Leaving buy-side and going back to sell-side

Hi, long-time lurker of these forums. Really helped me through the years with all the more experienced folks. Tough times in the markets now, but I generally enjoy the exciting dynamic and intellectual challenge of finding value, winning and beating the markets. Currently an analyst at a small HF. Job sounds great, but here are some of the drivers of my current situation.

I am a couple months away from hitting the mark on green card/residency, which has been a huge goal for me as all my friends are here, have built up my life here and would hope to continue to live here. The stress of knowing I can be fired next week/month, and in that scenario most likely outcome is getting deported back home. This has been constantly on my mind since I graduated and also a huge driver of my decisions/fears/career. I don't really mind doing an interesting job, decently paid as life is not all about making money.

Lifestyle is non-existent. I am constantly working, 6-7 days a week. I have no mental/physical energy to pursue anything else, I am constantly thinking about my trades -- Right before I sleep, and right after I wake up I log on to bbg. At times the mental strain is so bad, I wake up breaking out in sweat thinking about my downside/worst case scenarios. The constant pressure of tracking my hit/miss ratio adds to that even more.

Pay is quite below, and the bonus is highly subjective. Still sharing a flat renting with other people, which tells you alot.

Performance has been tough this year, lots of funds wiped out recently but thankfully we're still going. Had several interviews with other top funds, got quite close in some but no offers. I'm at a late stage with an MM bank for a senior associate/VP equity research role and they've strongly hinted at an offer. My base would go up 30-40%, but bonus would be probably much less 20-30%.

Aware it is a step down, work would be less stimulating, and generally sell-side is a declining/dying industry. But on balance I think lifestyle will be better with more hours outside work, heard the people at the MM bank are generally nicer, and I can finally secure my green card/residency which had been a huge driver of stress for me. Working at a HF is exciting, interesting and stimulating and I have learnt a lot about investing, market dynamics/psychology but at the end of the day what I feel I want is to lead an interesting life not just aiming to make the most $$. But deep down I feel like I am chickening out, backing away from the fight and giving up --- Any thoughts?

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Comments (21)

Most Helpful
Jun 19, 2020 - 8:02pm

Honestly it doesn't sound like you are in an ideal place. The comp, PM, and strategy seem a bit off and not like the best place to be.

You are right, the sell side won't be as interesting, but you'll have a better path and probably comp trajectory.

I would normally say to keep interviewing with other buy side shops, but it depends on how much longer you can stomach this and how likely you think it'll be to find an opportunity. Going back to buy side won't be impossible if you go to a bank, so it's not like you are giving up.

The comp is pretty bad at your place and I doubt they'll really treat you well going forward based on what you've said so far.

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  • 6
Jun 20, 2020 - 11:38am

Thanks for your thoughts. The environment out now is tough, lots of funds axing people I feel. I've stuck through for 3 years, so another few months is no issue. Essentially I'm weighing 2 key risks -- Keep interviewing these few months till I get my residency which makes interviewing easier after but run the risk of getting canned, or taking the MM bank ER offer then re-apply 6-12mths down from a weaker position. I think I'm getting more interviews coming from a fund than on SS but also have to explain why I left.

  • Associate 2 in HF - Other
Jun 20, 2020 - 2:13pm

the Pay and culture at your hedge fund is ridiculous. I've never heard of it. I'm honestly shocked with how little they're paying you that they're willing to sponsor your green card. the MM bank sellside opp doesn't sound like a bad opportunity at all. Also you may consider interviewing for sellside roles at better banks which would surely provide better stepping stones if you wanted. Are there any desk analyst seats on the S&T side for what you do? I'm in credit and pretty much all credit research has moved to the S&T floors as distressed and HY desk analysts which is a great gig - no publishing and closer access to the P&L

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jun 20, 2020 - 12:41am

i stopped reading when i got to your comp number. If this is real you're being screwed. Part of it is probably because you just left sell-side straight after school and knowing you don't have residency. This isn't worth the suffering. You should leave asap. Buy/sell side it doesn't matter. Btw, it wasn't clear from your post, but are you market neutral and sector specific? If so, it should be very easy to find an open seat at MM.

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Jun 20, 2020 - 8:06am

The comp for PMs is very good but there are only a few analysts in the fund with most of them spending 5-10 years on sell-side before joining so not sure about the other guys. Got to final rounds of some top funds but no offer so still interviewing. Been here for 3 yrs, advice i generally got was to stick it out a couple more months till green card/residency and go to a better fund. But so near finish line, anything can happen.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jun 21, 2020 - 6:48am

green card usually refers to usa residency. Are you looking for permanent residency in usa or uk? If latter, I wouldn't worry as much as work visa requirements are not as onerous compared to usa. Just move. You'll thank yourself later. This kind of torture will have long lasting impact on your psyche and career development. If you stay too long people will expect you to be way more experienced, and if you can't show that you'll be locked out of future seats. Also, how certain are you the company comes through on the gc; I've seen multiple situations where that's been dangled in front of foreign employees so they pour their heart and soul into the work at the expense of personal life and get axed before the paperwork. In this industry, people will turn on a dime especially when money's on the line.

Jun 21, 2020 - 4:07am

What people don't realize is that the grass is not always greener on the buy-side. Whether or not you have a good experience will depend a lot on the PM you work for and your relationship with that PM. In an ideal world we could all sit around and wait for the perfect role with a great PM in a fund with committed capital. In reality you take what you can get and hope for the best. I would get out of your fund and go back to the sell-side and regroup from there. You can always move back to the buy-side if you want and you will be in a better position to do better due diligence on perspective funds after your current experience.

  • 2
Jul 7, 2020 - 10:37pm

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