Q&A: From Call Centre Brokerage to BB IB.

Hi All

Im not sure if anyone finds this useful but I wanted to do one of these AMA's. Before you all roll your eyes on another typical post on another person securing a role at an BB IB… hear me out… my background does not traditionally lend itself to moving into such an area….

I started at a call centre at a retail brokerage firm (think Schwab). To which I made the transition over to a wholesaler for a mutual fund. Then to PWM and then into Structured Credit at a BB. The process took roughly 14 years.

This may sound like a long time but I believe the time spent out side of IB really helped me become a well rounded person and also helped me actually find what the fuck I like And didn't like about different departments at an IB.

During this process, I've interviewed for roles in Equity Research Sales, HF sales, Prime Brokerage, Equity Derivative Sales, FX and Rate sales, Credit Sales, ECM Syndicate, M&A and TMT coverage. So a lot of failed interviews. But For each interview, I really dug deep into each area, talked to a lot of people in those areas and found out what exactly I liked and didn't like about the areas. Eventually I had a good idea if each department was right for me or not.

I'm hoping to help anyone who is in a similar point in their career answer any questions they have.

Moderators. Plz delete if not allowed. Thx

Comments (19)

Most Helpful
Apr 27, 2022 - 6:40pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey it wasn't hard per see, it's really about patience and knowing what you like and don't like. For example

At the call Centre- I learnt that I was good with people, and sales was an area I wanted to peruse. But I wanted to get closer to the markets and see how people pick stocks into a portfolio.

I then started emailing people at mutual funds for find a investor relations role. They usually hire jnr staff who have some aspect of financial literacy and exp.

At the mutual fund - I realized picking equity and credit names isn't for me. I didn't like reading every piece of research on a position so much I couldn't tell what was my opinion and what was some sell side research paper was telling me.

At that stage I was networking with IA's and found an IA at a BB. Literally during some after work drinks. We hit it off and after a few months later he messaged me about a job to come work at PWM with him.

At PWM (which was with a BB)- I liked how my IA was focused on IB type transactions which fit outside the traditional mould of PWM (think block trades, OTC options on single names, stock loan, TRS positions on listed co's - yes the book had clients that had enough money to do that)

At that time I knew I enjoyed the execution and sales aspect of finance.

I looked into Equities naturally and found that the industry is slowly shrinking due to low touch electronic trading. Which meant that the days of an equity sales trader will slowly (not instantly) become smaller and smaller.

The same goes with FX and Rates and IG credit.

This all came from taking your time and doing your research and NETWORKING. That actually works… so much that I spent time and money to fly my self to other offices and meet heads of businesses "just to find out what the hell they did"

If your internal it's best as the people you email won't be so stand offish. But be prepared for a lot of non reply's… don't take it personally. I'm a big believer of "everything happens for a reason".

Also one last thing. The WSO mentors are a great resource. I've got a favorite that I use and he was fantastic in validating a lot of the things I've learnt and cementing down how alot of the banks functions work and which area would suit you.

Eventually if you show interest, a few months down the track (or even years) having that network in place pays dividends.

Apr 27, 2022 - 6:49pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks so much man, just posted something in the other comments hoping that helps. Take your time and do your research - there's infinitely more resources out there to learn what you like and don't like.

Network, network, network!

But don't go in asking for a job, show interest but rather ask for mentorship. Maybe it's the salesman in me, but giving the hard sell is a much harder way getting in.

Apr 28, 2022 - 8:53pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Working at a retail brokerage I think gave me a good idea on how the broader investor market works. More importantly… how to service clients. If anyone has done it before, you are forced to get good with people. Especially with dealing with different personalities and egos. There was an element of sales in my role which forced me to get even more out of my shell. I think what most people don't really emphasise is that banking is really a client service business.

e.g. whether it is IB, S&T, PWM or wholesaler or IA – you manage a portfolio of client relationships. Your goal is to understand what the client wants and needs. Your job is then to see if your desk can provide that service to that client as cheaply, efficiently, effective or as flexible as possible. This applies to every product class or service. With that in mind, I learnt that every one in FO is doing is a client service role and it has forced me to properly manage client's wants and needs.

Hoping that make sense….

Apr 28, 2022 - 10:54am
Beerking, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Respect. Knew someone who started at a similar position and made the transition to BB S&T. Real hustle.

My question involves exit. Would you consider exit to PE or anything?

Apr 28, 2022 - 8:54pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I haven't really thought about it. Again working in different areas in finance I have learnt what I like and didn't like. I think the aspects that I enjoy is managing clients and being able to deliver on a service or product for a client. If there is an option to work in a PE role which allows me to work with clients and provide solutions to them – then I would def give it a go. But I'm in no rush. I'm finding it insane seeing people jumping from IB to PE within 1-2 years – only to exit to somewhere else after. Looking form the outside I would be asking "have you really 100% perfected your craft" – can you really say honestly that you know how to execute from start to finish a deal all on your own (or understand ever detail of it). In my opinion that comes with more than 1-2 years in a role.

Apr 29, 2022 - 10:08am
Beerking, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great mindset!

I wanted to actually ask from an age perspective. I'm a late starter myself, just moved 'on track' lately, and am enjoying what I do. But can't stop thinking about whether it's too late to make another move given the options that I have now, at this stage (while many kids prob made it there at 25). 

Hearing your thoughts is inspiring. Sounds like you know exactly what you want and I should def focus on that rather than the age anxiety. 

Apr 28, 2022 - 10:28pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think starting in PWM at a BB gives you a massive advantage. You are in the BB country club now.

Regardless of the department, you now work at the same firm at the IB. My first advice would be to build a reputation within that department of being a good operator.

The work may not be exactly what you want to do – but if you build up a reputation of being competent at your job – you will have no resistance when you are ready.

The 2nd thing I would be doing is to use the directory…. Being at a BB you have access to the directory of every employee at the IB and S&T – you see who is in charge. You can then look at the lower ranks and see how their career progressed into getting onto that desk. A useful tip would be to try and find someone who was in PWM within the firm that is currently working on the desk you want to work in. There are probably a small percentage but they do exist. Once you find them, don't be afraid to write a well thought out email to reach out. Again like I said previously – don't go out and ask for a job – build a network and show interest and find out for sure if that desk is right for you. The best part of working at a BB already (even in PWM) is that it isn't a cold email as such – as you work at the same firm.

Reach out to as many people as possible on this point. I made the effort to even fly to my BB's head office to meet with heads of desks to at least get an understanding of what their desk does day to day (it also shows initiative)

3rd thing I would do (only after you have done the 1st point) is to build a relationship with the internal mobility recruiters within your BB. They wont help you get the job but they can at least give you an idea on gaps in the hiring and where you could possibly go (they may even help with an introduction)

4th thing I would do is try to get your IA to do transactions that involve the IB and S&T desk. Usually this involves corporate equity derivatives (for option hedging for significant stake holders), block trading (with the ECM Syndicate desk) or non-standard lending (say yacht, private plane or concentrated stock lending). Being on deal like these helps you get noticed with the IB and S&T…. I realise this is something out of your control but I know for a fact that PWM's at BB's try to collaborate with the IB quite a lot to deliver on non-standard solutions for PWM clients (which differentiates them from non BB PWM clients)

The final piece is to take your time in that role. Do your job well first and take your time with the search process. I did feel at times that I was lost and people were passing me by. But I do think my time outside of the BB helped me become a bit more seasoned and helped me pick up things a bit easier.

Apr 29, 2022 - 11:19am
What is Upstart, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your answer, but I am actually not trying to use PWM to get to IB or S&T, my question was more focused on anything you wished you had known when you first started out (as I have no previous experiences at any bank). 

Still great answer, will definitely use the opportunity to network and get a clearer understanding of what other divisions do

Apr 29, 2022 - 3:42pm
TradeO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey! Thanks for posting.

I'm currently in a similar role, I work on retail call center side but specifically for options / futures trading. It's a good gig, and they pay me well, but I really want to get into prop / options market making… perhaps S&T but to my understanding BB banks don't do a whole lot on the equity options side which is what I'm primarily interested in.

My question to you is: what aspects of the brokerage job did you reinforce on your resume to land your next job? And what clout (if any) does brokerage experience give you in pursuing another line of work in finance?


May 5, 2022 - 6:26pm
Dn1086, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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