What is ECM/DCM like?

Bankerstreet's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 298

Hey everyone, I wanted to see what everyone thinks of a long-term career in ECM/DCM for someone with no interest in pursuing PE opportunities and rather staying in banking.

What are the hours like for Analysts, Associates, and VPs? Could you ever expect 60 or fewer hours with seniority? Are the hours/lifestyle generally closer to Biglaw/Management Consulting where you get weekends off as well as leaving before 7-8 most days or IB where all-nighters and weekends occur commonly?

Is it a sustainable lifestyle or does it still heavily dig into your personal life? Saw someone say in the last thread one of their MDs worked 8-6 in DCM is this accurate or some extreme circumstance?

Also as a side question, how much does compensation get affected when compared to M&A and Industry groups at higher levels (VP and up)

What do you guys think?

Comments (21)

Jul 3, 2018

Currently interning in ECM, so I can add a little information. The hours are pretty good compared to industry groups/M&A. Usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 8am-9pm. Those usually decrease as you go up with most directors doing 8/9am - 6/7pm. Weekends usually have at least one full day off, and the day that work is required is usually only a half day at most.

It's really not that bad, especially when you see how much the other groups are working in comparison.

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Jul 3, 2018

Hi, do you mind sharing how you went about choosing ECM, rather than DCM, Levfin or other options you may have had?

Jul 3, 2018

Wow that doesn't seem too bad. It's even good when compared to other non-finance jobs like law and consulting especially when you take into consideration how much you're making compared to them.

Jul 4, 2018

It depends on the bank. I know that there is one ECM team in London (European BB) that consistently works until midnight. On the other end of the spectrum, I know of a DCM team at another European BB that finish up at 8/9 pm. The best way to find out would be to network with analysts/associates.

Jul 4, 2018

Can anyone speak to how interesting the work is? I'm having trouble deciding between pursuing an internship in DCM vs a coverage group. I'm aware of the differences but generally speaking, are DCM bankers happy with jobs-- and potentially having to commit to a longer-term career (limited exit opportunities)?

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Jul 4, 2018

Personally would pick coverage just due to exit opportunities if you don't like it. (The caveat is depends on the firm we're talking about if its a big balance sheet but no m&a it take DCM)

And to your question it depends on the person, no right answer.

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Jul 4, 2018

This is a bit of an odd question but I'll ask nonetheless.

Is working in DCM generally more fast-paced than other groups? Correct me if I'm wrong but don't DCM groups usually work on the trading floor? How does that compare to working in a cubicle or office like other groups?

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Jul 4, 2018

Thanks, looking in terms of big balance sheet. Also, do you happen to know if any of these exit opps can compete with the DCM lifestyle/compensation balance (i.e, similarly high pay to other groups but little to no weekend work)? I can only think of PE which, from what I garner, usually has long hours and corporate development, which can also have weekend work.

Most Helpful
Jul 4, 2018

Sitting at coverage side, some general observation around DCM/ECM

  • At junior level, I'm not sure you learn much that you can take somewhere else. Market update pages, some pricing, some diligence or coordinating with other banks / teams. But you are not really learning specific about companies or models
  • The path seemed unclear in the middle. Most teams had a MD who was there for decades and he would have some analyst crank out the above pages or do the dirty work, but there is no clear cut path for analysts to make MDs. Unlike in coverage or M&A, most analysts got shuffled around to move up or didn't really have a path to associate. Even worse as you move up more. Lifestyle might be better eventually, but that assumes you can ever get there
  • Hours are better. Hard to find them after like 8pm. Weekend work felt like Sunday from home
  • Clear difference between people who do Lev Fin vs DCM. Products are more complex, learning more modeling. There is more demand to move you up. If you wanted to be more market / product like, go for lev fin vs DCM

My bank has strong platform across all 3.

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Jul 5, 2018

This is spot-on in my opinion. Only thing I'd add is that ECM looks pretty good right now, with the equity markets on a tear and investor appetite for IPOs healthier than it's been in a while, but margins / ROE for the ECM business have been pretty bad (in some cases negative) for a while, and that's probably not going to change.
Software is doing an increasingly large share of the work, a growing number of boutiques are picking off the advisory part of the business, leaving low margin distribution to whatever bank will take it, and then there are deals like Spotify's, which will cause a certain set of companies to ask why they need underwriters - and 4-7% gross spreads - at all.

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Jul 8, 2018

Also sitting at coverage side. I mostly agree with abacab's post. Just a few more comments/observations.

At the junior level, product guys also work pretty late when needed. I've seen them work all night several times, typically prior to launching.

Agree that Lev Fin sounds more complex, requiring better understanding of business models. But then couldn't that also mean you would have to specialize in fewer industries to mark yourself more wanted? At least that's what I see among lev fin senior bankers.

DCM is like same stuff over and again, but then that could be appealing to some (like OP?) Perhaps this can also translate to better work-life balance than any other groups, but then I also sometimes see their junior guys circulate market update memo past 1am. This is probably something you don't deal with at the senior level, but how do we coverage guys chase product people when we need them... As a banker, you can never escape from your blackberry.

I also think ECM senior guys travel more than others. They are almost always wanted for IPO pitches.

Jul 8, 2018

Lev Fin guys end up focusing on a sub sector at Director / MD level but most still doesn't get the business nuances. It's more technically better at terms and structures at senior level and operating model / debt pay down at junior level. Comparatively at DCM, there isn't a whole lot of structuring or modeling going on.

You never escape the blackberry. But, coverage MDs are hustling across the US 4 days a week. How many IPO bake offs / pitches are there?

Also ECM guy is not responsible for client relationship over the years or content creation. He is basically talking about market and how they'll market IPO with standard pages his analyst pulled together vs. coverage you are stuck coming up with most of the book + keeping client happy for years.

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Jul 6, 2018

In HK BB, capital markets juniors work until 2-3am regularly haha

Jul 7, 2018

ECM at BBs in London is the same

Jul 8, 2018
  • Skills development: both are poor. DCM is a little better (at least a bit of bond math).
  • Exit options: see above - both are limited. DCM would mostly lead to Treasury roles, and on a blue moon, to some kind of investment grade credit fund. ECM mainly to Investor Relations at a corporate. Quite often, people from both try to switch to either real banking (IBD, Lev Fin) or real markets (S&T world), as there's virtually no demand from the buyside for the CM skillset.
  • Career path within a bank: ECM is quite solid, DCM is less clear.
  • Compensation: both are solid (not as good as IBD but MDs still make 7 figures and Senior Associates/junior-mid VPs are still making around $300k; ECM has an edge, but also more beta so job security is a little worse, and on a risk-adjusted basis, probably about the same.
  • Hours: DCM tends to be significantly better. Very few people stay past 9pm in DCM. In ECM, that's usually when the lucky ones start getting out. Some ECM groups have IBD hours (see next point).
  • Culture: ECM are banker-wannabes. DCM is a little closer to the S&T culture, but a bit more organized and polished.
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Jul 8, 2018

ECM guys are total road warriors. A lot of time spent pitching and sitting on planes to get there. At least at the more senior levels.

"Anything less than the best is a felony"

Jul 9, 2018