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I don't know why people think banking is so difficult to break into and that you should be thankful for having a job at any banking firm.

The interviews are by no means difficult. All you have to do is take a finance class to understand basic concepts and then read the vault guide on banking and ibanking oriented websites like WSO. If you are really worried about technical questions, you can read the scoopbooks on investment banking and you'll be doubly prepared for all the technical questions they usually throw at you. Plus there are a ton of guides out there to help you out. From personal experience, I think fit and having enthusiasm is way more important than being able to answer technical questions.

Landing an interview isn't that hard either. If you're still in college, it's not hard to land an internship interview at a BB as long as you have good grades, decent extracurriculars, and one or two work experiences. Your extracurricular and work experiences don't even need to be anywhere near prestigious, all they want to see is initiative. If you do get a SA internship than it's pretty much smooth sailing, even if you go back and recruit for other firms.

People often point to the state of the economy as a reason, but recruiting this fall was way better than in Fall 2008. Fall 2008 was bad, but this year a good number of BB, MM, and boutique firms were hiring pretty aggressively given improving market conditions and anticipation of an economic turnaround/upswing in activity. Sure they banks are hiring less than before but it really doesn't feel that much harder as in say a depression.

When people say I know of x grad from some good school who couldn't get a job, I'm actually very surprised because all the well qualified people at targets and non-targets that I know of have lined up good gigs. I remember talking to my Wharton friend and he says everyone there who wants a banking job can get one and didn't think it was a big deal getting top tier firms like MS/GS.

Comments (25)

  • 1styearBanker's picture

    Most college kids don't go on WSO or pay money for guides or any of that stuff, even at targets. I can't speak for Wharton but many targets and lower Ivies have kids who don't get interviews despite good experirence and good GPA. It not "hard" for those who make it, but a bit random since I had friends who got 0 interviews since the same kids apply to every single IBD job.

    Also its comparative. What other job industry straight out of college requires you to research, buy guides, and network as hard? Not even MBB, who hires hundreds and for different roles and the case studies are much easier in my opinion. I guess the only "hard" ones are tech intensive Google programming type of jobs, which are pretty focused already and no Google person I know ever had to buy a "programming guide" in order to land the job, nor network with Google employees by sending emails, meeting over coffee, etc.

    Go buy the WSO guide (shameless plug) but read over the stories. The kids are all very smart and talented with 1500/1600 SAT's and high gpa's and target schools and a majority of them started out at boutiques and then lateralled or stayed an extra year to get the offer. Its very easy to understand that the unlucky ones get shut out.

  • zykke's picture

    Not everyone goes to Wharton..

  • FTPiper's picture

    ^zykke
    haha Wharton does open alot of doors. But he is still missing the point completely.

    Banking is all about the relationships you build, and it is a sales gig in general. They don't hire necessarily the smartest and the brightest, they hire the ones they like the most, which entails a great fit with the firm and a great personality.

    They select from these target schools so they can find the smart and hard working ones, but to land the jobs, its easier said than done. you have to fit and be able to build relationships, and this is a skill which is much harder to learn. High GPA will not save you.

  • craigmcdermott's picture

    People think it is hard because in general, people go through more interviews, more intense interviews, network more, do more research, and are more prepared for banking interviews than any other industry that recruits undergraduates. While it's true that breaking into banking is not as difficult as winning a nobel peace prize, it is harder to get an entry level job than any other industry that my friends are applying to.

  • NoLongerActiveHere's picture

    Ivies like Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale have high ratios at BB's. Wharton just has lots of kids in finance due to sheer numbers. If you look at the number of kids who want to do finance at ivies and those who get interviews / jobs - its higher at the other ivies

  • monkeyjunkie's picture

    In my experience, people who say banking is difficult to break into aren't necessarily referring to the interview/hiring process; S&T interviews, for example, are known to be infinitely more difficult than banking interviews. The "difficulty" refers more to the fact that there is typically a huge surplus of aspiring undergrad analysts relative to the actual number of offers ultimately given out. Essentially it's only hard on a numbers basis. At least, this was my experience coming from a non-Ivy target business school.

  • Geoduke's picture

    Banking is difficult to break into since competition is great.

  • kkev14's picture

    I completely agree - breaking into banking is not relatively difficult. In fact, I would estimate that at least 2 times as many banking jobs were offered at my school than consulting/marketing/accounting jobs combined... All of my close friends have full time job offers right now. 3 are to consulting, about 12 or so are to banking.

    One thing making a banking job relatively easier to get is that there are a lot of good firms (BB/MM and many boutiques) you can work for as opposed to consulting/acct/mkt where there are relatively fewer "good" firms

    I agree with the post above saying that its hard, overall, on a numbers basis (a lot of initial applicants,but not enough spots). But the fact of the matter is 75% of undergraduate applicants have no idea what investment banking is (especially with internship recruiting), of those remaining, very few can explain what WACC is. Seriously.... you just need to know the very basics while being personable and show an interest in finance. This isn't enough to gurantee you a spot, but if you are able to land a few interviews the chances are very good you will end up with something

  • CompBanker's picture

    As someone who use to screen resumes at a top-tier MM bank, I can tell you that the bar is quite high. I've thrown out resumes of students with 4.0 GPAs before -- not even granting them 1st round phone screens. In fact, out of all the resume I've screened (multiple hundred), I've probably only granted 10-15 phone interviews.

    So -- I would argue that it is incredibly difficult to break into banking (on a relative basis). Saying "you and all your friends" got jobs in banking is really a poor sample of applicants. People tend to associate themselves with similar folks that share the same common interests. So if your friends are all the kids you met the 1st week at your campus's honors student meet and greet, i'd say you need to expand your test group.

    It is true that a lot of people brought into interviews don't know the first thing about investment banking. Unfortunately, at that point it is too late for those who didn't make it past the resume cut. They may have memorized all the finance books in the world, but if they can't land the interview, tough luck.

    CompBanker

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    Its because these kids live in a vacuum.

    To the OP and kids agreeing with him, you're absolutely right. If you're graduating in the top 10% from one of the hardest schools in the country to get into, are well versed in the financial markets, know how to play the interview game, have interned on wall street and have a semi-sociable personality, with all those things being a given, you're absolutely correct, banking isn't that hard to get into.

  • firefighter's picture

    Y'all are stupid. banking and PE are very easy to get into. My friend at morgan stanley m&a says all his colleagues working there very easily got into blackstone, etc. i don't know what the big fuss is about

  • hiit's picture

    You do know people pay 100k-150k to attend top MBAs for the possibility of switching into banking, right? And not even all of them get in? It says a lot that people are willing to shell out that kind of money for the possibility to change directions in their career.

  • firefighter's picture

    banking is hard to get into compared to other jobs except teach for america, consulting and PE, but it pales in comparison to getting a marshall/truman scholar, a good med school, a good law school, or a good grad school period. The average GPA for harvard med or yale law is probably a 3.8-3.9 and most who apply dont get in; not even goldman has requirements like that

  • In reply to firefighter
    masnariktap's picture

    gimmeshelter43 wrote:
    banking is hard to get into compared to other jobs except teach for america, consulting and PE, but it pales in comparison to getting a marshall/truman scholar, a good med school, a good law school, or a good grad school period. The average GPA for harvard med or yale law is probably a 3.8-3.9 and most who apply dont get in; not even goldman has requirements like that

    Tough to compare things like TFA / Law School / Etc...TFA's minimum GPA requirement is 2.50. Tons of kids who have no idea what they want to do / can't get other jobs / can't get into "good" Law or Med Schools apply to the program, inflating the #s a bit. The OP is obviously a troll, I'm not sure why everyone above is letting him win.

  • banking45's picture

    I understand that not everyone can get into banking because of competition and that the subset of people that I interact with might all have great credentials, so I could be very wrong about this.

    I just feel the whole recruiting process is a crapshoot and to a certain degree your credentials matter, but networking and just having a good personality helps a ton more in landing the interview and moving on to the next round. As mentioned by posters above, those with the "best" credentials like 4.0 GPAs don't always get interviews.

    I definitely know students with less than stellar credentials break in because they were an excellent fit for the company and it was like a breeze for them. I know of one student who knew all the technicals down to the last detail, but had a difficult time moving on to Superdays.

    I'm just saying it's not as hard as its cracked out to be, maybe even hyped up.

  • In reply to banking45
    masnariktap's picture

    banking45 wrote:
    I understand that not everyone can get into banking because of competition and that the subset of people that I interact with might all have great credentials, so I could be very wrong about this.

    I just feel the whole recruiting process is a crapshoot and to a certain degree your credentials matter, but networking and just having a good personality helps a ton more in landing the interview and moving on to the next round. As mentioned by posters above, those with the "best" credentials like 4.0 GPAs don't always get interviews.

    I definitely know students with less than stellar credentials break in because they were an excellent fit for the company and it was like a breeze for them. I know of one student who knew all the technicals down to the last detail, but had a difficult time moving on to Superdays.

    I'm just saying it's not as hard as its cracked out to be, maybe even hyped up.

    IMO, that's a fairer assessment of the process. Many of the people with "top" credentials aren't normal human beings. They are either geeky, weird, unsocial, or too pretentious (though some very pretentious people break in!). Just because someone has a stellar resume and is 10x smarter than me, I don't want to sit by them / work with them for 100hrs/week.

  • bigmonkey31's picture

    The reason that it is so hard is because a) not everyone goes on WSO like we do, b) interviews are significantly harder/more intense than other job interviews, and c) there are so many factors that you need to be above average (if not stellar at). You really need to show a strong work ethic, knowledge of the industry, and a likable personality.

  • yahoo's picture

    I tend to agree with the OP - at my school, people who were interested in finance (much less so consulting) and failed to get an internship/job tended to be the exception. Also, every single one of my pre-med friends had higher GPAs than my friends who went into finance.

  • FTPiper's picture

    what are we saying. banking is easier than med school?
    banker are you even a banker? I tend to think if your at a target, and you work hard, any of these options will be available to you.

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