Should I pursue S&T or IB?

Good afternoon all,

I am currently a rising junior in college and pursuing an internship for the summer of 2020. Applications are opening up very soon, and I am torn between pursuing IB or S&T. My personality aligns more with the culture associated with S&T and I enjoy reading about the markets, but many people that I have spoken with have said that S&T is a dying industry. I'm not afraid of the long hours that come with IB and I am attracted to the widespread knowledge I will learn from my experience in IB.

Why is S&T are dying industry, and is it still worth pursuing?
What are the long-term benefits of S&T, and can I still be put in as successful of a position for the future doing S&T compared to doing IB?

Most Helpful

Seen some people bashing S&T here (for, broadly, the understandable / correct reasons), however feel that I should give my two cents (pro-S&T) just to balance the debate.

Is S&T being automated / digitised? Yes, hundred percent. Equities, in its traditional form, is dead from a trading perspective: even the more "complex" side of equities (think: options) is getting the full Skynet treatment. That said, there will always be a role for sales people. The bank will need people to flog its execution services and to maintain chummy relationships with PMs / traders on the buy side. Similarly, those PMs / traders will want a human face to give them market colour, flag issues / opportunities they themselves may not have seen, and - crucially - take them out on Thursdays. It may not be as lavish as it once was, and the availability of these roles may be tightening, but they are there and can provide a good career / lifestyle. Same goes for fixed income. Personally, I think those assets will withstand the digital onslaught a little longer, however - again - they will need sales people. Same reasoning as above.

Now, a lot of people have been making the assumption that when you say S&T you mean within a standard IB. I think that if you have a sincere interest in the markets and want to interact with them from an investing / trading perspective, there are a huge number of opportunities outside of your conventional Goldman / MS / JPM, etc. First off, you have the commodity houses and oil majors: Glencore, Vitol, Trafigura, Shell, BP. All are very active traders and deal in both paper (derivatives) and physical. All are relatively immune (for now) from automation and look to be a good place to hone a skillset that can transcend trading (albeit produce a career that may well be limited to that "business area"). There's also the opportunity to work in established asset managers, funds, prop trading shops, etc - here, you'll learn to read the market and (depending on how discretionary a strategy the firm runs) put your view to work.

I agree with a lot of what other people are saying: IBD does teach you more immediately transferrable skills, but your ability to understand and perceive risk is arguably less acute; IBD teaches you stamina, albeit in a relatively low-intensity environment - trading teaches you how to focus intently for 10-12hrs without break; IBD teaches you how to methodically value a transaction over a period of weeks, however (depending on the deal's complexity and how insightful your initial instinct was) you're likely to be second in the queue behind a trader / investor who learnt to act quickly and with precision.

Is S&T more risky? Probably. But can you still have the same opps as an IBD stalwart? Definitely, you just need to differentiate and sell yourself hard down the line.

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