The logic behind going into a Corp Dev/Strat for work-life balance?

I gotta lay a question on you guys cause I've been thinking about this for a while.

So most people who go into BB IB or MBB Consulting exit into a corporate job sooner or later because only so many get to stay in a PE role after MBA. And even afterward almost nobody makes Partner.

So the people who go into Corporate jobs value work-life balance I assume because it can't be money they're after. Most people won't make it far past 300k as a Director and your chance at VP are extremely low. The thing is, if someone wanted a job that pays well and has good work-life balance why not just do the following:

-Big 4 Consulting (55-65 hours on average and not that big of a cut compared to MBB)

-Corporate Banking (Usually 9-6 and MDs could make 1MM)

-Investment Management (Work usually 8-6/7 and make about the same or more than CB)

-Software Engineer at top tech company in Silicon Valley (Programmers usually work 9-5 and are expected to make around 400k-450k if they aren't awful and could clear 500-600k if they move further)

-Big 4 Accounting (Work long hours during Jan, Feb and March but the rest of the year is 9-5 and coud make Partner which pays way more than Corp Dev/Strat)

-PWM (Not 100% on this one but heard some people could make 200-300k in their mid-late 20s if they're good)

All these jobs offer similar work-life balance and pay better than a corporate job so why would someone choose Corporate over these?

Comments (28)

Jun 8, 2018

-Big 4 Consulting idk

-Corporate Banking boring

-Investment Management no previous experience to lateral

-Software Engineer at top tech company in Silicon Valley , lack of technical coding skills. Do you know what it takes to work there?

-Big 4 Accounting boredom

-PWM again you will start all the way at the bottom.

TLDR - People do not want to do something boring, and/or do not have the experience/competencies in the field

    • 2
Jun 10, 2018


Jun 10, 2018

While I agree that making VP at a large corporate is very difficult, anyone who comes from BB IB or MBB should have no problem making director or Sr. director. Depending on the firm, after a few years 400-500k all-in is certainly attainable. That's not a bad life for an interesting role that keeps someone at the office only 50-55 hrs/week on average.

    • 1
    • 1
Jun 11, 2018

I'm pretty sure 400-500k is VP area isn't it? I thought most directors are usually 200-300k

Jun 11, 2018

Not at F500. VP is more like $500k-$1M depending on tenure, group, bonus/incentive structure, etc. Gotta remember that I'm talking all in-comp as well. A Sr. Director may be in the $400-$500k range, but 20-30% of that may be coming in semi-illiquid comp such as options/RSUs.

Jun 11, 2018

Interesting post. All of these are great careers and pay very well compared to most other alternatives. Most of the posters and readers on this site are young (less than 10-15 yrs professional experience). You definitely do want to pursue something that interests you. However, understand that entry level positions in virtually every field will be full of menial tasks, boring responsibilities, etc. Why? Because stuff needs to get done and more seasoned folks are doing the higher impact things because why wouldn't they be?

It's about paying your dues in every field. This is not a knock on millenials and whatever the next group is called, just an observation. Unless you start your own gig, you won't find that first job to be the most amazing thing every day. You will work on a bunch of lower end stuff until the company thinks you're ready for more responsibility. They don't exist to make you happy. They exist to make their clients, shareholders AND employees happy. They know many of you will leave so they're not pouring all of their resources into you, although they are pouring in a ton.

Things take time. Careers take time. Everything is not millisecond happiness. Tech has made our society quite impatient. For those who can't tolerate the "inefficiencies" of the workplace, I suggest you go start something on your own (which I did and it is more interesting because it's mine). Otherwise, pay your dues, work your butt off, be as helpful and positive as possible and be patient.

For you sales oriented folks out there, BS to all that and go sell something to someone! That's where you'll find your self worth. Where the rubber meats the road!

    • 8
Jun 14, 2018

This was just what I needed as I have been getting impatient at work lately... things take time and if you can't handle that then you really need to work for yourself, even in a part-time/side-gig capacity which gives you more freedom to control your own pace.


Jun 16, 2018

Great points about "Careers take time." I'd add that your performance will depend on your company-specific knowledge and network of relationships, which grows over time and is not transferable to a new role in a new organization.

The following HBR article is a bit dated, but the fundamental dynamic is rooted in the complexity of large organizations, and still applies. They studied the performance of 1,052 star stock analysts who worked for 78 investment banks in the United States from 1988 through 1996. They found:

"When a company hires a star, the star's performance plunges, there is a sharp decline in the functioning of the group or team the person works with, and the company's market value falls."

Jun 13, 2018

Because these are not comparable jobs.

Some of them either require a specific set of knowledge (software engineer, Big Four accountant) or are outside of the skillset that I built up during IB (consulting, PWN).

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jun 13, 2018

I think it's hilarious that people can believe they can just make MD in corporate banking or anything comparable, as if everything below investment banking and MBB+tier 2 strategy firms is like free cash waiting to be taken in exchange for prestige.

    • 16
Jun 13, 2018

One of the nice things about CD is that you don't have outside clients. Sure, you need to be competent and keep the CEO and CFO happy, but you don't have to deal with ridiculous client requests, handhold them through a process, or keep pitching for work that you would have to in most of the other roles you mentioned. And depending on your company's attitude and size of deal, you can sometimes outsource the most painful work to banks.

    • 1
Jun 13, 2018

Better yet, you're the client now and can make all the ridiculous requests you want.

    • 2
Jun 13, 2018

Corporate/Commercial Banking certainly seems attractive. Being a relationship banker must be fun.

Jun 14, 2018

It's all about what you're good and what you like. My business partner that used to and still sort of works with a large-ish PE fund loved it and had no problem doing 80+ hours a week for 4+ years. Just find whatever you really enjoy doing and the hours won't be a huge deal.

Jun 14, 2018

I don't think a lot of people realize how hard it is to make it into those roles and stay long enough to achieve such results.

You have to prove that you are dedicated and be able to pitch meaningful ideas that can contribute to the organization as a whole. Menial tasks are necessary and required, until they trust you enough, keep working. You are there for the success of the company, and in return, you can be successful as well or pursue other dreams in pursuit of success.

My piece of advice to the younger kids out there - do not worry about what others are doing. Worry about what you are doing and make sure you do what you are able to enjoy.

Success is not achieved overnight...

...unless you scored.

No pain no game.

    • 1
Jun 14, 2018

From a risk-adjusted perspective, I agree with previous posters that going into F500 corp dev (or corp dev at any high-flying public company) is a solid return vs. IB/PE/?? (particularly for those with student loan debt, holla). For those of you with higher risk tolerance, read on.

Ceteris paribus, I would want to work in a corp dev / Chief of Staff / head of BD role for a PE-backed lower mid-market company. Why? Upside.

As a corp dev senior leader at a F500 or large PE-backed company, I could expect to make a solid salary, adjusted for cost of living, with solid equity or cash upside. Say total contract value of $1mm before promotion. In the lower end of the middle market, I could expect a sizeable percentage of the option pool, say 2.5%, and the opportunity for a no-fee, no-carry co-investment opportunity. Assuming the LMM PE firm makes 2.5x their money, I'm making into the low seven figures before the impact of my option pool, salary, etc. Absent student loans, I would want the equity upside (and resume bullet points) of a senior corp dev leader at a LMM company because of the cachet conveyed by actually contributing to growing a company as opposed to simply running analyses for seniors up the reporting chain. And the opportunity to build wealth.

Assuming a credible track record, you could credibly tell a larger fund that you were instrumental in growing a portfolio company to the point where it was attractive to more intitutional investors. In turn, you might expect progressively higher equity stakes, salaries, etc. in progressively larger companies.

This assumes you can tolerate the risk, though. If you cannot, caveat emptor.

    • 5
Jun 16, 2018

Solid logic on the upside of a successful PE-backed portfolio company, but the roles with real equity upside go to operators, not open-ended BD hires. When I was part of a PE portfolio group, we were constantly recruiting for key operating roles (including finance) but I can't recall any of my colleagues running a BD search.

For a highly-leveraged PE portfolio company, BD tends to be a board-level agenda item, not something delegated to young, scrappy, and hungry recent grads.

Jun 16, 2018

This is a good point. I should have been a bit more explicit, as I conflated new-hire MBA roles and somewhat more experienced ones. In both cases, I meant to refer to lower-mid-market PE firms without dedicated operations teams, as they tend to be a bit more willing to hire someone as a "utility player" in my experience. I can't speak to what larger groups might do, because I don't work for one.

Mind if I PM you with a couple of questions to round out my understanding?

Jun 14, 2018

No one has mentioned moving from banking through to Big 4 Transaction Teams. Partners in those groups make close to a million dollars base.

And you come in right under partner as a senior manager assuming you have significant transaction experience. Better work life balance too.

Jun 14, 2018