Competing Offers 101: Bulge Bracket Vs. Regional Firm

The prospective new hire must consider which direction they prefer: bulge bracket vs regional based firm.

I want to address how you choose between two competing offers for public finance bankers.  Similar questions can be raised by our bond counsel candidates as well.  For example, the differences between a bulge bracket type firm or a regional based firm.  In a candidate driven market, which does exist today, candidates are getting numerous offers and opportunities from most recruiters.  This does not happen to us as our candidate philosophy has not changed.  We will not deliver an offer unless we know it will get accepted.  However, we are being asked by others to address this important issue for the prospective new hire.

The Importance Of Your Direct Report As A Prospective New Hire

Let’s investigate the areas that a prospective new hire needs to contemplate before a final decision is made. I believe the most important question that needs to be asked is, “Will I be in a better situation than I am currently in, and which company do I see as having a better future?”  An area that needs to be delved into is first and foremost your direct report.  So, let’s start there.  Is your proposed direct report going to support you in everything that you need to be even more successful than you are currently?  Are they going to have your back?  Do you feel comfortable talking about anything with them, both business as well as personal?  Can you see yourself having a social evening with your direct report?  The more you can see your relationship extending to much more than just business colleagues, the greater the likelihood that this is the right person to help you get where you want to get to.

Finding The Firm Culture For You

After we have looked at your direct report, we explore the culture of the firm for the prospective new hire.  Is the firm a “stodgy” old line investment banking firm or is it an entrepreneurial firm where you will have greater communication with the powers to be?  You must decide what environment will be best for you.  Are you an individual that wants to have direct communication with senior members of the firm, or are you an individual who wants someone else to be in control of your future?  Do you want to fit into a mold with a slow but direct path to a senior position in a firm which will take years, but the path is clear?  You stay long enough, and you will move up the ladder.  Or do you want a firm where the future is literally created by you, with no direct path other than as you succeed you will have more opportunities afforded to you?  In the end, you must ask yourself, “Do you want formal training or are you an individual that does best with on-the-job training as the need arises?” 

Does Reputation And Name Matter To You As A Prospective New Hire?

The next area to examine for the prospective new hire:  Are you looking for a well-known firm or are you comfortable with representing a firm with a lesser-known name?   In the first example, business will be given to you because of the business card you are sharing.  In the second, all opportunities are created because of you and your ability to gain new business opportunities.  They are hiring you because of your ideas, not because of the firm you are currently working with.  Along the same issue, is your business or proposed business going to be better served with a firm that does much larger transactions or are you looking to work with the smaller issuers, where there may be less competition for a deal?

The Final Area To Consider

Another area that you as a prospective new hire should evaluate is the ability to make the most future income.  Notice that the financial area is the last one I have asked you to address.  In the bulge bracket firms salaries will be larger but bonuses are going to be lower. Sometimes they may be formulaic, but most of the time they are “black box oriented”, discretionary.  In the smaller firms, salaries will be usually lower, but bonus opportunities will be much greater.  As you continue to grow in your new opportunity you will be making more money under a formulaic approach rather than a discretionary formula.  But you must decide if salary or bonus opportunities are more important.  Again, you know yourself better and these are the questions to ask in the order that I suggested.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting”.

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.