Switching to IB as a University Junior

Hi,

Currently going through a mid-undergrad crisis. A little background about me: studying CS, Statistics, Mathematics @ a HYPSM school. Done a little bit of everything - published deep learning research in natural language processing, developed software at both a startup and a FAANG company, worked @ a macro hedge fund as an investment analyst, and working as a quantitative researcher @ a statistical arbitrage firm this summer. Asian male, 4.0 GPA, 99th percentile SAT, full graduate courseload. Enrolled in concurrent masters' degree program. 

Had some talks with my friends and family in IB/PE and realized that I might want to go into IB/PE after graduation - parents have been pushing me to take the more traditional finance route the past year because of higher comp, better exits and career path (parents seem to think quantitative research hits a dead end). Issue is, I haven't taken a single course in Economics since high school (I've done shit like Econometrics, Investment Science, Stochastic Modeling, etc, but not particularly relevant to IB...) I know how to use Excel decently well and am a fast learner - totally willing to pick up the skills needed for the interview. I'm scheduled to graduate in 2023, but my current plan was to take an extra year for my Masters' degree, then use this year to apply for Investment Banking internships. I've been thinking about this more and more lately - is this switch even worth it this far in to my degree? If so, what are some resources I can use to get caught up ASAP? Are my parents right that the IB/PE route earns more than the quant route? Is it possible to do Quant/Macro Analyst -> VP at bank -> Portfolio Manager? 

Please be honest with me - my feelings won't get hurt.

Thanks.

Comments (9)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 22, 2022 - 9:52am

With your background, I think you will be a very compelling candidate for a lot of banks. I have plenty of friends who majored in Engineering all the way to English / Literature and landed spots at amazing banks - major does not matter as long as you have critical thinking skills, are a strong communicator, have a great work ethic, and are meticulous. 

If you think IB is right for you, there are plenty of resources out there (BIWS Guides, 400 Questions Gude, WSO Guides, etc.). The most important thing right now is to just network with as many people as you can. I am confident that there are plenty of people who graduated from your HYPSM school who are in IB and would be happy to talk to you about the industry. 

Per your discussions with other industry professionals, I'd collect their opinions as to when you should apply / what your specific timeline would be considering that you are taking a year to do a Master's degree. My guess would be

Summer 2022: Land some internship finance-related / recruit for Summer '23 IB internships

Summer 2023: IB Summer Analyst internship

Summer 2024: Start Full-time after graduating with Masters degree

If you apply the same work ethic you have had during college to the recruiting / networking process, there is no doubt you will land at a top BB bank. Best of luck

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 22, 2022 - 11:50am

Don't listen to them, it's BS. Quantitative/technical work is the future and is much more interesting - do yourself a favor and stay on that path.

Let me ask you this, to help you decide if you aren't convinced: do you feel like your comparative advantage to the rest of the world is IQ or sales? Because banking and related ultimately are the latter.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 23, 2022 - 10:10am

Would you say MBB is IQ, sales, or neither?

  • Analyst 1 in CorpDev
Jan 24, 2022 - 12:43pm

Consulting in general is IQ at the beginning and predominantly sales as you rise through the ranks (almost identical to IB for broad strokes purposes). At my old consulting firm there was a top performer who literally had no idea what was going on (e.g. what work our team was doing), but put together entire speeches just based on buzz words and vague analyses on what a company's pain points were. She was attractive and not all that bright, but consistently sold work. Moral of the story is that if your social skills are weak or you have a face for radio, IB / Consulting will not pay the highest dividends long-term if you are intelligent. 

Jan 23, 2022 - 10:34am
Toll Ride, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you stick with the quant world I promise that you will have a much better life, because you'll actually have a life, while making just as much, if not more money, than your IB/PE peers. I personally think the quant sub sector of finance is the best in terms of money and WLB, but a lot of people just aren't nearly smart enough to get in. My friend who works as a quant trader at one of the big market makers said that his comp got boosted when IBs comp got boosted, even though he was still only working 35 hours a week and the IBers were working 90, and this is straight out of undergrad.

Jan 23, 2022 - 10:18pm
FIG newton, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fwiw the two sigma et al -> ML/AI startup -> multi-$bn exit pipeline is pretty robust. People like to say that quant comp has an upper ceiling relative to traditional finance but I think they underestimate the optionality you have as someone with a cutting-edge technical skillset

  • Analyst 2 in HF - Macro
Jan 24, 2022 - 2:17am

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