Should I choose S&T over IB?

I have offers for both and just wanted to get peoples' opinions on whether the hours in IB are worth it. It seems like I'd actually get to enjoy my 20s while in S&T, grow professionally and learn a lot in a fast-paced environment, not hate myself or my job and probably not put on 40-50 pounds either. What does keep me on the fence though is the modelling skills and exits that IB offers.

While I'm not looking to be the kind to use my first job solely as a 2 year nightmarish stepping stone to the buyside, I don't see myself in one place forever and probably desire to work abroad at some point in my career too. I'm not very interested in PE as of yet but think I could go towards corporate development/strategy/consulting roles, even CFO at some place if i'm lucky. Would being in IBD make a stark difference in positioning me for those opportunities compared to S&T?

Comments (13)

JSHCapital, what's your opinion? Comment below:

IBD is way better than S&T if you want to go PE. Bar none.

rawbeef 69999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are not 100% sure about going into S&T, do IBD. S&T is very specialized, and you reach the highest pay convexity by being really really good at trading one particular product. You have to really want to be a specialist to do S&T. The exit opps are also very different in that S&T is more credit fund/ fixed income/macro focused, and so an example would be mortgage traders going to trade mortgages at a hedge fund/or doing real estate debt at a PE for more pay convexity. But essentially, if you are good at your job in S&T, you will do the same job at different places for a really long time, so it is very linear and specialist. You don't sound like the type from what you wrote tbh so maybe consider IBD more heavily. 

  • 1
jl12, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It depends entirely on what you want. But first, something that needs to be made very clear is that both jobs aren't that glamorous, especially entry level. You will be doing a ton of bitch work no matter what you choose. 

In S&T, you have better hours and you are much closer to making actually relevant decisions. You get more direct P&L responsibilities and earlier. You will work long hours but they will be fairly predictable and you will absolutely be able to have a life. The work itself depends a lot on your group. For example, I interned at a convertible arbitrage hedge fund in Chicago that traded in the Japanese market. That is fundamentally different than a long only mutual fund and both of those are fundamentally different than an activist hedge fund. While these are all buyside roles, the same holds true within S&T. Muni bond sales will be a fundamentally different experience than derivative sales which will be very different from junk bond trading. I would try to talk to as many people as you can on each team. I know that probably isn't the most helpful advise but the more you know about the actual teams and work the better. S&T definitely has exit opps like I kind of implied above. You certainly won't have to stay on an S&T desk forever. 

In IB, you will work longer hours that are less predictable. Your ability to have a life is greatly reduced. Sure. There are modelling skills you pick up in IB but most of the work is pretty tedious, especially entry level. You will be relatively removed from most of the work that actually matters most of the time. I think the exit opps are better than in S&T but neither one pins you down. You will have flexibility either way. In terms of CD/strategy/consulting roles, IBD would be a substantially better background to have. I interned in a CD role (it was mostly a corp strategy role where the team was responsible for deals as they come up). My manager was a former S&T guy and this was at an $8 billion public company. I also am about to start a CD role at a Fortune 250 company. Everyone on the team will have came from IBD except for me (because I am the type of sucker who has such a massive tolerance for self-harm that I am a CPA who is about to graduate law school and practice neither). If you want to be a CFO the... "safest" route would be to do 2-3 years of IBD, go to corp dev, and then move over into a more accounting/fpa/treasury role. CD tends not to get you into a CFO role because CD is far more narrow of a function than what a CFO has to deal with. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen

Could you make the move to AM from S&T? Know that an IB background suits it better though 

  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm

I think these decisions are really hard to make as a college student simply because 50-70% of the stuff you deal with in S&T is downright impossible to imagine/be taught in detail in college, in a way theyre 'unknown unknowns' until you actually sit down and try to learn them in a professional setting. What doesnt help one bit are the facts that (1) everyone in college seems to think that s&t = prime brokerage + just helping hedge funds execute their trades and (2) the desks are extremely heterogenous so nobody can really speak for s&t as a whole

For me the way i think about it is IBD is much more suitable for people who prefer working with extremely concrete and tangible subject matters (like a balance sheet, business model, etc etc); and these are the things we see in the media & can understand from classes in school. Obviously the exits are great too, but i think a big part of why people flock to ibd is because they are naturally biased to something they can understand

S&T tends to deal with more abstract (and niche, yes) stuff. Firstly, >50% of s&t has nothing to do with equities at all, and once you get into rates/credit/commods, concepts like convexity, cross currency basis, term structure & structural dislocations (shortage of usd funding for eg) come into play, and things immediately become quite abstract. And this is just the 'linear' part of s&t; the non linear stuff can become extremely arcane and even quite profound if you dig deep enough. Ofc this doesnt represent the entirety of s&t as people do get by in relatively simpler relationship/flow sales types of roles, but id say that around 50% of the headcount in s&t deals with pretty complex stuff. In fact its only nowadays when i talk to my ibd/equity fundamentals friends that i realise ive learnt a ton of new things since starting work (just 6 mths ago)

For someone who enjoys and thrives with complex and abstract subjects, i think s&t is a very underrated choice despite its downsides

  • 2
  • Prospect in RE - Comm

bump interested

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

Just to add my 2 cents. Do not go into S&T unless you are interested in it. most of time in S&T there is not really a career ladder since the top position is the Trader and there really is nothing above that role unless you want to go the managerial route. Your exit ops are usually limited vs IB. If you're not sure what you want to do with your life my suggestion would be to go the IB route since it gives you tangible skills applicable across a far wider set of roles vs S&T. Of course your WLB is crap in IB vs S&T.

I selected S&T because of the WLB compared to IB and because the markets interest me. If the markets do not interest you, you will not find it fulfilling. Now, given that you're a recent graduate I assume you will have no idea about markets. But if you're a risk taking person then S&T is definitely the right choice. I used to find corp fin boring in my uni while I absolutely loved market fin. If you want to be a CFO (thats a pretty big dream) then I wold suggest you go the IB route.

If you want to go to PM, HF route go for S&T.

law.ribaj, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot, i also like follwing the markets and the WLB is a crucial factor since I do want to have a life outside of work as well. You mentioned some exit opps there, do you know whether S&T is a good springboard into private credit?

goliath2235, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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