Career Direction

Copernicus's picture
Rank: Chimp | 8

Hey Guys,

I'm at a crossroads of sorts in my young career and thought it would be helpful to get some input from everyone here. I find many of the posters on this site are very knowledgeable plus no one knows me personally, so I think this could be a great help. Let me give you some info on where I would like to be in the long run, and then some background about me.

I have no specific role that I am shooting for long term, however I know that I want it to be something that requires me to source and execute investment ideas. I know that's broad, but I think that's a good thing at this point. Some careers that stick out at me are becoming a PM or working in VC. For my next role, I would like to pursue something that helps me to learn the skills I would need for this.

Currently, I work in trade operations for an Asset Management firm (>100B AUM). The role has given me a good introduction to the industry and time to pass the level 1 CFA exam. It is obviously not where I want to stay. So my question is, what do you think would be a better path to follow in the short/medium term between these choices:

A) Stay with my current firm and progress up the ladder. I envision that going something like this: current role --> 2-3 years in a middle office role (performance, risk, etc.) while continuing the CFA --> Research Analyst --> PM. This path has been done before and I am in a strong position (great annual review, friends in research and support of my bosses) to make the first step.

B) Throw myself full throttle into landing an IB Analyst role at a boutique bank (or whatever other bank I could find a position). I recognize the value of this experience and how much I would learn. Additionally, I understand the level of work and sacrifices required and am fully prepared to meet that challenge head on. I would not make the decision to do this lightly or on a whim, which is why I'm here. I know it will be extremely difficult to break in but I am confident I would eventually be able to land a role.

C) Something else I haven't thought of.

Things to consider:

-I have spent 1.5 years at my current firm and believe I have made some great internal connections and a very solid impression.
-I currently have to commute outside of the city
-I am 2 years out of undergrad (top 35 university)
-Whatever direction I go, I won't be happy staying in the back office and have no intention to do so. I recognize the difficulty in transitioning but will do whatever it takes to do so, so please don't dwell on this.
-I am very interested in going to B school but only if there is a specific way that I think it would help my career. My current firm would pay for it.

Any thoughts, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all for their help in advance.

Comments (17)

Aug 6, 2011

Business school

Your best / only bet

Aug 6, 2011

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/operations-e...
I covered much of what you're asking about just this morning in the above thread.

I worked in trade operations for a much bigger firm (800B+ AUM) for a few years and asked myself the same questions. Let me comment on each:

A) Even if you finish the CFA you'll still be in ops and the shift from ops to research is one of the most difficult in all of finance. You and TONS of other in ops have the exact same plan. You see research analysts and PMs get all of the glory in your firm and want to be part of it. It has been done before, and will happen in the future, but it requires an insane combination of luck, pedigree, and timing. This is the least likely option, in my opinion.

B) If you went to a top undergrad (top 5-10) I'd say this is more likely - and it's still possible, I guess. If you are confident you can get a role and want IB why not do this? I think you might be overestimating yourself but who knows.

C) MBA full-time. That's your best chance at the research path from your current situation. Part-time won't help you at all.

Aug 6, 2011
NorthEastIdiot:

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/operations-e...
I covered much of what you're asking about just this morning in the above thread.

I worked in trade operations for a much bigger firm (800B+ AUM) for a few years and asked myself the same questions. Let me comment on each:

A) Even if you finish the CFA you'll still be in ops and the shift from ops to research is one of the most difficult in all of finance. You and TONS of other in ops have the exact same plan. You see research analysts and PMs get all of the glory in your firm and want to be part of it. It has been done before, and will happen in the future, but it requires an insane combination of luck, pedigree, and timing. This is the least likely option, in my opinion.

B) If you went to a top undergrad (top 5-10) I'd say this is more likely - and it's still possible, I guess. If you are confident you can get a role and want IB why not do this? I think you might be overestimating yourself but who knows.

C) MBA full-time. That's your best chance at the research path from your current situation. Part-time won't help you at all.

oh em gee twinsies.

Aug 6, 2011
NorthEastIdiot:

//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/operations-exit-opps

I covered much of what you're asking about just this morning in the above thread.

I worked in trade operations for a much bigger firm (800B+ AUM) for a few years and asked myself the same questions. Let me comment on each:

A) Even if you finish the CFA you'll still be in ops and the shift from ops to research is one of the most difficult in all of finance. You and TONS of other in ops have the exact same plan. You see research analysts and PMs get all of the glory in your firm and want to be part of it. It has been done before, and will happen in the future, but it requires an insane combination of luck, pedigree, and timing. This is the least likely option, in my opinion.

B) If you went to a top undergrad (top 5-10) I'd say this is more likely - and it's still possible, I guess. If you are confident you can get a role and want IB why not do this? I think you might be overestimating yourself but who knows.

C) MBA full-time. That's your best chance at the research path from your current situation. Part-time won't help you at all.

Yea, I saw your post in that thread and appreciate the input here as well. I agree with you on the difficulty of going from ops to buy side research. I don't think I have any chance at doing it at another firm. However, at my firm I know I can get to an intermediate position soon and excel there, and I think that would put me in a strong position to make the jump to research.

With regards to B and in general, I may be overestimating myself (perhaps optimistic would be a better word than confident), however I believe I have the qualities to succeed in a FO role and the ambition/networking skills to get there. I guess I can't think of a good reason not to pursue IB other than it is leaving AM, which I find very interesting, and much less certain of a path.

Aug 6, 2011

A) CFA is not going to be an automatic "in" for you. Staying for 2-3 years in MO will make it so much harder to break into another area. I think you should only stay for another 2-3 years if you were considering b-school. Your great annual review will matter very little, but your friends and contacts in research should be useful. Make sure you take advantage of those networking opportunities. The support of your management (given they themselves don't have any contacts in research) is great only because they will make your efforts less stressful.

B) Boutique path could work but once again, don't wait but act now.

C) Solidarity's comment. Top b-school then ER or IB and then hopefully the exit opps you want. I would also recommend you don't do part-time MBA (meaning quit your job and finance with loans). If you do part-time, I think a lot of the networking benefits you gain from a full-time program are limited. Your choices of schools are limited as well because not all schools offer PT programs. Will be hard to get a top 10 school that does PT and that's also in your area...

Aug 6, 2011
Flake:

A) CFA is not going to be an automatic "in" for you. Staying for 2-3 years in MO will make it so much harder to break into another area. I think you should only stay for another 2-3 years if you were considering b-school. Your great annual review will matter very little, but your friends and contacts in research should be useful. Make sure you take advantage of those networking opportunities. The support of your management (given they themselves don't have any contacts in research) is great only because they will make your efforts less stressful.

B) Boutique path could work but once again, don't wait but act now.

C) Solidarity's comment. Top b-school then ER or IB and then hopefully the exit opps you want. I would also recommend you don't do part-time MBA (meaning quit your job and finance with loans). If you do part-time, I think a lot of the networking benefits you gain from a full-time program are limited. Your choices of schools are limited as well because not all schools offer PT programs. Will be hard to get a top 10 school that does PT and that's also in your area...

Just to be clear, the contacts I spoke of were internal ones. I don't directly know anyone in research outside the firm. I know the review is useless except for progressing internally.

For the MBA, I'm 100% with you guys. I feel like I would only want to do B school full time and at a top 15 school. Otherwise, I don't think it's worth it in this industry.

I know any jump is going to be difficult, and the longer I wait to make it will make it harder. It's funny that I will always have an uphill battle just because I didn't really get it (didn't recognize the vast difference between B's and A's) in HS and early college. Not making any excuses, that's the bed I've made for myself and I know I'll just have to work that much harder now to get out of it.

Aug 6, 2011

Your corporate title in ops doesn't mean shit and would definitely not put you in a "strong" position by any means. In fact, the longer you stay the shittier your odds will be.

Aug 6, 2011
Flake:

Your corporate title in ops doesn't mean shit and would definitely not put you in a "strong" position by any means. In fact, the longer you stay the shittier your odds will be.

I know it doesn't. However, the firm I work for likes to promote from within and having an excellent track record in ops and another MO role would put me in contention for a research role.

I also know the CFA is not really that helpful but it is something that is highly valued internally, which is why I'm pursuing it.

Aug 6, 2011
Copernicus:
Flake:

Your corporate title in ops doesn't mean shit and would definitely not put you in a "strong" position by any means. In fact, the longer you stay the shittier your odds will be.

I know it doesn't. However, the firm I work for likes to promote from within and having an excellent track record in ops and another MO role would put me in contention for a research role.

I also know the CFA is not really that helpful but it is something that is highly valued internally, which is why I'm pursuing it.

LOL why are you asking here then?

If your firm is the exact opposite of every other firm in the world, take the intermediate opportunity, then the research role, and then the PM role. And then tell the other 9,543,785 people who ask the same exact question as you the name of your firm so they can take their ops->research->PM path, too.

Aug 6, 2011

Well good luck man. CFA would be helpful don't get me wrong, but it's definitely not going to be your key. It will be helpful once you're in research though.

Aug 6, 2011

You really need to let go of that promotion bullshit. Who gave you that idea?

Aug 6, 2011
Flake:

You really need to let go of that promotion bullshit. Who gave you that idea?

My boss and people who used to be in ops who aren't anymore

Aug 6, 2011
Copernicus:
Flake:

You really need to let go of that promotion bullshit. Who gave you that idea?

My boss and people who used to be in ops who aren't anymore

Good luck, man. I was in the same situation (but a better undergrad, better grades, better firm, and likely at least as good at my job) and didn't get anywhere. And I'm pretty damned determined. I ended up back in b-school because, like I said before, ops is a no-skill job and you develop nothing that will help you at picking stocks, evaluating credit, or otherwise making the firm money.

Aug 6, 2011

I expect to see another post from you in 3-4 years asking about getting out of ops, because you got nowhere.

Search this site, you will find similar stories of mid-management back office people having no luck and having to go to b-school.

Aug 6, 2011
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