What’s my next move?

I am coming up on 3 years at my role in SS ER and I basically make the same as when I first started. I recently got promoted to the equivalent of an AVP/VP which came with a minimal pay increase (<10K) and happens to be the only increase I’ve seen since starting. My team is small, so I work long hours and have picked up additional responsibilities, especially as I’ve become more experienced in my role. I feel very underpaid and think it’s time to move on.

Ideally, I would like to end up on the buyside. I don’t really have a preference for the type of role, since I feel like I can adapt to whatever strategy has openings. Recruiting has seemed a little slow in the past few months, so do I stick it out where I am to jump to buyside ASAP or do I lateral to a different SS ER role for better pay and WLB combo which kind of resets the clock for buyside recruiting?

TL;DR: I’m underpaid at current shop, want to move to buyside soon. Would lateraling to another SS shop reset the timeline (1+ years) for buyside recruiting?


Navigating your career from sell-side equity research (SS ER) to the buy-side is a common aspiration, and your situation, while challenging, is not unique. Based on insights from Wall Street Oasis discussions, here are some strategic moves you might consider:

  1. Evaluate Your Current Position: Before making any moves, assess the value of your current role beyond compensation. Consider the experience you're gaining, the network you're building, and the visibility of your work. These factors can be crucial for your next step.

  2. Networking and Skill Enhancement: Continue to expand your network within the buy-side community and enhance your skills relevant to buy-side roles. This could involve deepening your expertise in specific sectors, improving your modeling skills, or even contributing to investment blogs or forums to gain visibility.

  3. Consider a Lateral Move Wisely: Moving to another SS ER role for better pay and work-life balance (WLB) can be tempting. However, it's essential to consider how this move aligns with your long-term goal of transitioning to the buy-side. A lateral move could offer you a better platform, more exposure, or a stronger brand name, all of which could enhance your buy-side prospects. Yet, it might also reset your timeline if the new role demands a learning curve or if it's expected to commit for a certain period before making another move.

  4. Direct Transition to Buy-Side: Given your experience, directly transitioning to the buy-side could be feasible, especially if you're flexible regarding the type of role or strategy. The key here is to leverage your network, including alumni, former colleagues, or even reaching out to buy-side professionals for informational interviews. Highlight your ability to generate actionable insights, your understanding of the markets, and your adaptability to different investment strategies.

  5. Patience and Timing: The recruiting landscape can be cyclical and sometimes slow. It's crucial to be patient and keep nurturing your skills and network during slower periods. Being ready when the opportunity arises is often as important as actively seeking out the opportunity itself.

In summary, whether you decide to lateral to another SS ER role or aim directly for the buy-side, ensure that your decision aligns with your long-term career objectives. Enhancing your visibility, continuing to network, and being adaptable to the opportunities that come your way are key strategies for making a successful transition.

Sources: Choosing Between Buy Side vs Sell Side in Equity Research?, Feel Trapped, Exit Opps From Sell-Side ER?, Where does ER go from here?, Would you take a step down in title &amp; pay for dream job?, Q&A: Investment Banking Associate

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

Bump interested… what kind of shop are you at? In what world do people in SS ER make roughly the same as when they started 3 years prior?


Yeah, I was a little surprised when I first found out that we didn’t have annual pay bumps. I figured there would be a step-function change in compensation during promotions, but that’s clearly not the case.

This would be considered an MM investment bank but with a very reputable (better than IB) research department. I wonder if this is unique to me since the firm has no problem getting quality talent at junior and senior levels and they all seem to stick around.


Adding color to the salary commentary, I also work at a MM shop with a respected research platform and we do not receive annual pay bumps. I have decided to stick it out at my current firm and hope I can get lead on LO / Long Biased HF as I have heard the clock resets once you lateral on the SS. 

Good luck making the jump. 


Am in the same exact boat unfortunately. Coming up on three years at a MM IB with a relatively well respected research department working under a top 3 or 4 analyst at the firm. Great reviews, sales rankings, etc. and pay hasn’t budged at all. Went up 5% on promotion. Have been interviewing at other SS shops and pay is consistently 40-50% higher if I were to leave. Am not in a major city so buy side exit opps are pretty limited. Am considering lateraling into IB.


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