ER Career Paths

First-time poster. Started in SS ER at a BB out of college and now 6/7 years out. Figured I could share some observations on where my analyst classmates currently are to hopefully give some insight into exit opps and career paths for folks trying to decide if ER is for them. Will try to balance being high level to protect identities with giving informative content.

Where they are now:

  • 45% at hedge funds (almost all big MM)

  • 20% still in SS ER (mostly BB)

  • 10% in tech corp fin roles 

The final 25% is fragmented between:

  • Long Only AM

  • VC

  • PWM

  • Consulting

Additional Notes: 

-Keep in mind that these roles are where they are now. Not all are still in their first role post ER, but pretty much all the functions listed represent the initial exit opps on offer (except b-school).

  • In all 25% of us did B-School before transitioning to new roles. Mostly M7 programs.

  • The pull towards HF is very real after 2yrs in ER, but 90% of those seats are short term multi managers.

  • If I had to guess, I'd say the HF crew is less happy on average than the rest, but they're generally making more as well.

  • LO gigs are rare. Much harder to break into than HF. Generally seen to offer better lifestyle / job security.

  • Everyone is doing well for themselves. ER has some major structural challenges but can still be a great place to learn and gain exposure, esp if you cover the right space.

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Comments (70)

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Jun 30, 2021 - 3:16am

Thanks for sharing, SB'ed. On the b school exits, were any of the exits straight from ER or were most 2+2? Also, would you be able to comment how AM/ER is perceived (especially for H + S) vs. the IB/PE path?

Jun 30, 2021 - 8:26am

None were 2+2. One was ER -> LO -> H/S. The rest were straight from ER. In general I'd say ER is comparable to IB and AM is comparable to PE

Buyside gives you a better shot at H/S than sell side imo, but I don't perceive a meaningful difference between public vs private market.

Have also seen people go straight from ER to H/S fwiw. And again pretty much everyone is M7. At a certain level the biggest factor is often the person and their story not the title.

  • Intern in AM - Equities
Jun 30, 2021 - 5:51am

Thanks so much! Do you think it's better to start out in SS ER or buyside research at a LO firm out of college? I'm on track for a potential buyside offer, but I've heard that SS ER is a better learning experience for fresh grads-just wondering if that's actually true. 

Jun 30, 2021 - 8:38am

Depends on what / how you want to learn.

Sell side will give you a more structured learning environment and you'll likely have an analyst class that you can bond with and leverage in the learning process. But your biggest clients on the sell side (in terms of commission) are MM hedge funds. So your work naturally is typically catered to them and their investing style (hyper focused on qtr earnings and NT catalysts).

At a LO you're less likely to have a structured learning experience and more likely to do more long term focused research, trying to figure out the big picture, etc.

In both I'd say rather than the function it often comes down to the person you work for. Working for the right Analyst / PM - someone who will take their time to help train you, give you relevant exposure, etc. - is worth its weight in gold.

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Jun 30, 2021 - 10:18am

Hi there, thanks for doing this. Currently in the UK at a big 4 doing audit, doing the ACA. Currently studying for CFA level 1. My goals are to break into SS ER for the training and development, but I am a bit worried about how fast paced the work may be? I have struggled to keep up with my workload during busy season, and I wonder just how intense/fast paced ER is? (some other users on here advised I look into corp fin instead, which I am also now considering)

As a follow up, of those career paths you've listed above, would you say there are any which stand out to you as being not as stressful/closer to a 9-5 lifestyle job? (other than LO which seems impossible to break into).

Thanks!

Jun 30, 2021 - 10:42am

ER is not a 9-5 by any means (nor are the vast majority of the paths discussed here generally). In my experience hours varied significantly based on the style of the senior analyst. Some teams work 70-80 hour weeks fairly regularly. Others are more 55-65. My perception from the US is that UK hours tend to be better on average, but I'm sure some teams over there get crushed regularly as well. 

As for the other paths, PWM and Corp Fin probably have the best hours but even then I think 8-6 is more realistic for my cohorts experience than 9-5. 

Generally speaking high performance roles in almost any field will demand more than 9-5. A lot of managing work life balance comes down to learning how to work smarter, which comes with time and experience, as well as accepting comp ceilings (which is a perfectly valid trade to gain family / friend time).  

Aug 25, 2021 - 2:13am

impartialobserver

ER is not a 9-5 by any means (nor are the vast majority of the paths discussed here generally). In my experience hours varied significantly based on the style of the senior analyst. Some teams work 70-80 hour weeks fairly regularly. Others are more 55-65. My perception from the US is that UK hours tend to be better on average, but I'm sure some teams over there get crushed regularly as well. 

As for the other paths, PWM and Corp Fin probably have the best hours but even then I think 8-6 is more realistic for my cohorts experience than 9-5. 

Generally speaking high performance roles in almost any field will demand more than 9-5. A lot of managing work life balance comes down to learning how to work smarter, which comes with time and experience, as well as accepting comp ceilings (which is a perfectly valid trade to gain family / friend time).  

thanks a lot for your experienced views and clearing things up

Consultant at eduhelphub
  • 2
  • Intern in ER
Jun 30, 2021 - 11:24am

What do exits to single managers HF look like/how tough is it for sell-siders? From what i can guess most SM would probably prefer an ib kid with better technical skills to crunch numbers and not a sector specialist, so seeing that most sell-siders going to pods is unsurprising (probably a more accessible buyside role). 

Jun 30, 2021 - 12:07pm

SM HF also very achievable it's just that there's a greater volume of seats in MM for obvious reasons. No one in my cohort has ended up at activist / special sits type shops but fundamental L/S equity SM is very much attainable (and accounts for the portion of the HF crew that isn't at pod shops). The HF split is around 70% MM / 30% SM.

The highest quality SM names are (of course) harder to get into, but people do it. You'll come across many of those funds as clients in the course of your time in ER (if you work for a good analyst), so its about making an impression and really knowing your stuff.

Disclaimer: I never pursued the HF path so can't offer more granular details on that recruiting process but people definitely get looks / land.

  • Business School in IB - Gen
Jun 30, 2021 - 12:09pm

EDIT: saw the multi manager part at the end of your post, but am still curious

Jun 30, 2021 - 12:18pm

No worries - it tends to be quicker rather than slower, but the range is quite wide. First to go MM route left after 1 year, latest to make the move (to date) left after 4. A VP I know (not in my cohort) made the jump after about 7/8 years in ER. I'd say most were gone by 2-2.5 years though.

It seems like that door is almost always open, but what comes after that is less clear. 

Jun 30, 2021 - 12:48pm

What is the expectation going from ER to HFs. Can you do ER -> MM HF -> M7 -> Quality SM? I go to a non-target school and currently am interning at a top BB ER shop with a top analyst that I am confident will be my analyst I work under full time. Call me whatever you want but I wish to eventually get an M7 due to going to a non-target. After getting an MBA (I am shooting for Columbia Investor program or Wharton), is going to a top single manager (ie Tiger Cub level) attainable? Thanks so much!

Jun 30, 2021 - 1:04pm

What you described is definitely feasible. You could also potentially skip MM HF and do ER -> MBA -> SM. CBS / Wharton would prep you well for that, and BB ER will set you up for those schools (with the right test scores, essays, etc.). e.g. I know Viking recruits MBA interns at those schools each year and will hire the ppl that crush the internship (note: they recruit maybe 1-2 interns in total, but will give looks to ppl from CBS / Wharton).

At the end of the day the elite SM seats are ultra-competitive. Nothing is a given (whatever your background). It'll take a lot of hard work, networking and preparation to land that seat. 

Jun 30, 2021 - 6:23pm

Is going ER -> MBA -> SM a feasible route? I have always had the idea that post-MBA buyside positions required pre-MBA buyside positions. Likewise, if I go to a MM pre-MBA, can I still recruit for a LO for post-MBA. As an upcoming graduate, for now I want to get into HF world. However, I understand in some years down the road my priorities may change. Would LO be feasible to switch into post-MBA?

  • Associate 1 in AM - Equities
Jun 30, 2021 - 12:54pm

I am a little surprised by how little exit to LO shops. I would have expected that to be a pretty natural transition and thus have higher numbers.

Would you say a main cause of the common exit to HF vs LO AM is caused by people's preferences to HFs?

Would you say that those who wanted pursued LO AM roles after ER had difficulty landing those roles or just that less desired that exit?

Perhaps smaller sample size?

Jun 30, 2021 - 1:18pm

Small sample size definitely a factor - this is just my cohort at just one firm so it can't be fully representative.

That said, LO jobs are definitely harder to get. There are fewer openings since turnover is lower and you don't really have start-up Long Onlys in the way you have start-up HF opportunities. Also, if you are particular about being in a particular city there are significantly fewer openings.

The preferences thing is interesting, but I can only speculate because its so personal. I do know one person in my cohort who turned down a LO in favour of a MM HF, but that was based on location. I'm not sure that given the choice of either in the same city the split of what people choose would be decisive in favour of one vs. the other. 

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Jun 30, 2021 - 2:47pm

Thanks so much for the insight. As a follow up, how would a top MM shop (thinking Citadel, DE Shaw, BAM) be perceived vs a lower tier LO (BMO,Mass Mutual, Manulife etc.) ? For LO, would you generally tier them by AUM for the large shops? 

  • Associate 1 in ER
Jul 1, 2021 - 7:07am

Nice thread, thanks for writing up. I am assuming you're a VP by now, maybe even at the Director/Analyst level... Do you mind talking about your base / bonus progression over the years? Are you in a hot section too (Tech, Healthcare, etc)?

What are some things you though you did well, or didnt, when you were first fully licensed and interacting with clients?

Jul 1, 2021 - 9:20am

Most of my cohort who have stayed in SS ER are now VPs. I left ER as an ASO to do my MBA - transitioning to a LO now. I did not want to become a senior analyst.

If I recall correctly salary progression was:

85 > 90 > 95 Analyst

120 > 140 > 160 Associate

200 > ? VP

Bonuses were ~20-30k for analysts and ~35-65k for associates. I'm not sure about VPs. Also not sure how events of the past year have affected comp (if at all).

I think the biggest thing for me was realizing that clients are people (not their titles / firms) and many of them are relatively young. That made it much easier to build relationships with them, figure out what it was that they really valued / needed from our platform and deliver as requested. At the end of the day, sell-side ER is a sales job. Cracking the relationship piece was key. (Client relationships from my ER days also opened doors to my post-MBA shop)

  • Prospect in IB - Cov
Jul 1, 2021 - 10:43am

Thanks for doing this! Curious to hear how common it is to lateral to IB. Would the Chinese wall make it difficult to network? Is it harder to move internally or jump to another BB? Thank you!

  • Associate 3 in PE - Growth
Jul 1, 2021 - 9:31pm

Based on my observation, this lateral move rarely happens. Like <5% frequency. Easier done in banks who are more supportive of internal mobility like JP, less likely at places like GS (in my part of world, at least)

Jul 1, 2021 - 11:01pm

Agreed it's not common. I feel like this is mostly a function of interest though (or a lack thereof). Hardly anyone I knew in ER was looking to move to IB, but those who were did it successfully. I'd imagine the same is true the other way around as I know a few bankers who switched to ER (mostly for the lifestyle upgrade).

  • Intern in HF - Other
Jul 1, 2021 - 11:31am

Hi, thanks so much for doing this!

A couple of questions I had in mind:

1) How is the move to the buyside like? As you mentioned, most are pulled over in around 2 years, but in terms of moving, is it more active on the analyst part where we have to look for opportunities or do headhunters approach ER too? Is it also true that headhunters would consider analysts from IB over ER?

2) Being in an investment bank's ER division, do you ever feel that it is a department that often gets forgotten by the rest since most ppl tend to focus heavily on IBD or S&T? In terms of perceived prestige, management decisions, benefits, or even say the recent pay bumps that most banks are giving to IB analysts, is the ER division often the last to get the pie?

3) How is the culture like? How much interaction is there within and between teams? As well as chances for travel opportunities around town to meet clients for meals or even overseas

4) Lastly comp wise, would you say it is much lower than IB or S&T as you move up the levels? After VP, does it start to slowly converge to banking comps? Is the tradeoff for slightly better working hours worth the lesser comp in your opinion

Most Helpful
Jul 1, 2021 - 12:31pm

- Headhunters will reach out for roles. HFs vary significantly in terms of strategy, and no doubt there are strategies / funds that prefer IB. But there are also many that want ER / industry expertise. Also, if you work for a good analyst who gives you exposure, you will have an opportunity to build direct relationships with clients at many funds (Citadel, P72, Viking, Coatue, Glenview, Millennium, etc. etc.). So people might have to do some of their own work but you have the perfect means by which to be right in front of folks in any case. I never went or explored this route personally, just what I've observed from peers.

I think folks in ER often feel like the black sheep of the bank. Everyone likes to complain and this is def a ER complaint that was in the conversation when I was there. I don't know of any BB where ER is a focus for the firm.

​​​​​​​- I would imagine this can vary considerably from firm to firm and group to group. My group was very collegial. Hours were good (55-65) and I had a good relationship with associates on other teams. My work and opinions were respected and I was treated as such. My senior analyst was all for giving associates client exposure so I got a lot of face time / phone time with clients / senior management. Other analysts were much more protective though. Comes down to the person.

​​​​​​​Higher up I don't really know. I had no interest in being a senior analyst nor an MD in IB and so frankly have never spent any time trying to research their relative compensation. I know the best analysts cracked 7 figures. Other ER MDs were in the 600-800k range (I'd guess). At a junior level when I started salaries were the same between BB ER / IB. Banking bonuses were higher. What determines a fair tradeoff in hours / comp is a personal choice. For me it was worth it. I've yet to meet a sell-sider in need of charity. There are others for whom it wouldn't be. Anecdotally, my quality of life in ER was dramatically better than an old roommate of mine in IB at a different BB.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 2, 2021 - 5:45pm

Anecdotally, I have seen multiple people in my BB go from ER to AM internally, aswell as IB. Thing is, most are dead-set on HF's that they aren't as likely to consider internal transfers. 

Jul 8, 2021 - 10:46pm

Thanks so much for all the advice. Any advice on getting into ER during the second year of an MBA, maybe even an off cycle internship ? Im doing a IB summer associate role in a small middle market bank, but it's enough to make me realize I'd rather stick to more analysis and have a life with a bent towards an HF long term

Jul 9, 2021 - 2:11pm

Don't have much personal experience with this, so sorry if this is a bit generic. Leverage your MBA programs' network, any other networks you may have to get in front of people. Have a clear story of why you want to pivot from banking towards research, prepare 1-2 good stock pitches and be persistent. I think there are likely some seats that ER departments will look to fill with graduating MBAs over the course of your second year, but not many. So be aggressive and start early.

Jul 20, 2021 - 2:59pm

7-7 is a good general expectation to have. Your hours may be slightly better or slightly worse than that depending on your senior analyst's habits.  

To prepare I would say read, read, read about industries of interest, earnings reports and transcripts, blogs, etc. Develop an your critical thinking skills and form an informed opinion. Practice turning your opinions into pitches and reports that will hone your verbal and written communication skills. Find friends who will listen to your pitch and ask questions / look to poke holes in your arguments. The originality and strength of your ideas (and your ability to convey them in a compelling fashion) will be your long term value add. The modelling is stuff that virtually anyone with a college education can learn on the job (imo). It will not be a differentiating factor for you in the long run.

  • Summer Associate in ER
Aug 23, 2021 - 1:39pm

What made you go back to business school? I feel like LO HF would've been doable without 2yr and $100k spent in business school

Aug 23, 2021 - 6:31pm

I went because I wanted to try something new and broaden my horizons. I had only ever worked in ER covering one industry my entire professional life (and I wasn't in love with my industry). I wasn't married to moving to the buyside either. I followed up a few roads and took this path because the particular opportunity lined up very well with my interests and investing philosophy. It's a pretty niche role so I'm not sure if I would have landed it had I not gone to b school. Maybe I would have eventually found my way there but either way I'm not losing sleep about it.

B school is an expensive choice. I completely understand why one would choose not to do it and I wouldn't push anyone to do so. But I was fortunate enough not to have any undergrad debt (I had a full ride) and I didn't need to take out debt for my MBA either (BB job + low-key lifestyle + never ending bull market - thanks fed). I make more than enough money to do what I want in my free time. I would have more money right now if I hadn't gone, but really in the grand scheme of things that wouldn't have made any meaningful difference to my life. I'm not really aspiring to a particular level of wealth - but I'm on a path to make lots of money anyway (most of us here are). I just want to live a life I enjoy and take care of the people I love. I'm glad I got the 2 years to chill and reflect and made some new friends.

  • Analyst 1 in ER
Aug 23, 2021 - 6:46pm

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 2, 2021 - 10:23pm

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