Need career advice.. PLEASE help

I've read many threads on WSO that dealt with career advice, but was hoping to get some input on my situation.

Background: went to a non-target private school in the south (decent reputation and ranked business school) and graduated with honors, currently working at a BB in a BO function (think controllers) and have less than a year of tenure. Accepted the offer very early in my senior year of undergrad mainly because of the name of the firm and what mentors were telling me. Day-to-day functions are incredibly accounting based, but have the opportunity to work with IR and cover reporting peer banks among various of other competitor analysis tasks, to make matters worse I'm not even in NYC, in a secondary office. Certainly not what I want and I've been networking pretty hard externally to find another position focusing on valuation and capital markets.

Fortunately through networking and preparing work sample valuation models and reports on equities I have been able to land interviews, ultimately resulting in a few offers, albeit not in NYC (think Stamford and Greenwich, CT). Currently I have options with a sell-side research boutique that is well respected (top-15 ranked by II) and an opportunity in buy-side ER with a small HF (think 5 employees and $300mn AUM focusing on small cap value opportunities).

Knowing the career I want to have, either running a fund down the line or a senior analyst leading my own coverage universe, I think these are both great ops. With that being said I am getting some backlash from family and contacts with a long tenure in the industry (think former MD in IBD and VP in S&T). Both of them saying; "You need to have at least a year" and "You can't leave a brand name like that", both of which I feel are bullshit responses. In my opinion I don't think a brand name is worth shit if your role isn't relevant. For the past three years I've known what I've wanted to do, and now finally have an opportunity to get my feet wet and leverage that experience into a greater one down the road. So I ask you, if you we're in my shoes what would you do? Will I get fucked by leaving the firm before a year? If it was up to me I would leave, but I haven't gotten much support for those close to me, am I thinking in the correct way here? Willing to provide more details if needed, please help!

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Comments (13)

Most Helpful
Feb 1, 2019

Brand name is somewhat relevant but how long you stay is probably more so because it says something about your character. But since it's your first job and you're switching to something fairly different and more aligned with your career goals, it shouldn't be a problem.

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Jan 31, 2019

Appreciate the response. I guess my greatest fear is that career wise leaving would set me back long-term, don't really have arational explanation as to why, I suppose just the fear of the unknown. Then again, billionaires wouldn't be billionaires if they took the "easy and safe" road. Any comment on which opportunity sounds ore attractive? Thanks for the help.

Feb 1, 2019

See which team you get along better with and which team does more in-depth and differentiated analysis. Both sound like they could work out. I'm somewhat leaning towards the boutique, but that's just because the economics of that hedge fund probably aren't great unless they are and will be killing it.

Jan 31, 2019

Thinking this may be a good time to provide more clarity on the aforementioned HF:
- Fund was founded in 2006
- PM has stated average annualized return is ~16% (Can't prove but have no reason to believe otherwise)
- Mandated limited size of $300mn
- Focus on value opportunities in equities with market caps between $100nn-$2bn
- Due to lack of coverage from the street in this niche the guy has been able to do well over the years
- HUGE in reviewing earnings calls and transcripts (has analysts go over roughly 6 times), something that was stressed more than usual
- very small shop, no larger than 6 people
- Would have very direct interaction with the PM and have a full experience ranging from modeling and doing due dillegence, to portfolio tracking and client interaction

Something of note would be that PM typically only likes to keep analaysts around for about 3 years before having them move on.

On paper sounds like a good experience but would it impact me down the road negatively? Would it be tough to leverage into a larger fund or sell side BB in NYC afterwards? Or would it be easier to work at this boutique and then leverage that into a larger fund?

Feb 1, 2019

People come and go all the time. It's not the end of the world if you leave, especially if it's your first year (it won't have as much of an impact as a senior person leaving, no offense). They'll get over it. It sounds like you know your answer, and where you really want to be from a long term perspective. Opportunity doesn't knock on your door every day, and it may not knock again when you feel like you've been with your first company long enough to leave.

Personally, given that it's your very first job, you knew what you wanted to do from the start, the fact that it's easier to get in earlier rather than later, and the chance that you may not get an opportunity again, I would just do it. Just make sure you like the team. Everyone has a different opinion (and they're entitled to it), but that's just me two cents.

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Jan 31, 2019

Thanks for the response, greatly appreciate it. I'm of the same mindset as you so reassuring to hear some support. In your opinion any of the listed opportunities sounds better than the other?

Feb 1, 2019

They're both good options. Personally, I would go for the sell-side shop that has a top 15 ranking. The small HF sounds exciting and all, but I'm a big believer that you should get some great brands under your belt early on in your career, because it can open up doors later. It's also significantly harder to go from small to big vs. big to small. Again, this is just my opinion. You should really dig deep and see what you think is best for you personally.

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Jan 31, 2019

That's what I was thinking as well, thanks for your help

Feb 1, 2019

Have you looked into internal opportunities? Like getting coffee with equity research analysts or associates at your firm that's hiring?

Jan 31, 2019

I have looked internally, only problem is that they require a certain amount of years at the firm prior to even being able to apply to different positions. In addition, ER has a small presence at my office so face-to-faces have been touched and they don't have hiring power.

Feb 2, 2019

Take the buyside job and don't look back. Your contacts are giving you very questionable advice.

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Jan 31, 2019

Thanks for the response, I agree. With you being in the HF space so you believe it'd be possible to leverage that into a large fund down the road?

Feb 2, 2019
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