Lateral Hiring 101: How to Look Before You Leap, and Then How to Make the Leap

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lateral_hiring“Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Except with lateral hiring – where “mistakes of ambition” are sometimes just not worth it.

Look Before You Leap: Should You Do It At All?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. I get about 10 emails per week saying the following:

“I’m set to work at Deutsche Bank / Credit Suisse / JP Morgan / UBS next year and feel like a failure because I did not get an offer at GS or MS. To improve my self esteem and get better exit opportunities, I want to make a lateral move to a better bank 2 years from now. How can I do this?”

This is a flawed plan for at least 2 reasons:

  1. You won’t necessarily have access to “better” exit opportunities at the top 2 firms – in fact you may be worse off.
  2. Once you’ve been working for a year, the “prestige” of your firm will be the last thing on your mind – getting more than 2 hours of sleep per night will be priority #1.

There are only a few good reasons to make the move:

New Geographies

It’s difficult to move internally unless you know someone in the location you’re interested in – but if you know someone at a different firm in the location you’re interested in, it may be easier to move there.

It’s especially helpful if you’re trying to move to New York/London from elsewhere, or vice versa.

Your Group Makes You Want to Kill Yourself

There are some groups (and jobs) that are “beyond repair.”

Trying to improve them would be like trying to remove a tumor by applying band-aids: it might look better for awhile, but you’re still going to die.

If you have violent thoughts every moment of the day and fantasize about beheading your MD, it might be time to move on.

Unknown Boutique to Better-Known Boutique / Middle-Market Firm

Regional boutiques are great for getting experience and getting your foot in the door, but they’re not great for finding exit opportunities.

You’ll have much better access to recruiters at well-known boutiques and middle-market firms, and you’ll have access to more co-workers and “alumni.”

Luckily, this type of move is one of the easiest and most useful to make of the possibilities on this list.

Boutique / Middle-Market Firm to Bulge Bracket

Similar to the move above, you’ll get better access to recruiters and large-cap PE firms and hedge funds if you go to a bulge bracket.

Surprisingly, this move makes less of a difference than going from unknown regional boutique to better-known boutique – there you’re going from “almost nothing” to “something,” whereas here it’s just “something” to “something better.”

So Why Not a “Lower” Bulge Bracket to GS/MS?

“I’ll have a much better chance of getting into KKR / Blackstone / TPG because I looked on their website / asked around and saw that they hired FOUR bankers from GS but only ONE from my bank! My chances are 4x higher there!”

But this reasoning is flawed. All these firms hire very few people to begin with – and yes, they might hire “more” from GS/MS but there are also more people from GS/MS applying in the first place.

And they don’t necessarily have a “preference” for certain banks/groups – they want the strongest Analysts overall.

Maybe you have slightly higher “chances” at the top places, but the marginal benefit is not worth pissing off everyone at your current bank, losing potential references, and then having to wait another year for buy-side recruiting.

How to Make the Leap

Once you’ve looked, here’s how you leap.


Wait until near the end of your first year before contacting recruiters and your friends elsewhere, for 3 reasons:

  1. Even if bonuses suck, you still want to get your money before leaping away.
  2. Right after year-end bonuses, a lot of Analysts leave and banks scramble around to find new, experienced people.
  3. You won’t look too impressive with less than a year of experience and no solid transactions to speak of.

You probably want to start this process 2-3 months before the end of your first year – that way you’ll have time to make a good impression and you’ll be on their mind should they suddenly need someone else.

How to Do It

You have 3 routes to getting interviews at another bank:

  1. Headhunters
  2. Friends
  3. Alumni / Referrals

In theory, headhunters should be a good way to do this: they should want to help you out because they get a commission if they place you.

But in practice, large banks don’t rely on headhunters too much – they’re more common on the buy-side, where companies are smaller and where HR departments are non-existent.

So your best bet is to go through friends at other banks, or to go 1 degree further out and use alumni or get referrals via anyone else you know.

Rather than emailing them, call first (assuming you know them decently) and start off by asking what they’ve been up to, talking about recent events, then casually bring it up and say, “By the way, you know if your group is looking for anyone new right now?”

Follow-up is essential in this situation because your own fate is at the bottom of any other banker’s priority list, even if you’re “friends” with them. You need to be more persistent than usual and keep calling them until they outright say, “No, sorry, I really can’t help you at all.”

What If You Don’t Know Anyone At Other Banks?

Your next best bet is to ask around and get referrals from friends, or to go to your alumni directory and see what that turns up.

Cold-calling can work but it’s not the best move – it’s not effective at large banks, and it works better for undergraduates and recent graduates as opposed to full-time bankers.

You could also try getting in touch with HR or recruiters at banks if you really don’t know anyone else.

One advantage of HR: they’ll know with more certainty whether or not the group is hiring. The disadvantage is that they won’t “go to bat for you” in the same way that real bankers would.

You could also try looking online and consider sites like Doostang if you’re coming from a top school and have a solid resume with at least a year of work experience – but don’t rely on this, because talking to people always trumps applying online.

Keeping It Confidential

You might be wondering how you can prevent word of your planned move from leaking.

Should you use fake names on your resume? Set up a wire tap to monitor all communications? Have Chloe monitor conversations, email, and IM at other banks?

The short answer: no matter what you do, people will find out what you’re doing. Rather than worrying about that, just avoid telling others – even “trusted” friends – what you’re doing and use your personal email account if at all possible.

Oh, and don’t use fake names for companies on your resume or you will not get any interviews.

The Market

Lateral hiring is even more sensitive to market conditions than normal hiring. Banks always need a certain number of new 1st Year Analysts each year – but whether they need more than they planned for depends on deal flow.

When we’re in a bubble, hopping around is common and relatively easy – but in leaner times, large banks don’t do much lateral hiring unless someone happens to leave unexpectedly.

Lateral Hiring for Associates

For Associates the process is tougher and more selective because fewer people leave unexpectedly – and banks hire fewer Associates to begin with.

The process isn’t much different from what Analysts would go through, but the odds of success are lower and firms make fewer lateral hires all around.

At this level it’s almost pointless to bother with cold-calling or applying online: you really need a friend or referral to the group you’re interested in.

1st Year vs. 2nd Year

This is more applicable for Analysts making the move, but some banks may “demote” you and make you a 1st Year Analyst once again. This is common when you’re making a “big move” – say from an unknown boutique to Goldman Sachs – and less so if you’re jumping from one bulge bracket to another.

You have no leverage to “persuade” them otherwise, but it also doesn’t matter much: no matter what your title is on paper, the real downside to making a lateral move is that you need to wait another year for buy-side recruiting.

The Interviews

If you’re interviewing as a potential lateral hire, interviewers will focus more on your deal experience and on more advanced technical questions than they would for undergraduates/MBAs.

Case studies, modeling tests, and other types of assessments are all possible – but they’re less common in North America compared to other regions.

They’re more like private equity interviews than standard banking ones, so make sure you know how to write about your deals, how to talk about your deals, and how to dominate your case studies.

You also need good answers to the “Why us?” question and you need evidence that you’re sticking around in finance for the long-term – otherwise, why else would you want to make the move?

Ready, Fire, Aim

Before making the leap, you need to spend most of your time thinking about whether or not a lateral move makes sense – because for most bankers it doesn’t.

But if you’ve looked and decided to make the leap, now you know how to do it.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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132 Comments to “Lateral Hiring 101: How to Look Before You Leap, and Then How to Make the Leap”


  1. maxim says

    Good read! It makes me feel that WSO is a little misleading on this topic in that people rank groups in BBs as if you don’t go to certain group, you have no chances for a good PE opportunity, looks like it ain’t so true after all.

    However, it’s been reported that some offices/groups have near 100% PE placements (UBS LA, but hellish life). Not sure what your take on that, would love to hear from you, brian!


    • says

      You have to be very careful here because you’re not really comparing apples to apples with different groups… quality of analysts, deal experience, etc. is way different. If Analysts in one group are twice as smart as another and they have a better PE placement, is it because they’re much better or because their group is better?

      The other problem with “rankings” is that things just change too quickly for these to be of any use – just look at what happened over the past year since the crisis.

      • a says

        Agreed. On that note, the ranking on this post is misleading in itself.

        I would say the strongest firms coming out of the crisis are definitely GS and JPM. The new top two. MS got owned.

        UBS,CS are also screwed and set to focus more on private banking. Citi, BAML well.. no comment.

  2. panthe2k says

    Hi M&I,

    Just wanted to send some appreciation your way. I just got an offer from GS/MS and your interview guide was a key part of my success. Definitely well worth the $50 for anyone on the fence.

  3. Summer Analyst says

    I think the most important question you want to ask for lateral switch, summer internship, full time, etc. is not how “prestigious” a firm/group is or whether or not it’s PE/HF/VC… it should be, “Do I like the group? Do I like the people?”

    You’re going to be spending most of your awakening moments in the office working with the same people and on the same product. So the choice should really be not how “prestigious” or “legendary” this group/firm is, but will I like the people/culture/product enough for me to stay on top of the work hours.

    The exit opportunities will follow there after…

  4. Soon to be BB Analyst says

    As someone about to step in to banking next year, and not wanting to do it for more than 2 years (I like what I learned as a summer analyst, but disliked the life), I am confused what I should be keeping in mind when it comes to exit opportunities.

    With the long list of PE firms out there, a lot of them low profile, how does one know where to start? Do you base it on your interest and look at the kind of companies that the PE firm deals with, or does the brand name always matter more?

    I know you said that looking around 2-3 months before the end of the first year is ideal but what if you are clueless to begin with?

    Thanks in advance, and this was quite a helpful post!

    • says

      I’d say it mostly depends on what industry you’re interested in, what types of deals you want to do, and how you like the people there.

      PE firms are all VERY small compared to banks so fit is even more important – if you hate everyone you work with, it’s going to be a lot more miserable compared to banking.

      So I’d start talking to different firms, see who you like the best, and narrow down your initial list by what you’re most interested in.

      Brand name is less relevant for PE because even at most bulge brackets the majority of analysts will end up at firms that you’ve never heard of.

  5. JAMMY says

    Hey Brian, after doing my undergraduate degree here in in London, will it be easy for me to transition to working in New York at a bulge bracket firm? Are there are problems I will encounter that I should know about? Is it a good idea?

    • Lost in Translation says

      Ya I have a question about the London to NYC move as well. Working for a top M&A house in London, whats the best way to get to NYC?

      • says

        You need to meet with people in-person in New York, or if you absolutely can’t afford the time to make the trip, get referrals and try to speak with them on the phone.

        Another approach: if you just want to move to NY internally at the same firm, then get one of the MDs to set you up and make the move… if you know them well enough and they have the power to do that, it’s not that difficult.

    • says

      You really need to go in-person for both networking and interview purposes if you want to make the jump. So yes, it’s harder and you need the time and the budget to travel for a few weeks to network there and then ultimately interview there.

  6. maxim says

    So basically it all waters down to the individual’s quality, not the specific groups. Does it make sense though to lateral over to a better group?

  7. Senior says

    If I was already denied an interview at the Chicago office of a bank and I know someone at the New York office, can I still try to get an interview at the New York office?

  8. stony b says

    I was offered an interview at a middle market M&A firm in Chicago about 2 weeks ago but they have not yet contacted me again to set up the date for it. What should I do?

  9. lz says

    What do you think of doing internships in the summer after graduation?
    I’m a senior now, and it is a bit of a stretch to relate my previous internship to banking. Could I use that as a last resort if firms are hesitant to hire me?

  10. John says

    At a target school like Wharton, where there are many juniors with 3.5+ GPAs and previous finance experience, what are the differentiating factors on resumes for people to select them for first round interviews for summer internships?

    Also, is your investment banking interview guide comprehensive enough to cover all technical questions you might get if you say you’ve had a previous banking internship? I’m thinking about buying it, so I’d like to hear more of what you’d have to say :)

    • says

      It’s mostly based on who knows you – if the people reviewing your resume know your name and like you, you stand a much better shot of getting selected. It’s almost like rushing a frat.

      Interview guide: the current version covers most of what you can expect in interviews. The next version, set for release in a few weeks, covers truly advanced/obscure questions that most bankers don’t even know (e.g. why you can’t use Section 338(h)(10) in an LBO most of the time). If you sign up now you’ll get that, or you could wait until it’s out.

  11. zl says

    I’ve got a finance, but non-banking, interview coming up; how useful do you think your interview guide would be?

    This is an on-campus interview for which I sign up for a time. Any recommendations as to when to choose? (first, middle, last, irrelevant?)

    • says

      Helpful for equity research/private equity/corp finance/corp development but not relevant for PWM or S&T except for maybe parts of the fit questions.

      Signup time: doesn’t matter too much but I would try to go earlier if you can as interviewers tend to get tired near the end.

  12. Morgan Sachs says

    Hi Brian,
    Could you please comment on analysts staying in IB as associates? How easy it is and how many do it? Those who don’t do it and leave for business school or something else… what is the approximate percentage of analysts that leave because they are already ‘sick’ of banking vs. the ones that leave because they didn’t find a spot to stay as associates? Thank you!

    • says

      Very few do it. Less than 10%. I would say 90% of IBD analysts go on to do something else in finance, maybe 5% stay on as Associates and then 5% do something completely different. If the market is good its extremely easy to stay on, otherwise it’s tough and very competitive.

  13. banker says

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all the help. Having all theses resources (guides as well as free resources) has given me a major edge in the process.

    How difficult would it be to move from say the Boston/Chicago of an elite boutique to the NY office after a year. The regional office is small. Think Moelis Boston / GHL Chicago.

    Also, is it possible to move from such an office to BB NY. I am very concerned about my PE exit opps due to the fact that there is no precedent for this office.


    • says

      It’s difficult – you will need a very, very strong connection in the NY office and an improved market.

      You can move to a larger bank’s office as well, but once again you need a great connection to be able to pull it off correctly. I would set aside time each week for networking if you’re serious about doing this.

  14. Jim says

    Hi, I love your site! What do you think about the newly merged Wells Fargo/Wachovia? They are pretty dedicated to growing IBD and they are doing quite well so far in the league tables (top 10 for equity and M&A for U.S.). What do you think the exit opps are for this new firm, they seem right smack between a BB and a top MM so what would you say it is? Everyone that I talked to at the firm says its a BB but I’m not quite sure. What would you say exit opps are for this top 10 bank?

  15. Tom says

    Is there ever a time you would pick a top MM like Harris Williams over a “lower/failing” BB like UBS?

    Same question as above but would you ever pick a decent boutique like HLHZ over a BB like BoA? Thanks M&I, I love your posts.

    • says

      I mean if you like the team or group better, sure go ahead. It all comes down to how much you want to continue working 100 hours per week at a large-cap PE or HF. Most people start out wanting to do that and then realize that it’s not that great so they end up at smaller firms anyway.

  16. Tom says

    Do you mean such as picking a better PE feeder group at a MM such as lev fin over a BB (real estate banking)? Would MM’s and boutiques ever allow you to place into larger PE funds (1 billion aum)… not the elite ones like KKR but something respectable.

    • says

      You can still get into >$1B AUM places coming from a solid MM/boutique group. And yeah, if the MM group has sent more people into PE and the BB group is weak / most people don’t go into PE, then you might want to pick the MM firm instead.

  17. Frenchie says

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve just started a job 1 month ago as a graduate in a big institution, yet not sure whether I’ll stay for long (not many deals here).
    A well-known partner in a big institution just started his own boutique together with 7 other MDs. They’re currently looking for junior analysts.

    As I’m really interested by the challenge, do you think it’s wise to go interviewing there even if I plan to stay where I just started a job for the next 1-2 years. Basically, I want to go and tell them I’m interested, not currently available but I want to be in their recruiting pipe.
    I was also thinking about eluding my new job and pretending to be a fresh graduate, but I doubt it’s a good idea. Another option would be to wait and see what happens, and then contact them at the moment I want to move.

    What do you think?
    (and congratulations for the website, it teached me a lot about networking and played a great role in being successful my job search!)

    • says

      Personally I would not meet with them until you’re more interested in moving over. Maybe just stay in touch for now and trade emails, but I would not go in for an interview until you want to make the move.

  18. Rob says

    I’ve accepted an offer from a top group (M&A/Lev Fin) at a BB in London, but I want to get to NYC. Would it be possible to lateral internally after one year? Should I ask HR NYC is there’s availability beginning this year? Would it be worth giving up the “top group” status in London for a coverage team? Will I get locked into London (i.e. PE/HF recruiting)?


    • says

      It’s possible but hard because you have to fly across the Atlantic for interviews / possibly networking. I would ask HR NYC as soon as you can. I don’t think there’s much difference between a “top” group in London vs. a coverage team in NYC.

  19. Jon says

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve been referred for an immediate hire position at a BB for an analyst position by an analyst. I’ve already graduated but so far only have M&A internship experience which wasn’t very quantitative at all. I have taken coursework, and have studied myself to understand all the basics of investment banking finance, including Wall Street Prep, but hope I don’t get overlooked for an interview. Do you know who selects resumes in this situation and if I should be trying to network with these people at the bank, perhaps via linked in, since I haven’t heard back yet. Thanks.

    • says

      Yes, definitely network with anyone at the bank you can, using whatever means you can. Selection is usually based on what analysts from your school / similar schools say but exact people are impossible to predict.

  20. Joe says

    I had a discussion with a friend recently about the lateral hiring process. I’ll be working up in NY with an up-and-coming advisory services boutique starting in July. I feel like there are a lot of growth opportunities within the firm since it’s on the smaller side (<10 analysts in my class), which means more responsibility. However, my friend mentioned that I should try to lateral over to some of the "elite" BBs (GS/MS/JPM) during my first year at any cost, simply because of the brand name. What are your thoughts on his assertion? Does the GS/MS/JPM name really carry more weight than a having a lot of good deal experience with a lesser-known firm? I'm particularly hesitant because there's no guarantee I'd be placed in the group of my choice if I made the lateral transfer. The goal is to get into PE 2-3 years from now.

    • says

      It depends on what type of PE firm you want to move into. If it’s KKR / Blackstone / TPG etc. then yes, a lateral move is a good idea. But if it’s just any PE firm and you don’t care about the size, it’s not necessary.

      • Joe says

        Thanks for the quick response, Brian. My “dream goal” is to get into a KKR/TPG/BX/etc., so I’ll definitely look into lateralling once I’ve gotten a few months of work experience under my belt.

        • reallyJoe? says

          that “Dream goal” thing just made my day. i’m a first year analyst at a BB and amuse myself by reading these comments…

          • says

            You have no idea how funny it is to read comments after running this site for years… the amusement might be wearing thin, though.

  21. Banker101 says

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the post. Can you please explain what you mean by having to wait for another year for buy-side recruiting even if you do not get demoted? If I, for example, work for a year at a BB and then move to a boutique and become a 2nd year analyst normally, why can’t I just do the regular buy-side recruiting and not miss a year? Wouldn’t I still normally apply at the end of my second year as analyst to a PE firm?

    Thanks a lot in advance

    • says

      The issue is that buy-side recruiting starts in March/April at the mega-funds, concludes within 1-2 months, and extends throughout the summer for smaller places. So let’s say you move to a different firm in the summer after you get your bonus… it would be hard to jump in then and get started with buy-side recruiting because it’s already in progress. You would have to wait for the next cycle – and there is some risk with that because if you don’t get a 3rd year promotion you might be out of work as the recruiting process progresses.

      • Banker101 says

        So basically normally people apply as 1st year analysts? I thought you only get to apply once you had around at least 2 years of experience. I thought that if I transfer into a boutique and become a 2nd year analyst there and then apply in March/April, as you said, I wouldn’t miss the recruiting season? We’re talking about the first year bonus here, right?

        Also, my other question is why can’t I apply to a PE firm in my first year as an analyst AS I wait for my bonus, and then transfer into a boutique and become a second year analyst?

        Thanks a bunch!

        • says

          No, PE firms recruit as you finish your first year. The issue with waiting until year 2 is that you may be out of a job as recruiting progresses over the summer.

          You could attempt to apply to a PE firm, then get your bonus, and then transfer to a boutique but that would be extremely confusing and I don’t think either firm would go for it – the PE firm will get very suspicious if you leave for another bank as they’re recruiting you and the bank won’t want you as much if they know you’re leaving soon anyway.

  22. Sam says

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all your helpful info. I just graduated from college and started working at MBB. However, I want to make the switch to banking and am wondering if you have any advice on how to do so. Would I just apply in September with all the college seniors for a position starting in Summer 2012 or could I just apply now and make the switch as soon as possible?


  23. Ken says

    What are your thoughts on making a lateral move from a bulge bracket (think DB, BarCap, Citi) to an elite boutique?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Depends on your team, culture, pay and exit opportunities. I don’t know which division etc you are referring to but I’d move to an elite boutique if I like the team, pay is good and the exit opps are promising. Elite boutiques are generally smaller so I’d have more responsibilities and could probably rise up the ranks faster

  24. berateman says

    Out of undergrad my friend worked as a credit analyst at JP Morgan for about a year and a half. Assuming he wants to make a switch to I-banking, does he have a chance at breaking into The JP Morgan IB division? Or should he just try and network his way into a smaller boutique firm? I know that IB Analysts typically come straight from undergrad, however, since he has almost two years of work experience, would he qualify as an associate or would he start out as an analyst? Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      He’d qualify as a third year analyst/associate. I think he should network within JPM and see what happens. He should also network w smaller boutique firms too. Do both

      • berateman says

        Have you ever seen/heard of anyone in a similar situation breaking into IB at the bulge bracket level? Also, while networking, should he reach out to analysts/associates or to VPs/MDs or simply to HR?

  25. Steven says

    “What If You Don’t Know Anyone At Other Banks?

    Your next best bet is to ask around and get referrals from friends, or to go to your alumni directory and see what that turns up.”

    What do you mean by alumni? People who went to our university? You could still do that even after you leave education?

    I was under the impression that the pay would be similar in all the banks and that the bonuses would differ…

  26. Simon says

    Would this sort of hiring typically have less academic requirements compared to fresh graduate programmes/offers and internships?

    For example: rather than ask for minimum of 2:1 + 340 UCAS points (including A-Level Mathematics at grade B or above) + GCSE grades A/B in Mathematics and English.

    Would there be more experience/performance based requirements e.g. “proven skills in …”?

    Wondering as say I work at Barclays Capital, then I decide to move to the HSBC. Would I still be expected to generally meet the latter’s minimum academic requirements?
    (The grad/internship requirements I listed reflect the latter’s criteria.)

    This thing is really puzzling me. :S

  27. Sammy says

    Hey, so my question is a bit different. I got an analyst position in Citi’s consumer banking department but I now realize I want to work in investment banking. Do you think it is possible to do a lateral hire in that sense? Or would I have to go for an MBA first? Thanks

    • says

      That one is tougher since consumer/retail banking is quite different from IB. Still possible, but you’d need extensive networking, hands-on experience and/or an MBA.

  28. PM says

    What are your thoughts on the possibility of lateraling from an unknown regional boutique to a BB (with networking, of course)?

    How about interning/working at an unknown boutique and then doing fall recruiting to come on as a first year analyst the following summer, with the boutique being the only finance/banking experience?


    • PM says

      Correction: the boutique would be the only banking experience, but there is other non-banking finance experience.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes if you have very good experience and solid network.

      That is fine too though it can be challenging when you are competing against people w BB experience

      • Nic says

        Thanks, it is reassuring to know that it is still possible – albeit tough – to stand a chance at getting a spot at a BB with boutique experience.

  29. john says

    Hi Brian,

    I work at a elite boutique in NYC, but I am in FIG, does it make sense to move to a different group for better/broader exit opportunities? And is there harm for completing two years then lateral? Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you’re in FIG, however, you have a much better story in terms of getting into strategy / corporate development roles at financial institutions. You are definitely more specialized, and that can limit PE opportunities – but you’re also in a much better position for funds that invest in financial institutions.

      No, I don’t think there’s harm in doing that especially since you’re starting your career.

      • john says

        Hi Nicole,

        Thanks so much for your comments. Ideally, I would like to try out HF/PE. I do think FIG is an interesting space to be in, especially with these Dodd-Frank and BASEL III going on in the near future. I acknowledge it doesn’t hurt to be specialized, but I’d also want to enjoy a more generalist role if I can move to the buyside.

        I would like to honor the two years commitment, not burn any relations. In your experience, how difficult will it be for FIG M&A analyst from a top shop to move to a regular industry group or M&A team at a good BB? Thanks.

        • says

          Just to jump in here: if you’re in FIG but don’t want to stay in FIG, get out sooner rather than later (2 years and lateral should be fine though). It’s very specialized (even if you don’t work exclusively with commercial banks and insurance firms) and sometimes headhunters will “typecast” you if you have FIG experience and only recommend you for those roles.

          You can definitely move to another industry group or M&A group and so on, but it would be tougher to move directly from FIG into more of a generalist buy-side role, at least from what I’ve seen.

          • Andy says

            1st year BB FIG analyst here — how hard would it be switch groups within my bank after the 1st year? Also, if I was to do it after 2 years, how would I communicate that with the HHs who would want to pigeonhole me into FIG roles? Not only do I find FIG extremely boring, my group has lost pretty much all analysts to HFs and FIG PE and associates to other banks.

            Would it be a better idea to look for opportunities at elite boutiques and other BBs in non-specialized groups (M&A, TMT, Consumer, Industrials)? Thanks.

          • says

            It wouldn’t be that hard if you stay at the same bank and do it after only 1 year. If you wait for 2 years, headhunters would be quite annoying to deal with, so you’d probably have to network on your own to get around that and talk about the experience you’ve had outside FIG. Yes, definitely go for non-specialized groups to maximize your opportunities.

  30. Benjamin says

    I know a friend who lateraled from a boutique to a better boutique prior to bonus season and the new firm bought out their year-end bonus as well as the signing bonus he probably has to repay due to leaving before a year.

    Would one of the larger banks do the same for an analyst lateraling prior to one year from a boutique?


    • M&I - Nicole says


      Perhaps, it depends on the terms and contract. I wouldn’t be surprised given this environment.

  31. Manuel says


    I joined a group 3 months ago that’s considered BB within the country, but on a global basis I’d say its upper range boutique (its globally known but more so as a commercial bank rather than IB).

    I want to lateral to NY or London, but I’m wondering whether the banks will think 3 months as a banker as not enough experience. Prior to joining this group i worked in corp dev at a $2Bn market cap company in South America, mainly doing M&A and Projet Finance.

    Do you think its too soon to look to lateral? I’m not too worried about the bonus because its not as much here as it is in NYC/London, plus base salary would more than compensate my foregone bonus.

    I appreciate any insight you can give me. Thanks.

    • Manuel says

      worked in corp dev for 2 years. Also factoring into my consideration is that I’m planning to do an MBA in 2014, and I wonder whether having 2 jobs in my last 18 months prior to doing an MBA would be looked at negatively.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      While it may be too soon to lateral, I’d suggest you to start networking and build up your contact base so when it comes time to lateral it will be an easy transition. Moving offices may take some time because you need various approvals, visa as well as openings in other offices that suit your skills and experience. Most peeps lateral after a year+ working in a role in a geographical location, but it varies according to the individual, and some may think that you will have to work a bit longer before you can lateral.

  32. Sally says

    Would a move from global, non-BB IBD analyst role (hsbc, macquarie, nomura, etc) to an elite boutique (Lazard, moelis, evercore, etc.) make sense if goal is a well-respected, 2bn+ MM PE fund? appreciate any thoughts

  33. Joshua says


    I’m looking to make the leap to lateral as a first year analyst to a better MM / BB and was hoping you’d answer my question?

    I’m actually a senior in college – impressive finance background, good GPA (3.6), three majors and heavy campus involvement later… i got no FT IB offers.

    Luckily, I interned at a boutique, no-name M&A shop last summer and have an offer to go back to ‘intern’ again post-grad (still low chance of ever being hired FT).

    If I start in June, what are the chances I can continue working and find a lateral spot in July/August? I’ve read that most spots open around that time (cuz of quits after bonuses) and/or Dec/Jan.

    How much of my no-name boutique experience will ‘hurt’ me? It’s a no name but active firm that does 10-15 M&A deals a year. But the lack of a brand name might hurt. I have a solid network, but looks like it’ll be a challenge.


    • M&I - Nicole says

      The name will not hurt you; you still have IB experience on your resume. Your chances are decent though you’ll be competing against people with brand name IB experience so you’ll need to be well versed in your deal experience to stand out. I’d suggest you to take on as much responsibility as you can in 1-2 deals so you can choose these 1-2 deals and talk about them interviews. Continue tapping into your network and start networking ASAP

      • Joshua says

        Would the timeline for me be around July/August? I will be starting this post-grad internship the beginning of June, and I will have ~6mo of IBD experience.

        Will 1st year analyst positions even exist by then?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Recruiting for typical 1st year analyst in US begins during fall (Sept). Many banks start having info sessions during Sept and interviews during late Sept/Oct/Nov.

  34. Mack says

    I am an investment banking associate, most recently at a middle market boutique. I am currently interviewing with a bulge bracket and have progressed beyond final round interviews. After the last interview, they requested references at my former investment bank and then reached out to them a couple of days ago.

    I haven’t heard anything since. Where am I in the process exactly?

  35. Taylor says


    I am interning at Boutique this summer and will be a senior next year. I would like to work at either a larger Market boutique or a BB. I am beginning to network at BBs but ,I am confused on how, when, and even if to formally apply for a position as a 1st year analyst? Should I apply directly on their website or just keep pushing my résumé until I get a phone call?


    • M&I - Nicole says

      If banks are recruiting on campus, you may have to go through your on-campus recruiting system, as well as through the bank’s website. The latter is necessary. Applications usually commence in fall (around Sept).

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You can use your coffee or lunch breaks. If you don’t have coffee/lunch breaks, you may have to take a day off if that interview is very important. Otherwise, can you schedule the interview to early AM before work, or try to leave work a bit earlier (after work)?

  36. Ken says


    Great article. Thanks very much.

    I’m in TAS at a Big4 in London and considering moving into IBD. I’m at advanced stage interviews at an MM. I have a strong CV and would prefer BB. Would you recommend that I pull out of all interviews at MM’s and simply focus on BB’s in the hope that roles will open up?


    • Ken says

      Should add that it’s quite a small MM – not the size of Jeffries, ING, Credit Agricole. Below top 50 globally.

      • M&I - Nicole says

        Sure, in this case, I may still proceed with the interview and see how that goes. I’d also speak with BBs aggressively and see what comes up. In your case, I may actually stay in your current role first. However, I’d proceed with the interview just to learn more about the firm & industry, practice your interviewing skills…who knows. Something unexpected may come up during the process

    • M&I - Nicole says

      No I wouldn’t recommend you pull out of interviews with the MMs unless you’re in final stages with another BB.

  37. James says

    Great site, been super hepful!

    I am currently an analyst at a real estate investment firm (not IB firm, been here a little over a year and first job out of college), and got offered a position at a boutique startup IB for analyst role. I will actually have to take a pretty steep pay cut, but is it worth it just to get my foot in the door? I went to top 10 undergrad b-school (think 8-10) and gpa of 3.0 so not sure if I should try and wait for higher paying offers. No prior IB experience. Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Is the IB firm name more credible than your RE investment firm name?
      2. Do you like the culture of the IB firm and the responsibilities you’ll have there (i.e. you’ll actually be doing real work)?
      3. Do you want to branch out of real estate? Is the IB firm somewhat credible?
      4. Do you like the people you will be working with at the IB firm and will you have a “mentor”/someone who can take you under his/her wings there?

      I think it is always easier to move earlier rather than later. You can wait for higher paying offers, though you may not want to wait too long. I’d suggest you to speak with other IBs to cast your net wide and have a comparison if you can afford to do so. Otherwise, I hope the questions above will help you clarify your decision. If you want to branch out of RE, and you like the culture and reputation of the firm, I may make the move now vs. later.

  38. ConfusedBanker says

    I don’t believe this article addresses the main question I have regarding lateral moves after the completion of a 2 year program. For instance, if the group I am currently in is more capital markets focused and I wanted to get into more of a modeling and advisory role to expand my skillset, wouldn’t it make sense to lateral to another firm if the seat opens up? The lateral seems more attractive rather then trying to deal with the politics of internal movement. Although the formal experience with corporate finance fundamentals and financial modeling is really what I’m after, I think I could also use the lateral to move up a tier of “prestige.”

    Brian, any thoughts on this logic? Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes if the seat opens up and you want to move then go for it. Yes dealing with internal politics isn’t for everyone and sometimes it is easier to move to another firm. However, for some it’s more straightforward to make a transition within the firm so it depends on the case

  39. StillConfusedBanker says

    What is your opinion of finishing my two-year program in capital markets and starting over as first year at a different firm within a top IBD group?

    Since I have been given a third-year offer, this would be a huge paycheck decrease and a huge lifestyle change. However, if I want to make a move to the buyside, could this be a good move? Or would firms look down on it?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes it may be a paycheck decrease and yes lifestyle change. Yes it can potentially be a good move though I would try to negotiate so you can be a third year instead of a first year. Firms may not necessarily look down at it but you’ll have to explain yourself properly.

  40. Kenny says

    Hi Brian,

    How do you go about networking on the job? I am the only analyst at a small boutique and would like to network with analysts at bigger firms and PE shops. I have gotten a couple business cards of people working at those places, but I am not sure how should I go about emailing them out of the blue and ask for a lunch/drink.


    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you can still email them and do that. The best way is to keep your messages short and sweet. Tell them you’re interested in transitioning and would like to catch up for coffee.

  41. Tommy14 says

    Hi M&I Team,

    Great article and website overall. I came a bit late to the party, I’m 30, studied in a few countries, got an IR masters from a prestigious university in Spain, then went to work in BD at a health IT consultancy/eHealth startup both in Spain and later in Central/Eastern Europe (fluent in several euro languages). Got a Senior Advisor role last year on the side at a small healthcare focused PERE shop. From there I decided to get into corporate finance and got an offer to be a Director/VP and source/execute my own deals at a regional boutique- €2-20mm range 10 people. Note** I have decent contacts at some other bigger I-banks.

    1. Can I make the move to at least a larger boutique/mid-market European shop?
    2. How do I do this?
    3. When is a reasonable time to do this (as in after I’ve worked there for x amount of time)?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Yes you can though you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re more competitive than others who have had experience at bulge brackets. If you have the ability to originate deals, this may work for you
      2. By demonstrating your deal knowledge and ability to source deals, more so than others who have had experience at bulge brackets
      3. Perhaps after a year. Anything shorter than that is likely to show that you aren’t too committed.

  42. Eddie29 says

    Hey guys – great site. I had a quick question regarding lateraling. After spending 1 year in audit in an accounting firm, I managed to lateral over to a middle-market investment bank (think Piper Jaffray). I have been working at that investment bank for 1 year now and am now interviewing at a number of bulge bracket banks.

    My long-term goal is to work in emerging markets private equity and it appears that the opportunities from a bulge bracket would provide a clearer path towards that goal (especially given the coverage sector that I am currently in).

    My main concern, however, is that the frequent job switches (potentially 3 jobs in just over 2 years) may have a significantly negative impact on future moves to PE. Just curious as to your thoughts about that and whether I should continue looking for opportunities at more prestigious banks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I think you can continuing looking for opportunities. If a great opportunity presents itself to you I wouldn’t worry about the frequent moves. Of course people may question why you’ve moved jobs in such a short period of time and it is not recommended, but I wouldn’t limit yourself. Make sure you’re able to explain your switch logically and convincingly

  43. Taylor says

    Hi there – I recently got a lateral offer for a bulge bracket (moving from Middle market). Issue is that they are holding me back and making me start as a mid-first year analyst (currently a second year at MM bank). Just wondering if it is worth it to negotiate this point?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Depends on how much you want the offer. You may not have much bargaining power if you’re from a middle market firm because the BB knows you want to join them. You can try to negotiate but until you have proven yourself it may not be worth negotiating

  44. David says

    Hi Thanks for the article. I will start working in HK BB from June, and I recently changed my mind and now want to come back and work in NY (less than in one year if I can). My initial thought was to ask for internal transfer few months into the job, but I am worried that this might put me in an awkward position with the HK team. If I apply to other banks in NY, how would the interviews go? Do I have to fly out to NY each time I am invited for final round? Is it even possible to fly that often as 1st year analyst? Also, I need H1B visa sponsorship to work in the US. This means that I need to get an offer before the April visa deadline, and won’t be able to start working until October, which is when people can start working with the new visa. Do banks wait for such long time (over 6 months) for lateral hires? How can I best approach this lateral hiring process? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you apply to NY, your team in HK may know about it, so you may want to weigh your options and gauge if this is something you’re willing to risk. It may start off as phone interviews first. You may have to fly down to NY at final stages of the interview. I am not 100% sure about the visa situation, though internal hires maybe easier and you may want to check with HR about that. I’d speak with the group in NY and see if there are any openings. If you’ve established connections and a reasonable amount of trust with your team in HK, I may disclose your intention and see if they can help you make the transition. This is a delicate situation and it is beyond the scope of this forum for me to give you the exact steps

  45. Chris says

    In your opinion, what is the best approach to making the move from a bulge bracket to a small boutique at the end of one’s 2 year analyst program, given that the industry I’ve covered is different from that focused on by the boutique?

    • says

      Learn enough about the industry in advance to sound intelligent, be able to pitch a stock in the industry, and know how the technical side differs; then, meet everyone at the small boutique and make sure they all like you and understand that your experience transfers over and you’ve taken pains to learn the industry on your own.

  46. JD says

    “It’s especially helpful if you’re trying to move to New York/London from elsewhere, or vice versa.” – great! Because there’s a girl i need to be with in NY haha :). I think I’ll need to try to make some good banking friends first though, to make all this a smoother process.


  47. Feeling Duped says

    Great Article. I had a question regarding a lateral hire within the investment management industry. I just started working at BlackRock from a target school with a good GPA (3.6). I got hired into a group that sounded interesting at first, but as the job has progressed its clear that it is very MO in nature and the exit opportunities are extremely limited within the firm (no chance at moving to PMG, for example). As BLK’s policy on internal mobility limits analysts to move before they have completed 2.5 years, do you think its out of the question to try and move to another investment management firm within the first 6mo – 1yr? If so, do you think other reputable AM’s like JPAM and GSAM would look at my application to join their new analyst training program next summer as a first year? Any info or opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I’d try to move to other banks given Blackrock’s conservative policies. I think there’s a chance that JPAM and GSAM will look at your application, and I think reaching out to these teams maybe a good idea.

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