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My warning to anyone planning to quit banking for corporate development

leave banking for corp dev

If you work in a junior job in IBD, you have my sympathies. I did it – I know what it can be like – with the hours and the exhaustion. I guess you, like me, probably want to leave. But I’d like to warn you about taking my route out – corporate development (corp dev) is not a great alternative.

I’ve worked in the corporate development team of a major blue chip company for around two years. Sure, the hours are better than banking, but there are also some major downsides.

Firstly, there’s a massive age gap between the juniors on my team and everyone else. There are a few people here like me – in our twenties with a couple of years’ banking experience behind us – and then there are a load of senior people in their 40s. The senior people have been here for years (like decades), and there’s no one in between.

This is a big difference to banking, where you can see the hierarchy from analyst to MD ahead of you and you therefore have an idea where your career is going next. Here, I have no idea at all – it seems like they just hire juniors like me to do valuation work and to prepare the ground for executing deals. Because of this I don’t know where my career is going next, which is kind of a worry. I hear it’s easier to progress in bigger corp dev teams, so maybe the firm I’ve joined is too small – this is something you might want to think about if you’re making a similar move.

Secondly, it’s a lot more formal in corp dev. Again, this might be something that’s specific to the company I work for, but banking was fun. There were a lot of us in the analyst class and we got to hang out and play the occasional joke on each other. Here, it’s not fun. Everything is deadly serious and if you’re in your 20s you behave like you’re 55 just to fit in.

Do I miss leaving banking? Yes. Would I go back? Maybe. I’m not even sure that I could though: the dealflow here is pretty minimal and I’m not really moving any further up the value chain. I risk rotting as a perpetual analyst. If I want to get back into banking, I may have to do an MBA – which would make this a very expensive mistake indeed.

Sam Jones is the pseudonym of a former banking analyst who now works for a FTSE listed company in London. 

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