AMA Boutique Investment Banking Analyst

I'm currently an analyst at an industry focused boutique located in the NY area(throwaway account to protect identity).

At the risk of being screamed at for having no prestige, I'd like to answer people's questions on life at a leading boutique covering a specific industry. There is a ton of info on this site regarding BBs but not a lot covering boutiques. I know when I was researching the industry I had questions about life at boutiques so I figured I'd give back a little and answer anyone's questions!

Comments (56)

Aug 26, 2015

Do you work at a boutique investment bank?

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Aug 26, 2015

Whats comp like? and deal flow? Are you guys strictly M&A?

Aug 26, 2015

Comp is about 10% below street. The industry we cover is pretty large so deal flow is strong. That being said, the deals we work on tend to move very slowly so they will last a long time and be spread out over a couple of quarters. We are not strictly M&A. Also do financing, restructuring, and some ad hoc advisory work.

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Sep 8, 2015

Are bonuses ever bigger than BB?

    • 1
Aug 26, 2015

How is the recruitment at boutiques regarded for individuals with work experience from non traditional backgrounds such as former engineers or ex military?

Aug 27, 2015
fratlax:

How is the recruitment at boutiques regarded for individuals with work experience from non traditional backgrounds such as former engineers or ex military?

At my firm recruitment can be broken down into two areas. 1- Fresh analysts coming out of undergrad 2- Individuals who are already established in the industry we cover. These people tend to come in as VPs or MDs. That being said, I'm not sure how it is at other boutiques.

Aug 26, 2015

Looking back, do you wish you had went to a BB or MM instead?

Aug 27, 2015
iWillSucceed:

Looking back, do you wish you had went to a BB or MM instead?

There are definitely times that I wish I was in a larger firm. Late at night or when work is slow I wish there were more variety of people in the office. There are only 4 other analysts and a handful of associates. On the other hand, the lifestyle is definitely better at a boutique.

Aug 26, 2015

thanks for doing this, just added your post to the frontpage

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Aug 26, 2015

What did you find appealing in a boutique compared to a BB or MM?

Aug 27, 2015
Entrepreneur100:

What did you find appealing in a boutique compared to a BB or MM?

I was attracted to this particular firm because of the industry it covers. It is something I have always been interested in and I figure if I don't love banking I could potentially exit into that industry. I was a summer analyst at a BB in London and worked on a couple deals for boring companies that did not interest me at all. I couldn't see myself doing that for more than a couple months.

In terms of BB vs boutique overall, the lifestyle and work-life balance is (at least at my firm) not even comparable. It is so much better.

Also, I am exposed to senior management a lot more than I would be in a larger firm. For example, the first week of work the CEO and COO(who both have over 40 years of experience and don't need to acknowledge analysts) made a point of going to lunch with the first year analysts. It doesn't sound that important but the little things definitely add up.

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Aug 26, 2015

What steps did you take to land that job? Did you major in finance?
I'm trying to do something similar as you but with a Master of Accountancy..

Aug 27, 2015
rosemont83:

What steps did you take to land that job? Did you major in finance?
I'm trying to do something similar as you but with a Master of Accountancy..

I pretty much did the cookie cutter approach to an IBD analyst role. I went to a target school and majored in finance. Freshmen and sophomore year I interned at a PWM firm and then my junior year interned at a BB.

For boutiques, I think landing a job is a lot of luck. More so than BB's. The firms are much smaller so it is more about fit and not that you are some excel superstar who can pull 4 all-nighters in a row.

My advice would be find a few boutiques you are actually interested in and focus on them heavily. Get to know the companies and the industries they cover(If they do) so you can actually hold a conversation about them(If you can't already). I know I went into a ton of interviews trying to pretend that I was fascinated with what the group did. It definitely helped when I was sincerely interested in the industry.

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Aug 27, 2015

What exit opps do you expect or are aware of in terms of coming out of a boutique vs bb?

Aug 27, 2015
Sushiology:

What exit opps do you expect or are aware of in terms of coming out of a boutique vs bb?

Exit opps vary greatly. A lot of the analysts(probably the majority) stay with the firm and are promoted directly to associates. The hours are not nearly as bad as BBs so it is a lot more appealing.

I've also seen people leave and move over to another bank or PE firm during and after their 2 years. I haven't seen anyone go to a HF.

Because my firm focuses on a specific industry you also see a ton of people leave finance all together to work in that industry. It really depends on what your interests and priorities are.

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Aug 27, 2015

Are your clients mainly in the NY area? If no, how often do you travel and where to(international?)

Aug 27, 2015
mongonese:

Are your clients mainly in the NY area? If no, how often do you travel and where to(international?)

Actually I can only think of a couple clients who are in the NY area. The majority of our clients are international(mostly Europe and Asia). This means the MDs and VPs are constantly traveling far. Its not uncommon for them to fly to Asia, go to a meeting, and catch the next flight back without even going to a hotel. Definitely a stressful life.

The analysts don't travel at all and the associates rarely travel(maybe 3/4 times a year).

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Aug 27, 2015

Interesting so you are in the office all the time? do you know if this is common amongst boutiques that there is barely any travelling?

Aug 27, 2015

What is the lifestyle like for analysts/associates?

Best Response
Aug 27, 2015
CF1988:

What is the lifestyle like for analysts/associates?

At my firm, its a lot better than at a BB or MM bank. I'm averaging probably 60-65 hours a week and rarely have weekend work. These hours a broken over the five days so there might be times when I'm out the door at 6:30 or times I'm here until 2. Its nice to at least once and a while have a normal weeknight where you can go to dinner with friends or family. Also, vacation time is not unheard of even for analysts and associates.

Keep in mind, I make ~10% below street and the exit opps are not as killer as a top GS/MS group. For me, though, the trade-off is definitely worth it. I work hard(in comparison to the rest of the world) but still have some aspects of a normal life.

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Aug 27, 2015

What kind of target did you go to? Ivy, Top Public, Top Non-Ivy Private, Stern/Wharton?

Aug 27, 2015
copper245:

What kind of target did you go to? Ivy, Top Public, Top Non-Ivy Private, Stern/Wharton?

I went to a top Non-Ivy Private. I'd say around here its split about 50-50 Top Non-Ivy Private and Ivy. Little to no Top Public. Some of the REALLY senior guys went to public schools but they've been in the business literally since the late 60s.

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Aug 27, 2015

What're your plans in the next few years there? Do you plan to roll into an Associate position there or find an exit else?

Aug 28, 2015
Rhymenocerous:

What're your plans in the next few years there? Do you plan to roll into an Associate position there or find an exit else?

I'm actually thinking I'm gonna try and exit the industry all together and possibly move into the industry our bank covers. While I'm learning a ton and the pay is great, I don't find the finance side of the job all that interesting tbh.

Aug 28, 2015

Networking is a big factor when it comes to getting an offer from a BB or even mid-market firm. How does that differ in case of a boutique? Are boutiques more focused on recruiting on campus from target schools or via a standardised online application process or do they too give out offers to people who've proved themselves during networking?

Aug 28, 2015
SM.:

Networking is a big factor when it comes to getting an offer from a BB or even mid-market firm. How does that differ in case of a boutique? Are boutiques more focused on recruiting on campus from target schools or via a standardised online application process or do they too give out offers to people who've proved themselves during networking?

Like I said earlier, I definitely think boutiques focus more on fit than the BBs. This means they definitely put an emphasis on networking when it comes to recruiting. Its much easier to get to know someone through months of conversation than through a 30 interview.
That all being said, almost ever analyst at my bank went through the standard channels of resume drop and on campus interviews. But once you actually received an interview it became more of, "Is this kid interested in what we do and will he fit in?" Than, "Whats a DCF?"

Aug 28, 2015

Do you feel like you have more responsibility at your firm than you would at a BB? If so what are some pros v. cons?

Aug 28, 2015
Winston Wolfe:

Do you feel like you have more responsibility at your firm than you would at a BB? If so what are some pros v. cons?

Honestly, not really. Its probably different for an extremely small boutique, but here is pretty much the same structure as at a BB. I don't think the analysts(or even associate) role is terribly glamorous anywhere you go. Its just excel and power point.
I would also say the learning curve at a boutique is probably slower than at a BB. My firm, because they are smaller, doesn't really have an official training period or program. Instead you're just thrown onto the desk and slowly learn how to do the work through interaction and asking questions. To be honest, I found this somewhat annoying and inefficient but I guess its really the only thing that makes sense when you have only a handful of new hires. It is definitely something to keep in mind when deciding which direction you want to take.

Aug 28, 2015

Thanks a lot, really appreciate the insight

Aug 28, 2015

What frustrates you the most about working at a boutique? When I was at one, it was always the unsophistication of the clients. Financials from QuickBooks, balance sheets that never balanced, no CFO, CEOs who did not know the difference between EBITDA and operating expenses, etc. Just trying to see what your take is.

Aug 28, 2015
Sil:

What frustrates you the most about working at a boutique? When I was at one, it was always the unsophistication of the clients. Financials from QuickBooks, balance sheets that never balanced, no CFO, CEOs who did not know the difference between EBITDA and operating expenses, etc. Just trying to see what your take is.

There are definitely frustrating aspects but I can't say I feel the same about the clients. Our clients are all multinational with market caps well into the double digit billions. Its important to remember that the definition of boutique is a business that serves a specialized clientele. People on WSO always give boutiques shit saying, "Dude, have fun taking the local deli public!" Yes, there are boutiques that do small deals. The small companies are their specialized clientele. But for a lot of them, that specialized clientele that qualifies them as a boutique might be tech companies, transportation companies, or financial companies. Just because the companies they focus on are specialized doesn't mean they are small. (BTW this rant wasn't directed at you- just trying to get a point across)
The most frustrating thing for me is the low number of younger people at the firm. While there are other analysts and associates here, its definitely less than in a BB group and only a tiny fraction of an entire BB. That means that if the one of two other analysts aren't staffed on anything pressing, you're probably going to be alone in the office that night. It can get pretty lonely. There is definitely less of young culture at a boutique and that is something I don't like about it.
The small size also means that if you don't click personally with one of the other analysts there is only one or two more people to talk to. At a BB if the people in your group aren't cool there are always other kids in other groups to grab lunch with. That is not an option here. Its just something to keep in mind when you're interviewing and meeting the other analysts in the process.

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Aug 28, 2015
boutique throwaway:

The most frustrating thing for me is the low number of younger people at the firm. While there are other analysts and associates here

I can definitely relate to that. And true, it is important to keep in mind that there are many different types (sizes) of boutiques.

Sep 1, 2015

At a boutique is the shift to more of a relationship development/ sales role from straight analyst crunching numbers happen quicker?

Sep 2, 2015
joey joe joe shabadoo:

At a boutique is the shift to more of a relationship development/ sales role from straight analyst crunching numbers happen quicker?

No not at all. At least at my firm you still have to put in a solid 6+(3 analyst, at least 3 associate) years before you're at the relationship phase of the business. It might be a little faster in general, but I doubt it is anything significant.

Sep 2, 2015
boutique throwaway:

joey joe joe shabadoo: At a boutique is the shift to more of a relationship development/ sales role from straight analyst crunching numbers happen quicker?

No not at all. At least at my firm you still have to put in a solid 6+(3 analyst, at least 3 associate) years before you're at the relationship phase of the business. It might be a little faster in general, but I doubt it is anything significant.

Ok, thanks. That is good to know. I am meeting with a lower/middle market bank today in a small midwest city. They only have 4 or 5 people in total. So that is helpful. Good luck!

Sep 2, 2015

You've said that your pay is about 10% below the street, so is the same true for bonuses or how would you say your bonus compares?

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Sep 2, 2015
Inquiring Investor:

You've said that your pay is about 10% below the street, so is the same true for bonuses or how would you say your bonus compares?

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Its tough to generalize on bonuses because even at the analyst level your bonus is completely tied to how the company and yourself perform. The economy could be doing well but your particular industry is not, reducing your bonus. On a good year bonuses might be equal to that of the street, on a bad year they could be $5k. It varies that much here.

Sep 2, 2015

what's the exit op in your head now?

Sep 2, 2015
wdb:

what's the exit op in your head now?

Right now I honestly don't know. I'm definitely still focused on learning a lot here. I'm leaning towards getting out of finance all together. I love the strategy type work we do for the companies in the industry we cover, but I'm not in love with the financial aspect. I guess I should have thought about that before getting into banking...

Sep 2, 2015

Comp ?

Sep 2, 2015

Are there credit risk analyst at boutiques?

Sep 3, 2015

Have you seen laterals from BBs hired into your firm or other boutiques at the analyst level? If so, have they been knocked back a year in their career or able to come in at the same level they held at the BB? If not, do you know if your firm would look at a lateral?

Sep 8, 2015
SPBW:

Have you seen laterals from BBs hired into your firm or other boutiques at the analyst level? If so, have they been knocked back a year in their career or able to come in at the same level they held at the BB? If not, do you know if your firm would look at a lateral?

I have not seen anyone lateral into the analyst position here. I have seen people lateral out to a BB, but not in. I would imagine it wouldn't be frowned upon. BB analysts definitely have the relevant experience. There just hasn't been a need to hire a lateral.

Sep 5, 2015
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Sep 14, 2015