Interivew with duffmt6, 2nd Year IBD Analyst, Part 1/2

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Rank: Neanderthal | 3,852

Below is the first installment of an interview with WSO Certified User and 2nd year banking analyst 'duffmt6'. Interview conducted by Asatar.

SEE PART 2

1) What is your background and how did you get into investment banking?

I graduated from a top 25-30ish school in 2010 in a quantitative business major (the quantitative portion hurt my GPA a bit - I finished with a 3.65). I had literally no career focus throughout my college career. I was focused on school work, partying and rugby, and not in that order. I lucked into a back office finance internship in my junior year with a well known fin services company through a connection (my cousin) and got a verbal return offer. My senior year I basically missed the boat on full time recruiting, not that I would have landed anything anyways. I interviewed for one consulting position and got destroyed (didn't even know what a case interview was). At that point I had very little concept of what investment banking was - only a couple of my close friends were going into finance and no one in my family was even remotely connected to the industry. I ended up accepting a position in financial control with the company I interned at.

Within a few weeks of starting full time work it kinda hit me that I wasn't in college anymore and that I would be working for the rest of my life. I have always been a competitive person, but generally channeled that into sports or school, neither of which were really an option anymore (although I do still get out on the rugby pitch occasionally). The work I was doing was pretty mind numbing and I started to panic that I would end up doing it forever. I didn't know what else to do so I studied for and passed the first level of the CFA the December after I graduated. I discovered WSO and started learning a bit about the different finance professions. My roommate was in banking at a top BB and seemed to be relatively fulfilled by his work so I started looking into it more. I ultimately decided on the IB route because 1) it was the safest, most tried and true route for someone with no discernible real world skills, 2) I had already killed too many brain cells to do trading, and 3) I wasn't necessarily enthralled with the public markets.

I spent the next six months getting my resume in order, scheduling informational interviews and prepping for CFA L2 in June. As soon as I passed the test I "went to market" on my job search. I think I landed 3 interviews over the course of 8 months - 2 were through online job postings, including the job I ultimately took, and the other was through an alum from my school (the bank was a bit out of my league but the interview experience was great).

I was a little under 2 years out of school when I started at a boutique bank focused on lower middle market companies, primarily doing capital raises (PIPEs, private placements, etc.). I was told later on that the only reason I was given a shot to interview was the L2 CFA on my resume and that without nailing the interview there was no chance I would have landed the job on my qualifications alone (which were admittedly minimal). I was the only analyst and straddled both banking and "advisory", which was really just a consulting type service where we helped companies market themselves to institutional investors and/or get their shit together for a capital raise. I loved the guys I worked with and learned a lot while I was there, but we simply weren't closing any transactions (2 total in the 10 months I was there, neither of substantial size) and there was constantly turmoil within the company. I finished the 3rd CFA in June and started to put feelers out for a lateral.

Recruiting for banking is infinitely easier when you have banking experience on your resume, particularly when you are targeting boutiques, who generally are looking for lower risk hires that don't need extensive training. Within a month or two I had two interviews and an offer at a boutique just from online applications (both were eFinancial if I remember correctly). I decided to turn down the offer in hand because it wasn't a significant enough improvement over my situation to warrant a job change. I took about a month off from the search and then started up again in September. I had a phone interview through the WSO job board and then got a response on a cold email to a boutique in another city (which happened to be my hometown). I ended getting an offer at the latter and packed my bags and moved home. Started at my current shop just after Thanksgiving.

Been here a little over two months now and I'm loving it. Mostly doing sell side M&A, which we weren't doing much of at my previous shop, for private, middle market clients. We have a B-D under our corporate umbrella but don't do many capital raises. I'm also staffed on a buyside engagement at the moment, which is way less fun than I expected. Only about 12 people at my office and I'm one of 3 analysts. People and culture are awesome and deal flow is pretty exceptional.



2) What made you decide to go for investment banking rather than say corporate finance or consulting?

I kinda covered this in #1 but really my decision came down to risk aversion (IB is kinda the standard path), the fact that I didn't have any skills, and how much I despised the work I was doing at my first job (heavy accounting, some FP&A). I wouldn't advise using this answer in an interview.

Comments (29)

Feb 6, 2013

Wow I talked to Duff a lot on the chat and didn't know his story. Awesome stuff

Feb 6, 2013

great story

Feb 6, 2013

Thanks for sharing Duff!

Feb 6, 2013

Awesome read, SB'ed.

Duff, would you mind sharing your "informational interview" and networking experiences. It doesn't seemed like they really paid off that much as you mentioned you had 2 resume drop interviews and an interview through an alum. Do you feel like the passing of CFA Level 2 made all the difference? Didn't know IBs cared so much about it.

Feb 6, 2013
Brouhaha:

Awesome read, SB'ed.

Duff, would you mind sharing your "informational interview" and networking experiences. It doesn't seemed like they really paid off that much as you mentioned you had 2 resume drop interviews and an interview through an alum. Do you feel like the passing of CFA Level 2 made all the difference? Didn't know IBs cared so much about it.

Informational interviews were pretty integral to my job search, despite the fact they didn't necessarily convert into interviews (though I got several warm leads). Talking to bankers helped me understand what I was getting into and how to go about my search. I also was able to start some relationships that can hopefully be beneficial in the long run.

I think I am the exception rather than the norm for the CFA. It was indeed integral for me getting that particular interview, but only because the person screening held the designation in particularly high regard. The job search really is a numbers game when you don't have the strongest qualifications. Eventually something on your resume will strike a cord someone screening, you just need to maximize the things on your resume with that potential.

    • 1
Feb 6, 2013

Wow, really cool post. Honestly, your story is extremely similar to mine. Like scary similar. But I'm currently on the part where I'm studying for Level 2 CFA. Glad to know someone has already paved the path I hope to follow and gives me a light at the end of the tunnel for CFA and an IB gig!

Feb 6, 2013

Thanks for the story. It was very informative

Feb 6, 2013

great story!

Feb 6, 2013

Would you recommand someone just out of school to focus on CFA or more networking/informal interviews/resume? Basically my question is...if the CFA really that useful to land a job in banking?

Feb 6, 2013
Peeather:

Would you recommand someone just out of school to focus on CFA or more networking/informal interviews/resume? Basically my question is...if the CFA really that useful to land a job in banking?

why cant you do both?

Feb 6, 2013
Oreos:
Peeather:

Would you recommand someone just out of school to focus on CFA or more networking/informal interviews/resume? Basically my question is...if the CFA really that useful to land a job in banking?

why cant you do both?

I would not mind trying to do both. But I know it is very time consuming with full time work and all. And from what I read a lot of people suggest to focus more on networking etc. I would like your take on that

Feb 6, 2013
Peeather:

Would you recommand someone just out of school to focus on CFA or more networking/informal interviews/resume? Basically my question is...if the CFA really that useful to land a job in banking?

Networking and preparing for interviews will be the more useful endeavor, unless your resume has a huge finance hole in it. I was working a job that rarely exceeded 50 hours so it wasn't super difficult to balance the two. Also, if you ever do plan on doing the CFA, right after school is the time to do it (I can't imagine having a family and trying to do it).

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Feb 6, 2013

Great post!

Feb 7, 2013

In a similar position at a boutique and pondering a lateral....did you attempt to contact MM/BB's? If so, what kind of response did you receive and what kind of challenges should someone looking to move from boutique to middle market anticipate? I'm concerned about exit ops coming from a boutique w/o a long track record of analyst placement but that has been excellent experience overall

Feb 7, 2013
Goodguy119:

In a similar position at a boutique and pondering a lateral....did you attempt to contact MM/BB's? If so, what kind of response did you receive and what kind of challenges should someone looking to move from boutique to middle market anticipate? I'm concerned about exit ops coming from a boutique w/o a long track record of analyst placement but that has been excellent experience overall

When you say you have gotten excellent experience but don't have a long record of analyst placement, that sounds a lot more like my current shop. I didn't get great experience in my first gig due to limited deal flow and turmoil within management.

I did reach out to a fair number of MM shops, but the only one where I really got a response was the phone interview through WSO. My focus was primarily on boutiques though.

Ironically, about a month after I started my current job I got an email for an interview at a lower tier BB (which I turned down). They would have been looking at my old resume which didn't show any significant transaction experience.

I will caution that changing firms in the middle of your analyst stint is far from ideal. You need to relearn processes and get used to a new environment/culture. You should really think about what the marginal benefits would be from moving to a larger bank. Absolutely crushing your full 2-3 years at your current boutique might be worth your MD pulling some strings for you when you decide to exit. This could prove more valuable than just having the larger bank name on your resume and you won't have to go through the process of starting a new job.

Feb 10, 2013

Duff, maybe I missed this in your responses but were there further considerations in deciding to target boutiques (vs. bulge brackets) during your lateral search? A 3.65 GPA, CFA Level 3, and banking experience I have to believe that you would have been a strong candidate for lateral positions at a number of bulge brackets.

I agree that changing firms mid analyst stint is not ideal, however it does make a lot of sense for many individuals. The way I thought about it as I was going through the lateral search, I was disappointed with the deal experience I was getting, was unhappy with the culture of my team, and with mediocre educational background I felt that I could really benefit from moving up to a more 'brand name' firm in terms of exit-opps. If these apply to you as well, than a lateral is something that I would certainly consider.

Feb 10, 2013
duffmt6:

When you say you have gotten excellent experience but don't have a long record of analyst placement, that sounds a lot more like my current shop. I didn't get great experience in my first gig due to limited deal flow and turmoil within management.

This may be a broader question, but can you expand on the bad experience at your first gig? How many deals were you working on in a year? I am asking because I am talking to a boutique that does 3-4 deals a year (deal size varies but sub-$200M). It's a small shop. How do you figure out the culture of a boutique. They don't tell you much in the interview and google isn't really helpful. I am from non-IB background looking to make a decision about moving into IB. I have worked at places with turmoil/cultural issues before. My worst nightmare. Don't want to end up in a crappy place again like your old job. Thanks for your help.

Feb 7, 2013
ghandi:

Where do you see yourself down the road?

I get into this a bit in part 2. I'm really a "play it by ear" type of person and don't have any specific long term career goals, though there are a few things I could see myself doing. There are too many factors to really plan your life much more than 6 months in advance.

Feb 12, 2013
Comment

We can't rely on anyone these days, we just have to do things ourselves don't we?

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