Pages

  • Sharebar

Hi everyone,

I'm a longtime lurker of this forum but I've never posted before. The information I got here over the past couple of years was hugely helpful when I was in school and looking for my job in banking, and still useful today. I wanted to give back by providing an opportunity for people who may be in the position I was in a couple of years ago to ask questions and get straightforward, frank answers.

Quick background on me:

1. Second year top-bucket analyst in a top coverage group of a BB investment bank
2. Target school background, consulting at a small place before banking, econ major with fairly poor grades (under 3.5)
3. I got into banking due to sheer persistence and networking

I'm able and willing to answer any questions about recruiting, coming in as a lateral, life as a banking analyst and pay/exits. I have a good view into recruiting on-campus as well as I did this and got a few offers back in the day (not where I'm currently at). If you have specific questions about consulting vs. banking, making the jump from consulting to banking or otherwise "breaking in" I could really help. Let me know, I'm happy to help out a community that helped me so much.

Thanks!

6

The WSO Advantage - Investment Banking

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation + Learn More.

IB Interview Prep Pack

30,000+ sold & REAL questions Learn More.

Resume Help from Actual IB Pros

Land More IB Interviews. Learn More.

Find Your Perfect IB Mentor

Realistic IB Mock Interviews. Learn More.

Comments (61)

  • kidflash's picture

    can you tell us about your background?

  • traveler818's picture

    what are some things we should do and shouldnt do when networking?

    Is cold calling obnoxious or recommended?

  • antd1214's picture

    Hi, I'm not exactly in the same position you were in, but I was hoping you could provide some guidance. I have my accounting degree from a small college and passed the level 1 CFA exam in June. I've been working in insurance while looking for a job as an analyst but so far have been unsuccessful. I didn't expect passing level 1 to instantaneously get me a job, but I was hoping it would help. What is your opinion of my situation and is there any advice you can give me?

    Thanks.

  • reformed's picture
  • LifestyleBanker's picture

    Sorry I've been away for a few days. The holidays meant tons of last-minute work followed up by traveling this year.

    1. Background: second-year analyst from a target school. I did some other stuff for a year before banking, PM me for details. Econ major with fairly poor grades (3.0-3.5), which mattered less due to my experience.

    2. Networking: there's tons of good advice about this out there, most of which is good. People don't expect you to be totally smooth or natural when you network - they know you're networking, with the goal of getting your foot in, so demonstrating effort and diligence and coming off as sincere and dedicated is a good bet.

    In my experience, cold-calling can help you as long as you're not totally terrible at it. Two examples. 1) A guy came with a reference from an ex-analyst who was pretty good. He had bad grades but you could tell he really wanted the job. He had the inside track among most of the analysts until one weekend where he made a bunch of really pathetic, transparently brown-nosing calls to various analysts at my desk just to "talk". Opinion turned on him, he had a harsh interview and no offer. 2) I met a guy at a recruiting event, took his resume and forgot about him. He sent me a follow-up email, which I also forgot about (been really busy, he didn't majorly stand out). Finally, he called me at my desk to very professionally follow up. I was impressed, mentioned it to some of the other bankers, and he got an interview. We'll see how it goes.

    My advice on networking is to think about recruiting from the other side of the table. What do these guys want in new hires? Typically it's competance, composure, work ethic, and a desire to do banking rooted in a very realistic picture of what you're getting into. No one wants to hire an analyst who shows up, is shocked by what he/she finds, and quits soon thereafter. If you've got all of those nailed, then come off as natural and have a good conversation with whoever you'ver you're talking to. One last point: senior bankers typically don't engage in the recruiting process until way later, so in the early stages the analysts run the show. Get them to like you and you'll have a far better chance at interviewing because senior bankers will just ask them to handle the screening process.

    3. CFA - not necessary and not a golden bullet, as you mention, but will definitely help. The other thing that really helps that no one really realizes is Big 4 accounting in the transactional services (M&A) group. Big 4 in a consulting group is useless. Tax also works if you've got great fundamentals.

    4. Technology

    Hope this helps and keep the questions coming, I'll try to make sure I'm more prompt this week.

  • yeahright's picture

    Lets say someone is coming from a very technical background including major, and goal is some form of an AM role. And they currently work in a random mid/back office role at a BB.

    1 - would financial modeling be necessary to learn beforehand? or would it be not expected due to background when dealing with interviews?

    2 - whats the best way to reach out to people in an attempt to lateral (at the same bank and elsewhere), best time period?

    3 - how long do you stay at the current position to avoid burning bridges but without pigeonholing yourself?

    thanks

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • bloomtodie's picture

    Hey LifestyleBanker, interested to hear your thoughts on MBB Consulting v BB Investment Banking? How you personally see the trade-offs re: lifestyle, compensation, exits.

    And where you see yourself in a couple of years - MBA/Industry/HF/PE?

    Cheers!

  • NineOfive's picture

    i'm curious, regarding the networking aspect, you said the young chap you met at the recruiting followed with a phone call. How long do you think is appropriate to follow up with a phone I call after no response from email. I understand ppl in this industry are very busy so i don't want to be the one that comes across as bothersome and pressuring for a job.

  • In reply to yeahright
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    Yeahright -

    1 - I'm not sure about financial modeling, since I didn't do AM.

    2 - Best way to reach out is to email people, introduce yourself and tell them that you're interested in what they do and would like to discuss. Obviously, if you know anyone at all who might be able to serve as a reference or set up the conversation, it will help. Depending on your situation, you could also talk to people at your own group, regardless of level, and tell them you're thinking about a change and ask about options. Coworkers with former employers, managers, post-MBA people may all be helpful.

    I'm glad you asked about timing because I feel that timing is actually one of the most important parts of "breaking in" to anything, but it rarely gets mentioned. There are periods of time where you can predictably expect that banks will need off-season hires. The pool for breaking in this way is way less competitive and a great back door. Off-season hiring periods vary by bank, but here's a basic list:

    A. ALL SUMMER LONG - even if some place tells you they're not sure yet because they don't know how their intern class will shake out, keep in touch and stay top-of-mind. Bankers hate recruiting, especially when they have to fill spots they were expecting interns would fill. They'll gladly hire almost anyone if you pass the bar.
    B. Shortly before the December holidays and again right after - you'd be amazed how many people quit around the 6 month mark, and banks need laterals around now.
    C. Around late March to May - also known as last call, when staffing just isn't adding up for the following year either because of unexpected departures or insufficient new hires. Banks will hire you as a lateral and start you with the incoming class.

    Obviously, these dates may vary by bank, but this general flow is common. The best way to keep in touch with this is to network with a couple of analysts at each of the banks you're targeting and have them keep you informed about any departures or other events that would require an off-cycle hire.

    3 - Leave really early or stay for one year and then leave. If you leave really early, you can say that it just wasn't for you and you want to try something else. Senior management may be a bit irked that they have to find someone new now, but they'll understand. Alternatively, stay a year, pick up some useful skills and resume items and then leave. This has a higher chance of management being upset because they'll feel like you bailed (particularly since many places have 2 year commitments).

  • yeahright's picture

    Very helpful and to the point. Thanks.

    Reason I asked specifically about how long to stay at a current job until looking to lateral, is one of the VP's I work with has a lot of connections across the industry including his wife who is at another BB. I would think he would be more willing to help if I stuck around for a year and then looked ot transition. Plus, my position is not in a 2 year program so the only people I'm concerned with upsetting would be the people I work directly with who could help down the line significantly.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • jman28's picture

    Do you believe that lifestyle in consulting is more enjoyable than IB, even if it has some negative aspects such as more travelling? Also, just generally could you give a run-down of your typical workday?

    thanks.

  • Dreamgazing's picture

    Own story about networking? (Vaguely so that people won't recognize)

    1) Time frame you started?
    2) What did you do wrong in college? What would you change?
    3) Any stories about people that really impressed you when they reached out/networked/interviewed?

  • In reply to yeahright
    balls.mahoney's picture

    yeahright:
    Very helpful and to the point. Thanks.

    Reason I asked specifically about how long to stay at a current job until looking to lateral, is one of the VP's I work with has a lot of connections across the industry including his wife who is at another BB. I would think he would be more willing to help if I stuck around for a year and then looked ot transition. Plus, my position is not in a 2 year program so the only people I'm concerned with upsetting would be the people I work directly with who could help down the line significantly.

    Then I would say stick it out for at least a year, and at the very least you get to collect a bonus. If you can establish a rapport with the people who you say would be integral for a move, I think it would take about that long. Although they might not want to see you go, they will likely understand. Especially if you're at a larger bank - they tend to value retaining talent within the firm over inter-company disputes regarding staffing. The fact of the matter is, if you're looking to make a transition and you're capable and good at the job, its in their interest to keep you within the company rather than run the risk of losing you to another firm. Obviously, this differs bank-to-bank as some are more short sighted...

  • In reply to NineOfive
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    NineOfive:
    i'm curious, regarding the networking aspect, you said the young chap you met at the recruiting followed with a phone call. How long do you think is appropriate to follow up with a phone I call after no response from email. I understand ppl in this industry are very busy so i don't want to be the one that comes across as bothersome and pressuring for a job.

    A week is usually more than enough. You need to give people time and understand that recruiting isn't the most important thing they have going on, but you don't want to be forgotten. You need to stay top of mind. Bankers are instant gratification types, and they like to have immediate solutions for immediate problems such as recruiting.

The WSO Advantage - Investment Banking

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation + Learn More.

IB Interview Prep Pack

30,000+ sold & REAL questions Learn More.

Resume Help from Actual IB Pros

Land More IB Interviews. Learn More.

Find Your Perfect IB Mentor

Realistic IB Mock Interviews. Learn More.

  • LifestyleBanker's picture

    This year I'm thankful for... slow days and mobile devices. I'll handle the Consulting vs. Banking questions here, in order from most to least clear cut. Keep in mind that these are all my opinions, I obviously left consulting to do banking and really like the switch so I'm going to be biased toward banking:

    1. Compensation - You will never make as much as a junior level (below director/partner) level consultant as you will as a commensurate banker. Period. MBB starting salaries are typically in the 70-80 range with a bonus of 10-25% on top of that. BB banking salaries are 70K with bonus potential of up to 100% of base for year 1, with the typical bonus for someone who's decent but not a star (bucket 2) being in the mid to high 50's. This is north of $120K/year; as an equivalently ranked consultant, at 20% bonus you'd have trouble clearing $100K.

    The other thing to look out for is that if you miss MBB, there are a number of other really good, smaller firms to go to. These are great options if you want consulting and want to learn, but these places will screw you on pay. Many will start with a first year package that's comparable to MBB (always slightly less) but will bite you in terms of year-over-year comp ramp and bonuses. I was in this situation, and getting paid around 80 all-in when friends at crappy no-name banks were pulling in over $100K was frustrating.

    Conclusion: if you think about money in a vacuum (without regards to work quality, exit opps, or work/life balance) banking pretty much always comes out on top and, with a small number of exceptions, this is true even as you get to the MD/partner level.

    2. Exit options - let's break this down into two discussions, Strategic/Corporate roles and Buyside Financial roles.

    Strategics/Corporates - MBB consulting will give you an advantage here over banking due to the close exposure you get to your clients and the broad array of work you do with them. Coming from a top consultancy will throw doors open in strategy or operational groups; if you have diligence experience (or even not in some cases) you can go to corp dev as well. If you're from a smaller, less brand-name consulting firm your options are likely to be WAY less attractive and limited to your clients or your broader industry.

    Banking gives you less flexibilty with corporate roles as you won't have the background to do, say, product development or deep operations or even sales. However, you'll have a much easier time getting into corp dev roles and many corp strategy roles will give you equal credit as the consulting candidates.

    This is a key point: many corporate employers look for banking or consulting experience simply as a credentials (kind of like a college degree) and not necessarily for any specific skills you pick up. From this perspective, being an "investment banker" from even a no-name firm is better than being a consultant from a no-name because banking always means hard work and quantitative analysis, but consulting at Handbridge Partners could be any number of things. The halo of consulting is realy just for MBB and a few other places (Parthenon, Monitor, Oliver Wyman, etc). Someone from IBM's consulting group is going to be far more limited in terms of corporate exit options.

    Financial Buyside - Banking has the clear advantage. Forums such as this one often mention that consultants *can* get into PE/hedge funds/etc, but this is REALLY the exception. The vasy majority of these funds are LBO/transactional oriented and want bankers. The quant shops are not going to take ex-bankers or consultants anyway, they want quants.

    To have any real chance of going to a good MM PE shop (let alone a large cap) you need to come from MBB, typically from their private equity group (the group that does all the due diligences). It can be done from a smaller shop but you need to be really the top of your class. Small consulting firms or industry-focused firms have very little or no shot here, unless you go to an investor focused on your vertical. Even then, these guys are likely to prefer M&A, Lev Fin or coverage bankers from their industry over you. Generally speaking, banking has the advantage over consulting for PE/hedge fund exit opps.

    3. Lifestyle - I'm torn on this one. I hate to travel. I hate flying, I hate hotel rooms and I hate having to wake up in a strange place to go to a conference room at a client site where I'll spend the next 12 hours working on powerpoint presentations and crunching data. Additionally, consulting hours aren't a joke. Even weeks when I wasn't traveling, I could expect my weeks to be 70-80 hours. Travel weeks had all this time plus the travel on top of it. This is doable and attractive if you're at MBB with great MBA placement and exit opps, but the value proposition totally falls apart if you're not satisfied with your exit opps and you realize you're making way less money for only slightly less work.

    On the other hand, the hours in banking are the real deal. I used to think that people are exaggerating when they talked about banking - then I started pulling consecutive 120-hour weeks. There are times in banking where you won't get a day off for weeks or months and where you won't get more than 2 hours of sleep for weeks on end. A very easy week in banking (also a very rare week) would be 80 hours - solid night's worth of sleep every night, enough time for a drink or two on Friday, in the office late on the weekends and out by 8-10, in time to get dinner or meet up.

    I personally like banking better because I like to be able to come home to my own place and to actually live in the town where I pay my taxes. The conventional answer to this question is that consulting offers "better" lifestyle, but I just wanted to illustrate that this can vary.

    Keep the questions coming, let me know if I can clarify anything.

  • Prangs's picture

    How do you treat non-targets with good grades, passion, and a decent internship (let's say a sophomore applying for something at a BB with a BB PWM already completed)?
    What does he or she have to do to compete with the target school kids?
    Is it better to seem overly qualified with respect to technicals, and maybe nerdy, or more socially apt but slightly miss the bar with respect to technicals?

  • In reply to Prangs
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    Prangs:
    How do you treat non-targets with good grades, passion, and a decent internship (let's say a sophomore applying for something at a BB with a BB PWM already completed)?
    What does he or she have to do to compete with the target school kids?
    Is it better to seem overly qualified with respect to technicals, and maybe nerdy, or more socially apt but slightly miss the bar with respect to technicals?

    This answer may not be very popular or politically correct but it is the truth. Target school kids are expected to be the full package - smart, driven, good grades, intelligent in the interviews, critical thinkers who you could see interacting with an MD or talking directly to a client, either during a work session or casually during an interaction. In short, senior management potential. Non-target kids are expected to be workhorses. So grades are really important, technical skills are CRITICAL, etc. The idea is that many bankers assume that a kid from a target with the right paper credentials can be taught anything - they're smart enough, right? - but that a kid from a non-target needs to come with the essential skills pre-loaded because A) it's otherwise hard to know if you'll be smart enough to get it once you start and B) they don't expect you to shine in the other areas.

    Fair or not, this is how it is. Coming from a non-target, you need to make sure your grades are excellent, that you nail all the math/technical questions, and that you can really demonstrate a deep desire to do banking. Expect your interviews to be more technical and more adversarial compared to, say, the kid who went to the same undergrad as the MD running recruiting this year.

  • In reply to LifestyleBanker
    Prangs's picture

    LifestyleBanker:
    Prangs:
    How do you treat non-targets with good grades, passion, and a decent internship (let's say a sophomore applying for something at a BB with a BB PWM already completed)?
    What does he or she have to do to compete with the target school kids?

    Is it better to seem overly qualified with respect to technicals, and maybe nerdy, or more socially apt but slightly miss the bar with respect to technicals?

    This answer may not be very popular or politically correct but it is the truth. Target school kids are expected to be the full package - smart, driven, good grades, intelligent in the interviews, critical thinkers who you could see interacting with an MD or talking directly to a client, either during a work session or casually during an interaction. In short, senior management potential. Non-target kids are expected to be workhorses. So grades are really important, technical skills are CRITICAL, etc. The idea is that many bankers assume that a kid from a target with the right paper credentials can be taught anything - they're smart enough, right? - but that a kid from a non-target needs to come with the essential skills pre-loaded because A) it's otherwise hard to know if you'll be smart enough to get it once you start and B) they don't expect you to shine in the other areas.

    Fair or not, this is how it is. Coming from a non-target, you need to make sure your grades are excellent, that you nail all the math/technical questions, and that you can really demonstrate a deep desire to do banking. Expect your interviews to be more technical and more adversarial compared to, say, the kid who went to the same undergrad as the MD running recruiting this year.

    I am real glad you were so frank and honest in your answer that's exactly what I needed to know thanks.
    Assuming a non-target is good technically, is there anyway he or she can stick out compared to targets? That is to say, what would a non-target have to do to prove he or she is "senior management potential"?

    Start your own asset management firm and source like $50,000 in client assets and work with it? Like how would that be viewed?

  • In reply to Prangs
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    Prangs:
    LifestyleBanker:
    Prangs:
    How do you treat non-targets with good grades, passion, and a decent internship (let's say a sophomore applying for something at a BB with a BB PWM already completed)?
    What does he or she have to do to compete with the target school kids?

    Is it better to seem overly qualified with respect to technicals, and maybe nerdy, or more socially apt but slightly miss the bar with respect to technicals?

    This answer may not be very popular or politically correct but it is the truth. Target school kids are expected to be the full package - smart, driven, good grades, intelligent in the interviews, critical thinkers who you could see interacting with an MD or talking directly to a client, either during a work session or casually during an interaction. In short, senior management potential. Non-target kids are expected to be workhorses. So grades are really important, technical skills are CRITICAL, etc. The idea is that many bankers assume that a kid from a target with the right paper credentials can be taught anything - they're smart enough, right? - but that a kid from a non-target needs to come with the essential skills pre-loaded because A) it's otherwise hard to know if you'll be smart enough to get it once you start and B) they don't expect you to shine in the other areas.

    Fair or not, this is how it is. Coming from a non-target, you need to make sure your grades are excellent, that you nail all the math/technical questions, and that you can really demonstrate a deep desire to do banking. Expect your interviews to be more technical and more adversarial compared to, say, the kid who went to the same undergrad as the MD running recruiting this year.

    I am real glad you were so frank and honest in your answer that's exactly what I needed to know thanks.
    Assuming a non-target is good technically, is there anyway he or she can stick out compared to targets? That is to say, what would a non-target have to do to prove he or she is "senior management potential"?

    Start your own asset management firm and source like $50,000 in client assets and work with it? Like how would that be viewed?

    Those prejudices I mentioned above are what senior bankers take with them into interviews when considering fresh kids. Once you get your offer that stuff won't matter anymore. All incoming candidates of a class are considered equal (unless someone was a real star during their internship). Once you start, your work is what matters. No one cares where you went to school anymore, and anyone can be considered "senior management material". If you're actually as smart and good as the target school kids, your technical background will come in handy, you'll get put on the better deal work faster, and you'll grow as fast as the other kids and shine. The expectation is that you'll start ahead, but the target kids will learn and develop faster, eventually outstripping you once they can do everything you can do and some things you can't (like critical thinking, client interaction, process management, etc).

    All you have to do to overcome this bias is to prove it isn't true in your case. Bankers aren't prestige-driven when it comes to work product. If you're good, you'll be realized and appropriately rewarded, given allowances for general randomness in the ranking process of course.

  • peepstache's picture

    Thanks for taking the time to do this..

    What's your thoughts on an econ major from a non-target vs finance? Even if an econ major has high grades, would the fact that he doesn't know technicals work against him?

    This is for SA but also interested in general. Also, interested in hearing more about how you were able to break in with your background. Thanks.

    rufiolove:
    When evaluating whether or not to post something on WSO, I think to myself, "would an idiot post this" and if the answer is yes, I do not post that thing...
  • Y2A's picture

    How did you overcome your low gpa during recruiting? I currently attend a semi target and my gpa isnt great either (>3.0,

  • LifestyleBanker's picture

    Econ as a major is good because it indicates math ability and general business knowledge, but finance is better. Ultimately no matter what you major in you have to nail the major finance and accounting concepts and depending on the shop may have a very technical interview.

    I overcame my low grades by grinding hard for interviews and nailing them. I think there are two major schools of thought when it comes to interviews. Most people, particularly at schools with well-developed corporate recruiting events, typically apply to jobs the same way as they applied to colleges, as though it's a numbers game. You try to land as many interviews as possible and then have a good, generic interview with a odds in favor of you getting 1-3 offers. Many people are successful with this approach but it has never worked for me.

    What I did was to network hard at companies I wanted to go to, land an interview knowing full well that I barely scraped in, and then prep like crazy and be able to discuss specific deals the team I was talking to had worked on, industry trends, news mentions of senior bankers, alternate investment ideas for deals the company executed (ie, I could have seen Company X buying Attractive Target Y instead of the one it went with...), etc. If you really want a job, focus on it like it's the last and best interview you have and pour 100% into it. Go to the trouble of reading and almost memorizing the "Why Us" section of the firm's literature, know specifics about recent deals including size and structuring, etc. In short: invest in preparing for the interview like it's the most important thing in the world to you. Nail it.

    When I took the "numbers game" approach to recuriting, I sent out 120 applications, got back 8 interviews and landed 2 jobs. Terrible odds. The "consider and commit" approach has resulted in 3 interviews, 3 offers.

    In terms of actually landing the interview in the first place, it's a question of networking heavily. Keep in mind that there are far more small investment banks out there than just the big names that you hear about on boards or during campus recruiting. Look for the smaller, regional places an demonstrate passion and initative and they may overlook poor grades.

  • TheBetterBanker's picture

    I appreciate you taking the time to answer these, thank you. I am coming from a non target school and have a passion for finance/economics. I want to work on wall street and am leaning towards IBD. I chose my school because it had an innovative program, with what I see as connections because of its executive based learning...that being said other than faculty having worked on wall street recruiters do not come to campus. My first question is should I transfer to another school that is a target. I have the grades to go to a big name school but I got offered a nice scholarship and I thought the cost would be a big deal (Freshman). The other question I have is what is the major you would suggest. I want to do a major in finance with a minor in economics but everyone I talk to is steering me towards accounting. They believe that it can open the same doors as finance, and then some...with stability. I am interested to hear your thoughts... also what do you think about possibly staying at the school and going to a target such as LSE for a summer program. Thank,

    ~TheBetterBanker

  • In reply to TheBetterBanker
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    TheBetterBanker:
    I appreciate you taking the time to answer these, thank you. I am coming from a non target school and have a passion for finance/economics. I want to work on wall street and am leaning towards IBD. I chose my school because it had an innovative program, with what I see as connections because of its executive based learning...that being said other than faculty having worked on wall street recruiters do not come to campus. My first question is should I transfer to another school that is a target. I have the grades to go to a big name school but I got offered a nice scholarship and I thought the cost would be a big deal (Freshman). The other question I have is what is the major you would suggest. I want to do a major in finance with a minor in economics but everyone I talk to is steering me towards accounting. They believe that it can open the same doors as finance, and then some...with stability. I am interested to hear your thoughts... also what do you think about possibly staying at the school and going to a target such as LSE for a summer program. Thank,

    ~TheBetterBanker

    Good questions. My advice on this point, almost universally, is to transfer. I strongly believe that unless you're really in an impossible situation, going to a worse school for scholarship money is a BAD long-term decision. At most, the scholarship might save you around $200K over 4 years. This is obviously a lot of money. However, if you're focused on pursuing a financially rewarding career (as opposed to, say, public service or something) the $200K is nothing compared to the higher earning potential. Going to a target where you can recruit into investment banking / top tier consulting will give you branding and momentum that will stick with you for quite a while. A few years out of college, I'm still amazed by how many doors are opened by my alma mater, alumni and the internships I got as a result of my school. Over the course of your career, the better school will enable you to make back the $200K in loans several times over, in addition to the intangible benefits of having a better education, smarter friends, etc.

    Finance / Accounting is the best combo for breaking into finance.

    Summering at a brand name school will get you nothing.

    Hope this helps, keep the questions coming.

  • dukebanker12's picture

    are you currently going through PE recruiting? also, what advice do you have for incoming full-time analysts?

  • LifestyleBanker's picture

    I skipped PE recruiting last cycle for 2 reasons: 1) I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet (PE, corp dev, grad school, venture, hedge fund) and 2) I wasn't totally confident that I'd be able to land any job I interviewed for. Keep in mind that PE recruiting is kind of risky, in the sense that you can only recruit at any given firm once. Landing an interview at Blackstone is pointless if you know you don't have the LBO/M&A modeling proficiency to nail it. I figured I was better off waiting a year, getting really good at what I do, and being selective in the places I interviewed and having a high hit rate as opposed to simply casting a wide net. This is in line with my theory above about the "consider and commit" approach to recruiting as opposed to the "numbers game" approach. I'm talking to headhunters now and considering my options.

    Advice to incoming analysts on succeeding in banking: just accept the reality of what you've gotten yourself into. Sure, a couple of months ago you were partying 5 times a week and had all the time in the world, and people treated you like a beautiful and unique snowflake for being at the top of your class and getting a sweet banking gig. That part of your life is over. Accept the realities and don't try to fight them:

    1) You will be doing this all day, every day, until you quit or make VP.
    2) There is lots of pointless work that you need to do for senior bankers or clients. This is par for the course. Do not whine or let yourself be bothered by it.
    3) Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Seriously. The most frustrating nights are the ones where you make plans, work furiously to try to keep them, have something random happen and have to cancel. There is nothing more infuriating. If, instead, you just accept that you're not superman and can't do both things and prioritize banking, it's much easier to stay in the office until 2 or 4 or 6 to get it done. You feel less resentful toward your job.
    4) Even if you don't like banking, remind yourself that what you are doing is a fantastic investment in your future, that you are singlularly lucky to be doing what you are, and that what you are learning in your current job puts you far and away into the top 1% of people your age in the private sector. Reminding yourself that your job is more than formatting powerpoints and seeing the forest for the trees once in a while is good for motivation.

    5) Everything else - including working harder than everyone else, making good impressions, overdelivering, etc etc. If people want a specific discussion on tactics of how to ensure a good experience, I can address it in another post.

  • In reply to Dreamgazing
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    Dreamgazing:
    Own story about networking? (Vaguely so that people won't recognize)

    1) Time frame you started?
    2) What did you do wrong in college? What would you change?
    3) Any stories about people that really impressed you when they reached out/networked/interviewed?

    I feel like #1 and #3 have been addressed (let me know if you want more details) so I thought I'd address #2.

    The worst mistake I made in college was getting bad grades. I went to one of the top schools in the world. After working my butt off for pretty much my whole life, I figured that I could afford to take a bit of a vacation for college and pick it back up afterwards. Worst mistake I have ever made, and I'm still feeling the aftershocks. Let's put it this way - had I put in a modicum of effort to get decent grades, I could be like many of my friends who went to a top BB in a top group and are currently at well-known PE firms. Or I could have gone MBB instead of a smaller shop and have gone to PE without having to do banking at all.

    Remember kids: your credentials are really valuable in this business. Don't screw them up, especially with unforced errors.

  • NVTrojan's picture

    Isn't your strategy for PE recruiting flawed? Lets say Firm X is filling their summer of 2013 class during the cycle you decided to skip. Next time around they'll be interviewing for summer of 2014 and the only way you would qualify is if you took a third year offer (They don't want someone who's going to be off for a year). So assuming you can't/won't take that offer, you have nothing to lose by interviewing with Firm X because you wouldn't have a chance next time around anyway.

  • LifestyleBanker's picture

    That's definitely a risk. My thought was that blowing the interview at firm X is worse than having to do a 3rd year in banking. The way I saw it, either way you only get one really good shot to interview. I could have done it during year one and landed at an OK firm after 2 years of banking, or wait and land at a firm I really want to be at after 3. I'm not one of those people who hate banking so much that I want to leave ASAP, so this wasn't a huge sacrifice for me. I saw it as putting in one more year of dues in banking to improve my chances of going where I really wanted to go, similar to taking a gap year to make sure you get into your dream school.

    Edit: also I'm not worried about getting the 3rd year as multiple senior bankers have told me they want me to stay in banking long-term, beyond my analyst years.

  • AsianMonky's picture

    I'm majoring in Finance, and plan on double majoring in Economics or Accounting. Which one should I choose? (Accounting is a lot harder than Econ, but I can put in the effort to get a high GPA) I'm at a non target with limited MM IB recruiting.

  • In reply to AsianMonky
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    AsianMonky:
    I'm majoring in Finance, and plan on double majoring in Economics or Accounting. Which one should I choose? (Accounting is a lot harder than Econ, but I can put in the effort to get a high GPA) I'm at a non target with limited MM IB recruiting.

    Take accounting. Kids at non-targets need to have really tight backgrounds to have a good shot. If you were at Harvard, you could major in basket weaving and still land offers as long as you had decent grades and could answer basic technicals, but from a non-target you're given less credit.

  • highonlife's picture

    Dear lifestylebanker,

    Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to ask questions. I am in the Asian market. My question is how important networking is and could you give me some examples of getting your career in ibd by doing that?

    I applied a lot of investment banks in HK this year, all failed. I think one of many reasons for it is that I never did the networking thing. My friends told me that there are so many resumes sent to the HR every second and they will give priority to those resumes who are recommended. Is that true? And what should I do to strengthen my ability in networking?

    Thank you very much.

  • In reply to highonlife
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    highonlife:
    Dear lifestylebanker,

    Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to ask questions. I am in the Asian market. My question is how important networking is and could you give me some examples of getting your career in ibd by doing that?

    I applied a lot of investment banks in HK this year, all failed. I think one of many reasons for it is that I never did the networking thing. My friends told me that there are so many resumes sent to the HR every second and they will give priority to those resumes who are recommended. Is that true? And what should I do to strengthen my ability in networking?

    Thank you very much.

    Generally speaking, networking can make a huge difference in the process. While networking won't land you a job in this day and age (in the US market), it will most certainly land you an interview. How you go about networking depends on the culture - in my case, I leveraged my friends, the alumni network from my school, my professional network and any opportunities I found on LinkedIn or similar sites. I'm not sure exactly how networking works in Hong Kong, but from friends who went back home to investment banks there, I know the culture is different. Unfortunately I can't speak to the specifics of those differences.

  • southernbydesign's picture

    Quick question -- I am currently at a non-target and have the opportunity to graduate early. Would you recommend graduating early with a major in Finance and minor in Accounting? Or do you think it is worth the extra year to double major in both Accounting and Finance? Graduating a year early would save roughly 18-25K. GPA is > 3.7 and I am an athlete for what it's worth.

  • KadeemR's picture

    For a first year, what is the best way to lateral from a niche product group (think DCM/Risk/ECM) to an industry group at another bank, if you're not allow to switch internally? Do you get "branded" for life by your product experience? Thanks!

  • GrandJury's picture

    First off, congrats on getting to where you are in your career. You definitely have put the work in and it paid off.

    For networking with Linkedin, how did you start off with people that you didn't know? Did you connect with them and include a short message about trying to gain some advice? I'm mainly just wondering how to best go about the first initial interaction. I don't have much of a problem networking using the alumni network from my school and networking through mutual friends, but I can definitely improve on my Linkedin networking.

    Also, how would you describe your personality? Did you feel like it was easy to build a rapport with the interviewer or was the interview more formal?

  • JohnAnthony7's picture

    Continuing off of KadeemR's question, your comments earlier about corporate jobs viewing banking merely as credentials and don't care as much about the skills you acquired, is that the case for capital markets bankers as well (DCM, ECM)? Is being in Capital Markets a stigma when it comes to trying to move into corporate jobs even if it's a very strong capital markets group?

  • ct banker's picture

    Quick question about recruiting in general. Who has the say in the recruiting process, how influential are the analysts, associates, VPs, and MD's. One of my contacts that I have made is an MD and Vice Chairman at a BB, one of the top dogs in his respected group across all banks, who is an alumni at my non-target/working its way to a semi-target. I have a decent GPA and had a F500 internship last summer and he said that the best he can do is make sure that the recruiting teams specifically looks at my resume and tells him whether or not they will give me an interview. He stated that he could not even get his good friends kids jobs in a couple different occasions. Just curious as to how much power each respected position has in terms of helping their personal contacts out. Thanks again for the post.

  • asharm4's picture

    I go to community college right now. Just started. I want to transfer after my sophomore year. After getting the associate. Can you recommend any good schools that might not be target schools. If there are none any tips on getting into target schools? And how did you start networking? What do you look for?

  • HWF's picture

    Do you know anyone / are there any public examples of someone, who joined a BB as an analyst in the IBD, has subsequently moved up/on and is now an outstanding leader in their field?

  • jkjkjk's picture

    Do you like Investment Banking? Not the money or the exit opportunities but the work itself? Do you think that the work you do is satisfying and worth it compared to the amount of hard work and motivation you needed to get to your position?

    Furthermore, how do you feel about banking's role in capitalism. Do you think that having an extremely complicated banking system is sustainable or unsustainable for capitalism. Do you think that future regulation on banks is good for the industry?

  • Sandhurst's picture

    This is great stuff, everyone. @LifestyleBanker: especially great stuff.

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

  • In reply to KadeemR
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    KadeemR:
    For a first year, what is the best way to lateral from a niche product group (think DCM/Risk/ECM) to an industry group at another bank, if you're not allow to switch internally? Do you get "branded" for life by your product experience? Thanks!

    Contact some headhunters, talk to friends at other banks, ask around. It's too bad you can't switch internally. You should have no problem switching into coverage elsewhere. Just give them the usual story - wanted exposure to a broader range of products, really like the industry, etc. For best results, I'd wait until this summer when first years in other groups leave. I should warn you that depending on the group you want to go to you may have to repeat your first year.

  • In reply to JohnAnthony7
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    JohnAnthony7:
    Continuing off of KadeemR's question, your comments earlier about corporate jobs viewing banking merely as credentials and don't care as much about the skills you acquired, is that the case for capital markets bankers as well (DCM, ECM)? Is being in Capital Markets a stigma when it comes to trying to move into corporate jobs even if it's a very strong capital markets group?

    Short answer: No. Several solid post-banking exits, like corporate finance, corporate development and strategy groups that are looking for someone with "2-3 years investment banking experience" will take you. I know friends from both DCM and ECM who went on to be a project manager and a senior analyst respectively at great companies.

    Long answer: Not really. Let's discuss this in terms of corporate employers and sponsors.

    In terms of corporates, you'll probably be fine except a few roles that have specific skill set needs, such as corp dev at a high growth tech company. However, you may find that you are edged out of some top corporate roles by industry bankers. I know this is more the case in some sectors than others - tech, media, healthcare, maybe a few others.

    In terms of sponsors, you may be at a disadvantage because your group doesn't do much serious modeling. People from the M&A and Lev Fin groups in particular will have a big leg up over you. Many industry groups at various banks also run valuation out of their own desks instead of using a product analyst (my team does this), so analysts from the right industry groups will also have an advantage.

    In terms of making the switch, I would go by the reputation of the group and the contribution the group makes to its firm's total banking revenue. You should also think about the skills you want to build in banking to take you to wherever you want to go next and pick a group that gives you that skillset.

  • In reply to ct banker
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    ct banker:
    Quick question about recruiting in general. Who has the say in the recruiting process, how influential are the analysts, associates, VPs, and MD's. One of my contacts that I have made is an MD and Vice Chairman at a BB, one of the top dogs in his respected group across all banks, who is an alumni at my non-target/working its way to a semi-target. I have a decent GPA and had a F500 internship last summer and he said that the best he can do is make sure that the recruiting teams specifically looks at my resume and tells him whether or not they will give me an interview. He stated that he could not even get his good friends kids jobs in a couple different occasions. Just curious as to how much power each respected position has in terms of helping their personal contacts out. Thanks again for the post.

    This is how the recruiting process works, with commentary on who the key players are:

    1. Submitting resumes and having them go to the bankers at all - HR. There is very little you can do here besides network with the HR person who covers your school. You can get in touch with this person through your school's investment banking or finance club or from career services. If your school doesn't have an IB / finance club, consider founding it and reaching out to HR people at various banks touting the fact that you're the founder and president of your school's IB club. HR will screen for things like GPA.

    2. Resume review - Analysts. Bankers hate reviewing resumes. It seems like deciding who gets an interview would be fun in theory, but when you have a million things to do a stack of 300 resumes just becomes an object of loathing. This stage of the process is typically run by a VP, who probably doesn't want to be bothered at all. Under him is an associate, whose only job is to make sure that some degree of quality control is introduced into the selection process and that it doesn't devolve into pure nepotism (or selection by arbitrary criteria). Ultimately, all of this gets pushed downhill onto the analysts. As an applicant, having an analyst vouch for you (assuming this analyst is well-regarded) greatly boosts your odds of getting an interview. In fact, unless there was something glaringly wrong with your cover / resume, you'd be guaranteed an interview with a strong statement of support or a relationship with a good analyst.

    3. First round - Associates / VPs. Best way to connect with associates is to call them before your interview and have a short list of smart, professional questions to ask them and let them know that you're really into the firm. You pretty much have to have some kind of organic relationship with a VP. The only exception is a professional referral. VPs are starting to think seriously about building their professional network, and are generally receptive to referrars from the partner at your consulting / accounting firm, your manager at yoru company, professor at your school, etc.

    4. Second round / superday - MDs. If you make it this far, the junior and mid level team like you. You're here to meet any associates / VPs you didn't see in your initial round (who will mostly just want to see who you are and try to sell you a bit) and the key MDs, who will ultimately have to approve of your hire into their group or the general pool. You need a prior relationship with an MD - you're not going to get it now.

    One thing to keep in mind - if you have a friend internally who gets you an interview, this person will not be part of the deliberations about whether or not to give you a job. This is why reaching out to various people at the firm after your interview offer but before the actual interview is critical.

  • In reply to HWF
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    HWF:
    Do you know anyone / are there any public examples of someone, who joined a BB as an analyst in the IBD, has subsequently moved up/on and is now an outstanding leader in their field?

    Hank Paulson, IBD --> 5th in line for President.

  • In reply to jkjkjk
    LifestyleBanker's picture

    To unlock this content for free, please login / register below.

    Connecting helps us build a vibrant community. We'll never share your info without your permission. Sign up with email or if you are already a member, login here Bonus: Also get 6 free financial modeling lessons for free ($200+ value) when you register!

Pages