I Don’t Want to do IB Long Term but there’s nowhere to go

Having an existential crisis about this right now. I’m currently a 3rd year associate in a product group at a BB. Started recruiting this year after our bank paid garbage bonuses, and realizing how much IB exit opps outside the buyside absolutely suck. I know IB isn’t what I want to do long-term due to the mental and physical deterioration, but there is nowhere worthwhile to go right now.
The Bizdev roles at my level pay ~$200k all-in, which don’t get me wrong is not terrible pay. But I look around at my friends who did random tech jobs, aren’t ambitious, and work remotely 3 hours/day in their pajamas who make more than that, and I’m wondering if I’m missing something. Also, if I just stayed at my previous job instead of going to business school I’d probably be making~ $200k now, without the student loans.
I was under the impression the exit opps would be much more lucrative than they are. I’m close to making VP, and my initial thought going in was to make VP, get deal reps, pay off my loans, then leave for a cushy job paying $300k+. But my VPs and Ds are saying that exit opps to bizdev for them are in the ~$250k range. I find this absolutely wild, that someone who made it to a VP in IB cannot leave and find a role that clears 300k at a minimum, when there are people in tech, hell even IR and accounting who make this much and work a few hours a day and frankly are not particularly smart or ambitious.
I’m having a crisis right now and am trying to figure out what to do. My total pay as a 2nd IB associate this year was in the $260k range, after working 75+ hour weeks most of the year. So the one good thing I expected from IB (the pay) isn’t even that good, the exit opps suck, and I feel trapped in a job I hate that doesn’t even pay as well as I thought.
I’m hustling for buyside roles and am admittedly early in my search. The handful of recruiters I reached out either ignored me or pulled one of those “we have nothing right now but we’ll let you know.” Also when applying to jobs via websites, there are like 100+ applications 30 minutes after the posting. Either I’m doing something wrong or the job market is brutal.
Interested in the experienced crowd on WSO - is this phenomenon due to the market environment right now, or is this not a unique sentiment? I was looking at the average pay for associates during 2016-2019 (http://twgco.com/2019IBCompensationReport.pdf) and the comp looks much higher than it is now. I’d be much happier and secure of my position if we were paid according to these historical levels, but the entire time I’ve been here I haven’t seen a real bonus and have still been working relatively long hours. Do people think this phenomenon is here to stay? If so, the value prop of IB does not make sense anymore.
Please skip the “oh you should have known this going into IB” crap that is seen a lot on WSO. This is where I am, and trying to figure out what to do about it.


Not hating but just because you aren't clearing $300TC does not constitute it as a existential crisis. Everyone is in a crunch rn comp wise so either thug it out 1-2 more years and recruit then or jump ship to preserve mental strength if that's your underlying mission.


Not to be a hard ass because I'm sure the hours and loans have taken a toll on you, but step back and evaluate your situation. You (at worst) will find a job paying 200k. You may not have to live in SF/NY or any other HCOL state which goes even farther. Do you know how many people never come close to this salary and still survive? 

I think your problem is comparing yourself to others who didn't work as hard to get similar pay (which I 100% get). 

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Bonuses the past 1-2 years have been lower than the historical highs of the prior years. The job market is slow but picking back up - I have heard from peers from various firms who say their teams are either hiring currently or looking to expand their group in the coming months, although moreso for analysts and associates. Hiring may not be as robust for roles at the VP level however.

It is important to be patient. Given that many firms are currently understaffed, yet, from a broader perspective, compensation remains competitive, even when you consider it in relative terms to other high-earning professions at this career stage. The experience you've built so far is valuable and something to be grateful for. Why not start networking and gradually doing interviews? With your level of experience, you should find it relatively straightforward to secure a position that aligns with your skills and career goals.


Have you looked at buyside exits? Have seen quite a few people move from ib even after the associate promotion 


Yeah I actually find the work relatively interesting (compared to previous jobs). Culture is OK but it’s banking… it’s not like people are going painting together every weekend. If the pay was decent, it would be an OK experience. Obviously have some weeks/months where I get burnt out but at least the work is interesting.

I’d recommend people entering banking to go to a boutique rather than BB. The spread in pay is huge, much larger than expected. At a boutique you’ll get crushed but you can get paid for a couple years, get a holistic experience, and get out


Yeah, that's what i'm leaning towards.  Thing is... I have no interest in following the PE clown bandwagon, so if I do go for the MBA and pivot, then I will probably go 110% into banking, so reading threads like this makes me think/evaluate if I really do want to submit myself fully to banking and try to become an MD in the long term...  

The other factor that makes me think hard about this choice is why people put up with being treated like dirt and don't try to change that culture, I mean over here on the consulting side, as soon as I get on a project where there is any semblance of socio/psychopathy, I at least have the freedom to get off that project (granted right now is a shitty time), but so far I have only encountered one psycho partner...


What were your reviews like? Sounds like 30% bonus, was that the avg for your class this year? 


Obviously these are bad bonus years and good years can easily be much higher, but going from what looks to be around ~250k TC for an IB associate to a corp role making 200k seems pretty easy to digest if someone is looking to leave.


If you lateral you could come across a similar dissatisfaction, but assuming dealflow picks up, comp could improve this year or next. Why not look at buyside roles - have seen plenty of people at your level move and comp there is often the same or higher 


If you are a citizen of a developed country, you can try getting a job in EM for a bit. Pay wouldn't be too bad, will be a change in scenery and you will probably get the job you want with your developed market experience. I come from a product group as well (ignore the S&T title- I'm just trying to hide my identity) and had recruiters reaching out to me in my home country for some lucrative roles. In the west, however, it was much more challenging. 

Otherwise, network like a dog, you can get the job if you connect with enough people. If you are socially awkward, however, then start meeting as many people as possible asap so that you can become more likable. I had to do that.

You could take some time off and travel for a bit. It looks good if you spend that time doing something interesting like, I don't know, chessboxing.


Very obvious business school candidate if you are a curious person.

Broaden your horizons and explore other fields. In my opinion, you likely need:

  1. Free time to process what you want from a job and how it fits into your happiness
  2. A broader view of what is possible in business
  3. A break

Worst case, post MBA you can come back to your old role. Best case, you learn a ton and pivot.


CorpDev comp is definitely lower than what you’ll get in IB or a PE/VC job, but keep in mind the stock options you’ll be getting from the company you theoretically join.

An interesting idea could be to leverage all of your IB knowledge and resources to pick a growth stage startup join as an early corp dev employee. Run some screens for companies that just raised a series B or C from the best VCs and try to connect with them. You’d get a lot of stock and probably help them raise their next round. Great work experience, huge potential payoff


While I used to think this too (also in a product group), not a lot of your “day to day” really translates anyways.

They hire you because you’re 1) smart & extremely hard working 2) able to communicate / present 3) able to “speak the language” of finance

Let’s be real for a sec, the only reason people (I.e. PE) care about “coverage” is that you are theoretically a lower risk candidate than Joe Smith who’s an Econ major and did 2 years at Deloitte.

Coverage, levfin, Ecm, DCM, it’s all banking and as long as you can spin your experience I don’t foresee any issues going to a corporate or startup - maybe not MSFT or AAPL corpdev, but there are a lot of companies out there


Even in a good market, the corp dev pay sucks hard. It is basically the back office of back office.

In a corporate, finance department is the back office and m&a is not even their core function and at best is a niche specialty with limited trajectory as you will not make cfo coming from such tiny pigeonholed department.

It sucks looking back. I am a vp and I realized I opted for short term cf at the expense of my long term career.

Suck it up stay in ibd or move to pe and hustle or surrender and make peanuts. An ex-big 4 may have even better trajectory joining f100 in 10-15 years down the road if you join corp dev before making md.

As to other replies that say tech doesn't work just 3 hours a day, I have friends who work 20-28 hours a week on average there. It is just a culture thing rather than about how much work you have. Tech is crazily bloated anyway with thousands of PMs in an organization when they don't even have that many "products".


Yep - hence you see my dilemma (and everyone else’s in my IB class). Job market has basically sucked our entire associate tenure, and the buyside opps will close off at the end of this year if/when we make VP. Hell it’s difficult even for solid analysts in my group to find a buyside job right now, let alone associates.

Options are to hustle like hell for a unicorn buyside role or stick it out until VP before inevitably leaving for a “back office of the back office” role when the market turns around.


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