I just graduated from an Ivy and will be heading to PJT/EVR/Laz full time. I've spent a lot of time in the past year thinking about buyside recruiting and various career directions and am ironically coming to the conclusion that banking might be a pretty good gig after all for a career. The way I see it, there's far less competition, very stable (good) comp, promotion visibility and an interesting role at the top. What am I missing that causes 95% of my class to hop to PE or other buyside roles? Would love some perspective.
As I see it, here are the pros of taking the A2A and pursuing a career in banking:
- At a senior level, the role of trustedd advisorr is personally appealing- I always enjoyed debate, case competitions, etc. where you win by being trustworthy and persuasive/good at negotiating.
- There seems to be a lot of mobility once you get to the MD level to other interesting roles (buyside, business, government, something else) if you want.
- Comp is very good (basically as good as top PE roles pre-carry, but let's be honest, MDs at good EBs don't have to worry about money)
- My firm strongly encourages analysts to stay on, which could be a career tailwind.
- And perhaps the biggest reason, there's a lot less competition. Look at it this way, if I go to a good PE firm or right away, I will be putting myself on the same starting line as dozens of other highly qualified candidates - from better schools, banks, etc. - all exactly my age. If I stay in banking, most of my competition as an associate and beyond will have started later (most associates at my firm are MBAs age 26 - 30ish), will have more demands outside of work like family as a result, will be less familiar with the work, and will not have the same reputation capital I'll have built after my analyst stint. (Not to say MBA associates don't contribute valuable attributes that I lack, but in many cases A2As run circles around them). This means that if I play my cards right I could potentially supercharge my career in the next several years, perhaps becoming an MD in my early 30s which could open a lot of doors.
Of course, there are cons too. At a junior level the work may be less interesting or intellectually challenging than alternatives (debatable for large cap PE), there are more office politics (having to lead recruiting or be the staffer or start an interest group or some sht to get promoted) and my sense is the opportunities to exit are greatest at junior and senior levels, and as such, less flexibility at VP/Director level. I guess I just keep talking to PE guys and realizing I'm not that interested in picking apart how a company operates and how to improve that (/ being skeptical that PE will continue to be such a lucrative asset class or that pre-MBA roles are so untouchable), and keep hearing from HF guys about how brutal public markets are. I enjoy the transactional/negotiation/complex situation analysis aspects, which is how I ended up in banking and why I got interested in certain PE firms or HF strategies like event-driven or special sits, but I am really torn.
I hope this didn't come off as arrogant or something, clearly there are many, many "ifs" and it's all a hypothetical and the best I can do is hit the ground running. I guess I'm just curious to hear whether anyone else has had similar thoughts. Hope this can be a jumping off point for insightful discussion. Cheers.