When Is Too Long Too Long?

Have you been at a firm for too long? It is time to make a move and seek other opportunities?

As we begin to turn the final page of the calendar for the year, I have people asking me, “Should I make a move?” I know you have heard this question before, but today I want to focus on a different aspect of this. Typically, I will ask if the platform is meeting their needs, if the compensation is meeting their needs, and cover other basic questions that a good recruiter would ask. Today I want to take a look at this from a different perspective. I want to focus on the question: Have you been at a firm for too long?

Hitting The Glass Ceiling: A Trend That Needs To Be Discussed

You might be wondering why I would even ask this. As my loyal blog readers know, I like to watch trends.  This is a growing trend that has been occurring over the years that I have not addressed. But it is there. When is it time to move to a new firm simply because you have been at your current firm for too long? At first glance this may seem like a very simplistic question. However, when you ponder the question, you will see why this aspect should be discussed more. Five years ago I got a call from a senior banker at one of the bulge brackets. They used an expression I was not familiar with, “I hit the glass ceiling.” I did not really know exactly what they were referencing, so I played along. What that banker shared with me was that no matter how much they did revenue wise, how many new deals they brought in, or what they were going to do; they were not going to get ahead any further than they were.

Factors That May Make You Stay At A Firm For Too Long

As diversity has become a major issue over the last year, I have to look back and wonder if that was a part of hitting the glass ceiling. I certainly hope not. The glass ceiling is definitely there whether it is due to diversity or because the old regime does not want to move on.  Countless conversations have taken place over the years between me and incredible candidates. They would reach out after being promised that the senior banker or attorney is going to be retiring or moving on. Firms tend to use this like a carrot to keep senior people in place (and not have them look elsewhere). The question still stands now: How do you know if it is time for you to move on because you have been at a firm for too long?

Reasons You’ve Been At Your Firm For Too Long

The first thing that you have to ask yourself (again this may sound simplistic), “Are you being taken advantage of?” The following questions may help you determine this and if you’ve been at a firm for too long: Are bankers and/or attorneys, who have similar backgrounds and revenue numbers in your firm, being better taken care of than you are? Are promises that a firm made to you two or three years ago for you to take a hiatus in looking for new opportunities ever realized?  Do you feel as though your worth to the firm is what it was five years ago? What about three years ago? 

All these questions and more you must address. This will allow you to decide if you’ve been at a firm for too long. I often talk about the relatively new banker or bond counsel that has only been at one firm. Even though they’ve worked their way up to the vice president level or equivalent, they still seem to be treated as that junior analyst or associate who walked in the door. It is the same logic that we are applying here – instead, it is the partner or managing director.  

It’s Time To Move On & Make That Move

Are you being perceived as you were three to five years ago? Are you being compensated as you were three to five years ago (even though you continue to outpace your colleagues)? If any of this is hitting home, then it may be time to reevaluate your situation. You may be someone that has been at a firm for too long and should seek new opportunities. If by chance you are in a position of leadership in your firm, please take a good hard look at the people that have been there for you over the years. Maybe it’s time for you to reevaluate their worth to you and the firm or bank.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email me at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn

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 level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.