Interview: Former Stockbroker and Bond Trader Turned IB Analyst

Social Ethics. It taught me different social contracts people believe in and how each person of a certain belief acts. If one can identify a person’s social views and relate to them it does wonders for negotiation.

During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school? I was not able to. I had to do it the old fashioned way of cold calling and working hard to get my Series 7. From there it was cold calling again to get to every position I have had. I wish I had been more proactive during undergrad for this type of thing.

What kind of internships did you have during ugrad? None, I became a manager of a summer camp instead and started a movie program at a country club that grew tremendously while I was there.

Do you have any professional certifications (CFA / CAIA / CPA / CIIA, etc.) ? I have passed both levels of the CAIA. I need a few more months experience before I can put the designation next to my name. I am doing my CFA now.

If so, how has that certification helped you in your career? People are very curious about the CAIA and ask how I feel about it. They think it will be more useful down the road in a few years once it has been established longer. It helps get me an interview.

How did you initially “break-in” to the industry? I got my Series 7 at Fidelity, where I was a broker. After that, I cold called as many people as I could and showed them examples of previous work. Having the CAIA and working towards my CFA also helps.

What were some of the main factors in getting the job position you have now? That even though I have worked as a trader that I am willing to work for free to establish myself in IB and research.

What are some of the specific things you do in your current position? I do comps, financial modeling, executive summaries, decks, marketing etc.

What is a day in your life like during the workweek? Can you give us an hour by hour run down of your typical day? Have a 2 hour meeting Monday morning going over the week’s activities. Then a 15 minute meeting the other days. Depending on what the MD or associate needs, I usually start with that. If there is nothing else I will read market news. After that it is pulling comps, going over financials or creating a model. Then the end of the day is used for marketing. Before I go home, I always check the news again and once more before I go to bed.

What is your favorite part about the job? What is your least favorite? My favorite part is going over financials and doing research. The worst part of my job is doing the grunt work of calling people to make sure they received their information.

How did your background (life up until graduating college) best prepare you for where you're at now? My background was spent working as a server and manager of a summer camp at a country club when I was in college. It taught me how to multitask and meet many different expectations at the same time. It also taught me how to manage people appropriately. In my fraternity, I learned that many want the benefits but expect other people do the work. That attitude will come back to haunt you as you do not gain a good work ethic. This contributed to me having a great work ethic and that will always carry you far.

What is the company culture like at your firm? What is the size of your firm? The culture is one of helping each other. For every project there is at least 2 MDs to make sure the client does not feel pushed to the side. People gladly help each other with previous contacts and will reach out to anyone that might help. My firm is 20 people.

What type of person (what background / knowledge / experience / personality) is best fit to do your type of job? Anyone who is inquisitive, who will go out of their way to learn what they don’t know and who will always ask for more work. It goes without saying you have to have a personality that can take abuse and give it and also be sociable at all times.

How do you see your type of role and your industry as a whole changing in 5 years? 20 years? In 5 years I see my role only being more competitive. People will want investment banking or research jobs and will work for free for longer amounts of time just to get their foot in the door. I cannot make a projection for 20 years as the world will entirely be different. People in the 80s would never of thought the internet would be as big as it is now. Or in the 90s how easy it is for data to be exchanged. Life will be completely different in the next 20 years.

Did you ever have a mentor and who were some other influential people who helped you along the way? Yes some family contacts and people I met through the family contacts. The other would be reading about successful analysts, bankers and traders and reading about their struggles to become a part of Wall Street.

Are the sacrifices you've made to date worth the benefit realized by you so far in your career? Yes.

If you weren't working in finance, what do you think you would be doing? Medical device sales.

What keeps you motivated? The challenge and my drive to compete.

How much does money motivate you? Probably a 6/10, I would rather be doing something I enjoy for less money than making money doing something I don’t enjoy.

How much does someone in a role like yours make per year (base + bonus)? I work as an unpaid intern. As a trader I made a base salary of $66k plus 4% of profits as bonus. If I get a FT offer I will make 90k with a 50k bonus.

Have you ever considered leaving your job to start your own company? Yes, but instead I do that on my spare time so I can continue working.

ADVICE:

What is the one tip you would give to current students (ugrad and/or grad students) to help them succeed? Work hard on your grades, join a fraternity(great for networking, teaching you how to act in social situations and time management), do internships, make friends with your professors and find a mentor(s).

What are some tips for moving up and becoming “the boss” (i.e. a department head / managing director / partner)? I am at the early stage of my career so I do not have any tips concerning this subject.

Any specific cold-emailing or cold-calling tips you can pass on? Yes, remember names and keep calling. Try to find out their accomplishments or ways you can relate to them. If a person can see themselves in you they will want to help you.

Any specific networking tips you can pass on? Join professional societies, find one person you know well and ask for introductions to other people.

What is a memorable experience you have of how someone got your attention? (for networking / internship / job purposes) The person straight up just emailed me and asked if I could meet for networking. It never hurts to be direct. I respect that a lot more.

What are unique things college students and young-professionals can do to separate themselves from the crowd? Network, get an internship, come up with an investment strategy and keep a record of it. Or start your own company. Even if you fail, you at least learned something.

What are some ways (in general) someone could best prepare for an upcoming internship or ft job at a firm like yours? Read as many books as you can, read the news. Do anything that will make your skillset better. Network and cold call. I will take 99 “no’s” if I can get one “yes”.

What is your opinion on gaining relevant experience at a lesser known firm vs. working for a brand name firm (with less relevant experience)? It is always better to gain relevant experience. Later on it will become apparent who did not have as good as experience and you will suffer as a result while the person with relevant experience excels.

If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen? Formatting and grammar.

If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what is something someone can do to make their resume stand out among the crowd? Make sure it is easy to read, it is formatted well and there are no mistakes. A lot of resumes I have looked at have mistakes and they do not flow well.

What are your thoughts on this statement: “Wall Street is a more meritocratic place than most. If you are a young person and you have good ideas, people will often listen to them, if you are in the right role” ?
I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes you will be shot down but as long as you work hard and have good ideas people will eventually listen to you.

Any other interesting stories or wisdom you would like to share with the WSO readers?
I have a few. Some are about work, another about a physical injury, one is about wrestling alligators and the others about relationships. Here is the one about the injury.
I had torn my labrum so that any amount of pressure on it would cause a dislocation. After surgery I was not able to use my left arm for anything. I could not cut my food, I could not put on shoes that had shoelaces because I was unable to tie them. I learned to cut food with my right hand and tie my shoes with one hand. I soon became able to do almost anything once handed.

I did not realize that the worst part was still to come. After healing from the surgery, I was put into physical therapy. Physical therapy was quick, they just made it so I could move my arm a little bit and that’s all. They told me I would not be able to do the same type of physical activity I was doing before my injury. I would not be able to rock climb, I would not be able to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I would not be able to even do a pull up or bench press. To me this was inexcusable. I research exercises that would slowly increase my flexibility and strength and would do them for several hours each day. When I was having trouble with them I went out and got a trainer to just focus on getting my shoulder back in shape, as the physical therapist said they would not see me anymore. It took me almost 2 years but by blocking out several hours a day I was able to rehabilitate my shoulder back to almost perfect health. I can rock climb again, do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and any exercise I want. I have full flexibility back. I was able to accomplish this despite being told I would never be able to do it again.

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