Underrated banks and the ambitious bastard

Jorgé's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,121

Across the boards, you see hundreds of questions regarding exit opps; how to get to <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/kohlberg-kravis-ro...">KKR</a></span>? How does someone get into <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/paulson-co">Paulson & Co</a></span>.? Questions like these veil the poster's true motivation: Ambition. "How do you get in <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/kohlberg-kravis-ro...">KKR</a></span>?" really means "How can I be the next Henry Kravis?" and "how to get into Soros?" means "how can I get to break the Bank of England?" These are the people we aspire to be, want to work with, learn from, and maybe, compete with in the future.

So how do we get there?

The traditional path to Wall Street awesomeness has always been the <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is...">bulge bracket</a></span> banks. Kravis was a partner at Bear, Paulson a VP, and if I had to list the ex-<span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/goldman-sachs">GS</a></span> people I'd fill the whole page. Thing is, not all of us can get our dream starter jobs. Entry to the <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is...">BB</a></span>'s is getting harder and the competition is getting better.

So, are you screwed that you didn't get in?

Paul Tudor Jones didn't go to a <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is...">BB</a></span>, nor did Steven Cohen, or Stanley Druckenmiller-he was from a commercial bank in Pittsburgh. So stop crying if you didn't get to <span class='keyword_link'><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/goldman-sachs">GS</a></span>, all you need are firms with credibility, connections, and the platform for you to show your skills. Assuming you actually have some.

That said, what are the underrated firms to look into?

Here are a few of mine.

Jefferies & Co. - This is going to get a lot of flak but, with more than a few good hires along with its expansion, Jefferies has become less MM/ boutique and more of a competitor to the BB's. IBD may be a little lagging but their S&T looks pretty solid.

Nomura - This is more for the London crowd but some points may apply in the U.S. They haven't really capitalized on their Lehman acquisitions like BarCap has, but they're getting there. Being a Japanese bank, they may also get away from some regulations but to what extent is still unclear. Nonetheless, a few traders have already jumped ship to them.

Rothschild - The lesser in the upper MM group according to the forum's "rankings" but, they do a ton of deals, they're good at it, and arguably have similar exit opps.

Wells Fargo/Wachovia - I'm not even sure about this, but you can't escape the fact that Wells has the makings of a BB. Some might argue that it already is, but until they fix the kinks of their merger, their IB presence won't be as big as they really are. When they do that's another story.

Will these firms make you the next Soros or Kravis? Probably not, but they'd probably get you where you could.

Comments (22)

Aug 11, 2010

Nice post.

I like Nordea in the Scandinavian area of Europe. They have a lot of opportunities and people are doing so big things there.

Yours truly,
The Young Investor

Oct 6, 2011

..

Aug 11, 2010

Thanks, I'm sure there's a lot more but getting info on them is the problem. For example, HF placements from the bank's asset management and ER arms are hard to find. Hopefully others could chime in with their ideas.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Aug 11, 2010

I think BB&T will be known as a top bank in 10-15 years. Their silent buyouts of small banks have helped them to expand into key areas in FL and VA. They do IB but it's not huge. No one really talks much about BB&T but they dodged the crisis by not investing in mortgage-backed securities. I had the privilege of listening to their former CEO John Allison speak at WFU about how they dodged it, what makes them unique, and how they're expanding at a rapid rate compared to their competition. Very insightful and their new CEO Kelly King speaks at my school (both my school and WFU are heavily supported by BB&T) every year and is just like Allison.

Right now, their main focus is on expanding commercial banking but they do have a lot of gears in motion behind the scenes with IB.

Aug 11, 2010

Good post. There are plenty of successful people in finance who took a "non-prestigious" route to where they are. Who cares where you learned to make bread as long as you can make a lot of it.

Aug 11, 2010

how do you guys look at brown brothers harriman? they have a pretty prominent presence building-wise in New York but nodody ever talks about them much. anyone have an opinion on that place?

Aug 11, 2010

I have spoken to many BBH people and all of them say how great a place it is to work. Amazingly loyal and happy employees.

Aug 11, 2010

If I dont get into IB/Consulting from this non-target, ive pretty much decided on an internet start-up. Entrepreneurship is where its at...

Aug 11, 2010
BigBucks:

If I dont get into IB/Consulting from this non-target, ive pretty much decided on an internet start-up. Entrepreneurship is where its at...

Same situation. Have an internet idea, too. Let's form a joint venture if we're both unemployed in 5 months!

Aug 11, 2010

Its just the appeal of saying fk prestige. I can stand on my own. Just gotta keep startup costs low, I figured my biggest expenditure is going to be advertising before the launch of the site, anyway I have 2 and a half years till graduation to work the kinks out so ill just keep plotting and brainstorming....

Aug 12, 2010
BigBucks:

Its just the appeal of saying fk prestige. I can stand on my own. Just gotta keep startup costs low, I figured my biggest expenditure is going to be advertising before the launch of the site, anyway I have 2 and a half years till graduation to work the kinks out so ill just keep plotting and brainstorming....

if you want to run your idea by me feel free to send me an email and I'll take a look.

Aug 11, 2010

I heard Banco Santander is killing it

Aug 12, 2010

Applying to intern for a year at Northwestern. Don't know if I'll end up working there, but everyone who works there loves it from what I've seen.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Aug 12, 2010

Don't work at Northwestern. You realize all your doing is selling term life insurance policy.

Aug 13, 2010
Commodity Bull:

Don't work at Northwestern. You realize all your doing is selling term life insurance policy.

This is true unfortunately. Yeah, in theory you are a financial planner and all that, and you will probably have to get a CFA eventually, but what pays the bills there is term and whole life insurance.

Its a BITCH to get started too. After a series of years it gets a lot easier, but building that client base is a big struggle for most. Some upside is that you can retire gradually- you can make a decent income for years by just doing some maintenance on your client base. Many burn out within a few years. Some more upside is that you don't have a boss down your neck on a day to day basis once you get through the initial training period. If you want to cut out at noon on Friday and go play golf, no one is going to care. Similarly, there aren't any politics to hold you back- like most sales jobs, your success is entirely in your own hands.

//very close family member is a lifer and MD there.

Aug 12, 2010

I think a lot of folks need to understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to have ambition, but there's nothing wrong with patience in the midst of that, too.

Life is really a complicated game of Manhattan Paths. There's a lot of different ways to get to your ultimate destination. Maybe the light doesn't turn green for you when you apply at Goldman Sachs. So you take the other green light at the corner- instead of going east, you head south, and work for the fed for a few years. Four or five years later, JPM hires you in as a VP to rates research, and you're back to heading east. Eventually, you hit your southeastern destination of accomplishing X in life.

My goal has always been pretty simple. By the time I'm forty, I want to be retired with a farm on Lake Michigan. (Most secure retirement package ever short of a foreign invasion- as long as you can push a plow, you've at least got food.) Along the way, I've gotten to work in New York, met a lot of brilliant people, and worked on some cool systems that I thought only existed in sci fi movies. (Some MASSIVELY distributed stuff.)

Other folks showed up in New York expecting that they'd be there for two years and then go to B-school on their path to becoming CEOs of major financial institutions. They got laid off after nine months. They didn't have the patience- or the temperament- to realize that there's a lot of different paths to running your own hedge fund and a temporary setback just merits a change of direction- it's not the end of the world.

Ambition is great- but if it's not tempered with patience and maybe a little easy-goingness, it looks like some combination of naivete, greed, arrogance, or stupidity to some of the more experienced folks. Think long-term greed vs. short-term greed. So when people ask me what my goal in life is, I mention the farm in Wisconsin. I don't mention building the first electronic dealing algorithm that does block trades for institutional clients. I don't know if my career is going to go there- it could just as easily be something totally different. Just as long as I get to Lake Michigan's breezy shores by the time I hit 40, I'm a happy guy.

Aug 12, 2010

It's obviously an American point of view, because saying that Rothschild is an underrated firm in Europe is laughable! It's probably one of the most competitive and prominent M&A boutique with Lazard.

Many friends of mine went there and told me that such a boutique epimomizes the difference between fashion (Barclays, RBS, CS, etc.) and "haute couture"...

Aug 13, 2010
Camondo:

It's obviously an American point of view, because saying that Rothschild is an underrated firm in Europe is laughable! It's probably one of the most competitive and prominent M&A boutique with Lazard.

Many friends of mine went there and told me that such a boutique epimomizes the difference between fashion (Barclays, RBS, CS, etc.) and "haute couture"...

Agreed. Both Rothschild and Lazard are very respected shops in Europe.

Aug 13, 2010

I like this post a lot. Your examples are still very large banks. The true gems we have probably never heard of.

As far as current MD's backgrounds, I feel the same way. So many people have started at smaller banks and survived the consolidation of the industry. Just as in "Liars Poker," people just fall into these tracks (or at least they used to).

I'm banking on getting experience at this bb and then branching off to a smaller firm on buyside or sell side.

Aug 11, 2010

mezzmonkey and Anthony, I actually wanted to write about BBH but I think they've been scaling back on their investment banking for a while now, and with most here wanting to be bankers I decided not to instead.

Camondo and Audio, Yup, Rothschild in Europe is huge and really prestigious, they've been setting the price of gold daily for what? 100 years? In the U.S. it doesn't really enjoy that image though.

BCbanker, thanks man and yeah, they're all big but I chose those banks since all except Rothschild, are full service and can cater to whatever you want to do, IBD, S&T, etc..

Illiniprogrammer, couldn't have said it better man.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Aug 14, 2010
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Aug 14, 2010

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