A strategy for SA applicants late to the game like myself

Hey all. I wanted to share a strategy (there are many. this worked for me so I wanted to share) for SA applicants late to the ridiculous timeline of IB

In February, I had zero networking calls. Hadn't even sent emails to schedule them--I was totally asleep while most of the uber-prepared were already interviewing and heavily networking. 

By the time I had truly began networking and preparing in late February and early March, many opportunities were closed or past realistic attainability. 

My strategy early was to just network 2x as hard to make up for my lateness. I was spread thin and exhausted from this. It also led me nowhere. It was at this position where I decided there was a better plan at this stage.

Instead of sending 20 emails a day to different banks and groups, I narrowed in an area that interested me most, and one that I would be passionate to do full time, and networked heavily just within that area.

This worked for two reasons:

a) It gives you more time since you are not casting a wide net, and instead focusing on depth. I was only emailing 5-10 a day max, and had much higher response rate because...

b) Bankers are much more likely to respond to you if you are showing passion for THEIR niche, and not "investment banking" in general.

Together, this allowed me to establish meaningful connections, who gave insightful knowledge into their field that I leveraged in interviews. They also certainly pushed my application along as well--they want passionate, interested people to be working under them.

It took me about one month to execute this plan, and in that month, my response rate skyrocketed, I competed my first superday, and received an offer. 

To those late for this ridiculous recruiting cycle, consider this strategy. It may not work for all, and it is not over if it doesn't work out, but I thought I'd share.


Based on the most helpful WSO content, your strategy of focusing on a specific area within investment banking rather than casting a wide net is indeed a wise approach, especially when starting late in the recruiting cycle. Here’s why this strategy can be particularly effective:

  1. Increased Response Rate: By targeting a specific niche within investment banking, your outreach efforts become more personalized and relevant to the recipients. This not only shows your genuine interest but also increases the likelihood of receiving a response, as bankers tend to engage more with candidates who display a clear passion for their specific field.

  2. Deeper Connections: Narrowing your focus allows you to build deeper and more meaningful connections with professionals in that area. These connections are invaluable, not just for the immediate job search but for long-term career development.

  3. Enhanced Interview Preparation: Engaging deeply with a specific sector enables you to gain specialized knowledge that can set you apart during interviews. This specialized knowledge demonstrates your commitment and understanding of the niche, making you a more attractive candidate.

  4. Advocacy from Insiders: When professionals in the field recognize your passion and commitment, they are more likely to advocate for you during the recruitment process. Their endorsement can be crucial in securing interviews and offers.

  5. Efficient Use of Time and Energy: By focusing your efforts, you avoid the exhaustion that comes with trying to network across too many areas. This focused approach allows you to be more strategic and effective in your networking efforts.

Your experience of shifting strategies and seeing a significant improvement in outcomes is a testament to the effectiveness of this approach. For those starting late, it’s crucial to adopt a targeted strategy, as it not only enhances the quality of interactions but also leads to better results in a shorter timeframe. This approach is particularly useful in the competitive and fast-paced environment of investment banking recruiting.

Sources: Fashionably Late: 6 Steps for Off-Cycle Recruiting, FT recruiting timeline London, Advice for Networking Calls for SA Recruiting, Networking and timeline for 2023 FT IBD recruiting, Networking for very early SA recruiting this cycle

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

This is a pretty helpful thread, thanks. I'm in an even worse position as I'm waiting to join an EU target this Fall. I will have the admission results within the 15th of May and coming from an EXTREMELY no-name UG (few alumni even in big4), I haven't even bothered with recuiting. What are some key steps that you'd suggest taking? I'd really appreciate your insight. (I am 99% sure I'll get into this target school)


I'm not familiar with the process so do you think I might get invited to an interview within few days? I'd imagine it'd be pretty awful if they caught me in such a lie immediatly


Try and indicate what about the niche you like and what part of you (passion, club, class, major, project, etc) connects to that niche. This can be easy or difficult depending on what you're going for. The most important part, I think, is making clear that it is their field that you are interested in. The second most important would be proving your interest concisely


Hey man good work. I was late to the game too, but I still haven't got an offer yet. I've been able to get interviews, but conversion has been pretty bad. What were the biggest things about you that you believe allowed you to progress (aside from technical knowledge ofc).


Try to look up some articles relating to the group/industry on WSJ or NYT and learn about some recent deals, better yet some deals that the company has done within the group, that'll give you something instantly to talk about and also just mostly encourage them to talk about themselves!


Agree on above ^

Since you're already interviewing, are your behaviorals ironed out? Have you networked decently with the group? I would say those are the two biggest points of focus that allowed me to succeed in my interview


Luck was involved to an extent, I caught the right people at the right time. That said, it was an upper BB, and as my post suggests, I networked heavily--not only in volume but also in the sincerity and quality of networking calls. They enjoy talking to people passionate about their field. Consequently they are more likely to remember and push your name through

Most Helpful

Whatsup man, I've seen your name around pubfin stuff, awesome to see you gaining some real traction. I was pretty surprised that a whole interview (out of the 3 in my superday) was dedicated to technicals, I had sorta assumed most of that was out of the way through the hirevue and by nature of pubfin having slightly less technical interviews. Anyways, half the interview were market related questions--what's going right now, specifically in the muni market but also broadly from a macro perspective. The other half was about knowing some of the technical terms in the field.

These are ones that I especially remember, but I can think harder if you want more practice. For resources, since there are so few available for public finance, get familiar with and read major headlines on bondbuyer (use a proxy to get past paywal). Check out muni market newsletters that banks put out, they give you a good overview of what's going on (Raymond James had a good one I used).

I would highly recommend writing down important market metrics on a post-it note and stick it on ur screen or somewhere easily visible. Not to rely on, but if you can 'recite' where the 10yr yield is at, where the average AAA muni bond is, and other stuff you see fit, it's a great play.

Feel free to reach out again if you have more questions. Best of luck friend


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