Best M&A Group for post-MBA Associate Position

The Pope's picture
Rank: Baboon | 126

Gents,

I have been granted several offers to join the following groups post MBA.

A bit about my background worked in IBD for 2 years and moved to H.I.G Capital after in Brazil. Went to do my MBA at HSW and my main goal was to be in the US for some time.

My plan is to work in an M&A group that will:

1) Give me exposure to large and complex deals --> Quality and size of Dealflow
2) An environment that challenges me every day ---> Access to smart and ambitious professionals
3) Optionality to break back into the buyside at a large megafund (KKR, Blackstone, Carlyle)---> Looking to go back to PE, and I am pretty flexible about the geography. Latin America, London could be some options but firm reputation is more important to me.

How would you rank the following groups based on this criteria and why?

JPM M&A
CS M&A
BAML M&A
Lazard
Citi M&A

Comments (17)

Jan 18, 2016

+1

Jan 17, 2016

Why do you rank BAML so low? And why do you think Citi M&A>CS M&A? - Just curious as to hear your thoughts. Also, what are the exit opps from an M&A post-MBA Associate role to the buyside - PE. I know they are not as many opportunities as an Analyst but have you seen this transition before?

Jan 17, 2016

That dude is full of shit. Wouldn't listen to him. Bottom line is they're all great groups. Honestly, there's little/no difference between JPM, BAML and C. Cant really comment on <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/lazard">Lazard</a></span> as I dont know anyone there but they have great dealflow, I just don`t know how great a career track an EB is for someone Associate and above. CS is the weakest, by far (although still a great group).

Jan 17, 2016

If you're trying to put all these groups on a ranking ladder, you're doing it wrong because all these groups are all BB firms.

Also let me put it this way and...I quote someone here(no calling me out, please) saying that "No, let me be clear. THERE IS NO PATHWAY TO PE FROM BEING AN ASSOCIATE". Granted you may be in a bit of a different situation with pre MBA, PE experience but it's not like you're going to have the door shut in your face because the namebrand of your firm wasn't good enough.

Finally if you were able to get all those offers then you should already know a bit about the deals they've worked on. If you haven't already looked at their deal tombstones then get busy.

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Jan 17, 2016

So what criteria should I decide upon? I have all these offers and it seems that all of these banks are involved in many large deals. Some of them because of having a strong balance sheet other because of relations with specific clients in certain industries etc.. but I still need to make a choice

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Jan 18, 2016
Ivy Leaguer:

So what criteria should I decide upon? I have all these offers and it seems that all of these banks are involved in many large deals. Some of them because of having a strong balance sheet other because of relations with specific clients in certain industries etc.. but I still need to make a choice

That's exactly what I'm getting at. Strong relationships with certain clients can be extremely important depending on what type and size of buy side firm you want to work with. e.g If you want to work in tech-focused private equity the don't join the firm which gets a lot of industrials M&A deals but few tech ones.

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Best Response
Jan 18, 2016

If you are focusing on going to the buyside post MBA (which I would be a little bit wary of since post MBA, investment banking is a career (i.e., there is a defined path to the top), buyside is not a career), the best place to land yourself is in an industry group that does its own M&A and has leveraged finance activity. Unlike at the analyst level, being a M&A generalist doesn't really cut it for the buyside as they have plenty of people that can model. However, being really in depth in an industry AND knowing how to execute M&A and leveraged finance transaction puts you in a good position. Plenty of post MBA healthcare M&A bankers move to funds focusing on healthcare, same with power bankers and infrastructure funds or oil / gas bankers and energy funds. The distinction between pre and post MBA hiring on the buyside is that pre MBA, you only need to be analytically strong, post MBA you need to be analytically strong and bring industry contacts and expertise to the table.

In terms of the groups you mention, hard to distinguish. Lazard is not an easy firm to make a long-term career in (although better than any advisory focused firm). Amongst the BBs, I would rank Citi / CS as tied for 1, BAML after that and JPM after that. Its not because any firm is better than the other, but amongst cultures and strength within the firm, CS and Citi are old school cultures and still very strong within their respective banks. BAML M&A has a strong culture but the real power center at BAML is in leveraged finance and JPM M&A has a weaker culture and is really just an extension of the client coverage franchise.

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Jan 18, 2016

Great post above. This is how I would reason about the decision making here.

Jan 18, 2016
mergersandacquisitions78:

If you are focusing on going to the buyside post MBA (which I would be a little bit wary of since post MBA, investment banking is a career (i.e., there is a defined path to the top), buyside is not a career), the best place to land yourself is in an industry group that does its own M&A and has leveraged finance activity. Unlike at the analyst level, being a M&A generalist doesn't really cut it for the buyside as they have plenty of people that can model. However, being really in depth in an industry AND knowing how to execute M&A and leveraged finance transaction puts you in a good position. Plenty of post MBA healthcare M&A bankers move to funds focusing on healthcare, same with power bankers and infrastructure funds or oil / gas bankers and energy funds. The distinction between pre and post MBA hiring on the buyside is that pre MBA, you only need to be analytically strong, post MBA you need to be analytically strong and bring industry contacts and expertise to the table.

In terms of the groups you mention, hard to distinguish. Lazard is not an easy firm to make a long-term career in (although better than any advisory focused firm). Amongst the BBs, I would rank Citi / CS as tied for 1, BAML after that and JPM after that. Its not because any firm is better than the other, but amongst cultures and strength within the firm, CS and Citi are old school cultures and still very strong within their respective banks. BAML M&A has a strong culture but the real power center at BAML is in leveraged finance and JPM M&A has a weaker culture and is really just an extension of the client coverage franchise.

Slightly off topic, but why is Lazard a tough place to make a career at?

Jan 18, 2016
  • Difficult to win clients as a VP/early Director with just advice alone, when your equivalent peers at BBs are offering both advice + financing + securitization/hedging etc.

Lazard (or any other EB) would be a great place if you already have a stable client base. It's just that they're not a great place to BUILD a client base, and you can see that reflected in every EB's senior banker roster -the senior bankers in majority of these independent advisory shops came from BBs (very few homegrown bankers).

With that said, at the analyst level, I would say that the experience / exit opps are just as good (if not, possibly even better) than those at BBs. However from a building-a-career perspective, BBs are still the way to go.

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Jan 18, 2016

I like the post. The only thing that doesn't quite fit in the argument is the fact that all of these BB banks except for GS have industry groups who generally do not execute much of the deals they source. They are more focused on pitching, industry research etc.. but do not get as involved as the M&A bankers in structuring and execution. I agree with BAML Lev Fin, since that's a product group. But I believe in the rest of the banks, for instance JPM Healthcare does less M&A execution than JPM M&A group and so on with the rest of the banks. Then the question becomes, other than GS, Lazard - which industry groups in these banks do most of their execution (excluding groups such as FIG or Real Estate, who usually do so)?

Jan 18, 2016

Having said that, I would also reiterate my thoughts above. I would also consider doing M&A group first and transitioning to an industry group depending on which bank. JPM -> Healthcare, Citi-> Industrials, etc.. that way I could hedge the risk of going straight to an industry group where not much of the execution is being done, but also gain the necessary industry expertise to become more valuable to PE funds. Thoughts?

Jan 18, 2016

Bumping on my previous post. Thanks!

Jan 18, 2016
Ivy Leaguer:

Bumping on my previous post. Thanks!

I'm still having my doubts re: my last post.

Jan 19, 2016
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