How Much The Mentor Relationship Matters For Your Future

Your mentor relationship is key to furthering your career with more opportunities.

In a continuance with the theme of the junior banker/associate counsel, let us now examine what they should be looking for in their next opportunity. As we all know, most people will say immediately that more compensation is what they are looking for in their next opportunity; however, I do not believe compensation at any level should be the driving force. This is especially true at the level of the junior banker/associate attorney, who has only been in the business less than five years. For that particular individual, in my humble opinion, the most important thing is choosing the right person and mentor relationship to work with – not necessarily the right firm.

The Importance Of An Employee

It is rare that I get hired to represent an individual rather than a firm. Though recently I did exactly that. I was asked to represent a specific individual that was looking for an associate type of banker/financial advisor. I was somewhat perplexed when I realized I was just hiring an employee for one individual. When I thought more about it, this revelation came across me: why should we not be working directly with individuals that want a teammate, and not necessarily another employee for the company as a whole? This individual was explicit as to what he was looking for and was willing to wait for that right individual to come along. It made me think that the role of the mentor relationship is extremely important for these junior bankers/associate attorneys.

A Win-Win Scenario With Your Mentor Relationship

Finding a mentor is never easy. Before you can find one, you must know exactly what you are looking for. Why? Because most people that want to be a mentor are looking for a bilateral relationship. You need to be able to establish clearly in your mind, then vocalize what you are exactly looking for in the mentor relationships. It must be a give and take. If you could convey to your mentor what you are willing to do to help him or her while they continue to educate you in this business, this will yield a true win-win scenario. The mentor that you select is going to be a guiding light for you on your career path. Most individuals that establish a mentor relationship will follow that individual wherever their career path may take them, only leaving the mentor when one or the other does not believe the relationship has anything more to produce. Therefore, it becomes extremely important that when an opportunity is presented to you to think more of the person that you are going to be working with on a day-to-day basis than the business card that you are going to be presenting to a potential client.

Opportunities Flow More From The Mentor Relationship Than The Firm Itself

Understanding the above is going to make you more aware of opportunities because you will now be looking more for an individual rather than a business card. Mentors come at all size firms. What I have found from my years of experience is that the smaller firms, non-bulge bracket tend to offer a much more conducive training environment in the field of public finance. Managing directors at the regional firms are much more open to building these mentor relationships. The head of capital markets at the smaller firms will give you more one on one attention than you would receive at a bulge bracket firm. Your immediate managing director again will be closer to you as there will be less people fighting for their attention. Thus, more opportunities will be presented to you. In addition, there will be more immediate client management relationships as well as building a ladder to upper management in your selected firm.  I cannot stress the importance of looking past the business card and finding the right mentor relationship at whatever firm he or she may be at.


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. Starting next week, 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 Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.