Should I get a job at a big investment firm after college – or is a smaller one better?

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In this blog I provide a quick take on whether or not it makes sense to try to get a job at a big investment firm after you graduate from college, or if it’s better to work at a smaller firm.

Working at a big investment firm – what to consider

There are certain advantages to working at a big firm right after college.


It will probably provide you with a more reputable name on your resume, and that’s a great asset in terms of providing credibility right away. Smaller firms generally don’t seem as reputable – it’s a bias in our thinking, but it’s how the world works.


The other thing is that there may be more training resources. I remember I used to get free training on technology and many other aspects of financial services because I worked for JPMorgan right out of school. It was great; I was so voracious for knowledge at that point in my career, and they were very forthcoming with it.


Also, big firms do tend to have more opportunity in terms of networking in-house. There was a huge cafeteria and I used to eat lunch frequently with people that I met from other areas of the bank. It’s not to say that working at a small investment firm would preclude you from doing that, but there may not be as many people to meet that easily. You’d have to make a conscious effort to meet people at conference and through venues outside of the job.

Role structure

It varies, but many times the bigger firms have more structure to the role. It’s great, when you are right out of college, to be given a set of responsibilities that you can learn and master, and then move on to the next skill. At a smaller firm, your role may not be as well-defined, and it may make it harder to learn in a systematic way. As you get older, you may appreciate the freedom that a more fluid job role provides, but when you are looking to acquire skills, a more formulaic and rigid role may be better.

A small firm allows you to jump in with both feet and get exposure to a wide range of responsibilities. You can probably get a better vision of the overall business and you probably will be closer to client contact at a smaller firm. You also may have more training directly from upper management as smaller firms tend to be not as bureaucratic and hierarchical.

There you go – was that helpful?

Are you looking for a portfolio management or equity research job?

I have been a CFA® charterholder for a while and I have several resources that can help people who want to crack into portfolio management or equity research or who have done so and have questions.


If you want my help on a one-on-one basis, let’s set up some time for a consultation!


If you haven’t read the Interview Kit yet, check it out below. I’m also available for consulting on a hourly basis if you need additional support.

You could also sign up for my equity research newsletter.

Equity research interview kit book cover


It’s not a long e-book, but there’s alot you can learn and it’s based on my real experiences back when I worked in equity analysis at Lehman etc..

This kit will teach you:

  • What to do before the interview – what information to gather, what research you should be doing, and what speaking points to prepare
  • How to rebut back when you get stuck in an interview
  • Why the people matter and how to increase your chances of success with the decision makers
  • How to display maximum value as a candidate by how you respond to their questions
  • What your social media should look like while you are interviewing
  • How to ask the right questions during an interview
  • What to do if the interview doesn’t go the way you want it to
  • How to open an interview correctly
  • Interview closing techniques – how to get control and operate from a position of strength throughout the interview and especially at the end when it counts
  • What to do after the interview to increase your chances of success


Thanks for reading!


Any questions? Send 'em in!