Advice for 15 year old?

Hey, I'm a Portuguese 15 year old and I am an aspiring monkey who would love to work in finance in the future, not because I want money and women, but because I genuinely enjoy economics and banking. I am fully aware of the reality that is working at an IB as an analyst/associate and I honestly don't mind spending 20 hours a day perfecting excel spreadsheets.

The problem is, my country's banking industry is a joke, with analyst salaries starting at below 1k p/month, so obviously I will try to emigrate, preferably to an actual financial hub like London and Zurich. I'm looking into UK universities but I'm not sure I will be able to study there due to my family's financial situation.

I have decent grades (80-85%) and I "work" at a non-profit organization but that might not be enough for me to secure a scholarship in a target school.

So, what advice would you give me to break into IB? What experience/activity should I add to my curriculum? Which universities (preferably in Europe since it's easier to get a scholarship) should I look into? What skills should I learn? Should I target boutiques if I don't manage to enter a target school? How do I score internships early?

Thanks in advance, and I hope I'm not asking too many questions.

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Comments (16)

May 4, 2021 - 2:37pm

Your 15 so just chill for 2.5/3 years and crank up good grades for igcse/ A levels.

Changed my comment as it was insensitive to your circumstances, sorry my bad. For LDN specifically, Straight As for Igcse to pass Uni Admission Requirements. Try to get leadership positions, good rapport with teachers for references, side projects for a strong personal statement. But most importantly, getting good a level grades to high have a higher chance to enter Targets.

Genuinely speaking, just relax my dude, there is likely a 2 year resting period before you hit Igcse and A levels if my timeline is correct that your in year 9 cause your 15. You don't really need leadership positions in school at until year 11 IMO. Cause if your writing your ps, this would 3 years ago and college positions would likely be better.

May 4, 2021 - 6:32pm

I appreciate the reply.

I am actually in grade 10 (turning 16 in exactly one month), which is still young but 11th grade exams are next year. 

I still can't understand the UK grading system, what percentage counts as an A? Google gives me very conflicting information, so I'd like to hear from someone with actual experience. 

And aren't the gsce exams uk-only? I'm still studying in Portugal, and here we only have 2 exams in 11th Grade (Geography and Econ) and 2 others in 12th grade (Mathematics and Portuguese). Is there any way for me to take those exams as well?

May 5, 2021 - 5:19am

I sort of have an idea for the grading system. During my A level exams, I compiled pdfs of grade thresholds(marks and percentages) from 2017 M/J to 2019 O/N and repeated the process for maths, econ, business, law. Since, it would take too long to talk about everything, I would just talk about a few pointers. Maths specifically, if my memory serves me right, you have be in the top 2.0 to 2.5 percent of your grade as well as having around 225 to 235 of 250. This year, they changed the syllabus and you have to score around 220 - 230 for a star in future exams. But they did just change the syllabus and written/predicted exams take place differently around the world, so unsure about how this would turn out in the future. Business, law and econ also hover around the same range, top 2.0-2.5 for A levels. I am unsure about your second question cause I am not uk based and in malaysia, but IMO if your financial situation is stable, you should take a levels or ib curriculum as its more reputable and there are so many national grades that I think uk unis wont even know how it applies contextually to their country, a in somewhere could mean c in another country as there is too many A grades. However, I still dont know how your national grades apply to uk so probably dont take my advice.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
May 4, 2021 - 2:39pm

1.  Enjoy being 15 - you have your entire adult life to fixate on career, so enjoy not having to rn. 

2.  Realize that you know a lot less than you think that you do.  You've never been in banking, so you have no idea if you "genuinely enjoy" it or not and, believe me, you would mind spending 20 hours/day in Excel (assuming you're a somewhat normal human being). 

Don't close yourself off to other careers based on a misguided understanding of what banking is as 15yo kid.  If you legitimately wind up not being motivated by money, this is the wrong career.  It's not intellectually stimulating 95%+ of the time and it's less fulfilling than breaking rocks for a living (speaking from experience). 

Enjoy having virtually no responsibilities for a few more years.

May 4, 2021 - 6:23pm

Thank you for replying. 

I have read my post again and I realize that my messaging wasn't very clear, so apologies. For me, investment banking would serve as a stepping stone to build a network and gain not only experience, but also reputation, because my "dream" is to run my own fund. I don't actually want to be in that industry forever. I just don't really care about the money in the short-term (20-30 years old). I'm also open to other career suggestions, I just chose IB as an example to follow since it seems to have better exit opportunities.

It's also very hard for me to just enjoy my teenage years when I'm constantly worried about not being good enough to get into a good university. I might not be experienced in finance but I'm pretty damn interested in it. I spend the vast majority of my time learning about this industry and it seems fascinating to me.

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  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
May 4, 2021 - 2:56pm

you want to enter one of the most competitive industries on earth. Decent grades will not be good enough for getting you into a target school. I would focus on lifting your gpa, test scores as high as possible so that you can get into a target school. Then, chill and enjoy things. 

Because knowing about IB, HF's, PE etc won't matter at all if you end up at a no-name nontarget. Even if you decide you don't want to go into banking and would rather pursue tech or law, going to a target school will make things inifinitely easier. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 4, 2021 - 5:58pm

My unironic advice is to forget about banking until you're a freshman. In the meantime, get laid

May 5, 2021 - 1:37pm

In your scenario, I would actually recommend you also to apply to some more US schools since you would qualify for aid. For UK schools, you don't need any ECs, just keep your grades at the top. 

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
May 5, 2021 - 1:59pm

Try to look into admission requirements for target UK/US universities and grind towards achieving a good placement (see the requirements for a Portuguese diploma, the admission tests, etc).

e.g. https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/for-in… (18/20 for Portugal for Oxford, note that there are also rigorous admission tests that you can prep beforehand)

If you start now and are motivated there is no reason why you shouldn't place into a target in the UK at least if you put in the time and effort, especially since they are purely focused on academic achievement unlike the US, and frankly less selective (smaller application pool than elite US colleges). You could also do summer internships in accounting or menial tasks in local deposit banks etc. to try to start building an understanding of the industry and earn some pocket money on the side.

Disagree with the other posters, the earlier you start planning ahead the easier the path forwards, although don't be a hardo about it and try to enjoy the journey.

May 5, 2021 - 3:08pm

Thank you so much for this reply. 

Isn't it extremely difficult to get a scholarship at a target UK university though? It can't just be about grades, right?

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
May 6, 2021 - 12:33pm

Yes scholarships are difficult to come by, but try looking into what organisations and foundations in your country can do to help (if you get Imperial/LSE/UCL/Oxbridge, I'd imagine people would be willing to help out), what kind of loan you could get etc. In my opinion, absolutely worth it to take on the debt if you get into a target, less so for less famous schools.

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