Post MBA-Associate Roles: As bad as People Say?

jmn3ye's picture
Rank: Baboon | 113

I am a year out of graduation from a top undergrad B-school (Stern / Haas / McIntire) and working for a T2 Strategy consulting firm (sigh). The work is interesting but the M-TH travel gets old quick. Since starting with the firm one year ago, I've been local maybe 5 weeks out of the 52 total... This is a deal breaker over the long term.

I am starting to realize IBD may be a better career option than I previously thought. While I currently only work about ~65 hrs a week, id rather work 80-90 if it meant I wasn't on the road all the time. Additionally - the path for me to get to a decent bank is reasonably feasible via a top b-school (already in thru one of the 2+2 programs)

I am familiar with the bum rep post-MBA associates get on the street, often ragged on for being overpaid, know-it-all boners who can't keep up with second and third year IB Analysts. Also aware that PE/HF exit opps are virtually non-existent at the post-MBA associate level.

My questions: is this career path totally ill-advised? Aside from remaining at the bank, what are the good exits that one with my background (e.g. pre-MBA consulting and then post-MBA banking) might be qualified for? If one does stay at their bank, is the route from associate to vp and beyond a complete and utter crap shoot?

Any advice from the post-MBA extraordinaires on this forum would be greatly appreciated :-)

Comments (25)

Jun 17, 2019

Add: if it makes a difference, would mostly be targeting EBs or solid boutiques like Evercore, Gugg, Lazard, Rothschild, etc.

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Jun 19, 2019

Evercore and Lazard are EBs

Jun 17, 2019

:(

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Jun 18, 2019

While there is some truth to this, it is mostly the opinion of know it all 22 year old analysts:

"I am familiar with the bum rep post-MBA associates get on the street, often ragged on for being overpaid, know-it-all boners who can't keep up with second and third year IB Analysts."

Associate to VP should be doable. Unclear on career path beyond VP and assumes it very much varies by bank/group

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Jun 18, 2019

Following

Jun 18, 2019

First year associate should be compared with first year analyst - they are both dysfunctional as they are new. Banking is all about how long you've been around and basically the guy who joined before you tends to know more.

As someone said - making up to VP or Director isn't super hard in good times. You'll end up making 500-700K which is pretty good paywise. Hours vary depending on where and how much you want to put in. Travel goes up as you stay longer, but more day or overnight trips. Friday's and weekends busier than in consulting.

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Most Helpful
Jun 18, 2019

So I was at a T2 strategy consulting firm -> full time MBA -> currently a third year post-MBA BB IBD Associate.

A couple of thoughts from my own experience:

  • Be absolutely sure you want to change to IBD, as the opportunity cost can really catch up with you. In your case, the opportunity cost would not be so high leaving as an Analyst or Assistant Manager. I left as a first year Manager, spent two years of business school, then a stub Associate period, then finally a first year Associate, and there were definitely times I thought "had I stayed in Consulting I would be a Senior Manager by now" (now my former colleagues are approaching Director while I'm a 3rd Year Associate). The salary is comparable but the seniority is a major difference; you'll have to invest some time post-MBA to make it worth your while, and not just from a monetary perspective
  • You will definitely be on the road less in IBD as compared to Consulting, at least as an Analyst/Associate/early VP. But on the road more as compared to doing something like LEK
  • The "bum rep" of MBA Associates is overblown hogwash and gets spread around by twee, underdeveloped prestige whores. The difference in ability between a second year Analyst and a post-MBA Associate comes from the learning curve of being in investment banking, and not a difference in intellectual quality between MBAs and target school Analysts. Anyone with one year on the job in banking is going to be lightyears ahead of a new entrant. The value that MBAs carry from their previous job are really shine through by bringing in best practices (including better cultures) from outside the bank. Look no further than an MD that started out as an Analyst at the same bank their entire career and you'll get the picture.
  • Way too early to think about exit options before you apply for MBA... if that's indeed your plan to do something like corporate strategy then I would skip the MBA and skip banking. You can have similar exits from your T2 Consulting job if you stay. Do post-MBA banking if you plan to stay at least until / through VP. Associate to VP is doable (uhhh I hope) but the 2 years of MBA and 3.5 years of Associate is a grind that is well worth it for many but not for some
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Jun 18, 2019

Really helpful perspective, thank you!

Jun 18, 2019

What do you mean by LEK? I searched on Google and got a consulting firm with the name but that doesn't really make sense considering the context of your post.

Array

Jun 18, 2019

LEK is a tier 2 strategy consulting shop that does primarily Commercial Due Diligences (PE diligence) and Growth Strategy work. Their work requires 0 travel however due to the high intensity and short timeline of the PE DDs they typically work 65-90 hours on a engagement

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Jun 18, 2019

Totally agree with the above. One thing I would add is that you only get to push the MBA reset button once. Try to lateral into an IB role now. You may not land an opportunity at GS, but think about it this way: if you end up hating it, you can go to b-school and do something else; if you end up loving it, you could still go to b-school and go into tier 1 banking with some pre-bschool mm banking experience.

If you want to work in PE or a HF, you should pursue that experience prior to b-school. IB would likely be a required stop along the way, unless you transition into a PE ops role directly from consulting.

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Jun 18, 2019

I was post-MBA at MS out of a top bschool. I think that it's totally worth it.

Most people exit to corporate or, more recently, to a startup. I know many classmates who went to or wound up at FAANG or some unicorn startup and they all do really really well relative to their finance counterparts. PE/HF is possible, but it would be at a smaller fund that you would need to find on your own through your own network and hustle. I do know a few people who went to large, well-known PE firms but usually that was in a non-investing role (capital markets, portfolio operations, etc.).

If you stay, making it to VP and higher is not that hard, to be honest, assuming you are willing to put in the hours. You still have to do all the right things but I often have to remind people that your group hired you because they think that you have the potential to be a senior officer in the future. You just have to confirm their view of you. That is very different than proving that you deserve to be a VP.

In the end, the post-MBA banking path is what you make of it. It provides many people with branding/credibility that they did not have before bschool. It allows many people to pivot their careers in a direction that is more closely aligned with what they want to do in the future. It can open doors to jobs that were out of reach otherwise.

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Controversial
Jun 18, 2019

The resentment between good 2nd / 3rd year analysts and A2As vs. post-MBA associates is that they will be far better at the job than any post-MBA associate (other than those that had prior banking experience) for quite a while (reasons why don't matter - that's not the point here) yet the post-MBA associates will be paid just as much (vs. A2A), if not more (vs. 2nd / 3rd year analysts), only because they have 3 fancy letters next to their name where they didn't learn anything of substance as opposed to say, somebody going to med school.

Now is that the post-MBA associate's fault? No. The blame should probably lie with the rigidity and bureaucracy of most banks and how much value people ascribe to MBAs.

However, it's really hard not to feel resentment when you're slaving away at your desk at 2am as a 3rd year analyst, knowing you're running far more of the process and contributing way more than the post-MBA guy 2 seats down from you, but you're making significantly less and see no viable way to catching up comp wise. And then they have the gall to say shit like "in B-school, we did [x] this way instead, you should do that too" - like STFU, no once cares about the academic / theoretical BS you learned in a classroom when it's the prior 3 years working w/ the same senior team that matters way more - the post-MBA associate can't be the sole junior person on a deal team, but that 3rd year can and will.

Just providing some perspective as somebody who got the A2A promote to counter what the post-MBA guys are saying above. Before I left, I was on deal teams that consisted of just me and an MD and I got top bucket every year, but made "only" 205 (95 base, 110 bonus) as a 3rd year - even a shitty post-MBA would've made at least 150 base alone and if they only got a 50% bonus, that means they were still out earning the 3rd years.

Sure, if the analysts or A2As stick it out in banking, they can eventually hope to be promoted to be equal / more senior than post-MBA guys, but that's years away at best. And of course, the post-MBA guys could end up being far better bankers in the long run, but most people are comparing to fresh post-MBA grads, not seasoned associates, and that's where the negative stereotypes come from.

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Jun 18, 2019

Really helpful to hear the A2A perspective, thanks for that.

Jun 18, 2019

100% agree. Granted IB is notorious for bitching about everything, especially the analysts. People will find anything they can to bitch about, often not even directly work related (coffee in the office sucks, there's no good food around here, it's raining outside, I have to breathe). Sometimes it's legitimate, sometimes it's not, a lot of times it's cathartic or out of humor to lighten the pain of turning comments at 2am. Even a strong A2A that laterals to a new bank will get some kind of flak (person X might have been an Analyst at top bank Y, but he/she has no idea how we do things at here). Naturally, when a person with no IB experience, gets hired above an analyst, there's going to be some resentment regardless.

The post-MBA Associates that do it right are the ones that think of themselves as very bottom of the totem pole for the first 6-12 months to learn from the experienced analysts and be a teammate (rather than someone "managing" the analysts).

The worst ones are those that came from a top 3 MBA with huge egos (because HSW!), but had absolutely no real world "business" experience (looking at you software engineers...), insisting on pushing their opinions to try "add value". You might get away with that with a 1st year analyst, but with 2nd and 3rd year analysts, literally just shut the fuck up and get out of the way unless you're 100% sure. Most 2nd/3rd year analysts are on their way out (either voluntarily or involuntarily), or will be promoted to an Associate. As a new post-MBA Associate (the first 6-12 months), you add pretty much no value to an experienced analyst's life unless you're acting as a teammate rather than a delegator/manager. However, you have much more to lose. It's not hard for an analyst to purposely fuck something up, take forever to respond to you if at all, throw you under the bus, talk shit about you, etc etc. At my former bank, new post-MBA Associates were generally staffed with a good experienced analyst, and it was very common for the VPs and up to ask the analyst how the post-MBA Associate was doing because the analyst's opinion is actually respected.

All that is to say, I wouldn't let that dynamic influence your decision on whether to do IB post-MBA because it'll happen regardless. But if you do decide to go that route, there's definitely an approach that makes your life much easier.

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Jun 19, 2019

Well put, definitely hit on some good points here. Can for sure relate to all the bitching lol.

Jun 19, 2019

You're probably significantly younger as an A2A than the fresh MBA associates though, so the "catching up to them in comp" story is a bit different if you factor in how much more you're making for your age than they are

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Jun 20, 2019

True, but getting paid less for doing the same or better work feels shitty no matter what age you are. And then there are the older analysts, those who previously worked in non-banking roles - had a number of fellow analysts in their mid / late 20s, so they'd be roughly the same age as many post-MBA associates.

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Jun 19, 2019

Anyone who ascribes value to the MBA itself and classroom theory as compared to leveraging pre-MBA experience is a really bad post-MBA Associate. I personally haven't met someone like that where I work or at my MBA but I didn't go to HSW and the people I know are very humble. YMMV. When I started on the job I started out doing Analyst work for the entire summer internship and the first half of my post-MBA year, i.e. all the modeling, all the turns, etc. and was staffed with a senior Analyst who would check my work. Sounds like this approach is different elsewhere.

On comp, comparison is the thief of joy and is really a loser's mentality to let someone else's compensation impact your mentality (particularly people who can be 10 years older). The market price for MBAs is based on MBA salaries and to attract and recruit people who will stay with the bank to become senior. The market price for undergraduates is based on other undergraduate salaries. We all are overpaid anyway.

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Jun 23, 2019

I hate post MBA-associates with no prior banking experience

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Jun 20, 2019

I just love this post man :) - the lingo here is awesome.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

Jun 21, 2019
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