Making VP in 4 years?

Is it possible to make VP in 4 years in investment banking? This would be 2 years analyst + 2 years associate, promoted to VP at beginning of 5th year. Many if not most banks now offer analysts early promotion to associate after 2 years, to lure them away from the buy-side. But I haven't seen any data points as to whether this extends down the line for VP promotions.

Has anyone seen A2A2VP in 4 years and how common is it across the street?

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Comments (50)

Dec 16, 2018 - 1:56am

No unfortunately some even tack it on to the 4 years as an associate, making it 2+5.

No shortcuts to having your face to the grindstone for the better half of a decade before becoming an officer

sorry. would also recommend getting at least 6 months into your first year as a full time before planning out the path to senior banker. stuff changes even for the most resolute of us

Dec 16, 2018 - 2:19am

There are always shortcuts. I'm looking at a LinkedIn of an MD right now who spent 3 years as an associate, 3 years as a VP and 2 years as a Director before promotion to MD. He was presumably ~31-32 when made MD. My question is whether this is one in a million, one in a thousand, one in a hundred, etc... that makes a big difference.

And I'm just thinking about my options. I don't really see VP as senior banker since at most places they're not driving business they're just managing the grunts. I see the VP's in my group and I think I would almost certainly be able to do their job in 4 years.

Jan 11, 2019 - 12:38pm

That guy is an absolute rockstar. One in several thousand if I had to bet. I have never heard of doing only 2 years at associate level before making VP. I was ~6 months into my 3rd year when I left. Even though I was the top rated associate in my group globally 2 years in a row, no early promote. VP was promised though so I knew what I was giving up before I left.

Jan 16, 2019 - 10:53am

The BB I work at does early promotions to VP (stub + 2 full years as an associate). However, I've heard the juice ain't really worth the squeeze since you're having to grind that much harder than everyone else and micromanage your analysts so that the final product you send up the chain is as pristine as possible.

On top of that, you're going to be the best associate in your peer group so you're going to get crushed with more high-stress, live deal work (which may be a good thing in some people's eyes - you're just probably never going to get an opportunity to exhale and catch your breath).

This may be appealing in the short run, but seeing as how it looks like you want to make a long term career out of banking, it may not be an ideal option in the long run. Odds are you'll get burnt out quickly and adopt the "fuck it - I'm going to industry and live a normal life" attitude much quicker.

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Jan 16, 2019 - 11:21am

OP, listen to this man. He brings up a good point about the curse of success. Deal flow always goes to the best juniors. That probably contributed to my burnout and decision to leave when I was less than 9 months from a guaranteed VP slot.

If you really truly want to make a career out of banking, pace yourself. Pushing yourself to burnout will leave you jaded and miserable.

Jan 18, 2019 - 9:48am

So first you say early promote is "an absolute rockstar, one in several thousand" then turns out it's actually standard practice for top associates at at least one BB. I have been in banking for a few months and I have no intention of getting burned out and enjoy the job a lot. I also have no intention of retiring as a lowly MD, which would be the inevitable result of pacing yourself as you suggest. I have spoken with top executives at my firm and they've told me that the guys who make MD by 30-32 are the ones with the real path forward to upper management or other, greater things.

Jan 18, 2019 - 10:17am

Looking forward to seeing where you are in ~36 months. Wish you the best of luck but your posts scream of being a neophyte to IB.

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Most Helpful
Jan 18, 2019 - 11:55am

Being early promoted at Analyst / Associate level (at least once) it is relatively easy nowadays, especially as best performers leave for Private Equity.
So if you stick around and perform, you are going to be early promoted.

That said, what floats around informally (but also formally) can rapidly change in banking so (and I am not referring at this specific instance) do not weight too much what people above you tell you.
You are just as disposable as anyone else around you. They will tell you what you need to hear to keep you performing but you need to be able to make your own decision independently.
I have seen several time people getting promised top rankings, getting promised fast tracks, rotation to other groups, not working with certain people, etc etc. and sometimes these promises just don't materialize.

On being burnt out, it is not really up to you. Top performers get brutalized the most as everyone wants to work with them, they get staffed on the most complex deals and because a top performer just tries not to push back. You don't decide if and when you get burnt out. It just happens if you are constantly working 80-100+ and, especially, with emotional handicapped people (as it is generally the case at associate and VP level as best people just leave). I didn't plan to burn out at the end of my third year as an analyst. It just happened and, although I changed city and team to top up my motivation, it never came back.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
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Jan 18, 2019 - 11:55am

GS and UBS have a 2.5 yrs analyst program; JPM has a fast track option.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
Jan 14, 2019 - 10:59am

That is definitely the exception. In order to make the jump from director to MD, you have to be able to generate deal flow. People underestimate how difficult it can be to "sell" as a 30 year old to predominantly older management teams and ownership.

That being said, occasionally you come across someone who is brilliant, thinks differently than most (gives them unique angles or advantages in thinking about situations) and is personable. It is rare, but happens. A person that makes MD at a legitimate shop (EB/BB/MM) in their low 30s needs all three.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 5, 2021 - 2:45pm

Maybe times are changing. Just saw it happen at a BB in NY halfway into year 4 (2+2) was promoted to VP after starting as an analyst

Dec 17, 2018 - 7:10pm

Gotta assume this is pretty bank dependent but highly doubt making VP in four is super possible. I am friends with a guy who made MD in only nine years at a BB, with two extra years spent getting an MBA, but seemed like a real exception. As much structure as there is, banks are still somewhat meritocratic if you're actually that good and will probably look to keep you around.

Dec 17, 2018 - 7:26pm

I know someone who lateraled and became an Associate at a BB after only 1 year, so it's definitely possible.


Jan 11, 2019 - 9:30pm

Clarification and correction: He did A1 at another bank but then his new position that he lateraled to was Securitization at a BB. I guess still nice though since pay probably increased while hours decreased.


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Jan 11, 2019 - 1:18pm

My bank does not yet have a 2 year analyst program, the associate to VP stint is typically 3.5 years (analyst get promoted to associate mid-year, then spend the remainder of that year as stub), however they do 2.5 years to VP for very high performers.

Jan 11, 2019 - 2:43pm

At one of the BB with A2A promotes, they call them "foundational analysts" and they are treated either as analysts or in a hybrid role (the promotes call themselves analysts). Although people can get promoted to an associate role sooner, it hasn't really changed the timeline to advance to more senior roles unfortunately

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!” - GOAT
Jan 12, 2019 - 5:52pm

might be possible. at a lower-tier bb (UBS, Wells, DB), there is an MD who is 32. Granted he is in a capital markets group that focuses on debt vs conventional investment banking, but at that rate he must have made VP in 4-5 years.

Jan 13, 2019 - 11:09am

This is 100% possible in some middle market, boutique, and regional banks where there is less red tape, politics, hierarchy, and process (relative to a BB or EB). Some advisory firms that are in hyper-growth mode will just need bodies in the VP seat and are happy to promote from within if they struggle to recruit externally. Further, in the smaller types of banks I mentioned, the teams are generally leaner giving skilled associates more opportunity to directly impress the senior decision makers and accelerate their timeline.

All this said, I know most on this forum would rather commit seppuku than work at a middle market, boutique, or regional bank... but don't rule out the benefits

Jan 13, 2019 - 12:53pm

I mean, define MM. That type of trajectory is not going to happen at HL/HW/etc. Define boutique, it's not going to happen Evercore/Moelis/etc. I think if you're talking smaller 2nd tier then yes, you're probably right. I think in general that decreases the overall incline of your career trajectory. I think the smarter move would be to take the entry point at the weaker firm, trade up when it makes sense, and go from there.

Jan 13, 2019 - 1:29pm

We are largely in agreement. Agreed it is more unlikely at larger middle market firms, but not out of the question. Also agreed on your second sentence - I would categorize Evercore and Moelis under EB, so they would be captured in the bucket of firms where I would say it is not possible.

To be more specific, I'd say it is most possible at the smaller tier 2 firms you rarely hear about on these forums. The types of firms that when you ask someone where they work and the say the firm's name, you nod and say "oh ya - great firm!" but you really have no idea because you don't have any experience with them nor do you know anyone who works there. Not bad firms, just smaller and less prestigious.

Can't speak to your last two sentences.

Jan 13, 2019 - 3:44pm

I have not gone through all the messages at the top. At my former employer (top 3 BB), analyst program is 3 years and associate program is 3.5 years. You can be fast tracked at Analyst level (i.e. down to 2 years) and maybe you can be fast tracked again at the associate level (down to 2.5 years).
I have not seen that but they have added the fast track option like 3 years ago so there is not a relevant sample yet. I have seen people getting fast tracked at either analyst or associate level but not at both (not enough years since they launched the fast track option).
That said, one MD in my previous group in NY did 3 years as a Associate, 3 as VP and 2 as Director and was fast tracked by the head of the team. I think when you become director / ED, you cam be fast tracked after two years if you really bring deals / fees in and if you can leverage this. It is a negotiation ultimately.

Your best way to do this is to be at a bank with a 2.5 years analyst program (UBS program is 2.5 years, GS is 2.5 I think), get promoted there and then go as an associate to another bank, kill it there an be fast tracked, or simply leave for a bank that give you the promotion.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
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Jan 13, 2019 - 11:18pm

I'd also add, from my understanding, aside from how good someone is there needs to be "space" for another MD so to speak. Say you're in an industry group and basically all the players in the space are covered by current MDs there isn't really room for another one. So on top of being really good, to a degree there needs to be a component of structural luck/timing in place too.

Jan 16, 2019 - 5:41pm

More likely you get blown out and your execution responsibilities are summarily handed off to someone a little younger and cheaper...

Jan 14, 2019 - 11:27am

Very doable, albeit at a really shitty bank.

"Anything less than the best is a felony"
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Jan 17, 2019 - 9:20am

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  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 6, 2021 - 6:24am

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