"You're better off working in M&A in an emerging market"
If you're an analyst working in IBD, you might think you should be based in London or New York City. You'd be wrong. The best place to work in M&A is an emerging market.
I work in Mexico and I have a better life and a more interesting job than I could ever achieve at my level in one of the major global financial centres.
In a local market, it's much easier to stand out than in New York or London. I've seen analysts and associates rise to the top very quickly here - there's less competition and you can get better exposure sooner in your career. I have a good work life balance - my hours are much lighter and there's not an expectation among my colleagues that we'll work a lot of evenings and weekends. - The teams here are smaller and we're more collegiate than competitive.
I also earn a similar base salary to my colleagues in New York (although, yes, my bonus is smaller) - and my cost is living is far lower. If you choose your employer carefully here you can also get paid in dollars, and your money will go even further
There's the issue of stability. There is always a very real possibility that a regional office may shut down. Take Deutsche Bank’s retreat in Mexico, announced October 2015, for example. As a result, the best bet in an emerging market is often to work for a local firm. In Mexico, BBVA Bancomer and Banamex (the latter a fully owned subsidiary of Citigroup) ranked 4th and 3rd respectively in deal value 2015 YTD. In Brazil, 4 out of Top 10 advisors by deal value in 2015YTD were local banks, according to Mergermarket.
Or course, there are more downsides. Wall Street and London offer huge networking opportunities, which will be better for your career in the long term. It can also be harder to find exit opportunities in an emerging market - there are fewer private equity funds here, and the funds that are here often perform their deal analyses in London and New York. - You might work less hard in an emerging market, but your options for progression will also be more limited.
Juan Gualtierrez is the pseudonym of an analyst working for a local bank in Mexico