Path after Associate program, looking for guidance

Hi all,

After spending the last 5 years as a buy-side equity research associate at a large AM (think Tempelton, Fido, etc.), I have learned that I will not be moving forward to an analyst seat. The program is very "up or out" so I am facing the latter. The decision caught me by surprise (also caught some of the analysts I work for by surprise as well). Definitely feels like a punch in the gut given the hard work and sacrifices I have made, but as they told me in my review "this is an industry where hard work sometimes doesn't pay off."... blunt but realistic I guess.  

I'm at the point where I have accepted my fate and have started looking at my options. Most of the associates that jumped ship before me did so in a red-hot job market and landed in VC or HF, it seems like there are much fewer openings right now for potential lateral moves. I also had been considering B-school, but given interest rates (I'd be financing the whole ticket) and the recent stories coming out about lack of FT offers (Bloomberg article citing only 50% of HBS grads this year have offers vs 95% in normal years), I feel like it would be prudent to hold off on such a large investment until there is more conviction that the ROI will pay off.

I think that working at a HF would be an ideal next step where I could leverage the skills I've honed over my career while gaining exposure to a new style of investing, but I am having trouble finding these opportunities (not sure if it's just the economy or if this a structural reality). I feel like I should be in a better position given my experience, but the reality I'm seeing in the job market right now is making me nervous. I really would like to continue to work in equity/investment research in one way or another longer term, so I'm not sure if I would shoot myself in the foot by moving to the wrong area out of desperation. 

If you have any thoughts or advice about my situation, I would really appreciate it. If anything, I hope this post can let other associates in similar positions they are not alone.

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Definitely a tough spot to be in, but if you say still have 3-6mo before your stint is up there, I'd be looking around talking to any connections I've made in the industry so far (peers met at events/conferences, sell-side research, sell side equity salespeople that know of openings and other senior team members at your firm) and try to see if they can point you in the right direction. I don't think anyone down the road will necessarily fault you for taking something you don't want, be it firm, coverage or investment style given the job market. Probably in a good spot for the MBA otherwise and if I had to guess you will be graduating into a much different rate/econ backdrop today (save for those previously "red hot" VC/tech/grift gigs that won't be coming back).

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Thanks for the reply and advice. I have 3 months before I have to find a rock to kick so I have started going around to Analysts/PM's I've gotten close with and have some hooks in the water there. It's strange - I've been told not to disclose my situation to others "for my own reputation" but I'm at the point where I need to leverage any and all of my resources. The sell side sales reps are a good idea I hadn't considered. Unfortunately due to covid, I haven't met too many people from conferences/industry events.

I have been studying for the GMAT - past associates have had a good amount of luck getting into M7s (although most of them had their tuition paid for by family/SO...).

It's just with the timing that I will need to find something to do for work regardless for the next year before the start date of the program and ideally that would be a comparable job. To your point that no one "will fault me" for doing something outside of investment research - it might be a good time to do something unique like volunteer abroad (I'm single, no kids).

I appreciate the response - it makes me feel less crazy that others see this as a tough position to be in when all I've heard from people internally is how lucky I am and that my experience should easily land me in a good position in the next few months. 

Sellside equity research seems to be always hiring (I think bc comp is not great). You could probably land at a BB as an analyst or senior associate. You’re on the buyside and probably want to stay there but it’s a decent backup given you are time constrained.

  • Person in worse seat than you who is regularly hit up by recruiters for these jobs

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