Managers & Up at Startups - What are Your Hours (Strategic Finance / Corporate Finance)?

Curious to see for those at startups what your hours are like for those in StratFin or CorpFin, particularly interested in relatively established startups that are like Series B-D and <500 people (so not seed stage companies, and also not "startups" such as Uber, Airbnb, Doordash, Chime, etc.).

Have a feeling I'm working way too much still despite the "fast paced" and "dynamic" nature of my company and how "it's a lean team." Thinking it might make sense for me to hop to a better place for a significantly improved work life balance once I hit my 1 year cliff as I took a like 40% pay cut to go corporate, but hours are definitely not anywhere close to being reduced by that much (maybe like 10%). Personally doing 60 hours / week minimum still and some weeks (when it's an unlucky mix of fundraising / DD, board materials coming up, monthly close process, etc., all coming together at the same time) easily surpassing 100 at times.

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Comments (19)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Nov 3, 2021 - 11:28pm

Im an Associate at a Series C stage startup in strategic finance with 1 direct manager. Man, the hours have felt killer, especially as of lately. Somehow I've been online from 8am - 7pm then again from ~830-12...consistently? A few times going until like 2 or 3. Look, I know to some that is not a lot and that that is consistent (I dont have prior IB exp) but I was not anticipating that from a strategic finance role hahah so I hope this is a data point that says '...low key sweaty'.

I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but in my experience in strategic finance so far I would say that the total hours online are lesser than banking, PE, whatever BUT it feels like every hour logged on you HAVE to be doing something. Not a lot of long days where a large % of time goes between turns and comments.  

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Nov 3, 2021 - 11:29pm

Lol all of that is just to say if I feel this way, I bet you my boss (manager level) is prolly worse 

Nov 4, 2021 - 6:25pm

Currently corp fin at giant company and never work these kinds of hours, curious what it is you're doing all the time?  Is it just a matter that you're like everything (reporting, planning, accounting, modeling, etc.) or something else?

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Nov 4, 2021 - 7:12pm

Correct. Also, because we are a startup, have nothing templatized / the mechanics of our revenue generation would make that tricky anyways. We build everything from the ground up. Not sure about accounting because they are a separate function. In addition, we also do a lot of ad hoc / special projects that come directly from c-suite and those projects can certainly be time consuming. An example of a special project is like our Board deck materials. As I mentioned above, our team is also 2 (3 counting CFO) so it becomes the challenge of 1) there's a lot to do and 2) there's only 2 of us hahahah 

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Nov 4, 2021 - 3:57pm

What you will soon realize is that all types of jobs in corporate America require long hours, especially if you want to rise or work with capable people. Sure, some people seem to get lucky and skate by, but in general if you want money or notoriety or prestige, you're going to have to work.

The thing about IB is that everyone gets paid a lot, even the idiot bottom bucket analyst. Everybody gets paid more than they should, and gets paid way more than the average peon in corporate America.

So when you bail on banking for better hours, make sure you really diligence the firm you're going to. It's a bitter pill when you are expected to keep working hard but the IB pay net isn't there.

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Nov 5, 2021 - 9:38am

I worked a similar schedule but I'd say that there were more 50 hour weeks vs 100 hour weeks. Part of me knew I'd be working longer hours than what I'd pull at a large, established company for somewhat similar cash pay. And it felt draining at times but the work 90% of time drove meaningful outcomes, so it was fulfilling. If you don't feel like almost everything you are doing is helping a company grow, increase efficiency, or scale, then you should probably find another role elsewhere.

A lot of the extra work that is associated with startups exists because there is so much white space in defining and executing the company's future combined with the fact that good startups are lean. If you don't feel that this environment is accelerating your own professional growth, then you should probably leave to a more established company. This was the allure of working at a startup for me over considerations to pay or extra hours. 

  • Associate 1 in CorpFin
Nov 5, 2021 - 12:12pm

Hey this is really helpful (I'm the other CD poster on this thread but changed to Corp Fin). Few questions for you:

- are you currently in strat fin or corp dev? Or is there an overlap for you?

-are you still in the startup space?

-I'm an associate and have a salary of 85k with no equity or bonus...I feel like I'm being underpaid? I joined prior to all the salary bumps in other finance roles and I'm guessing my org matched the typical 85k base. What are your thoughts?

-How difficult do you think it would be for someone with 2+ years of Strat Fin exp to move into banking? 

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Nov 5, 2021 - 2:20pm

I'm in a jack-of-all trades type of role. Formally my title is Corporate Strategy Manager. I've found that these titles can be somewhat arbitrary and my role could be Strategic Finance elsewhere with the caveat that my role has some project management/execution responsibilities outside of just M&A and financing.

My company was considered a startup a couple years ago.

Where do you live? $85k with no equity with 2ish years of experience could make sense but seems a tad bit low, especially since there is no equity.

I think you could make the jump especially in this environment. 

Nov 8, 2021 - 1:50pm

At the manager level, and I average 55 hours per week. That said, things definitely ramp up to 80 - 90 when fundraising / other activities pick up.

When I first started in my role, I regularly averaged 60-70 hours per week. With more responsibility and trust, I've been able to better manage-up and set timelines. 

Nov 9, 2021 - 2:16pm

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