What next after IB / corporate roles?

Spent 1.5 years in investment banking and had a pretty tough experience in a very sweaty group. Wasn't interested in PE, etc. at the time and took a strategic finance role at a relatively well-known company afterwards. Wondering what I can do next - while I didn't have the best experience in IB, I think corporate is way too slow for me after IB and I think some sort of move generally back into financial services would be best. Definitely need to do more soul searching on what exactly I want to do but generally speaking, need something faster paced as while I did kinda burn out in IB, I feel like I'm losing an edge and the productivity I once had in IB by working at corporate pace and if I continue to do so longer term. My question is - am I locked out of more traditional finance / investing roles now since I left IB or would they still accept that experience? Not sure how to really position myself with both IB and corporate experience for jobs back in financial services. If anyone here has done something similar, any advice would be much appreciated.

Comments (23)

JunkyardDawg, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You could look into corporate development, M&A or investment/venture roles, though that too might feel "slow" compared to IB. How well known is your company? Maybe you would want to do what you're doing now for an earlier stage / startup as that could feel more exciting.

All that said, sounds like to me that you should supplement your career with things outside of work

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpStrat

Its a large corporate - a name most people would know. This probably adds to it being slow. I think some sort of investing would be interesting but I assume would have to be smaller places to get through with an untraditional background.

Agree with you on the last point. Are you talking about further education, etc? It felt weird after leaving IB and almost feeling guilty not being consumed by work all the time but I should at least make better use of the time I now have.

pineapplechipmunk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It depends. I think if you move into roles that require a banker or consulting skill set (e.g., strategic finance, corporate development, corporate strategy) you can move back towards more traditional finance / investing roles, but 1) you'll probably be locked out of higher profile / brand name roles (i.e., so LMM PE over MF PE), and 2) you'll probably come in at a natural title progression from your IB experience (e.g., going from a corp dev manager back to PE associate vs. a PE VP). I'd imagine getting an MBA would also be a nice way to restart if you go this route, but want to revert back into IB, etc.

This is based off of my experience fielding interviews and poking around while I was in strategic finance and corp dev. While in strategic finance I was able to get a few interviews and a couple of offers in HF / PE roles and while in corp dev I was able to get a couple of offers in VC. These were at small groups though with a bit of niche focus that aligned with my industry background. Ultimately, aside from my industry experience, IMO nothing about my corporate roles really drove anything from a selection process at face value. From my experience too, getting a role in back in IB especially smaller boutiques wasn't an issue as well. I always had to go back in and talk about why not corp dev / corporate finance and why VC, PE, HF, etc.

  • 3
  • Analyst 3+ in CorpStrat

Did you have a IB / consulting background prior to your strategic finance and corp dev positions as well? Just wondering how you were able to swing HF / PE / VC while being in corporate roles after traditional finance. My worry is my resume will look too scattered going for HF / PE / VC from corporate (which isn't really valuable experience-wise for those roles) when I could've gotten those positions out of IB already on a more conventional path. Definitely not expecting to get a MF or Viking but surprised there are still at least some opportunities. 

pineapplechipmunk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, I had 3-4ish years of LMM IB then have been in corporate for about 3-4 years (both strategic finance and corp dev). Also, for background I live in a MCOL (Dallas, Atlanta, etc.). TBH I'm not sure how "legit" that hedge fund offer was. They offered good comp, but not too sure about the whole thing. Looking at the other offers as I mentioned they aligned well with the industries I was in, but also the IB firm and corporate roles were at places that were locally decently well known for what it's worth. For example, my previous corp dev position was at the largest tech firm HQ'd in my city and was actively involved in the start up scene there (sponsoring conferences, etc.), which I think helped when I started interviewing with a local VC that I got my offer from. 

Honestly, at the end of the day it's kind of a crap shoot. IMO there's no way I would've been competitive for HF / PE / VC roles in cities like NYC, but just through some external factors my background was good enough in alignment with some local shops. I think you just have to be realistic too. It can happen, but it might be the 1 in 100 opportunity that takes months to come across.

If you haven't I'd start applying and networking. For me typically after 6 months at a job I just start randomly applying to things. At the end of the day it doesn't really hurt, but it can give you a good litmus test on where you stand competitively and who knows maybe you get something you like. Maybe try it for 6 months and see if anything comes up and if not reevaluate on next steps if you really want to move into more investing roles. 

Texas Tea, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You could go the PE PortCo route.  Find the right fit, right people, right company, perhaps get into a "Director of Finance" type role where you are somewhat a jack of all trades, get some equity (B units), and hope and pray the company has a successful exit in the next 3-4 years

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov

Slightly off topic but how was your experience going from IB -> strategic finance with under 2 years of IB experience?

I'm currently in the same boat you were in. I'm alittle over 1.5 years into my analyst stint and in the past 2 months we got new srs that have made the culture super sweaty so looking to exit to strategic finance or corp dev for better WLB.

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpStrat

Experience as in the recruiting process? I think you're fine to apply to stuff that asks for 2+ years of experience even if you're only at one and that's generally true for applying for roles not specific to strategic finance. Can't say how much easier recruiting would've been if I had 2+ years. I've seen a lot of people on Linkedin leave banking around one year to corporate roles for probably similar reasons.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov

Thank you, that's helpful! Being ~50% into your second year were you able to negotiate any sort of sign bonus to atleast partially buy you out of the bonus you would've gotten at the end of An2 year? Obviously figure a signing bonus would never equal a full An2 bonus but was curious if that was discussed.

  • Analyst 3+ in CorpStrat

I actually considered it - though not sure how possible it will be to transition back into banking given I went ib -> corporate already and it's not corp dev / deals focused. Could say I want to get back into that environment and transaction based work but seems like lateral analyst spots would always go to current analysts. How did you find the process? Are you thinking of staying in banking or stepping stone to something else longer term?

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  • Analyst 2 in CorpDev

A former coworker of mine was manager in corporate strategy and he came from IB. He is now a senior manager at a private equity.

Do not sell yourself short - you've been in the pressure cooker focusing on core skills now you are equipped with big picture thinking. The combination of 2 is unique and can add a lot of value to a bank when they serve strategic clients or for private equities to understand their competitors. Ultimately, clients hire banks not to crunch numbers but to provide strategic insights. The world is your oyster. If you are going back to IB you should target associate roles.

My process was interesting - met the team through client interaction (I was on the client side) and kept talking. Messed up the first round for missing 1 out of 18 technical questions but was put back in by the seniors and nailed the rest of the process (meeting the entire team + a case study).

I would like to stay in banking for a while, preferably at a shop with good WLB. I started from MM buyout, did corp dev, now finally getting into IB. I've tried the other 2 and hopefully banking is what I am looking for.

muddrako, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Try an investment role at a family office?

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A

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