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I was having a conversation with someone, and he was basically telling me how he doesn't have to worry about anything because he plays lacrosse and that will automatically get him "a good job on Wall Street". So I started to question him, and the bottom-line is he goes to Fairfield University, is a sophomore, GPA 2.7, no internship experience, no plans to get an internship, no ec's, but because he goes to Fairfield which he thinks is a target, and the fact that he plays lax that he will be set with an offer at a BB in IBD.

This is not the main part of my post, but I wanted to start with this story to pose the theory that "It's not what you know it's who you know" is dead, and I wanted to see what you guys think about this. My theory is that you have to actually have talent and merit nowadays in order to break into IB. Yes, definitely in the past it was true that if you knew someone who worked on Wall Street, you got a job. However, after looking at the facts and how the industry has made monumental changes after the financial crisis, I think going forward people are going to have to actually work for it if they want to break into IB.

Why? There are more people applying than ever before for less jobs due to the industry consolidating over the past few years. Back in the day there were a lot more smaller firms around, and they would be the ones to hire sports guys just because. I think what I am referring to and networking are two different things. In networking, one goes out of their way to try and meet people at different events to try and obtain their contact info and see if they can pass there resume along.

However, I am referring to the people who get interviews and offers because they have an uncle, grew up in wealthy families with a lot of connections, played a sport in college, etc. Most of the time those kinds of people are lazy, dumb as a rock, and have this cocky attitude like they're the shit. Therefore, I think the industry has changed and it will require getting a high GPA, having 2-3 internship experiences, a lot of ec's, and meeting people on your own in order to obtain a FO job at a BB. And you will start to see that the people I'm referring to in this post will be out of luck. Oh btw, I got a SA at a BB offer this summer all on my own because of my talent and merit. Your thoughts?


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Comments (18)

  • BlackHat's picture

    It doesn't take a genius to perform the tasks of a junior analyst in IBD, so the "it's not who you know it's who you blow" mantra still holds true at the junior levels. This becomes less and less so as you get up into more value-add positions with a lot more responsibility. Example being, a 10 man fund can't add Daddy Warbucks' kid as an analyst because they can't afford to spend the time and resources on a retard kid who now effectively represents about 10% of their workforce. Conversely, you really wouldn't have to worry about it if he was just 1 of 30 in an analyst class at bulge bracket XYZ.

    My experience in roles where you directly impact revenues, meritocracy does reign supreme... if you're raking in huge commissions or have absolutely ridiculous returns, nobody is going to pass on you to hire the MD's son who can't pull a tenth of your weight in the same seat.

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    "It's not what you know, it's who you know is dead.". -- that would definitely be more powerful, than just who you know.

    Connections will always matter, but it seems that most people are qualified who make it through the process, so I definitely agree with you on that one. That being said, there are tons of qualified people, so all else being more or less equal, the connections often make the difference, even though I wish they didn't.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?


  • couchy's picture

    almost agree. take smart kid with connections vs much smarter kid with no connections....

  • Newspeak's picture

    I wish it wasn't the case but unfortunately, there are a LOT of people that get into the industry through nepotism.

  • sldirtsauce's picture

    how does playing a sport in college equate a person with being lazy, dumb as a rock, and cocky?
    Obviously I know you don't mean everyone and you combined it with many other factors. I would say that having big connections doesn't really help you to get the job per se, but it can help with landing interviews, as long as you're not a complete dumbass. But it's still up to the person to do the technicals and fit stuff well, otherwise no bank is going to waste their resources on this guy who can't hold up. Bottom line, just like 99% of the WSO community that "networks" to break into the industry, having someone you know who's powerful is effectively networking to have gotten to that point and will definitely help in the process.

  • newfirstyear's picture

    There's always been two parts to this. It's both who you know and what you know. If you have a 2.2 GPA from some random community college, unless you're Blankfien's son, you're not getting a job.

    Who you know is THE most important thing, but it only matters if these people think you're good. Nobody is going to damage their credibility by suggesting someone who's worthless. But if you're smart, and don't know anyone, you're not going to get a job anywhere.

    Really, you need to have both, and the most successful guys both know their shit, and have a solid network.

  • upquark's picture

    Nepotism vs Meritocracy. How do you want to build a bank? It's your choice.

    I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. -John D. Rockefeller

  • Art of War's picture

    Either way, nepotism/networking can only get you 1st rounds (unless you are Kravis' son).

  • H34D SH01's picture

    not true, if anything its more important BUT you still need the grades. Banks are cutting back to get one of the few spots they have to want you and trust me its way easier for them to want you when they are family friends/manage your money/work for family friends.

  • JaMarcus Russell CFA's picture

    It's not who you know, it's who you impress. Complete dipshit that knows a bunch of important people will still be known as a complete dipshit. In very rare cases this doesn't matter, but all in all most people with "connections" are still talented in their own right.

  • leveredarb's picture

    for getting into ibd its still who you know, anyone can do the job.

    buyside funds really dont give a fuck cuz they are there to make money not hire their friends.

    as you move to revenue generating roles it becomes a lot more meritocratic, also as you move to smaller shops.

  • In reply to JaMarcus Russell CFA
    NorthernMonkey's picture

    JaMarcus Russell <span class='keyword_link'><a href=https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1145861&amp;c=cart&amp;aff=44880&amp;ejc=2&amp;cl=175031>CFA</a></span>:
    It's not who you know, it's who you impress. Complete dipshit that knows a bunch of important people will still be known as a complete dipshit. In very rare cases this doesn't matter, but all in all most people with "connections" are still talented in their own right.

    I agree.
    And similarly, "it's not what you know, but who knows you"?
    Isnt't that the whole point of networking?
    To get your name out there, linked with a whole bunch of positives - experience, intelligence, motivation, fit etc. - and for the people that know you (and all the amazing things you've achieved) to fight your corner.

  • jmoney2405's picture

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