by Brian DeChesare Comments (30)

Weekly Reader Q&A: Elite Boutiques, Moving To The Buyside Early And How To Dress For Success As A Summer Intern

Another crazy week at work (pending deals and, you, know, everyone getting laid off and leaving me with all their work to finish) and another weekly reader Q&A while I find time to write more 3,000 word articles

Elite Boutiques

“I had multiple full-time bulge bracket offers but instead opted to go to a recently founded “elite” boutique with a very well-known founder. I thought the experience, exposure and overall environment would be much better.

I had assumed that my exit opportunities would be at least as good as those of most bulge bracket analysts, given the prestige and selectivity of this firm. However, after reading about how well-recruited bulge bracket analysts are, I found myself wondering whether this will work out as I had initially thought.

Moelis hasn’t even graduated its first analyst class yet, and some of the other newly founded boutiques have only had a few years of analysts in their ranks. Given the very “young” status of my firm, will my access to recruiters, private equity firms and hedge funds be as good as I had initially thought?”

First, I should clarify one point here: back when I wrote my article on boutiques vs. bulge brackets, I was referring to regional boutiques and small firms that are not widely known.

Places like Lazard and Evercore, though technically “boutiques,” are a completely different ball game and you would get nearly the same access to recruiters there as you would at bulge brackets.

As for your own situation, it’s hard to say since your firm is new and doesn’t have a track record. I would guess that your recruiter access will probably be better than it would be at a middle-market or regional boutique, but not as good as what you would get at a bulge bracket or “prestigious” boutique.

If I were in your situation I would not even rely on recruiters. Since the firm is smaller and the founders are widely known, I would leverage their connections and have them make personal introductions. That will be a much more powerful way to get private equity interviews and get in front of other buyside firms.

Moving To The Buyside Early

“One thing you haven’t talked about in detail on the site is moving to private equity or hedge funds early. You mention briefly that you can/should move to buyside after a year if you know that this is where you want to be, but you don’t say how to go about it, if it is realistic, and what downsides there are. Is it worth applying to large-cap private equity firm after a year on the job or do you just not have a chance?”

While it’s possible to move to a large private equity firm after a year in banking, it’s not exactly easy, especially with current market conditions. I had a few friends who did this; the main downside is that you won’t work less at these places (you might actually work more, believe it or not).

If you like private equity more than investment banking, that’s one thing, but you shouldn’t jump over to private equity after a year-long analyst stint because you want better hours – you won’t get them.

If your goal is to work in finance while working less, it’s more rational to go to a hedge fund after a year. It’s also much easier to make this sort of transition, as hedge funds tend to be less structured in recruiting; as an added benefit, you also work a lot less since you’re only there when the markets are open.

“Reputation damage,” or looking bad because you leave a year early, is much less of a concern than you probably think. People hop around so much on Wall Street and turnover is so high that no one is going to care much if you do this.

You probably can’t get a recommendation or reference from your bank if you leave early, but this type of move is not going to ruin your career or anything.

How To Dress For Success As A Summer Intern

“Help! I have a bulge bracket internship coming up and I don’t know what to wear! How many suits should I buy? Is 10 enough?! Should I buy 20?

Is spending $10,000 on clothes enough or should I allot $20,000? How many shoes/pants/shirts do I need?”

Summer intern attire seems to be a hot topic (in that I’ve received multiple emails/messages similar to the above over the past week), so before the summer starts I will write a full-length post on this topic.

For now, though, let’s get the basics out of the way.

DO NOT SPEND $10,000 ON CLOTHES FOR A SUMMER INTERNSHIP.

You shouldn’t even spend that much on clothes for a full-time job unless it’s absolutely required.

You don’t need 10 suits, let alone 20. In my experience you don’t even need to wear a suit at most banks, at least as an intern.

Even if you do need to wear a suit each day, 2 or 3 is probably enough. And if you don’t need to wear suits every day, 1 will suffice.

I would suggest enough shirts to last 1-2 weeks and maybe a few pairs of pants. 2-3 pairs of shoes is probably fine. Keep in mind that 1) you will not have a ton of time for laundry/dry cleaning and 2) you don’t actually need a new suit/new pants /new shoes for each day of the week.

I know some people may disagree with me, but I would recommend going to outlets (there are a bunch in the NYC area) or buying clothes on sale to save money – do not spend hundreds of dollars on a single shirt, or even $100 on a single shirt.

Why?

  1. Fashion matters less in banking than most people think. Yes, you have to look presentable, but you don’t need to go out and buy a $5,000 suit to get a full-time offer. In fact people might make fun of you for doing this.
  2. This is just a summer internship and you don’t even know whether you want to be a full-time banker yet. Why spend $10,000 on clothes that you don’t end up wearing ever again?

I can offer these suggestions because I’ve overspent on clothes for both internships and my full-time job and looking back on it now, wish I hadn’t spent so much.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. What do you think about Blackstone’s M&A Division? Know someone who turned down Morgan Stanley and JPM IBD for Blackstone M&A. I thought Blackstone was mainly know for private equity?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      While Blackstone is known for PE, it’s M&A division is solid too. I’d imagine it may be easier to jump from Blackstone’s M&A to its PE (down the road). Blackstone is known to be an “elite” firm in finance (more so than a BB I think), and it can be very challenging to break into the firm, even as an IB analyst from a top firm so I can understand why your contact made such a decision.

  2. Have you heard about Violy and Company? What’s your opinion about the role that company plays in NY or in the US market? Is it a boutique, a regional firm, same level as Lazard-Evercore…? Great blog guys, thanks!

  3. I’m quite confused. I want to be someone who trades for clients. Clients throw money in a pile, i trade it. What would my title be and what division should i pursue? I don’t mean like a PM that makes all the decisions but like after an MBA or something.
    TYIA

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you invest your client’s money, you’d be a fund manager, be it a HF/LF manager. You can also look at private wealth management. As an investment professional for PWM, you’ll be making investment decisions for your clients

  4. Would it be appropriate/necessary to wear cufflink to fulltime interview in HK/SH/Toronto?

    Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Don’t think its necessary. If you do, make sure they aren’t too flashy

  5. I received the opportunity to be a junior analyst at a 30M equity value oriented fund (which has been around for 8 years, and has grown from 5 million. Only me and the PM (and a general operations person.) The PM said he will “train me” a bit, but expects me to pick up a lot on my own based on watching/listening to him on calls etc. Salary is what i’m making now at big4.

    I am 2 years out of a non-target school, big 4 valuation background (CPA). I am taking CFA Lvl 1 in December.

    I would ultimately like to be successful within the HF industry, would only use I-Banking to get to HF, only use ER to get to HF etc. I’ve been receiving a few solid interviews within research/banking at relatively brand name places, but no offers yet.

    People within hedge funds have been telling me that if I make this switch and the fund fails in 2 years, no one will care about my experience at the small 30M fund, and I won’t be able to get another job in Finance.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Maybe, but if you don’t make the switch that will hurt you even more so I would do it

  6. I am starting at a long-term investment focused HF. What kinds of exit opportunities are available to me? Would going for the MBA open up new ones? How long does it take to reach partner after the MBA?

    After reading your site I am thinking VC (after operations internship pre/during MBA), IB Associate, (maybe PE?), or acquisitions for industry. However, I have no background in finance and would appreciate your feedback on whether I’m on the right track.

    1. You would normally stay at the HF or move to another, similar HF. Moving back to VC/IB/PE is difficult because you become more and more specialized the longer you stay in finance. Getting an MBA would be your best option for a career change. Time required to reach Partner is 100% dependent on your performance – make a lot of money and you will move up quickly. If you don’t, you will get fired quickly.

      1. Thanks–know any good blogs to learn about succeeding at a HF? Or even just long term investments?

        1. Not really as I don’t read other finance sites – your best bet is to ask on WallStreetOasis and see if anyone there has recommendations.

  7. Hi! Another quiz here;

    Im from an unknown state uni with experience from sales now in a national investment bank, private banking with the proposition to entering Emerging markets… however, I did also get a proposition from a small investment firm for a buy side analyst work… and I wonder if you perhaps could help me with this dilemma?

    What would be more helpful if Im planning to become a Hedge fund manager for the future?

    Thank you so much as I dont have any body else who could give me any relevant advice.

    Yours Sincerely
    S.

    1. I would go with the small investment firm because that’s much closer to what HFs do

  8. Isn’t the work at hedge funds more S&T based? Would someone coming from S&T be better suited for interviews and the job itself, or does I-Banking prepare you just as well?

    1. Sometimes HFs are more S&T-based, but others are more about long-term investing. Bankers usually go to merger arbitrage / long-term investing type funds rather than short-term trading ones, but you can do either.

  9. Dawoody

    I know you mentioned elite boutiques like Lazard or Evercore. I was wondering what other banks you would include in this, I am sure there can only be a handful (Greenhill, Rothschild,……..). Which other boutiques would include out of curiousity as elite? (a.k.a. Will give you similar exit opportunities like BB)

    1. I’d say the main 3 are Lazard, Evercore and Greenhill. Rothschild is great at some things (e.g. restructuring) but doesn’t quite have the same reputation as the other 3. Another one might be Perella Weinberg. And 2 new ones – Moelis & Co. and Qatalyst Partners – may have great reputations one day as well.

      1. Dawoody

        Yeah I would agree also that Lazard, Evercore and Greenhill are the three main ones in the US. Only reason I mention Rothschild is that I always see them in or near/in the top 10 in the league tables for M&A Globally. In addition, they always seem to do very well in European M&A (#1/#2 in the UK, France, Germany, Italy). So I guess if you were working for Rothschild in London that would open more opportunities for you than their New York office would you say? Or is it all the same really?

        1. I think the difference would be that Rothschild would open more opportunities for you in Europe vs. the others which might be better for US opps.

          So less about the office where you work vs. where you want to go next.

      2. What are your thoughts on Qatalyst? I have an offer there and I’m trying to decide whether to accept or not.

        1. I honestly know almost nothing about them, but if it’s Qatalyst vs. nothing or nothing in banking, I would go with Qatalyst.

          1. Brian,

            I know that they do not compared to any of the BB or the boutiques you mentioned, but what do you think about banks like Houlihan, William Blair, Jefferies, Piper Jaffray, Harris Williams, and maybe Imperial Capital? Or Duff & Phelps.. My questions more about the exit opportunities.. Plus what are the chances of getting into these firms with a background in business valuations and transaction advisory services plus an MBA from a not so much of a target yet a decent school?

  10. I worked at a small i bank in Houston after b school by the name of Underwood Neuhaus almost thirty years ago and the hours were basically nine to five. The bonuses were as small as the hours. The whole corp fin dept basically collapsed along with the oil market when I was there. Don’t think I liked it well enough to work until 2 am anyway.

    1. yo: Yeah, some things never change. Anything with 9 to 5 hours usually pays like a 9 to 5 job. :) Small boutiques in particular are extremely susceptible to collapse since they are not diversified.

  11. wallstreetguy25

    the hf–>less hours idea is somewhat of a misconception; in general, i would say it is true, but at some of the larger funds, you could be working just as much as in banking; i know ppl at perry capital, for instance, who say their hours are worse. same with someone i know at tiger.

    just make sure you know what you’re getting into beforehand, given your particular situation

    1. Very good point, there are indeed some hedge funds that work as hard as bankers.

      Still, for the most part HFs do require fewer hours on the whole compared to banking since most of what you do is tied to the market rather than clients.

      And yes, you should always know what you’re getting into beforehand – this is a mistake people often make.

  12. Kevin Hsu

    I read your post on WallStreet Oasis about Yerba mate. Where do you get your Yerba mate?

    1. Kevin, I normally buy it at Trader Joe’s – it’s not as strong as the “real stuff” (aka leaf variety that you can import from South America) but it’s also more widely available. If you are interested in the “real” (and VERY strong) stuff, you can buy/import it here: http://www.amigofoods.com/crdemapr.html

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