First-Year Analyst Lateral Considerations

Currently a first-year analyst at a low/mid-BB group, just got a lateral offer at a top-BB group in another city. Wanted to hear your thoughts on if this lateral move is worth it, and get some advice.

For context, I'm looking to lateral for the sole purpose of improving my PE exits / rebranding myself to HHs, hence why I'm questioning if my decision is worth it. My current group is reasonably solid, and I have gained great M&A deal experiences thus far, but the top-BB group is unquestionably one of the best groups in all of IB.

Recruiting-wise, I started a bit late for summer 2025 PE opps, and have only gotten inbounds from UMM/MM/LMM roles, even though I'm targeting MF/UMM PE roles. I've participated in a few MM/UMM off-cycle processes, but everyone seemed to be hiring just 1 associate likely due to the tough PE recruiting market, so I had little luck landing an offer despite making it quite far in a few processes. Not sure if making a lateral move would help with my profile in this case.

Nonetheless, there are many considerations that are making me hesitate about this move. My current group has pretty good WLB and I've developed good rapport / credibility with my team and seniors so far, and am on track to get top-bucket bonus. The top-BB group, however, has notoriously bad WLB and culture, and I will likely have to spend at least 2 months to ramp-up and build up the rapport and credibility that I already have with my current team, after which I will still be expected to work much more than I do currently. This is a major factor for me since working at a sweatier group would mean less time to rest and prep for PE recruiting. The top-BB group is also in a different city, and I will have to move and adjust to another city. 

On a side note, how is bonus typically calculated for 1st year lateral analysts? Since I would be leaving within a year from my current job, I will be losing my signing bonus as well. Can I negotiate on lost signing bonus?

Overall, the top-BB opportunity is hard to turn down given the group's prestige, but the other factors are giving me strong second thoughts. Any advice here would be appreciated.

 
Most Helpful

I think you'll always regret it if you don't take it. Very unlikely you land MF if your group doesn't frequently exit there. Also I would plan to do oncycle for 2026 which will maximize your opportunities. MF/UMM is always a moonshot but you'll have a step up in oncycle having some reps.

I would go into it with the mindset of yes it'll be a very hard two years, but it'll be worth it in the long run. it also takes much longer than 2 months to ramp up with a new team so give yourself some grace there

On signing bonus - "market" is technically to buy out your pro-rated bonus (so 8/12 months if on August cycle) and I would mention you will need to repay signing bonus as well. That said... it's a very tough lateral market and they likely have a line of people for this seat, so don't push too hard and if they offer you a ~40-50% buyout (incl. signing bonus) I would probably still take it and call it the cost of upgrading.

 

Very helpful to know, thank you. My group has had frequent MF/UMM exits in the past, especially back when the market was hot, but it wasn't very impressive on a per-capita basis.

Do you think HHs will be open to showing me 2026 opps after I already recruited for 2025 opps? Will making this lateral move help me rebrand/refresh my profile, so they can start showing me MF PE opps as opposed to just MM opps? 

Also know that this has been discussed many times, but how much does group prestige matter once you get the interview? Most people seem to agree that group prestige doesn't matter at all once you get a 1st round interview, but is that actually true? If so, I'm wondering if it's a better use of my time to prep more extensively for PE interviews than to make a lateral move to a much sweatier group in another city, and having to go through another ramp-up period.

 

Sounds like you skipped oncycle - unless you have been recruiting a ton I wouldn't worry about showing up to oncycle this year, it's normal to kick a few tires on offcycle. Obviously don't even bother with anywhere you have had interviews with already

Group prestige isn't a huge factor (but still a factor / tiebreaker) past 1st rounds, but it's basically the biggest determinator of 1st rounds so... if you are consistently getting opps you're happy with that is fine, but you are headed to the short end of 2025 opportunities and you should expect to see many more MMs and many fewer UMMs

 

I lateraled back when I was a first year analyst.

Things I would seriously consider that only you can answer.

1. Is it worth starting over building relationships?

2. Are you going to be a first year analyst again? This time of year is super tricky to move given reviews are starting already. My 1st year bonus was ~$40k, significantly less than had I stayed at my old firm.

3. How much better are the exit opps? Is it worth trading WLB?

4. Would you be happy if you strike out and end up in LMM / MM PE from this new group?

Your new bank will pay back your signing bonus - that’s industry standard. Just bring it up with HR before you sign anything if they don’t bring it up first.

 

I think ultimately the question becomes how much do you value these 2 years and how happy are you with the inbounds you are currently getting vs. the inbounds you MIGHT get at this other group while presumably having a worse WLB. It all boils down to how much you care about culture and WLB in the sense of how much you are willing to sacrifice. I know everyone says to grind it out for the first 2 years, but that's a decision each individual has to make. I do think enjoying the early 20s is underappreciated in a forum like this due to the number of prospect hairdos on this forum, ultimately these are the years when you are most healthy and are in the prime of your life, would you rather work 80 hours a week with people you potentially hate for marginally better exit opps or work 60-70 hours a week with people you already know you enjoy but with slightly worse exit opps. The answer to that question is completely up to you, and something you will have.

 

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