More Deals Mean More Jobs at Boutiques

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As deal activity continues to grow for alternative funding, so does the number of the new positions at boutique investment banking firms.

The growing marketplace for instruments like such as asset-backed securities or private investment in public equities is leading to job opportunities for independently minded financial executives.

Those intent on landing at a boutique investment firm must be comfortable with the responsibilities inherent at these smaller, more "hands-on" shops. "The type of person needed is someone who is highly flexible," says Jonathan Gilbert, an associate with Marlin & Associates, a New York-based boutique investment banking firm specializing in middle-market acquisitions and divestitures of technology, information and business services companies. "There are far more varying responsibilities at a boutique investment banking firm than at other larger firms, where someone might specialize in doing one thing very well."

Smaller boutiques offer more responsibility and risk at earlier stages, but also a greater chance to work more directly with experienced partners on all levels of the deal process. Pay, which can be termed generous to sizeable, depends entirely on deal flow, as the sector is bonus driven.

Getting your foot in the door can be a difficult, although having a top-notch resume and a career track in a related field can help. Says Gilbert: "Most of the people at boutique firms come from a traditional or larger investment bank, having worked as an analyst or in one of the associate training programs at a bulge bracket firm like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch or Lehman Brothers." Many hires had previously put in time on the equity research side of the business.

Newcomers with corporate finance knowledge, a finance or accounting degree and an investment banking internship are far more likely to find analyst positions in the boutique world. The firms' smaller chain of command also leads to faster advancement to associate and then partner. (Though students should note: An MBA from a well-known university is generally required for higher-level positions.)

Networking can also lead to opportunities that headhunters and finance job recruiters might miss. With alumni from some of the big name investment banking firms - including Lehman Brothers and Alex. Brown - jumping ship to form boutique investment vehicles, a good relationship with higher-ups might just translate into a job offer in the future.