Am I the only one who worked at a no-name boutique IB and had zero problem going UMM buyside?

I'm at a (solid - but not namebrand) IB boutique in a Tier 1 city. Over the past could of months I have gotten a whole lot of outreach for MM IB, EB IB and LMM-UMM PE. Now granted not all inbound recruiter mail was for anything remotely interesting and some were just casual email blasts, but ultimately I was able to sign up a great offer with a >$20B AUM PE shop in NYC. I only got one final offer but I had another final round lined up with a $5-$10B AUM shop in Boston as well. 

I get that if I wanted to work at KKR or Goldman Sachs they'd have more interest in other people from BBs, but given that I have no interest to hack it out with the KKR or Goldman Sachs types, have rarely worked 80+ hours/week and still ended up at a namebrand UMM shop - my question is this - outside of the Top 10 bubble, are there diminishing returns of working for a sweaty MM versus a boutique? There seems to be very little value-add to me at a certain point and I do feel that some things I hear first-years or recruit weenies say on hear is just abject wrong in my personal experience. Am I just the luckiest man alive or has anyone shared this experience?

Edit: I cleaned this up a good bit because I drank too much coffee and was a dbag, rant artist in my initial post. 

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (50)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 3:50pm

Ofc this is just me, everyone has their preferences, but state school -> mm boutique with good culture and lighter hours -> mm pe seems like such a steal. Hope this track gets more attention at places like my alma mater (RU/PSU/OSU).

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 8:57pm

At one of those schools headed to a MM hc boutique lol. Would love to hear your perspective in DMs or something

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2021 - 11:57pm

Yeah exactly, like how the Top Ivy -> US Congress Member -> Motivational Speaker seems like such a steal. I don't get why that track doesn't get more attention at HYP. Oh, wait maybe it's because it's a highly speculative path that isn't actually accessible to 99% of the students there.


  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 3, 2021 - 12:18pm

Is it possible to make it at a boutique in NYC from a place like rutgers or University of Maryland? How hard would it be?

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 11:47pm

Feel you on this. Fucking hate "elite" personas. Ive truly met very very few HYPSW/GS/McK/KKR/Bx people that aren't superficial/insecure/lame 

Yeah I mean I respect the work ethic and all that but I do not want to get scoffed at for leaving before 7PM lol. 

Aug 31, 2021 - 4:28pm

My 2 cents. It's a little bubble that people can get trapped in, something like HYP -> GS/MS -> KKR/BX or bust. To those caught in it, it's inconceivable any kind of finance exists outside of that. Not that it's a bad goal, but not everyone wants that path. There is just as much success and money without it.

Congrats on the new gig. All the best.

Aug 31, 2021 - 4:55pm

Not in PE but I went to a LMM and got an exit-op as good as anything from a BB. I think the difference is that if you're from a LMM bank, you have to hustle to land a good position but you can still do it. If you're at a BB, you can kind of coast and still get something good.

Most people on here are not good at hustling. Hence, the preference for what looks like a sure thing.

Sep 2, 2021 - 10:57am

yeah I think that is the one problem.  even if you can get to BB for just two years you can save a lot of people second guessing you which can help the hustle game.  I'm not saying its for everyone, but at some point I think the extra effort can be worth it.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2021 - 7:39pm

I feel like being at a BB/EB is similar to being at a target. Once you're in, there is a relatively clear path to UMM/MF (if you want that) and generally more recruiter inbounds. In the same sense being at a no name is kind of like a non-target, you have to put in a bit more work. But at the end of the day if you want it bad enough you can make it happen. Congrats on the new gig!

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2021 - 7:52pm

I'm genuinely having a tough time wrapping my head around this. OP recently graduated from Generic State U… started his career at a no-name boutique investment bank in NYC… and already signed a $20B AUM PE offer 6 weeks into his first year because they were interested in the M&A experience he got during training while taking FINRA exams? Am I missing something? My understanding was that even MM PE is a challenge for people at established MM/EB/BB banks? Congrats OP I guess everything I knew about finance is wrong. I'm from a target school and at a (relatively good lifestyle) MM IB and I haven't been drowning in UMM PE messages so I guess I just suck. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 12:58pm


My thought process also. Would love a comment from more experienced monkeys

The reason it's hard to get consensus is because their are too many other independent variables. Some people need the boost a Goldman or Harvard provides others find a way with less. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 12:47pm

Huh? I'm 14 months into the job and most of my inbounds started ramping up around 12 months in.

Who said anything about generic state university? I wouldn't have the same analysis when it comes to going to a target vs. non-target school. IMO the cost-benefit is way better for an elite school than an elite bank just because it's really friggin easy to get A's in high-school and once you actually get in it's not like you have to crank 80-100 weeks to do well at Stanford or USC. 

Also I would imagine your group plays a huge role. If you're doing a bunch of cap raises at a FIG shop that's gonna be a diff. world than Tech M&A is right now. 

Only other thing I would mention is having a great LinkedIn prof. can make a big difference. Do you include the right buzzwords in your profile to get the maximum amount of views in recruiter searches? I know having CEO testimonials on my page helps as well (even if their companies were only ~$75mm EV when we sold them). Also, will you connect with recruiters and have a chat with them just to be kept in mind for future gigs even if their initial email isn't your cup of tea?

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 5:20pm

Thanks for clarifying all that OP. Actually I should schedule more calls with the inbound headhunters, that's good advice. I wasn't planning to go through on-cycle recruitment this first year since I want to give banking a fair shake first, but making the connections would be dope.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:58pm

Targeting MM rn, interested in hearing about your hours since you said you have a relatively good lifestyle

Normal day is like 8:30AM - 9:00PM, Fridays I'm typically out by 7 but might need to log on over the weekend to make up for it. Exaggerating a bit when I saw I've never worked 80 hours a week in my life. I've probably brushed up against it and beyond, albeit less than 5 times probably over the course of the past 12 months. Average is like 60 hours with 70 being a shitty week. 

  • VP in RE - Other
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:11pm

 I haven't been drowning in UMM PE messages so I guess I just suck. 

100% the case. As verified by the fact that you can't read. Where in the post does OP say he went to a non-target school? Also, his profile says A2, as in a second-year. 

Sep 2, 2021 - 11:04pm

Would agree that PE is not guaranteed even at a bulge would caution people from thinking that it is a sure shot from a smaller boutique. I personally find that many of the mid-market PE shops are quite "non-diverse" and so while the state school--->small boutique--->PE strategy may work for someone who is "one of the guys" and fits in "culturally", the rest of us may need the credential boost provided by a larger institution to get a shot. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:56pm

Does your boutique begin with the letter S?

Naw, but I'm assuming you're thinkin of Scura Partners? We've competed with them before on pitches. 

  • Intern in S&T - FI
Aug 31, 2021 - 10:50pm

can someone give a list of  the no  named regional boutiques that are solid

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:30pm

Preferably a tiered ranking and hearsay justifications for each ranking position.


Sep 4, 2021 - 10:27pm

In all seriousness though, the best boutiques often operate in a pretty specific industry niche where they're well-known and respected, albeit complete no-names outside of that space, so it could be interesting to hear the names that come to mind based on the different sectors and geographies people cover here

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2021 - 11:13pm

For me, one big difference is I'll making a % of what analysts at BB/EB/reputable MMs are making. If I don't get into an UMM firm, I don't get to make that $. I'm a money hungry guy, and I don't mind working 80-90 hours a week if I get top dollars in this industry for a few years.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 11:53pm

For me, one big difference is I'll making a % of what analysts at BB/EB/reputable MMs are making. If I don't get into an UMM firm, I don't get to make that $. I'm a money hungry guy, and I don't mind working 80-90 hours a week if I get top dollars in this industry for a few years.

Yeah that's fair play. I think Associates where I'm at clear like $100K less than at BBs with what I'm reading these days in the $325-400 range. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 3:54pm


I'm wracking my head here trying to think of the non-namebrand boutiques that focus on Tech M&A in tier 1 cities. Are you like sandbagging here and at Qatalyst/Liontree/Raine or at something like Union Square Advisors/FT Partners?

There are a dime a dozen, just do an Axial search on it. Someone on here asked if the name of the firm I'm at starts with an S. I assume they're talking about Scura Partners, which is an occasional competitor of ours. Something in that league. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 4:46pm

So did you reach out to HH yourself?? Or did they reach out to you?? Curious on how the interviews were for you as well. Thanks

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2021 - 10:27pm

Essentially, I applied to one job on their website and they liked my resume enough to call. I got on well with the recruiter and I guess made a good impression. It seems as though they kept me in some type of CRM or sales log as a good potential recruit to place successfully because although the initial role wasn't a great fit they would periodically call for something they thought would be a fit. They pitched me probably 3 duds but also the one gig I ended up taking an offer on.

If you want to reply with your username I can ping you the name of the recruiting firm via DM because they were great for me. Your mileage may vary. 

Interviews were both pretty similar. Couple virtual interviews and an excel test and case study. Both excel case studies were timed but they let you pick a time slot over the weekend to do it. One had a powerpoint case study component to present a recommendation as well. The other was a pretty simple three-statement M&A model that they gave 30 minutes for. Final rounds were in person which was dope, although I only went to one. 

Sep 1, 2021 - 10:45pm

Would love to hear the name of the recruiter. Sometimes some of the most interesting opportunities are sourced outside of the HSP/ CPIs of the world. 

Congrats on your offer. I can't say I had a similar PE recruiting experience as you. I definitely struggled. 

Sep 1, 2021 - 11:43pm

This has been one of the best replies. Thanks for taking the time to go into detail about your process. Would love to know the name of the recruiter.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2021 - 12:25am

Cupiditate et exercitationem culpa magni maxime corrupti. Voluptatem porro numquam fuga tenetur laboriosam rerum. Mollitia velit qui repudiandae doloribus omnis.

Quasi qui molestiae esse ab perspiciatis consequuntur neque. Eos et dolores laudantium quos nihil tenetur minus.

Nam a itaque asperiores in deserunt a consectetur. Sunt aut ipsum maxime nostrum harum modi. Non impedit vel autem nisi. Repudiandae error numquam quisquam eveniet tempora iusto et est.

  • VP in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2021 - 8:24am

Iure velit aut laboriosam soluta minus animi ut. Enim sequi provident quia ratione vero nihil quam nostrum. Quis ex impedit et perferendis pariatur et.

Voluptatibus quo animi fugiat totam. Reiciendis tempora accusantium qui doloremque. Officia natus soluta aut non rerum repellat eum.

Deleniti cumque soluta omnis recusandae quasi et. Neque magni porro nemo sunt et cumque voluptatem. Reiciendis et consectetur atque culpa. Ullam et ad velit.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2021 - 2:47pm

Odit et praesentium repudiandae et. Minus consequatur illo voluptates et. Animi aliquam ipsam alias qui. Optio eos aliquam voluptatibus. Pariatur officiis sit est esse dicta inventore.

Consequatur expedita optio molestiae quia necessitatibus porro dolor. Ut officia maiores dolorum. Omnis aut aut nihil. Omnis fugiat beatae dolores possimus labore quae ducimus ipsum.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

October 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (39) $363
  • Associates (228) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (137) $154
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (30) $147
  • Intern/Summer Associate (103) $143
  • 1st Year Analyst (499) $135
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (385) $83