ER career

Guys, What do you guys think about the “safety” of an ER career. I have heard that if you get laid off/fired , it’s almost impossible to bounce back. There are only a limited number of spots for ER analysts and getting canned is almost a career ender. What do you guys think ? Do people get into ER just so that they can get to the buyside or is it just a game of trying to survive ?

Well, if you’re fired for cause, it’s always a challenge to get a future job. It’s always challenging to find a job if you’ve gotten laid off, but people can and do get back on your feet. With regard to both research associates and analysts, it’s not uncommon to find that they’ve worked at 2-3 or more shops in the course of their careers. Good talent is hard to find, and even if for some reason you were terminated from a job due to some type of disagreement, typically you can find a job elsewhere if the buy-side really pounds the table for you. After all, sell-side management teams care just as much about what their buy-side clients think of a sell-sider’s work work, if not more so, than what the sell-sider’s peers think. I think most people get into sell-side with the intent of leaving some day for the buy-side or some other function. However, there are also people who really enjoy being on the sell-side because they like engaging with management teams, interacting with clients, and really being more of a service provider than doing the actual investment work itself. I think if you’re good at building and managing relationships and you like to advise people, you can definitely build a good career on the sell-side. Some people have more of a knack for this stuff than investing…so many people think buy-side is the way to go, but I think people also underestimate how challenging it can be to stand out in an environment where the only criterion you’re being judged on is how much alpha you generate for the firm.

I think the whole hype about getting into ER is way out of hand. Somehow it seems to me that a lot, if not even most, are only interested in this career path because others are too or just simply because there is an impression that this is a fast track to earning some above average cash. If safety is what you are after, then maybe a back-office position or an entirely different industry would be more appropriate.

I realize I hadn’t even addressed the point of safety in the original post, but I agree with CapeCobra – unless you’re just that darn good at finance, there really isn’t all that much “safety” in front-office finance relative to other industries. Personally, I never even thought about the idea that I had great job security, and am not even sure what I would say to someone if they asked me whether I thought my job in finance was safe. Usually I just go in with the mentality of working as hard as I can on a given day and do what I have to do, but career “safety” was not one of the motivating factors or even attributes that I would have associated with any of the finance jobs I’ve held. I’m speaking very frankly here.

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