Boutique IB offer vs. stay non-big 4 TAS

Background: I'm a 2nd year analyst at a prominent non-big 4 firm doing TAS (valuation / M&A DD) and I just got an offer for a boutique bank (I'd solely be doing middle market M&A) in a second tier city, which I'm currently working in. FWIW, this is the first banking offer I've gotten.

I have a few hesitations:
1. Comp seems low
2. Exit opportunities - I'm hoping to jump to a MM PE firm after my analyst stint but given this is a growing IB (has been doing extremely well), I'm worried about the weight of the name.

I met with a good amount of folks and it seems like a solid culture but my main reason for doing banking is to get to a good PE shop or corp dev (two main goals).

If I don't end up taking it, I'd be trying to get into a MM bank such as Piper, Jefferies, Baird, HW, WB, etc.

PS: I've looked around and have seen what a few ppl have done in this situation but they seem to be very dated and obviously the IB industry has changed in the past few years.

Comments (22)

Feb 23, 2017 - 2:07pm

Take the offer - you're already two years out of school (if I read your post correctly) and it's only going to get harder to make the move from TS -> IB.

Hey, how's your art career going?
  • 1
Feb 24, 2017 - 1:27pm

Taking your answers and your current situation into account, I would definitely recommend you take the job. Yes, ~60k may seem a little low especially since your current salary is higher, but in the grand scheme of things this is irrelevant. I would try to negotiate base salary, but the opportunity itself is going to pay dividends.

I think if you stay at your non-Big 4 TAS group, you're going to have a much harder time jumping to MM IB, much less MM PE. You can jump to this new bank, get some real execution experience, and jump to PE after a couple years. Or, you can do a year at this new bank, and try to lateral to a bigger MM bank or even a BB/EB.

Having banking experience on your resume with real live deal experience is 1000x better than having a 2-4 years of non-Big 4 experience on your resume.

Feb 24, 2017 - 2:31pm

Thanks for the comments. I'm almost 100% sure I'll take it at this point. In the end, it's more about the experience and what path it leads me to versus the initial compensation. In reality, after banking, you're going to be making good money by a middle class american standard so it shouldn't matter in the near term.

My hesitation against thinking about doing a year at the new bank then jump to another bank before PE is that it'd basically be 4 jobs where I'm spending on average a year there. In the grand scheme, probably doesn't matter all that much.

Best Response
Feb 24, 2017 - 6:35pm

$60,000 is street, if not slightly above, for boutiques. They know they have you by the balls and have no reason to pay you more. I would take the offer and not look back.

I'm going to be very blunt with you: your chance of moving into MM IB out of non-Big Four TAS is almost zero (yes, I'm sure some guy is going to reply with how his friend's brother's girlfriend's cousin did it once). Not only do you not have the requisite transaction experience, you don't even have the Big Four brand name. You will not only lose to Big Four TAS kids, but you'll lose to kids from boutiques, other MMs, BBs looking for a change of pace, etc. This boutique offer is your golden ticket if working in M&A is your goal.

My suggestion to you would be to take this offer (I think I've said that three times now) and see how you like the boutique. It might sound crazy, but some people truly enjoy the environment, and as someone who took a pay cut moving from IB to corp dev, I can tell you that culture>pay. If you hate the boutique or really need to make six figures, you can always try lateraling after six months to a year of working at this boutique (check out my lateraling guide if/when that time comes).

Put PE and corp dev on the shelf for right now. You need some transaction experience first, and this boutique offer is your best way to get it.

EDIT: Just for clarity, I started off at a boutique and made $60,000 all-in, so I'm talking from experience.

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Feb 28, 2017 - 6:44pm

Congrats, great decision. Signed, someone who needed an MBA to move from TAS to IBD.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
Feb 28, 2017 - 7:06pm

I second this. Just received my first MBA admission from a top 15 school as a Big 4 TAS guy (around 3 years total experience since UG) pivoting to IBD. I gave it many shots to break in and just couldn't find the right opportunity (granted, I come from a city with almost no IBD presence, so it was that much more difficult). Anyways, congratulations, make the best of it. Don't forget to remain vigilant of the next move in the horizon, even if that move is still 1 or 2 years away.

Mar 1, 2017 - 9:50am

Thanks everyone! Also, to clarify, I'd argue that my non-big 4 (think D&P, A&M, Houlihan) TAS shop may have more weight than Big 4 TAS. I wasn't doing any audit review of valuations but rather doing 'front office' valuations which gave me more modelling experience / client exposure.

I was also able to look more closely at the CIMS / deal models from bankers or PE shops and could talk about those in my interviews which I think gave ppl confidence that I could not only do valuation, but understand the general process of M&A / have seen CIMs before.

I might end up doing an AMA type story as I always loved seeing those.

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