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Top Management Roles Stressful? Study Says No.

September 27, 2012

Photo Courtesy: gcoldironjr2003

In a surprising new study from Harvard it seems those folks in upper management aren’t as stressed out as you’d think.

Compared with people of the same age and gender who were at lower career levels, the “leaders” in the study declared themselves less stressed and anxious. And it wasn’t just what they were saying their bodies proved it too — their levels of cortisol (the hormone that circulates when we are super stressed) was in line with what they were reporting.

The study did report that the source of the leaders’ chilled-out demeanor was simply control. The upper management had control of their schedules and financial security. Think about it: top management has the option to come in late or leave a bit early with no questions asked…but the admin assistant would probably get written up for the same behavior. We also think another reason could be the hefty paycheck that comes with being in upper management. When you have the options to hire help in your personal life (chef, household cleaning and pesky assistant work covered) suddenly you’re a lot less stressed.

“Leaders possess a particular psychological resource — a sense of control — that may buffer against stress,” the research team reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Apparently our primate relatives have also shown similar results in studies. According to the LA Times:

“Baboons and monkeys who rise to positions of power in their social groups show lower levels of anxiety and stress, so long as their status is not under constant challenge. A recent study of female macaque monkeys demonstrated that rising and falling through the social ranks not only dialed their stress up and down, it turned genes on and off in ways that can powerfully influence health.”

The study is clear — having a sense of control protects against stress. So if you can’t (immediately) rise the corporate ladder try creating control in other parts of your life—budgets and planning help — but so does creating a career trajectory for yourself. Write out career goals for 3 months, 6 months and 1 year and constantly touch base on those goals.

Inside Scoop

Sell-Side Basics

February 4, 2010

Sloan Klein has her own career coaching firm in the Bay Area that specializes in finance.

The “Sell Side” is a term used in the financial services industry to refer to any firm that sells investment or banking services and products to an asset management firm, pension fund, insurance company or corporate entity (known as the buy side).

These services include: Capital Markets which is a)the buying and selling of stocks and bonds (known as broking/dealing or sales and trading), b)the structuring and selling of products consisting of underlying assets and c) investment research; Investment banking which encompasses corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions, commercial banking and advisory functions.

Entry level jobs vary widely. It depends on what you ultimately want to be.:

To get into Capital Markets, these are entry level options:

Sales and Trading Assistant: $40k-60k

Sales Assistant: $40k-60k

Research Assistant: $40k-60k

To get into Investment Banking these are the entry level options:

M&A Analyst or Junior Analyst: $45-65k

Corporate Finance Analys or Junior Analyst: $45k-65k

To get into Commercial Banking these are the entry level options:

Credit Analyst or Junior Credit Analyst: $40k-55k


In capital markets the workday hours are pegged to the markets and the geography. You typically get in an hour before your market opens and leave an hour after it closes. In investment banking the hours are long, long, long. Think all nighters. In commercial banking the hours are long but all nighters are rare.

Inside Scoop

Buy-Side Basics

February 4, 2010
Sloan Klein has her own career coaching firm in the Bay Area that specializes in Finance

Sloan Klein has her own career coaching firm in the Bay Area that specializes in finance.

The “Buy Side” is a term used to describe any firm in finance that is focused on buying rather than selling securities or assets.  These include: Institutional asset managers, mutual funds, hedge funds, hedge fund-of-funds, insurance companies, proprietary trading desks, private equity firms, venture capital firms, private equity fund-of-funds, corporate and public plan sponsors, Taft Hartley (Union) pension plans, endowments, foundations and family offices.

Entry level jobs vary widely. It depends on what you ultimately want to be.

If you want to be an investor, you typically start as an analyst.

Entry level comp: $40k-60k, bonus: $10k-$40k

If you want to be a trader, you start as a trading assistant.

Entry level comp: $35-$55k, bonus:  $10k-$30k

If you want to be in sales, you start as a sales assistant or analyst.

Entry level comp: $35k-55k, bonus: $10k-$20k


Your workday is long!  You must be in before the markets open and leave well after they are closed. There is often frequent travel. This is not a balance of life career path but if you stick with it and are smart you can make a lot of money and work with really smart people.


An MBA from a top school or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification are strongly recommended. People typically work in an entry level role for two-three years and then go back to school.

* Bonuses depend on individual performance and firm performance and may be given in the form of options (if at a firm that has such a currency, NA for hedge funds or Private Equity/Venture firms).