I don't want BB/EB

PoundRef's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Like the title says, I don't want to go to a bulge bracket or an elite boutique, and I was wondering if anyone has any insight on going directly to a small boutique out of undergrad. It would be a stretch for me to go BB/EB anyway, as I am non-diversity, non-target with no on-campus recruiting programs. But I have met with/spoke on the phone with quite a few smaller boutiques operating in defined sectors (such as tech, healthcare, etc), and they all seem to be extremely satisfied with/excited about their work and seem to have a better all around work-life balance than some of my connections at BB/EB's.

So my question is, is it possible to go directly from non-target undergrad to a small boutique? I know most of the people I talked to were ex-BB/EB and it is much harder for these small boutiques to train people. Are there any red flags I should look out for? Any other insight would be much appreciated!

My stats are below in case that helps determine if this is a viable path.

Non-diversity non-target rising junior
3.96 CGPA/ 4.00 CoreGPA Finance major/math minor
Freshman spring internship - PE/Search fund
Freshman summer internship - Consulting/directly client-facing financial modelling work (ended up doing this throughout the school year as well)
Upcoming sophomore summer internship - Investment banking summer analyst at a very small boutique in the Midwest
(I have also been on a few club/fraternity exec positions if that means anything)

Target working area would be East Coast/greater Boston

Would love to hear from anyone about their experience/get any advice on non-targets, small boutiques, or Boston banking in general.


Comments (5)

Apr 11, 2018

Contact every bank on that list. If you don't get at least 10 hits, I would be very surprised.

Apr 11, 2018

What I am not sure of is why you don't want to work at a BB/EB.

Apr 12, 2018

Mostly the lack of work-life balance, the up or out mentality, and I feel it would be harder to see your contribution if you are working in a massive floor/team.

I just feel like the benefits from working in it don't outweigh the costs in my mind, the benefits being obviously higher pay and better exit ops. Higher pay being equaled out by having a better work life balance and exit ops not mattering as much since small Boutiques don't have as much of the up or out requirement.

Best Response
Apr 12, 2018

You should obviously look to apply everywhere (BBs, EBs, MMs and boutiques), until you land an offer.

I worked for a small IB firm in Europe, and here are some of the downsides:
- Lack of structured training (as you mentioned already)
- Lots of pitching, many boutiques do not have a robust dealflow, and hence, less transaction experience for you
- Lack of a community feel. While you'd think this would be the opposite at a boutique where everyone knows each other, things can get quite stale, quite quickly, when there isn't a large Analyst cohort going through the 'IB experience' with you. Also, if you have a bad Associate or Director, this will be much harder to avoid at a smaller firm
- Lack of resources. Not as many sector-specific publication subscriptions will be available to you, which makes populating market overviews etc. much harder. No in-house graphics team. Not enough admin staff, which means you'll be doing even more boring work on top of what you'd already be doing
- Lack of brand recognition within and outside of IB (both professionally and academically)
- Not as many people to learn from. This offsets the 'greater responsibility and exposure' you'd get. Everyone has different styles and approaches to their work, and being able to take the best practices from a large number of people is only a good thing. This is more likely to happen at a larger MM, BB, elite boutique etc.

I do agree though, that the more senior guys (VP and above) tend to have better hours at boutiques. Though this won't always translate to the more junior levels. Also, every boutique will have their own cultures. Some might be even worse than the stories you hear about Lazard or Moelis.

    • 3
Apr 11, 2018