Controversial

NYC is bigger and better for finance. Bigger dealflow and more opportunities by far. Some London PE firms will try to hire from US IBD programs first before then considering UK IBD programs because of the larger dealflow and better training.

In terms of living, I prefer NYC much more over London. London weather is disgusting and London is a bit too old money for me as everywhere I turn there's some insanely rich russian or arab kid buying up tables at clubs and shit.

My bias is that I'm living in London now but studied in the States so maybe I long for a world I can't have lol

 
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I get that this question is based on opinion, but some of the things you said are utter shit. The PE point is just verifiable horseshit. You have the same quality candidates with great deal flow in London. You think a priority for PE firms would be to go through the nightmare immigration process to get a US person in the UK than hire from their own backyard? Come on, use some damn logic. And look at the people at MFs and UMMs in London on LinkedIn - the vast majority come from the London or European IB scene. This is just bullshit.

20 year old Russians and Arabs spending money on tables in Mayfair is the literal opposite definition of Old Money. They are new money because their fathers or grandfathers made the cash. Old European money is from families who either have aristocratic ties or have family empires going back 5+ generations. The rich Arab who drives a Bugatti because Daddy discovered an oil reserve in his backyard 50 years ago is still new money. Not tech billionaire new, but still new.

I guess weather is very personal, but man...fuck NYC weather. NYC has more days of rain overall in a year than London (hard to believe, but true) and NYC weather is wildly unpredictable. I don't know about you but living in a place where winters are at -10C and summers well over 35C sucks. You have much more predictable variation in London.

 
The Pharma Guy:
I get that this question is based on opinion, but some of the things you said are utter shit. The PE point is just verifiable horseshit. You have the same quality candidates with great deal flow in London. You think a priority for PE firms would be to go through the nightmare immigration process to get a US person in the UK than hire from their own backyard? Come on, use some damn logic. And look at the people at MFs and UMMs in London on LinkedIn - the vast majority come from the London or European IB scene. This is just bullshit.

20 year old Russians and Arabs spending money on tables in Mayfair is the literal opposite definition of Old Money. They are new money because their fathers or grandfathers made the cash. Old European money is from families who either have aristocratic ties or have family empires going back 5+ generations. The rich Arab who drives a Bugatti because Daddy discovered an oil reserve in his backyard 50 years ago is still new money. Not tech billionaire new, but still new.

I guess weather is very personal, but man...fuck NYC weather. NYC has more days of rain overall in a year than London (hard to believe, but true) and NYC weather is wildly unpredictable. I don't know about you but living in a place where winters are at -10C and summers well over 35C sucks. You have much more predictable variation in London.

Hitting the nail on the head.

 

Yeah that's fair on the old money point, I meant it more in that its wealth from your father or grandfather than in the aristocratic, and to your point, true meaning of the term.

In regards to the PE question, I'm just going off on my personal experience and from what I've been told by mentors and through networking. Given my unique position that I could have worked in the US post-grad (student visa) and can work in the UK due to nationality I was given the advice from people who worked at high-levels in the industry to aim for US as that is how they like to hire in London. Once again, this is probably a smaller subset of the PE market but I never meant to make a claim on the entire PE market, just on "some"; and I'll admit that this may be advice or information given to me because I have the option to work in either and this may be only relevant to the particular MF MDs I was speaking to and not a broader opinion at the firm.

NYC weather may be unpredictable but in my view it beats the consistent drudgery of grey in London, which just gets depressing. And the heat in NYC isn't too big an issue as everywhere has AC but two summers ago when London had the hottest summer in decades it was horrible. Also every summer I know I do and lots of other Britons have huge problems with hay fever and pollen which isn't as big an issue for me in the concrete jungle of NYC.

 

Ok, a lot to unpack here so lets do this in order.

1) WSO is by nature a website for people to give some form of coherent and relatively reliable advice. Making industry-wide claims based a a handful of anecdotal experiences just makes no sense. To top it all off, it contradicts the general consensus on this website about deal flow in London, talent pool quality and, most importantly, visa issues. Even if "some" meant 5% or less, that still makes little sense. The only firms that may be more open to hiring from the US conceptually speaking would be MFs because they would have the money and resources to do that. Small MM or LMM European/UK shops clearly would not. There is literally no benefit to looking outside of the European talent pool if you're a shop that hires 1-2 candidates a year. You're not fishing for talent in Tajikistan here (apologies to our Tajik friends on WSO), it's fucking London. Come on man. Even if all your information in anecdotal, didn't any of it ring the bullshit bells when you heard it?

2) Yes, the grey in London is famous and it sucks. But this can be personal or not. As for the AC claim, again - it's fucking London. You think every single shop, restaurant, cafe' or indoor public facility doesn't have AC? Of course it does. With regards to the hay fever point, good on you for having steel nostrils. This is a very personal factor based on genetics. And people take medication for it, so most aren't affected. Plus, the "concrete jungle" that is NYC has a mega pollen factory in the middle of it called Central Park and wind which can blow shit anywhere. The pollen point is irrelevant.

 

I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that PE funds in London would recruit US IBD juniors because they would presumably be better trained...that is just plain wrong and absurd. If anything there is a clear bias against recruiting Americans in European offices due to them never speaking any other language than English. And I would know, I work at a US megafund

 

I did a study abroad in London for a semester during my ugrad and I also have a few close friends who are working in London, so I'm somewhat familiar with the scene across the Atlantic

Since most of you are already familiar with NYC, here's my take on London:

Cons: - Pay is substantially less due to FX conversion - in order for UK / US pay to be at par with each other, the GBP / USD rate needs to be at 1.6 (currently it's at 1.25 and likely to go down even more as effects of Brexit are felt). You can do the math but this amounts to tens of thousands $$ per year, after tax. - There is no air-conditioning in their subways (called the "Tube"). This makes commuting during the summers an absolute horrendous experience, esp during rush hour when the subways get packed to the brim. - A lot of the financial firms are located at Canary Wharf (Citi, HSBC, Barclays, CS, JPM, MS, E&Y, bunch of law firms etc). Canary Wharf is in my opinion the most depressing part of London. You know how chickens are raised in those jam packed barn / factories? Canary Wharf is basically the equivalent but for bankers / lawyers / accountants. If you were to compare it to NY, basically imagine if all the finance firms were shoved into Long Island City (Queensboro Plaza area, not Vernon Blvd). That's Canary Wharf

Pros: - The PE recruiting timeline is less structured. It's not like the US where there is that specific month or two where all recruiting takes place - in the UK it's a lot more on a need by need basis so you don't have to be stressed about recruiting 2 months onto the job, and then being forced to wait for the "next cycle" if you miss out on this round. Moreover, language skills matter a lot more than pedigree here - for example, if you're recruiting for the London office of a Germany-based fund, they will likely pick a candidate with German ties or German speaking ability, over a more pedigreed candidate. This has become more prevalent than you'd expect, especially post Brexit. - Lot more holidays in UK, and European culture is a lot more lax. I've been told that people in UK generally respect holidays and the culture is a lot less intense than in NYC, which has more of a "work is life" mentality. I've felt this first hand too when my European LevFin counterparts stop replying to my requests after 7-8pm London time. - Ability to travel to anywhere in Europe. During holiday seasons (summer / winter), my European friends instagram blow up with pictures at Iceland, Denmark, Munich (Oktoberfest), Dubai, Barcelona etc, and I just can't help but get a bit jealous, since all of those destinations (except Dubai) is within a 1-2 hr flight. - Weather is amazing - I know people will have different opinions on this but in my opinion, weather in London is amazing. Summers are not too hot, winters are not too cold and London does not rain as much as you would think (contrary to stereotypes). Perhaps I personally prefer cloudy weather over just pure yellow sunshine all the time (it's better lighting for photos!), but it's cool enough that you can walk around in London during the summer and not break a sweat, whereas in NYC summer, just standing outside for 5 minutes (even just standing still) will already have you sweating profusely. - London is a beautiful city and a lot larger than NY Manhattan (general NYC is perhaps similar size but let's be real, most of our time is spent in Manhattan). It's tough to verbally describe the vibe, but a mixture of the weather, architecture, British accents, more International demographic etc just make it one of those cities where I would have a good time even just walking around and exploring the city alone, whereas I just don't feel the same way about NYC.

So I'd say overall it's hard to compare / contrast London and NYC on a like-to-like basis as they are both unique in their own ways. If I were to sum it up, I would say that if you're more focused on making as much money as possible and hold a workaholic mentality, then NYC is the way to go. But if you're looking for a more "I want to work hard but also travel, enjoy more holidays, have a more lax vibe at the expense of likely earning less money", then London is more ideal. This is also why in London, you see a lot more cases of analysts staying on to pursue a longer term career in banking, whereas in NY, the vast majority of analysts choose to leave with work-life balance being one of the primary reasons.

Just my 2 cents

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Also some additional interesting notes about the London finance scene: - Big 4 Transaction Advisory Services is a very well respected job in London, whereas it's viewed with a lot less glamour in the US. Big 4 TAS people move over to the buy-side more often than you'd think, whereas that would be pretty much unheard of in the US - EBs are not as glamorous in London than in the US. Not saying they aren't "prestigious" (they definitely are) but they don't have as much deal flow and likewise, do not show up on European league tables. The only "boutiques" that are really relevant from a deal flow standpoint in Europe is Lazard and Rothschild. My friends seem to have a strong view that an offer at a top US bank (GS/MS/JPM) is a lot more attractive than an offer from an EB - DB and UBS are very strong in Europe. Big contrast to the US where they are generally viewed as lower-tier banks ("DB not a BB" lmao) but in Europe they definitely hold ground and are viewed in a lot better light.

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