Small sell side versus large buy side firm?

Hope all of you that took the June exam our enjoying your free time, I know I am!

I know this is a common question, but I can never seem to find the direct answers I am looking for. What is the major differences between working for a small sell side firm and a large buy side firm? Let me define ‘differences’ so I can get the answer I am looking for. Specifically, I am looking for differences in time (work hours) , pay, and work environment (intensity of work, if that makes sense).

I really appreciate any answers. FYI, after two weeks, I finally stopped dreaming about equations! Life is goood :slight_smile:

Small sell side = covering non SP500 stocks, fellating investor relations for information, wearing rack suits from mens warehouses, total comp in the 5 figure range, women who are a 6 at best while drunk, and 24/7 on call for stupid squirely MD named ITera with ER report questions(important sht like font, colors, and pie charts).

Large Buy Side = Covering big boy stocks, getting fellated by CEO/CFO pros for buy considerations, wearing bespoke socks with Italian bespoke suits, total comp above six figs, women in your life will be 10s the morning after, and you tell your MD to shut it after a 7 bagger when he jokes you can’t play golf before 4 PM EST.

^Ok to sum it up large buy side > small sell side? Haha.

Ewww 6’s drunk, that means your waking up to a 3 or 4. Nobody wants that. Appreciate the feedback.

6 = two 3’s

If you can get into the buyside, do it.

Buy side Large Firm, personal experience…

It totally depends on what your role is. Big difference either way between being an analyst/PM vs. a back office monkey. All I can say is that if you want to be an investor and you have a chance to be an investment analyst, then take the buy-side role. To me, your original quote suggests that you need to do a lot more research in understanding the broad range of roles in both fields.

Strictly speaking from an investment analyst standpoint, pay for both is pretty variable but there is typically much more upside on the buy-side, because what you’re paid is strongly correlated to the performance and returns that you generate. This is especially true at a SMALL sell-side firm, where people have to hustle a lot harder to get trade commissions, votes, and ultimately comp. Quality of life and variety of work are both superior on the buy-side, in my opinion; however, the work on the buy-side is generally more demanding from the standpoint that your career lives or dies on your ability to generate alpha.

I began my career on the sell-side during a time that where work schedules were very demanding but payouts were also quite good. I’m now at a hedge fund and have no plans to return to the sell-side.


Thanks for the input. Your thoughts seem to be the general conclusion. That is, buy side is generally better, but you have the pressure to produce excess returns or your toast. This is where I would imagine a lot of the stress comes from. And the sell side, correct me if I am wrong, is from getting people to buy/trust your research/information.

FYI, the reason I didn’t specify is because I made an _ ass _ out of yo_ u _ and _ me _ with me being on analyst forum and going for my CFA designation that it was a given I was talking about an analyst/PM role.

Correct – I make the same assumption normally but I’ve learned there are people here that want jobs other than analyst/PM, so a clarification was necessary


Not to hijack but can anyone elaborate on the career trajectory, progression, etc. at say a T Rowe/Fidelity vs GSAM, or a bulge brackets AM division?