Flush capital markets are boosting M&A activity and corporate expansion and, with Chicago at the center of mid-market deals, there's high demand for talent in the Windy City.
Investment banking opportunities in Chicago are growing markedly for analysts, associates and vice presidents, primarily in small and mid-size firms. "Capital markets are at an all-time high, Chicago is the hub of mid-market transactions and this sector is fast-growing," says Robert Brown, managing director and partner at investment firm Lincoln International.
Lincoln's Chicago headquarters will grow from 55 to more than 70 people this year, with jobs at associate and vice president levels. Associates can expect to earn $200,000 to $250,000, and vice presidents $300,000 to $500,000. Demand will last a year, Brown expects. Beyond that, he's unwilling to predict.
Consolidation of large firms - such as JPMorgan Chase buying Bank One - and movement of jobs to New York has reduced opportunity at such in Chicago, reports Chadrin Dean, director of Integrated Management Resources, a recruitment firm. However, hiring continues at smaller firms. Stout, Risius Ross Advisors, for example, will add one or two analysts and one or two associates. "Chicago and the 'Greater Midwest' have extremely strong economies. There's a huge opportunity to serve businesses at $250 million and below,' says Managing Director Terry G. Bressler.
To work with companies at that level, you need to be psychologically astute. "Business issues are the same, but you're dealing with families. We're looking for people who are flexible," says Bressler, adding that a smaller firm enables you to get involved with entire projects and not get pigeon-holed.
Ziegler Capital Markets Group, is adding at least four people to its 16-person Chicago staff - three VPs and up to three analysts. "A passion for the businesses we're in (healthcare, senior living, churches and schools)" and good communication skills are keys to advancement there, says Senior Managing Director of Human Resources Leslie Lynch.
Triton Capital Partners also will hire an analyst by the end of the year, as it has for the last two years, notes Jeff Connell, an associate at the firm. "An improved U.S. economy has spurred more start-ups that need capital and bankers to advise them," he explains. As hedge funds move into equity funding they, too, will need experienced analysts, he foresees.
Starting salaries for analysts in Chicago range up to $85,000, Connell says, with bonus income of 20 percent to 100 percent on top of that, depending on the individual firm's success.
Connell's career reflects a pattern of advancement. Two years as an analyst, one as senior analyst, then associate positions him for VP within five years and Director or Partner within another five years.