Hi guys, Feinstein here. Short story is, a bit over six years ago, I posted on this forum regarding a career decision on whether to stay in IB or go to MBB ("Please Talk Me Out Of This - 2nd Year BB Associate"). I ended up going to MBB. It's been six years, and somehow I remembered this post, so I thought I'd provide an update as to how things are going.
I couldn't have made a better decision. I am happy as a clam. This was quite simply the best career decision I've ever made. And my current job is the best one I've ever had. I could see myself here for a significant, if not the entirety, of my career. I am now on the level right below partner and (fingers crossed) should be elected this cycle. I do most of my work in my former coverage industry (TMT).
The transition brought to life just how unusual the situations was. I updated my LinkedIn status the Friday before I started, and over the weekend was bombarded by nearly a dozen of my b-school classmates toiling away in banking and asking if I could help them make the transition as well. I did try, but I was the only one that I'm aware of.
I also lost my "seniority" and had to start over as a first-year associate. This bothered me for about a week, and then I stopped thinking about it.
I thought I would do most of my work in FIG, but it turns out that wasn't the case. Management consulting firms that serve FIG do a lot of work that wasn't even remotely connected to what I used to do, e.g. risk/CCAR, retail banking, wealth management, backoffice lean ops, etc. I did however find the TMT people almost immediately and they were quite happy to have me in.
Work and clients
Overall I'd say the quality and "interesting-ness" of the work is leaps and bounds above banking. You get to see more of the company and understand how things tick. You also get a lot more access to senior management in a much less contrived/contorted way.
For example, right now I am leading a transformation at a large tech company (Fortune 100), and the entire c-suite and I are on a first name basis. I walk into the CFO's office about a 5-6 times a day to catch up quick items. Instead of highly stage-managed "pitches". It just feels a lot more of a natural way to build relationships. And I am in my early 30s.
Funny story: when my current CFO and I first met, on learning I was a banker, he reached over to his desk and pulled out a pile of "strategic alternatives" decks, and we both had a laugh over the stupid/silly shit bankers sent him regularly.
Moreover, I advise my client on a much more intimate basis. We talk about the capital structure, sure, but we also talk about individual quirks among the senior management team, who among the junior ranks we ought to give a career-proving opportunity to, who should be encouraged to find other opportunities, how their kids are doing in school, etc.
Last year, I made a bit north of 400K all-in. And if I get elected partner this year, that should nearly double. On an "expected value" basis, I think I ended up better than banking because of the risk of layoffs in banking is just astronomically higher. When I left banking, there were serial layoffs going on, with several rounds each year. Only downside is that since my firm is a partnership, deferred comp (and taxes) isn't really a thing.
Some weeks the hours are about as bad, but most weeks the hours are way better. I think what also factors in here is that the work is much more meaningful. We value "impact", and the young kids are encouraged to speak up if the work doesn't "move the needle". So the random bullshit PowerPoint churn does happen, but it's a lot less asinine.
I can count on one hands the weekends where I actually "worked" (vs. checking emails every once an a while) in my time here.
The people are much, much, MUCH better. There's a good reason for that. Because there is constant turnover of people, the bad eggs get ruthlessly ousted every year or two. Even partners are regularly asked to leave if they can't demonstrate good people leadership.
Moreover, because the exit options (see below) are better, you don't have what I call "African dictator syndrome" going on. In banks, because there really are no exit options for senior bankers, people hang on for dear life with death grips to stays. Partners who exit from my firm usually get very decent C-level or C-level minus-1 roles with decent comp and lifestyle, and often get incentives to leave if they are underperforming. As a result, they are less obsessed with staying because they have options elsewhere and behave less like jerks. Kind of like how African dictators are obsessed with staying in power because there's nothing for them afterward, but if they had a decent retirement program, yeah, they'd let go.
Finally, the culture is a lot more hierarchical. I can count on one hand how many client meetings I've attended in my 3ish years in banking. In consulting, on my first project, I was given feedback for not speaking up enough... in a c-level-minus-1 meeting... on my 2nd day at the firm.
Skill and professional development
The training in skills and professional development is a lot more than in banking. You learn how to message things subtly but also with force, and also able to vary them depending on client context and attitudes. You learn how to read the room, read body language, decode speech patterns. You can talk about things and sound knowledgeable on things other than bond maturities, etc.
You learn how to manage large, complex projects with people of different skills sets and profiles, not just an army of banking analysts. You learn how to adapt to different expectations but also how to bring out the best in people, how to motivate and inspire them, not just bark orders and turn PowerPoint decks.
I get real, actionable feedback and advice on a regular basis. Not just passive-aggressive vague sounding horsecrap once a year when my staffer convenes the VPs to sit at a round table and bad mouth the associates.
I now lead a team of 50+ people at my current case, and feel very much like I am exercising a deep general management skill set, and not just a technical specialist skill set.
So I'm not really thinking about exits, but I get pinged by headhunters roughly once a week for VP roles at large companies, for lateral roles at competing firms, and sometimes for PE portco ops roles. About once a quarter, I also get pinged for MD roles (usually in strategy) at large banks, a profile for which I'm apparently extremely popular. Even got pinged for a role in the Trump administration (I said no, duh). And yes, for the past six years, these roles have increased in attractiveness, comp, seniority, etc.
Travel can be a bitch, but my FF mileage + hotel points as now north of 1 million. My wife and I had, basically, a free honeymoon. Yes, it's battle pay, but... hey... do it while you're young, right?
Unlike in banking, where people not jumping through hoop are punished for not jumping through hoops, being entrepreneurial and figuring out new ways to serve clients is applauded and celebrated.
Look, do I regret going into banking? Not at all. I learned valuable skills in financial modeling and having a corporate finance-driven view of the world. Given the choice, I would definitely have done my analyst years in banking again. But I am also very fortunate and lucky to have been able to make the jump post-MBA (and outside of regular MBA recruiting). If I didn't, who knows where I'd be now. 5% chance I'd still be in banking (based on having been to my 5-year MBA reunion 2 years ago) and may be I'd be in some dead-end staff job as Director of FP&A at Pfizer or something...
Not encouraging the would-be bankers here to go into consulting, or vice versa. Just sharing my experience (which to be fair started out "in trouble" as I graduated college at the peak right before 08, and MBA Into the "false recovery" of 11).
Aaand of course happy to take any questions.