AMA: Disadvantaged Background to A2A Promote at Elite Boutique

feck's picture
Rank: Senior Orangutan | 477

Hi everyone!
I'm a long-time lurker on the forum, but recently decided to join and thought an AMA might be helpful to someone. A little background on myself:

Summary

  • Disadvantaged beginnings. No money, no network, from the middle of nowhere, no finance knowledge at all, etc.
  • Ivy League undergrad
  • Broke in as investment banking analyst at BB; eventually moved to elite boutique
  • Analyst to Associate promote. Very involved in both training and recruiting activities at the firm

Ask me anything

Ask me anything and I'll try to be helpful if I can. If you're feeling down about recruiting or work or whatever, and want some encouragement, feel free to raise your hand, too!

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Full update below

I thought it might be helpful for someone out there to expand on my first bullet above. I know hearing about other peoples' success stories helped me a lot coming up, so I hope this does the same for somebody else. Sorry in advance for the length!

I hustled my way into an Ivy

I grew up in a single parent, immigrant home in a pretty remote place with not a lot of money. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do in life, but I was hell-bent on changing my family's lot and going to college. We didn't have money for that, but I had an excellent high school record and applied to schools anyway, with a mind to happily enlisting in the military if financial aid didn't work out. Ironically, the Ivies were the only schools with endowments large enough to support the need-based aid I needed to go to college. So I went - with barely a clue what the school was (I went largely because I liked their school color!) I showed up not knowing anyone at all and never having even stepped foot in the town before.

How I became interested in finance

Gradually, I got exposed to the finance industry through on-campus events and hearing about experiences from upperclassmen. I didn't know what finance was, aside from my little credit union back home. But I was drawn to the intellectual stimulation, the rigor, and, of course, the money. I felt that it was the one way to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, so that I could help support my family. I was determined to succeed at this nebulous prospect. I was smart, hard working and tough - what could go wrong?

I was a mess!

My God - I was a mess! I was completely unprepared and out of tune. I was utterly ignorant, inexperienced and unguided. In my early college years, I thought I was doing all the right things - going to networking events, signing up for every possible relevant campus activity and club, doing informationals and coffee chats, attending site visits, creating a mock portfolio, practicing at the career center, reading forums, hunting for school-time jobs, trolling for business cards and emailing like mad - you name it, I did it. But I had no guidance, no way to get the necessary feedback in a safe zone that would've refined my approaches outside of game time.

I bombed so many opportunities. I sent cringe-worthy emails to recruiters that were longer than the Iliad. I talked so much during my first-ever interview, desperate that they truly perceive my eagerness, they straight up just said, "You talk too much" and were adamant I didn't get an offer. After a short program at another big firm I had managed to get into - and suck balls at - I visited the office to speak to an employee I met there on how to improve, regardless of not knowing my offer status. By the time I had gotten into the lobby to leave, the recruiter called me and said grumpily, "Why are you here? We're not giving you an offer. We already gave you feedback" - and hung up. Once, I showed up to an IB office in jeans and asked an MD, "So, is selling stocks like selling shoes?" Another time, I had a VP tell me over the phone, "You are not special. Frankly, you're not even that good. There are a million other candidates out there who are much better than you." This horrid list goes on.

I had no network

Most frustratingly, I had no network. I had no one. Not even a friend I could reach out to to navigate this mess. I quickly realized what a deficiency that was. I remember going to an interview at a large IB in early days and seeing a candidate getting a kiss on the forehead, a hug and a warm "good luck" by a senior-looking employee. I had a schoolmate whose father got her an amazing internship at a prestigious firm for freshman summer to which she just rolled her eyes. Many other classmates were the kids of millionaires and billionaires, closely connected with all the right people in all the right places. They had what was so key, and arguably worth more than the cash I was seeking: social capital. Even if they weren't that impressive technically or that interesting in person, they knew how to dress and present themselves, how to connect and be comfortable with people that (I thought) were ultra wealthy, and thus, far beyond me.

Meanwhile, I thought that I was barely deserving of a $65 leather belt I bought from Hugo Boss - my first ever luxury purchase, with money earned from my first little internship. It is weird to feel pride and guilt for something you worked for honestly.

The turning point

I think my turning point came when I went to attend an on-campus networking session for a sophomore IB internship one night. My GPA had really suffered up to that point due to some atrocious things I was going through, and that cut me out of a lot of programs. I was already so crushed from so many rejections and put-downs. I showed up to the event, more than eager, and immediately asked if I could still be considered if I had my GPA. The recruiter very politely said "No, sorry." It was a breaking point for me. I found a bench on a side street, called my mom from 3,000 miles away, apologized to her that we would be poor forever and that it was my fault, and cried and cried and cried...

How I landed my first BB internship

But I was more determined than ever to make it. I was going to get into this industry no matter what, and I was going to be the fxcking best that I could possibly be. I was going to ascend as many rungs on the socioeconomic ladder I could and bring my family with me. Every last person on the planet was going to have to tell me "no" before I was going to quit. I knew I had to walk the walk and talk the talk - become a mirror image of that which I coveted. I would need to create from scratch all the things that I lacked. I studied like hell to become as technically proficient as possible (a quality I continue today) and read everything I could. I critically reviewed everything I had gotten wrong so many times before and worked incessantly to improve them. I took every relevant opportunity possible to improve my resume and my knowledge. I changed my look and my swagger, and even spent $400 I didn't really have - nearly all of my savings at that point - to buy new, better looking suits. I refined my "why me?" pitch to be honest, concise and highly effective: I was a poor, smart, hungry kid willing to work my face in for whomever gave me a chance. I did this again and again until, finally, a gracious MD at a BB decided to take a chance on me for my junior summer.

And that was the end of the beginning. I've learned so much in the past decade, many from very painful lessons (even more I haven't even mentioned here...life doesn't end after your first job!) But I've been able to really help my family and others financially and otherwise because of what I went through. So, to wrap up this already egregiously long edit, here are some of those learnings:

Four takeaways

  • The world does not give a shit about you or your problems. There is so much unfairness, so much brutality in life. But what you don't strive to change, you choose. Don't be a victim of your own life.
  • Really cherish the real ones who stand by the real you. Recognize the people who helped lift you up and don't be afraid to lift others up, too. As you elevate your life, people will come out of the woodwork to connect. While it's important to have a network comprising different types of people in your life, think about who will really be with you if the trappings disappear. People will so easily betray you, shut you down or lie to you to keep you from success. Be strategic.
  • Take self-care time. It's okay to feel weak and tired and hopeless. It's okay to cry, to do nothing at all. It's hard as fxck out here sometimes.
  • Do your best to be nice and humble. We're really not that important.

Comments (83)

Oct 22, 2019

How far can you punt a football?

    • 1
Oct 22, 2019

Not far; I'm sports-challenged.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Oct 25, 2019

No offense man, but how the hell did you get into an Ivy League? Because, again no offense, my takeaway after reading your story is that you got opportunities after opportunities after opportunities after opportunities after opportunities..... I went to a non-target and let me tell you, I would've traded my kidney for 1/20th of the opportunities you had.

Oh and I grew up with a single mom from an immigrant background too. High GPA/SAT/Leadership too. You can probably guess where I'm from because I definitely did not "fit the profile" of what these Ivy Leagues wanted or deemed victim worthy and never got a penny of aid during college.

Srsly curious and really no offense.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Oct 22, 2019
  1. what advice do you have for non-targets looking to break into your EB?
  2. why associate promote over PE?
  3. advice for summer interns looking to get return offers?
  4. biggest differences in the learning experiences and culture in your BB vs EB?
  5. any insights to the recruiting process most wouldnt know about?
Oct 22, 2019

There's quite a few questions here, so I'll break up answers separately and address as I can.

Intern in IB - Gen:

1. what advice do you have for non-targets looking to break into your EB?

Greenhill in particular is very open-minded towards non-target candidates (though reserves maybe 1-2 spots for them each class), and I think, in reality, many firms are, despite how it may feel. In terms of getting your name in the ring, the typical activities are effective, e.g., reaching out to alumni at the firm, going to recruiting events via club trips, speaking to as many relevant people as possible, compiling evidence as to your demonstrated interest in the firm and industry, etc. I won't enumerate them all as I think the forum has many great tips on this already. However, I think where many non-target candidates may fall flat is in the execution. At the end of the day, bankers just want to see a candidate who is polished, engaged, humble, willing and able - and normal! I've seen many prospectives (from targets and otherwise) lose their shot because they struggled, in various ways, to demonstrate this in their interactions with us.

For what it's worth, I think "non-target" is a sort of short-hand by which firms streamline recruiting, but it's a little lazy. I have worked with absolutely fantastic analysts from schools I've honestly never heard of. Just do what you can to get your name on a list, prepare like hell to take your shot, and don't let the label bog you down from what really matters

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Oct 22, 2019
Intern in IB - Gen:

why associate promote over PE?

When I was an analyst and the first wave of PE recruiting hit, I was still not convinced that it was something I wanted to do. At the time, I was at a BB and my work experience was not great; I felt that there was a lot more that I could be doing and learning. I didn't want to make a jump just because everyone else thought it's sexy. Moving to the EB ended up giving me everything I was looking to get out of my work, and I had a really positive experience there and was really rewarded for it.

As time went on, many of the folks who moved to PE found that the lifestyle was just as terrible as banking - sometimes worse. Some people preferred working as an investor to banking, which is understandable, but at this point even many of them have gone on to the corporate development-or-business school phase of their careers. All that to say - PE isn't the only path to an interesting and fulfilling career (though it might seem like it when everyone in your class is hyperventilating about it.)

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Oct 22, 2019
Intern in IB - Gen:

advice for summer interns looking to get return offers?

The qualities they arelooking to hire are the same qualities they want to see from an intern during the program. You will not know much of anything, and frankly will most likely be a burden to your teams (that's OK!), but if you can show that you are working hard, have a great attitude, are clearly engaged in the work, you should have a strong shot at a FT offer. In fact, many firms, particularly the smaller ones, form their intern classes with a view that the FT offer is something to be lost, not gained, during the program. Still, your name isn't signed on the contract, so it's important to be consistently earnest from start to finish and show that you incorporate feedback to improve as much as possible while you're there.

For a bit of realism, however, if someone is just not clicking with the group or still struggling to grasp the job and its technicals, the outcome is generally not great.

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Oct 22, 2019
Intern in IB - Gen:

biggest differences in the learning experiences and culture in your BB vs EB?

I'll address this down below so it's not buried, as I see it's being asked quite a bit.

Intern in IB - Gen:

any insights to the recruiting process most wouldnt know about?

I'm not sure what would qualify as lesser known knowledge at this point, but I will underscore the fact that consideration time for resumes and interviews is so limited. We would go through what felt like an endless sea of candidates for the summer analyst class alone. At smaller places, bankers' deliberations really determine your invite/offer, which means you're at the whim of short attention spans and generally poor attitudes (I say this endearingly.) Something you may feel is insignificant - e.g., a whimsical hobby on your resume, inconsistent month abbreviation, a bit of exposed chest hair during the interview - gives an easy reason to nix you. So make sure that resume is tight, practice your interview, and stay on target!

I just remembered something to drive this point home. During an internal recruiting discussion, the only MD in a final round once said 'no' to a strong candidate solely because he didn't get the MD's movie character reference. Crazy!

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Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Oct 22, 2019

"Disadvantaged Background" Ivy undergrad hmmmm yeah idk about disadvantaged

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Oct 22, 2019

Haha, I know how it looks. But even with that, I really didn't have much of a leg to stand on, even with the benefits of OCR and proximity to firms. There's still quite a bit of hard work and luck involved!

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Oct 23, 2019
Intern in IB - Gen:

"Disadvantaged Background" Ivy undergrad hmmmm yeah idk about disadvantaged

Of course kids on WSO would ignore the disadvantages of a person's entire life as long as they have an Ivy undergrad on their resume.

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Oct 23, 2019

Hahaha. I'm sure we had tunnel vision when we were young, too.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Oct 23, 2019

Hello, Im not really a kid haha just someone that took longer because of a very very verryyyyy disadvantaged background :) both before college and during college. Thank you OP for sharing (on other comments) a bit about yourself, always nice to relate to someone in the industry!

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 26, 2019

I presume you went to an Ivy? You don't know the challenges faced with being at a non-target. Don't dismiss what an Ivy league education and connections can provide. OP is not disadvantaged when it comes to recruiting. In fact I'd argue he's at an advantage. Diversity programs tend to recruit from minorities at Ivy leagues. Of course the banks will use a claim such as "Oh look we have X% of race Y" somehow associating race with disadvantages which is ridiculous.

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Oct 22, 2019

Just completed my SA at a BB and signed FT at an EB.

Anything you'd be willing to share about your thoughts since switching over? Group culture, bureaucracy, perks, etc.

    • 1
Oct 22, 2019

Congratulations! Hope you take time to celebrate and relax.

My experience lateraling is probably a little idiosyncratic, as experiences can vary a lot, even within firms. That being said, the following differences really stood out to me:

  • Smaller headcount has big implications for your work experience. For me, this was a huge positive. At my old firm, I was one of an army of bankers. It was really just like being in a machine that would crank out bodies and replace them just as easily. I was often many degrees removed from the client, the work, the senior people, etc. When I got to an EB, the deal teams were so small, that even as a 3rd year ANL to 1st year ASO, I was regularly performing at the VP+ level. I was able to really make an impact on the deals I worked on and I felt like I was a valued contributor (more or less...it is still banking, after all.) This translated to more internal responsibilities, better deal assignments, better MD and client relationships, and more rewards. You can also be more of a captain of your career in this case. The downside at a leaner place is that you cannot hide - if you are not good or just want to slack off, you'll be ferreted out quickly. Consequently, the quality of your colleagues is generally much higher, which is good for your development.
  • Less bureaucracy meant better quality of work and life. At the BB, there was so much red tape and regulatory requirements that did in fact impact my experience. Something as simple as starting a new client folder was so complicated and would take forever - not to say EBs don't do KYC procedures, but there was a big difference. There were internal meetings for internal meetings. Want to make a presentation to a large client? Let's get the partners from every single one of our product groups and a bunch of the coverage guys together and have everyone opine on the book until printing time. Want to show a cash flow model that may include a refi? Let's make ten versions of the same cap markets deck and visit them five times, chase DCM for their two pages that were always wrong, turn the deck another multiple of that, and also parallel process another, slightly different, document so we can go to committee... /rant. I just didn't have to do any of that garbage at the EB. It was so much more efficient and streamlined.
  • No split between coverage and M&A meant a more technical experience. This point obviously depends on the bank and group, but I started my career doing coverage in a place that left all the interesting transaction stuff to other groups. I hated this; it was one of the main reasons why I moved. I was very aggressive in at least keeping the LBO / cash flows part of a book in-house so that I could practice, and even managed to hold on to M&A modeling responsibilities for one project, but clearly this was not consistent. Industry pages with logos akimbo are interesting to do only for so long. When I moved to the EB, I had (and was able) to be an expert at everything, from making very pretty books to doing complex modeling, research and analysis.

Again, this can vary for a lot of people and EBs have more cons than this, I'm sure. This is just how things worked out for me.

    • 11
Oct 22, 2019

What advice would you give to someone coming in as an associate w/o any banking experience? Assume finance skills and industry vertical knowledge are strong.

Oct 22, 2019

I'd say one of the biggest areas that ASOs new to banking frequently contend with is working effectively with analysts, particularly the experienced ones. There's this weird balancing act one has to do between performing a managerial role to demonstrate to seniors that you are a promising VP and recognizing that you are pretty much clueless to this new job/role and are learning as you go. My advice would be, especially in the beginning, to be humble to the latter fact and angle yourself as more as a collaborator with your analyst than a manager. Don't be afraid to take examples from experienced ANLs and ASOs and incorporate their best practices. As you gain confidence, improve understanding of the work flows and grow relationships with the VPs/MDs you work with, you can start to elevate yourself more. But jumping the gun and playing manager with your analyst - 1st year or older - from the get-go will just lead to a lot of friction and long-lasting bad attitudes.

Also, even if you are still learning, please don't leave your analyst to suffer if they are drowning! It's not value additive to dump frivolous formatting comments on them when they already have the book and model to deal with; try to do it yourself in a rider, for example, even if it's not perfect. At the same time, if an analyst is a rockstar and would prefer to be left alone to crush it, then leave them be and don't try to manage them beyond what's reasonable or necessary.

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Oct 22, 2019

--

Oct 22, 2019

What did your parents do for a living?

Funniest
Oct 22, 2019

My mom was a mail handler and I never met my dad (though I think he dodges child support for a living.)

    • 12
Oct 22, 2019

Yep, that's a disadvantaged background right there

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Oct 22, 2019

What was your experience lateraling from a BB to a EB? And why the move?

Oct 22, 2019

I just posted a response to this question above. The TL;DR is that it was a highly positive experience that really boosted my career development at the time.

I hope it helps!

Oct 22, 2019

HYP ivey?

Oct 22, 2019

Don't want to give too much away, but I'll say that the Vineyard Vines budget was high as all get out!

Oct 27, 2019

I see so Yale.

Array

Oct 22, 2019

Advice for students currently recruiting full-time?

Oct 22, 2019

So my answer's relevant, did you do a summer internship?

Oct 22, 2019

Yea - reputable debt shop

Oct 22, 2019

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be and why?

Oct 22, 2019

I want to improve the confidence with which I progress through my career. I've struggled with this tremendously for years, and am really trying to manage it. I think truly believing in yourself has implications not only for your mental and physical health, but your ability to make a lot of money, as well.

That and maybe starting banking in the '80s when there was real money in it wouldn't hurt. But here we are - no regrets!

    • 1
Oct 22, 2019

Thanks for the reply! When taking networking calls by younger students, what are some things the student can do to make it a better call? Furthermore, I'd like your opinion on how to stay in contact with a contact (pun intended) so the relationship doesn't die.

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Oct 23, 2019

How does your firm deal with international candidates? Any insight you can share with respect to work visas etc. in IB in general would be helpful. Thanks.

Oct 23, 2019

I'm not an expert in this area, but I will say I think most sizable firms are open to international candidates, though it is tricky and expensive to sponsor most visas. I left the EB about a year ago, so unfortunately, my knowledge of the policy is dated. Last I recall, candidates from Mexico and Canada had a free pass due to some governmental arrangement; others were not so lucky. BBs and other large institutions obviously have more capacity to deal with visa sponsorship. I remember losing some really great analysts in NY because of the (dumb, in my opinion) lottery system, though sometimes we could still keep them by putting them into our non-US offices.

    • 1
Oct 23, 2019

Thanks for the response! It's interesting to see you mention that the larger BB's have more of a leeway in this respect. It has certainly not been my own experience, in fact in almost all industries as soon as the topic of visas has come up it has been a huge deterrent. Thanks for the insight nonetheless, and good luck with everything. Appreciate the AMA.

Oct 24, 2019

Thank you for doing the AMA. Couple of questions:

  1. How does your firm view lateral transfers but not with IB experience (Corp Banking,S&T,Big4)?
  2. Have you notice a big Comp difference between BB vs EB? I've heard A2A's are seeing higher Comp versus going to PE(minus carry) so it just makes sense to stay out.
  3. What are yours like at the EB vs BB?
Oct 24, 2019

I'll address piecemeal...

cbdbanker:

How does your firm view lateral transfers but not with IB experience (Corp Banking,S&T,Big4)?

Honestly, lateral transfers to IB without previous IB experience is very tough. Usually when a lateral position opens, it's because there was a sudden drop in headcount that was not accounted for when the class was first composed (as was the case for me). This means that the rest of the team is under a lot of duress and capacity has evaporated. Because of this, lateral candidates really need to be "plug and play" because there is really limited time and space to ramp up a new person.

However, I don't think it's impossible, and my above description was particular to a lean, execution-focused EB. For example, we had at one point hired a lateral who was not from IB per se, but was in a role at a consulting/advisory shop very close to what we were looking for and that person was quickly successful. Additionally, there are EBs that are hiring very aggressively as part of their broader strategy and in that sense may be more open to looking at more peripheral cases. As for BBs, I think they are even less particular due to size. I worked with folks in the past who lateraled from corporate banking and they did well.

    • 2
Oct 24, 2019
cbdbanker:

Have you notice a big Comp difference between BB vs EB? I've heard A2A's are seeing higher Comp versus going to PE(minus carry) so it just makes sense to stay out.

What are yours like at the EB vs BB?

At the time I made my lateral move, IBs across the Street were also starting that crazy wave of stepping up junior resource salaries and bonuses, so it's hard to make a direct comparison. In general, I think as an analyst at the EB, I was paid top of market at the time. Compensation consideration also makes a big difference in your take-home (e.g., $300k all cash vs. $150k cash plus $150k of funny money.) But comp can vary a bit across and within BBs and EBs, and, unfortunately, I don't have a close pulse on where things stand now.

Now, as an A2A, I got compensated really, really, really well. Banks really want to retain great junior people and, honestly, struggle to get strong ASO talent, so I got rained on with my promotion, haha. That said, never be afraid to negotiate! I would say, at the time and through my ASO years, I was pretty much on par with PE associates. I also had the added benefit of having super enjoyable downtime periods (partly because of flow at the time and partly because I was so used to my job), which made my compensation per time worked sometimes ridiculous. With respect to the point of carry, I don't think any of my friends got that until much later, and even then, it's such a tiny portion because you're still junior. Of course, that step changes as you get older, but so do most comp structures in finance!

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Oct 26, 2019

When you were just starting out, how did you deal with imposter syndrome (if at all)? Thank you for writing out your story, really inspiring.

Array

Oct 26, 2019

I still deal with it, haha. I found helpful to always strive for excellence in everything I do, but there comes a point where this becomes a little unhealthy. I learned that I commonly replay tapes of lies in my head, so I actively try to mentally reinforce some key things:

  • It's okay to make mistakes. Learn from them, forgive yourself, and move on to be better.
  • You cannot rely on people to tell you that you are good, else you are at the mercy of public opinion. You have to truly know it from yourself.
  • There will always be someone better than you, and that's okay. Celebrate and learn from others' achievements (unless they are arrogant assholes, haha.) A lot of times these people can elevate you, too.
  • "My life is dope, and I do dope shit!"

If you struggle with imposter syndrome, know that YOU ARE ENOUGH!

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Oct 27, 2019

Very inspirational story and your story mimics my own, so I can tell you that you should be very proud of what you overcame.

What are your thoughts on next steps? How long do you plan to stay in banking? Have you other things you want to do?

How do you keep yourself sane and continue on? I busted ass to get in this industry but honestly sometimes I just want to quit and "pursue happiness / more meaning" in my days.

Oct 27, 2019

I actually left IB last year to pursue an opportunity outside of the industry that came to me randomly. It was an interesting change but, in the end, not for me, so now I'm chilling hard and blowing all my savings on Steam. I'll head back to finance in a bit, but I'm not rushing, hehe.

I know exactly how you feel (and I was far from sane, believe!) It helped a lot to have an idea of the career end-goal, work backwards from there and figure out how the immediate steps fit into all that. In my case, slogging productively for a good several years meant I had those skills and achievements forever. But others last in IB barely six months and then bounce, and their paths seem to work out, too. I used to lament the death of my 20s in IB, but now I see it wasn't really that much time and I'm still young enough to do other stuff. I think it all depends on you and what you want to do.

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Oct 31, 2019

Very sage words. What goal did you have in mind for yourself when you went into IB (like early retirement)? Have they changed?

It's great that you're enjoying time away from finance! Do you think Corp dev is a good path for one to take post IB/PE? I really miss the days when I still had time to play on my PS4, haha

Oct 27, 2019

Thanks for sharing. Also an ex BB analyst who left for pe for sometime. Curious if you Have m seen any folks return to banking after leaving it for some other industry? Have they been successful / how long do they last?

Elite boutique is a competitive space. I'm not sure how many will be there in the next decade. Share prices haven't been the best either. In your view, out of the global Ebs (Lazards, Evercore, Greenhill, pjt, moelis, hlz) which ones will be dominating?

Cheers

Array

Oct 27, 2019
nontarget_Bb_ibanker:

Thanks for sharing. Also an ex BB analyst who left for pe for sometime. Curious if you Have m seen any folks return to banking after leaving it for some other industry? Have they been successful / how long do they last?

The vast majority of "returners" that I've known personally were previous bankers who paused for business school, perhaps did an internship outside of the industry, and then came back. Usually they these people last quite a while, and many make it to MD. I have only heard of bankers leaving for different industries - one as far out as opening his own cartoon studio - and then returning, but I didn't know them. One Principal I did know went to work in the industry they covered for a bit, and came back in as an MD.

In general, I think there aren't many of these folks because working in IB is so not pleasurable, but because turnover is so high and banks struggle for good talent, especially at the mid-level, it is probably easier to get back in than one would think. I think the key would be convincing them that you're no longer a flight risk and the move is for the long haul to MD, whether true or not.

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Oct 27, 2019
nontarget_Bb_ibanker:

Elite boutique is a competitive space. I'm not sure how many will be there in the next decade. Share prices haven't been the best either. In your view, out of the global Ebs (Lazards, Evercore, Greenhill, pjt, moelis, hlz) which ones will be dominating?

It really is tough to run an EB. I think we take for granted how much business is won just by the fact an institution has a balance sheet. It's a lot harder to be more top of mind with clients, especially for really large transactions, when your menu is limited to advisory. That said, I think EBs can provide great independent service to clients in spite of (and arguably, because of) this.

As with anything, future bets on specific winners in the space is tough. Aside from supply dynamics, like M&A appetite and capital markets activity, I think the success of these firms depends really on teams of individuals with specific areas of expertise - and these people move around all the time. Also, the network effect for advisory services is huge, and I think that's why places like PJT and Moelis have been recruiting so aggressively to grow their ranks. At the end of the day, IB services are pretty commoditized (why do you think, as factors of production, we were so abused? haha), so I think the EBs that will sustain in the long run are those who can 1) engage new and existing clients most frequently (which to me means broad market presence and large headcount) and 2) position themselves, vis a vis strategic talent acquisition, to take advantage of supply dynamics before they materialize (e.g., this can be seen right now in fast-growing RX practices of EBs ahead of an anticipated downturn in the credit market). Those that can accomplish this at attractive economics, i.e. high fees per MD, should be better positioned. Right now, in this regard, it looks like some are doing better than others, but we'll probably have to live through another full cycle to see who shakes out.

Eventually, this will likely turn into a question of what "boutique" really means and how the business model might change over time, especially relative to what's happening at BBs and other competitor institutions.

    • 6
Oct 28, 2019

great

Oct 28, 2019
Comment
Oct 28, 2019
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Nov 6, 2019