Debt-side Analyst troubles: Is the lack of work a cause for concern?

Hey there, WSO community!

As a second-year analyst at a boutique debt fund in a secondary market, (think Salt Lake City, Austin, Las Vegas) I'm growing concerned about my career progression. Leadership is extremely savvy and experienced, and the fund is growing rapidly. However, I've had very little work to do for the past few months, which has me worried about my reputation and future at the firm.

Initially, I struggled with poor Excel skills, but I've improved significantly since then. However, I fear that my early mistakes have left a lasting impression, and I'm now being overlooked for work as a result. To make things more complicated, the other analyst on my team, happens to be a recent hire and a close friend of the CEO's family. He has taken over my financial modeling duties and is doing an excellent job. 

Our shop is very small, with VPs, MDs, and analysts working closely together on deals. While I enjoy working on the debt side, which is more protected against the current market climate, a lot of deals have stalled in recent months, leaving me with virtually nothing to do. (Has anyone else encountered this issue recently?) 

For reference, my duties are typically coordinating due diligence, market research, pulling comps, ad hoc projects, writing credit summaries, and investor reporting. I went to a complete non-target and started my career in insurance, so I still feel very fortunate to have landed where I did. The CEO took me out to lunch recently for our bi-annual check-in, and mentioned that I had been doing a much better job. However, he did not mention too much about career progression. Do I have any chance of being promoted to the associate level next year?

I'm torn between sticking it out and waiting for bonus season next January to see if I'll get a raise or exploring other job opportunities now. I really want to continue growing my career, and I'm not sure if my current company is the best place for me to do that.

Any advice or input from the community would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (10)

Backoffice_Boss, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1. Not being a dick but how are you a second year and not cognisant that its SLOOW right now for debt, especially debt funds? Yes, it's slow for everyone.

2. Letting another analyst take over your modeling duties was a dumb move. Should have fought that to the end.

3. You should always be networking period. You are in CRE and I am sure you do extensive MTM research on leases. Why aren't you doing that with your comp?

4. I know this is a boutique but the fact your on the CEO's radar about performance isn't good.

I don't think you fucked but in this environment, you could be seen as dead weight. Especially since you gave up modeling

confused underwriting monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Duly noted. To clarify further, deal flow is still strong due to our MDs deep relationships within the market. Deals have just been stalling out at the LOI stage, which is when most of my workload actually starts. (Due diligence, credit summary etc...)

The company pays in line with or above market and we are known as the top debt shop in our market. The only local options would be development or brokerage. Do you think that its possible to stick things out and continue improving, or do you think I should start looking elsewhere?

I figure that on one hand, hanging out on the debt side of things may be more recession-proof. However, if what you are saying is true, I may be in trouble if our company experiences any kind of crunch. Appreciate your feedback!

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm

2. How do you get that back in a corporate setting genuinely asking? 

3. Yes, go to networking events, get coffee/drinks with people your age you know, connect with others on Linkedin.

4. I kind of agree, small firm so maybe it's fine. Seems to be good, but also said seems to be doing better so maybe not good. Point is connect with VPs, start getting in early/staying late. Always ask if they need help and you are there. Maybe try to make connections and bring in new business. Get some excel work back, see if you can share and play it off as you want to keep learning - whatever bs excuse you need just don't literally say the real reason (afraid of getting fired/being obsolete).

Build more relationships with VPs, if they need to fire someone it will likely be you due to the other analysts relationship. Prove you deserve to be there, work hard. The VPs are the ones relaying how you are doing to the higher ups and with you day to day. What can you improve on? Actually think about it.

Most Helpful
pudding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wouldn't be worried. The CEO said you're doing much better. You're young in year 2. Things take time to learn. I'm much farther along and still learning every day. Also - there will always be senior people who forget you are learning. Shame on them. For example - while I am 7-10 years into my career, I was hired into development after being a 'deal' person. I didn't know jack sh*t about development. My boss and head of construction get annoyed still when I don't know something about construction, to which I need to remind them - hey fuck*ers - you hired me knowing I don't know anything about construction. So when I ask you a question - be willing to answer. Anyway..I say this to remind you that people forget how hard it can be to learn, especially in a corporate setting. 

Sit down with the person doing the staffing, tell them you feel things have been going well. Ask them what you can do to ramp back up on the modeling and other work you are doing less of. They may have slowed that work down for you in order to let you get your feet under yourself and give you a less pressured environment to learn. If the CEO says you're doing well, you're probably doing well. 

confused underwriting monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To your point about learning: I'm concerned that I'm disadvantaging myself by staying at a shop with limited modelling duties and stalled deals. It sounds like my options are to either talk to my higher-ups and let them know about my concern, or to jump ship to a place where I can grow faster.

It sounds like you've had some diverse career experiences - so I'm curious. Have you ever been at a shop, and considered leaving? If so, what played into your decision to stay or leave, and what were the factors that influenced that decision?

I know that CRE is very relational business, so in your opinion, does sticking it out in a small, but growing team pay dividends in the long run, or could I potentially be stunting my career?

Either way, thank you for sharing your perspective on learning and career development!

  • 1
pudding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can't really tell you how it'll work out for you at a small or large shop as I really don't know much, except what you write, about your situation. Modeling is the entry card but is so unimportant as you move up. You need to be able to do it as an analyst / associate. But once you hit VP, you just need to know what key inputs matter and how to read the outputs. I've been at and left multiple firms. Some for pay, some for culture, some because I couldn't see growth. Smaller firms which are growing can be great if you can grow with the firm. Small firms can also be bad because you may have nowhere to grow. But you can experience inability to grow in a big firm too, if there are no open seats above you. It's also about seeing opportunity and taking it. A lot of it is luck - some of it is skill. 

As to your question on sticking it out - it could be good or bad. I can't really answer that. You need to assess your goals and your ability to move up / what you want to achieve to figure out if staying at your firm makes sense. 

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm

Consequatur quam distinctio repellat cum est. Atque est doloribus culpa accusamus distinctio.

Quidem ut consequatur nihil et sit illo. Corporis modi sit est vero. Laboriosam autem et aut enim iusto. Commodi dolores dolorem qui nesciunt facere. Praesentium ut fugiat asperiores atque.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

May 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International (▲01) 99.6%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽01) 99.1%
  • William Blair (▲12) 98.7%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▽01) 98.2%
  • Lazard Freres (+ +) 97.8%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

May 2023 Investment Banking

  • William Blair (▲04) 99.5%
  • Lincoln International (▲11) 99.1%
  • Canaccord Genuity (▲18) 98.6%
  • Stephens Inc (▲12) 98.2%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▲09) 97.7%

Professional Growth Opportunities

May 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International (▲01) 99.5%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▲06) 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽02) 98.6%
  • Lazard Freres (▲15) 98.2%
  • UBS AG (▲19) 97.7%

Total Avg Compensation

May 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (32) $396
  • Associates (148) $260
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (11) $198
  • 1st Year Analyst (279) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (90) $170
  • Intern/Summer Associate (46) $166
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (205) $92