Pursuing a masters or lateral to get into Investment Banking in Australia

Hey guys, I'm a graduate with a commerce degree from a G8 university and am in a bit of a bind. In a nutshell I left my double degree (alt exit early) to take a role at a small boutique specialising in TMT that really showed some promise. That role didn't work out so now I'm stuck looking at my options. I'm trying to go down the route of getting into a Big4 and lateraling over in a few years however, am afraid given the current market that might not eventuate. I'm also considering taking a year and a half to do my masters and re-apply for intern/grad. I found my WAM was my biggest anchor given its really weak (taking <70). I get postgrad hiring in Aus isn't common but I was wondering if you guys had any thoughts about my situation and advice? Cheers!

*I should also add I have a decent amount of internship experience across boutique buy/sellside, case competitions and extracurriculars are covered well


Don't do it. Even with good grades it's insanely difficult. There exception here is if you literally think you can get 92/93+ wam (I'm actually not joking).Big 4 and lateral is much much easier, more control and less bs. Plus you get to stay working.Postgrad finance in g8's is built for international students and there is absolutely zero recruitment support so your just competing against the undergrads and they will interview the 90 WAM math comm/comm law/compsci with finance case comps kid over you.. Recruiters arnt fooled. If you did a commerce undergrad and the a finance masters they know your covering and the bar will be much higher for you to get your foot in the door. Plus with postgrad there are actually a lot of programs you can't get into, comps you can't compete in to get noticed etc.if you do do it, do a nested program as a comm supported student. Will substantially reduce the degree cost (unsw for example allows a grad cert that is heavily subsidised that allows a full credit transfer into full masters. Will literally save you 20 grand). I wish I had known this earlier.

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For investment banking, almost nothing. It really is competitive and short of consulting (MBB) its difficult to lateral unless you are already inside the company.

Australian commerce/finance programs are flooded with asian students promised the world by their universities. There is a huge intake from mainland china and india into these programs. (think 85% of the cohort is international). European masters programs face similar issues from equivalently ranked universities. The prestige of certain institutions there though, prohibits them from aggressively filling places.

To use this as a viable pathway into IB means you have to be more competitive than the undergraduate cohort who are obsessed with IB from Y1 (and lets face it, they have 2-4 years to prep for penultimate internships, masters students have a single term). You are competing against a group of young people with both a stronger track record of success and a vigour to succeed powered by pure ignorance (it really is bliss). Many already excellent students don't realise they are literally competing 100-1 for every single IB intern spot.

Think, who would you rather hire? A 4th year comm/law student with HD WAM (indicating 4 years of consistently exceptional results) with active, recent society engagement (allowing better access to the analysts on the other side of the hirevue/interview) or the 1st year masters student with poor undergraduate results who is likely disconnected from the finance community given the gap between UG and PG? Ignoring these factors, they've simply been prepping longer than you have and have fewer major life priorities (partners, mortgages, other responsibilities) to further impact crunch time preparation. Those I've seen enter successfully from masters, already had a strong undergrad in some other field (think engineers or lawyers). 

Masters is more viable in other banking roles (research, trading, sales, middle/back office) but it still is very competitive.

Not to say it cant be done. Its just really really difficult for the reasons outlined above.

I would go and pass all 3 levels of the CFA before entering a master of commerce/finance. you will put yourself in a much smaller comparison group and get something literally impossible to achieve for undergrads. I would then do a master of finance (not commerce), with a first year term 1 of literally a 92+ WAM. Then apply to the boutique advisories to get some recent corp finance on resume before hitting SA apps. 2 Corp finance internships minimum + the above and you might just have a chance. If you can manage all the other soft skills and pass the initial quant screenings you'll at least get in for a couple interviews I would imagine. The rest from there relies on some X-Factor that I hope you've thought about long and hard before this point.

If you cant think of the X-Factor. Don't bother with any of the above because you'll get all the way to the door before being rejected because you look like the 50 other finance kids they've interviewed already. That all sounds grim because it is. Plain and simple.

Intake into big 4, lateral to valuations/M&A team + 2years work experience in my mind would yield a much higher chance of ending up in IB because your cohort for competitive roles is simply much smaller.


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What alternative careers would you suggest looking into for Business grads in the Australian market? Almost everyone wants to go into IB and when they don't they are stuck it seems.


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