tape in SS ER.

IBD can also be not-shit work. You absolutely do learn. You should have a proper understanding of this before making any choices.

My ER internship was interesting but my analyst didn't give a fuck about me so I didn't get to do anything, I basically was reading their reports. My point is I'm shit at modelling, so need a formal internship to learn things formally. 

Sorry your ER internship was bad however realise that 1. There a lot of ER internships where you'll hardly touch a model. At top firms. 2. You don't actually "model" that much in ER unless initiating which, depending on your team, isn't that often. 3. The real part of "modelling" that matters day to day is the assumptions that go into the model and you're going to be shit at that for a while no matter what internships you get. Just comes with time, practice, and learning the sector you're in.

However, since IBD is much harder to get into

This isn't necessarily true.

How useful is IBD for AM? Do people do IBD > PE > AM, or is this a US thing and is ER > AM the real thing? Or are both okay?

IBD people do occasionally go to AM but less frequently than you see ex-ER people. You do not need to go to PE to go to AM unless by AM (which normally refers to long-onlys), you're referring to single manager long-short hedge funds.

If I like it, can I do IBD and CFA together? Cause I truly enjoy the curriculum even if some mofos say it's a waste.

As someone doing CFA right now with less hours than IBD, if you were to do IBD and CFA together, I would buy you a lot of beer. That shit is not easy. Just do the mental arithmetic in your head of the hours needed for CFA, the hours in a week, the hours needed for IBD, then adjust for the fact that full time work will take a toll on your energy, and you'll see why this is unlikely. 

That said, some of the premier long-onlys really like the CFA. Hedge funds don't care.

If I hate IBD, will I be able to shift to ER?

Yep, lots of ex-IBers in ER and vice versa.


Imo if you actually understand what AM is and why you want to go into it, you should be targeting AM and ER roles and fill any spare with IBD


Right, this is good perspective, thank you. Just got done with L1 and am already drained ahaha, heard L2 is comparatively more brutal.

I've realized from reading your comments that I know very little about AM. Understandable since I have very little exposure. Many my age are super clear so that makes me feel lost. Guess I need to be patient and I have myself optionality and flexibility to learn at my own pace. May be I'll focus on what I want now, and then modify LT path with time.

Since I've already 'experienced' ER (at least know what work is done), I was attracted to IBD since that's new and interesting to me + uni offers more help with banking and markets (markets is out of the pic since S&T isn't for me) + as you said, many don't offer pure ER roles at all. Being someone who isn't remotely confident about knowing the industry as of now, this matters to me. With IBD, I honestly don't know. Though talking to people- they have a range of experience, from it being horrible in terms of culture to it being one of the better decisions of their life. Guess only time will tell where I end up.

Still, it's a relief to know that switching after a year of IBD/ER isn't uncommon. That's a very big relief. Thanks for your comment.


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