Lateral From Cushy Tech Corporate Finance Job for Investment Banking?
Long time lurker, first time poster.
I've been hot and cold on making the switch to investment banking for a few months now and would love to get some outside opinions. I'll do my best to keep everything "anonymous"...
Bit of background: Graduated from a non-target with a non-finance (but "business-esque" degree think: economics, systems engineering, etc.) and strong GPA >3.7x + extra curriculars. My school is reputable (top 60 university) but has dismal IB recruiting and placement (basically non-existent; some savvy LinkedIn searching late night revealed just how bad the numbers really are). People do land jobs at great IB's, but this is usually post MBA (which I'd prefer to avoid). Junior year internship was at a large hedge fund in the area (>$10b) where I worked in covering equities (private and public). Everything looked promising in-terms of converting to full-time until COVID when they canned the entire program. The fund more or less went belly-up, and they cleaned house.
Fast forward a few months, I landed a job at a young, ultra-high growth tech company (think CRWD, SNOW, DDOG etc.) in their corporate finance department. Specifically, I'm in an FLDP where I'll continue to move through the core finance departments (IR / Strategic finance, FP&A, GTM, etc.). Tenure at the company is <2yrs and I've completed at least 1 rotation, ~6mo rotation. While working here, I was involved in taking the company public; I played a fairly hands-on role in the listing considering I was just out of college (I was in IR as the only analyst so I got to sit in on every meeting and helped with decks / models, etc. – I really got to see the entire process from filing confidentially to the first earnings as a public company. My buyside experience was great exposure to having me hit the ground running). If you know anything about "startup" tech corporate finance, the teams are lean, so you get outrageous exposure and often are doing work at a much higher level than your title suggests.
Through the IPO, I was absolutely mesmerized by the process and really enjoyed working with the bankers (I realize this is only one side of it but made me think of the long-term prospects of being a banker, which I never considered before going to the corporate side). Following the listing, things slowed down and became much more cyclical (and to be honest - less interesting). Even looking down the road at the work senior employees are doing doesn't seem to really interest me - far less strategy and finance and much more accounting. This seems true for the majority of the rotations I've completed as well. Corporate development seems interesting, but they're pretty strict about only hiring ex-bankers because of how lean we really do run.
If I were to jump, I would think my best bet would be to stay in tech at a MM (Jeff, Cowen, Stifel, Piper, etc.) or maybe a few boutiques (I'd assume Moelis, Evercore, Lazard etc. are out of reach). My leg up is I understand the process to go public from an internal perspective and have a good knowledge of how a company is actually run (advantage to my specific position is incredibly close / cross functional roles / relationships with lots of different departments from corp. dev to product to FP&A to accounting to GTM to direct access to CFO / partners / VC's). That said, I believe in my company, leadership and product, plus knocking on the door at $100k/year + equity with a good work / life balance isn't bad either right out of school.
Let it rip. I welcome any and all opinions.
If you are truly bored, then go with your heart. However, you're probably experiencing a bit of the "grass is always greener" when it comes to banking. Taking a company public is a live deal and definitely rewarding for bankers. So the bankers you saw were probably having a hell of a time.
However, most of your time as a banker will be spent building decks and refreshing old models for pitches that 95% of the time will immediately fall through. The days before pitches I'll spend from 9am to 1am editing and formatting slides as 5 seniors go back and forth on what they want. I'd say give banking a go if you plan on solely using it as a stepping stone. If you want to stay in banking long term, just know that that exciting side you saw to it is not as frequent as you think (obviously, depends on the firm/group, so maybe this is just my experience).
After all, I'm personally only in banking so that I can land a cushy six-figure job with good WLB (probably strategy/corp dev). Seems like you already have that. So unless the work is just painfully boring, I think you're in a fine spot. Either way, both career paths you're considering will do you well.
If you go to a bank, you will be a cog in the machine for many years to come. They'll say your experience is wrong and their way is the way it has to be done.
It sounds like you've done some really cool stuff, but the extent of my experience is to stay far away from IB if you don't want to lose the things that seem to excite you.
I'm an IB analyst at a top bulge and would totally be open to switching jobs with you...
Little freaky Friday action...
I am Anl 2, OP switch with me first
I will trade with you. I'm in ecm at a mm. (Btw we have an opening so people are still hiring)
Hey OP just wanted to chime in here. Am in a very similar position (strat fin @ high growth health-tech startup). Haven't done the whole IPO dance yet (little too early) but definitely would agree with the fact that our work is probably far more than expected. I would say, as someone also considering making the jump, the biggest thing is to think about why banking. Again, I'm also probably under the haze of the grass being greener as mentioned above, but I do find the idea of capital raising and M&A being the core parts of your work to be fascinating. I think also making sure you have an opportunity to stay in your industry of choice is something to contemplate. As a HC person, could not fathom going to a non-HC group. I think your experiences are highly transferable and you would make for such a strong candidate. If you do decide to make the switch, definitely be sure that you get recognized for your current work in the form of the title you are given. Don't think transitions like this are worth it if you are coming in as an AN1 with your experience. My dream scenario would be to make the transition as a AN2/3 or whatever and after a year or so get the Associate promote in banking. Just something to consider as well. Best of luck in this process and remember no matter what you decide to do that there will be a lesson embedded in the journey.
I don't think it's reasonable to expect 6 months of corp fin experience will draw AN2 offers. Would be concerned about the bank/group if they offered AN2 to OP tbh.
Agreed. I misread and thought OP had 2 years exp in corp fin / strat fin. Definitely w 6 months exp wouldn't get any AN2 looks.
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