GS Private Wealth Management post MBA

I am a recent M7 MBA graduate who accepted an offer to be a Private Wealth Advisor (Starting as a PWM Associate) at Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management (GS PWM). I worked in finance before business school and went to MBA to stay in finance to multiply my earning potential. I was attracted to GS in business school mostly because of the brand power and have found myself entirely unimpressed with PWM. It is clear to me that it's not difficult, particularly at GS, to make a few million dollars a year after a decade, but I find myself asking at what cost. If you succeed as a private wealth advisor, life can be very good. Hours are relatively light, you are responsible to no one but your clients for the most part. But if you are passionate about finance or someone who prefers more mental engagement, it's an incredibly boring job. You spend your days chasing ultra wealthy people down, whether its cold calling or endless "warm" leads. You think about how wealthy everyone around you is at all times and ponder whether you should pursue them as a client or someone who can bring you clients. In order to be one of those people making a few million a decade into their PWM career, you are undeniably spending years using the same sales tactics as the guys at Northwestern Mutual with a more sophisticated offering and wealthier prospects. Once you have clients, little financial knowledge is needed. You pick baskets of strategies and managers and help put client money into SMAs and mutual funds that GS research teams have done great DD on and then explain to clients what's happening in their portfolio. It's simple. It's monotonous. It's laborious. 

That leads me to the point of this post. While I set out to get my MBA to be in a high earning potential finance role, this one is incredible boring. As someone with a genuine interest and passion in finance, I feel like the wall street version of a door to door salesman. I will probably leave after I've put in a year or two and am interested in the WSO community perspective on what I should consider. Others in my position have left to other PB roles to do the same job (kill me), or taken corporate finance/business development roles in start ups or tech companies. I'm not particularly interested in staying in the wealth management space.

So I ask, do you think I should just sit and wait until the job gets more fun (or the money does)? Do I leave ASAP or should I put in a couple years to get GS on the resume as planned? Should I do BD at a start up or CF at a tech company? Are there things I should be considering that I'm not? Do you hate PWM and financial advisors and are you about to shit post about that?

Thanks for engaging. 

Comments (31)

Most Helpful
Jan 31, 2022 - 5:38pm
Kkreme15, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm sorry you aren't enjoying it. I joined J.P. Morgan Private Bank last summer after an MBA as well. We have a few Goldman refugees in our office, it's interesting to hear their stories. I don't find my job here boring. I am enjoying the business development part of the role. Most of my time is spent developing relationships internally and externally. I genuinely enjoy doing that. We have also hosted a number of interesting client and prospect events. I have great work life balance while many of my classmates are getting crushed.

I think ultimately most big jobs post MBA have a desired end state where you're ultimately responsible for producing and bringing in revenue (Consulting Partner, IB MD, etc.). In this role you're a producer earlier, and you can get compensated as such. I think only you can answer your question. What matters to you? Do you *need* to be fulfilled in your job? Do you think you'd actually be fulfilled in most other post MBA roles? Are you working in order to make as much money as possible and have time to enjoy it? What are some of your personal goals in the next 3-5 years? 10 years? The grass isn't always greener. Happy to go deeper on this through another channel as someone in a similar (our upside isn't as high given the way we are compensated, but the comp model has its benefits for junior advisors) position.

Jan 31, 2022 - 6:36pm
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I appreciate the thoughtful response. I know quite a feel GS refugees at JPM PB doing very well. I and probably most of the other new PWAs at GS have already been contacted by JPM recruiting and I know they are very similar roles. To your point about comp models, I've heard you guys get paid considerably more in the first five years and are given a book to manage, whereas we start a book from scratch but with no ceiling in earning potential.

My post definitely demonstrates that I'm asking and trying to answer the existential questions for myself, and it's very helpful to get the opinion of those in a similar boat and/or with a different perspective. Fulfillment is a big question. The one I get more hung up on is whether I enjoy the day to day activities. Some part of me worries that I'll wake up one day as a successful PWA and just not want to the exhaustive outreach it takes to keep growing the book for decades, and that I'll be pigeonholed by the time I realize that. Fresh out of the MBA feels like the time I'd have the most optionality to pivot, so for me it's not just a fulfillment question but a timing question.

  • Analyst 1 in IA
Jan 31, 2022 - 9:08pm

I'm a first year at JPM PB and i think our comp is better at the analyst level, but is it really that much more at the associate/early VP levels? I know first year associates make $250k ($58k signing, $150k base, and $40k stub, potential for more bonuses if you can bring in flows) and 1st year vps get a $210k base (not sure about bonuses)

Jan 31, 2022 - 7:19pm
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's not easy. I think avg. income at 10 years is a little over a mil annually. But once you're in the seat, if you want it badly enough, you'll be very successfu;. At GS we get paid salary and bonus around 2-4 years then your commission replaces your salary. You make around $200k for 3-5 years then the sky is the limit.

Jan 31, 2022 - 5:52pm
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes what is it that you want to do and what is the best path to help you do it. Those are questions only you can answer, No point in berating a role, company, or industry. What you find as boring others will find fascinating and vice versa. I won't "bore" you with the satisfaction that comes from enjoying real Trusted Advisor status with a client (as in they consider you their personal CFO) and the responsibility that brings with the gig. You clearly don't enjoy the PWM world so find one you do.

Jan 31, 2022 - 6:41pm
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fair points. I didn't mean to demean the role, but I wanted to speak openly and honestly about my experiences and perspective and I felt there's not enough PWA perspective here. You are always a great contributor in the space, I thank you for that. I may end up staying in it and that "boredom" may have just been a phase. I may recruit elsewhere. It's early for me. I've seen how good this job can be, and damn can it be good. I could write a long essay about the things I love about the job too, but those things didn't inspire me to post. Please continue to '"bore" me' with your insightful posts.

Jan 31, 2022 - 9:08pm
Big Swinging Chimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Having done PWM and IB I can say that neither one is more stimulating than the other. You simply get what you put into either endeavor. If you don't enjoy storytelling and simplifying complex topics you won't like PWM.. but you also won't like being an IB MD.

Feb 1, 2022 - 7:44am
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

100%! Simplifying complexity is key to success in PWM and any sales role. PWM is a combination of markets knowledge / math and the human condition. The markets knowledge / math part is easy (as is modeling in IB - just time consuming and detailed, but not rocket science). The knowing how to apply that knowledge and simplifying concepts to your HNW client (story telling) is what it's all about. What's important? What do they need to know? How do they need to hear it? What can they process that will lead to taking action vs causing paralysis?

I summarize PWM as staying on top of macro econ, markets, how they connect and sharing those views with clients in a way they can become comfortable and take action. It's not that different in any client facing role in any industry (substitute markets / econ with specific industry knowledge). I've sold small insurance contracts to mom and pop business owners, disaster recovery computer solutions to F500, computer networks to F500, financial services "platforms and capabilities" to Community Bank CEOs / Boards, estate planning and money mgmt to HNW, and kitchen table financial planning to the mid market. It's all the same. 

What everyone on this board needs to realize is once you get to a senior position (and helping you get to that position), it's all about sales / client development, client relationships. MD, Partner, Corp EVP / C-suite. You'll have the technical knowledge of your previous work (very important), but you'll apply that knowledge to client relationships and simplifying concepts for them to act. If you shy away from the sales function, you won't make it to a senior level anywhere unless you plan on just being a senior technologist / number cruncher. There are some industries where that might matter (senior actuary type roles but they're still not primary leadership).

Client facing / sales roles are revenue generating. That is very important to any organization. Without it, there is no organization. If you're good at it, you get lots of exposure and recognition. That can lead to lots of things, not just within the sales hierarchy. But even if you stay within the sales silo, sales leadership (Head of xyz sales distribution), you're basically running the revenue generation for a product line, a geography, a division, a company. Those guys/gals get paid REALLY WELL, have a lot of responsibility, and to apply their knowledge as they help grow the company. Many 7 figure people in that world.

Feb 1, 2022 - 10:20am
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I couldn't agree more. At GS PWM specifically, it's all about sales, client development, and relationships from the Associate PWA position all the way to MD. The job and responsibilities do not change other than less cold calling, more referrals, and more money over time. Sales can be very lucrative as you point out, but you have to enjoy it. 

  • Analyst 1 in IA
Jan 31, 2022 - 9:14pm

I work at JPM PB as a first-year analyst (though 3 YOE) and I am in the same boat as you. Not in an advisor seat obviously, but what I've done is look at the advisors above me and asked myself if I see myself in their position down the line, and the answer for me at the moment is no. I'm giving myself until next bonus to give the role a shot, but have been looking to jump back into corporate finance (have a couple years experience there). My advice to you is to have as many conversations with people in seats that interest you (financial analysts in corporate finance, corporate development/strategy, BDRs, etc.) and learn what interests you the most. This will allow you to hone in on what attracts you the most and will make you more marketable from a "fit" perspective when you begin to interview.

Jan 31, 2022 - 10:14pm
xyzESG, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm probably projecting here, but you seem like the analytical type. I recruited for those own roles in my mba and thought they were 100% sales gigs. You obviously still have to know markets/the product but in the end you're not investing. From my pov corporate finance/bd is interesting but not nearly the depth of thought and second level thinking to be a great public market investor… I'd suggest looking for investing roles… you could probably lateral into gsam outside of pwm and eventually get out of the bank to other AMs

Feb 1, 2022 - 10:21am
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Appreciate it. I'm a little too old for the GS internal pivot but I've considered a few long only and hedge funds.

  • CEO in PE - Other
Feb 1, 2022 - 7:32am

Didn't end up recruiting post mba but know a ton of people in the pwm space. 

In jp pb clients are brought to you whereas in gs pwm, you have to bring your own clients. There's higher upside in gs pwm (the gs pwm partners make considerably more than the mbb partners in a non NYC US city I live in), so it's a decent gig if you're good in sales. JP PB advisors are paid on base + tiered bonus, whereas gs pwm advisors are paid on commission.

I've heard some of the gs pwm partners make more than some of the ibd partners also. 

if you have a good sales personality and a strong network, it's a great gig. Risk adjusted though, you may be better off in ibd/consulting. Yes you can make millions, but the notion that "it's not difficult make millions after some time in gs" is wrong. You'll have to grind for it and its difficult to bring in clients. 

Feb 1, 2022 - 10:24am
dubdub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is right on the money. It's a small circle of PWAs who make that much, but once you're in the PWA seat everyone has the opportunity. Anyone that says it's easy to make millions doing PWM at GS hasn't done the job. It's entirely plausible if you work your ass off and it also may never happen for you. There are plenty of middle aged VPs sitting around the office who stopped the rat race and are comfortable sitting pretty grossing $1m annually.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Feb 1, 2022 - 2:18pm

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Feb 1, 2022 - 5:10pm
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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