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The Road Ahead for an SS ER Associate

For my first three years out of school I was in a ‘hacksaw’ line of work, all the while struggling to get into a front-office role. I finally got into SS ER at a middle market bank and have really been enjoying the work. However, for reasons discussed ad-nausaum on this board, I don’t picture myself being in SS ER for the rest of my career. I see really three options here:

  1. I could switch to my bank’s investment banking group covering them same industry (TMT). We have decently productive M&A and ECM teams there and I think my chances of being able to switch would be good. I think this is a good choice but I would be in my late-20s by then and this would require me to move to NYC, so a pretty big change in lifestyle.
  2. I could go to the buy side to work at one of the multi-manager hedge funds. This sort of seems to be the path of least resistance for guys in my seat. I have seen a few of my colleagues go to these firms (Millenium, P72, BAM, Citadel et. al) and I, myself, have heard from recruiters from these firms. However, I’m not totally sure if I like the investing philosophy at these firms of essentially trading the quarters. I also would hate to be handcuffed to my sector for life and the skill-set seems somewhat one-dimensional to me.
  3. I could go to the buy side elsewhere. This would be a long-only or a single-strategy hedge fund. This seems a little bit more difficult and also impossible to do without your boss finding out you’re trying to do it. I would basically just start cold emailing anybody in my sector at mutual funds/single strat hedge funds. But turnover at these places is low and I don’t think anybody is adding seats at this time. My boss would also find out at some point that I’m cold-emailing people that she has a work relationship with.. probably not a huge issue but also probably not ideal. 
  4. I could go do something in corporate, probably at one of the companies I cover or tangentially-related. Most people seem to do this for better work-life balance but I’m not really interested in that, I would like to work more because it seems to be the only aspect of my life going okay.

How should I weigh these choices? I’ve been in my current seat for 1.5 years. 

Do you have an MBA?

I would lean #1 or #2. 

#3 is in secular decline and #4 seems like a dead end mistake you will regret, too young to do that.

#1 would be my personal choice.  The PE, corporate banking, boutique IB space is somewhat insulated from some of the broader industry headwinds and those would presumably be options from there, as would FP&A later if you wanted to really slow things down.

#2 is interesting, although I’m skeptical it will be as easy of a move to make as you think.  Those jobs are, good, very rare, very competitive and also facing secular headwinds.  I like this option, but I honestly think you may be a bit naive about how hard it is to land a role at a top performer like Citadel.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

I don’t have an MBA. I think it would be fun to do it but probably not transformational enough for my career. I imagine that I would recruit for investment banking associate roles or buy side equity research roles–both of these options are somewhat accessible to me now just at perhaps less prestigious firms (but that would also depend on where I was able to get into for MBA). Just my quick thoughts but I haven’t weighed the option too much

I think I’m also leaning toward #1. I think the ony hangup is geography.

It might be harder than I’m imagining to land at a top multi strategy hedge fund but I spend a lot of my day talking to those guy as they are research clients and I have to think I would eventually have a shot. Biggest hangup here is being stuck to my sector, I guess.

robustening wrote:

I don’t have an MBA. I think it would be fun to do it but probably not transformational enough for my career. I imagine that I would recruit for investment banking associate roles or buy side equity research roles–both of these options are somewhat accessible to me now just at perhaps less prestigious firms (but that would also depend on where I was able to get into for MBA). Just my quick thoughts but I haven’t weighed the option too much

I think I’m also leaning toward #1. I think the ony hangup is geography.

It might be harder than I’m imagining to land at a top multi strategy hedge fund but I spend a lot of my day talking to those guy as they are research clients and I have to think I would eventually have a shot. Biggest hangup here is being stuck to my sector, I guess.

So I know a few people that did manage to make the move to hedge funds and it was extremely difficult and usually came with a special consideration to unique situations or skill sets beyond just SS analyst, the vast majority fail to make the move and the feedback I routinely hear from people trying to jump from SS is that they’re surprised when they attempt to move how looked down on the SS analysts are by the better BS HF’s.  The ones I know that made the move all had serious full time masters degrees and usually strong quantitative “data capable” skills like serious statistics/math backgrounds and some programming.  Most also had close to 10 years SS experience.  Not trying to be rude and maybe you land a role, but it just strikes me as very naive.

But both of those options are great and if NYC is a problem there are always mid tier IB in other markets that are always hiring.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

Switch to banking.

Investment Banking is probably the best option among the ones you described. It offers the best combination of stable employment, compensation, and broad exit opportunities.  

You might be able to get a hedge fund job, but there is lots of adverse selection in terms of firms. Without prior buy side experience, you might not be competitive at the most selective companies. Compared to a lower tier buy side position, your other options are probably better.  

Multi- manager firms is probably the easiest buy side job for you to get. However, these firms have high turnover and you should not assume that your job there will last. Consider this if you would like to have Balyasny or Millennium on your resume, but assume it’s only a stepping stone to a future position.  

Going Corporate probably means a 50% pay cut for you. This seems like the last choice, unless you strongly desire lifestyle improvement. 

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Yep, I think I agree with that perspective. I guess that I would probably lean toward banking for now too. I’ll probably get in touch with the guy at my firm I know who switched from ER to IB covering the same sector and just get some idea of how the transition goes down.