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Advice For Women On The Buyside

Advice for Women on the Buyside

Why are there so few women in finance, particularly on the buyside? While that question may seem overused these days, it’s still true that a very small percentage of senior people in finance are women. If I had to speculate, I would imagine that women end up dropping out due to a variety of reasons: it can feel isolating as you move up, women may not feel like their superiors or firms support them, or they may not feel fulfilled in other aspects of life. Whatever the case may be, here are a few tips to make your experience as a woman in finance, and particularly the buyside, a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.

  • Build a peer group
    • In my sophomore year of college, I was lucky in that I found my first peer group early on. I was part of a program called Girls Who Invest (GWI), which was an all-expense paid summer program where I took finance and business classes for a month at Wharton and was matched with an internship in asset management for the rest of the summer. As a recent finance major, the classes put me on a level playing field with my male and female counterparts, with whom I would be doing my internship. Not to mention, interning at an endowment as an incoming junior set me up for success in banking recruiting for the following summer. Without that banking internship, it would have been a lot harder to land a buyside role. Many of the women I met that summer are now in various jobs on the buyside at top firms, and that network has been and will continue to be invaluable.
    • I was one of the fortunate ~100 young women accepted into the program that year, but not everyone has this opportunity. If you’ve met women from your high school, college, summer camps, house parties, etc., keep in touch with them! Building a peer group is not something that happens overnight. Even with my GWI colleagues, maintaining those relationships over the years requires effort. Your peer group doesn’t have to be women of the same age either, and sometimes it’s helpful to have women who have more professional and life experience than you in your corner.
  • Find a mentor(s)
    • Finding a mentor can come in various forms. It can be anyone from someone you work with currently, an old coworker, a college professor, or a family friend, to name a few examples. As you move up in your role, having mentors who have gone through a similar path or can offer you advice is extremely useful. Your mentors don’t necessarily have to be female, either. I find that as a woman, having a mix of male and female mentors gives me a diverse set of perspectives to draw from. Working on the buyside can come with politics associated with promotions and the general work environment, and mentors can help guide you to the best course of action if you face difficult situations.
  • Join a firm where people are committed to your success
    • On the buyside, firms, and groups are smaller than in other areas of finance. Therefore, it is very important to pick a firm where people are committed to your success. This means that your superiors care about your learning on the job and care that you enjoy the work you do together. It seems easy, but junior women at a lot of shops struggle with the fact that superiors may not treat them equally to their male counterparts and may not be as invested in their success. In the interview process, ask questions to get a sense of the culture at the firm you’re looking to join. If it seems like a place where juniors and diversity, in general, aren’t prioritized, it may not be the best place for you to grow your career.
  • Develop your own hobbies outside of work
    • This one isn’t specific to women, but I’ve heard that some of my peers on the buyside feel isolated from their male colleagues who enjoy doing things like playing golf or going out for beers after work. There’s nothing wrong with joining them, especially if you also enjoy those activities (I know I do). What I want to emphasize is that if you have hobbies that you really enjoy outside of work (mine include fun classes at the gym, embroidery, and baking), you may not feel as pressured to like certain activities that are typical of old-school finance. This also helps you prevent burnout as you move up in your career.
  • Give back
    • Support other women looking to follow in your footsteps! Whether that’s through your college, outside organizations, or former coworkers looking to work on the buyside, you have a lot to offer younger women looking to do what you did. Your knowledge and experience can really change someone’s life.


The coach who wrote this has investment banking and infrastructure private equity experience. You can request a call with her from our top coaches’ page.

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