Advice for London 2022 Applications Cycle - A Couple of Observations

Intro

Long-time lurker on the forums but never started my own discussion, thought I'd lose the v-card by noting down a couple of observations that have come to light as we are now well into the student cold calling window. Hopefully this will be useful.

Firstly, it's worth pointing out that Pan European Monkey has a fantastic thread on London IB in general which is available here: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/20-most-frequently-asked-questions-london-edition.

This is a couple of years old but the information still broadly holds true, my one main comment is that the processes seem to kick off slightly earlier now (August / September rather than September / October). 

Observations and Advice

  • When you ask to connect on LinkedIn you should include an introductory message providing context, just adding someone doesn't really do much and they are much less likely to accept
  • Would try to avoid referring to "EBs", most financial professionals won't care but some HR departments care a lot and it's a bad habit to pick up (would go for "independent advisory firm" or just "boutique" instead)
  • Would be very careful about applying "generally accepted" rankings posted on WSO, the information is useful but people can be quite sensitive to this and the London exits situation is quite different to NY (see the PEM linked thread above)
  • Despite networking being less important in London it's still worth it to apply to (and go to) firm networking events and reach out to professionals via email / LinkedIn (my personal preference is LinkedIn) - you can pick up statements that you can regurgitate at interview and they will better prepare you
  • Please apply to the full spectrum of firms in London to make sure that you don't miss out on a summer next year - I see way too many people applying to about 15 firms and then getting upset when they don't get anything, a lot of the processes are random here so please hedge your bets
  • Casting a wide net for networking on LinkedIn is very reasonable but focus on people that have the closest possible background / story to you for the best results
  • When you go through superdays / ACs try not to be a dick to the other candidates, there have been several times where I have come back across people who were in the same processes as me and they have provided referrals / favours - strike a balance between holding your ground on something and not being a pain in the ass 
  • Firm-wide networking events or careers fairs are not particularly pleasant experiences for the firm members attending, focus on striking up a pleasant conversation that they will remember and then dip out with a view to reaching out to them later - don't overstay your welcome (and for the love of god if you're at LBS don't give them your business card!)
  • Always thank people for their time quickly at the end of a call and with a very quick follow-up note later that day - this is a relationship business and it's not a good look to not come across as appreciative (nice touch to offer to pay for the coffee as well, we all know that we won't let you but almost always puts a smile on my face)
  • Would steer away from asking about technicals when you meet up / call as fit is almost always the deciding factor at interviews and although it's important to be clued in (particularly on market knowledge and commercial awareness) a small technical error is fine - it's pretty boring to get away from the desk for a bit just to be asked about what the best technical prepping materials are
  • Be the best version of yourself and try to be as chilled as possible - we understand people get nervous and sometimes this manifests as overconfidence / braggadocio but just try to rein it in a little
  • During networking just let them talk and follow the conversation - if they're talking about training for a marathon ask a follow-up question about running, there's nothing more jarring than being mid-flow on a topic you find interesting just to be hit with "So what is the culture at Bank X?" 
  • When you're reaching out via LinkedIn triple check your messages and copy and paste from a blank template not from previously sent messages - nothing worse than getting the wrong bank name or addressee on the message
  • Don't reach out to alumni at banks you're looking to lateral to before you've even started your internship - it's not a good look and runs the risk of damaging your chances of securing a full-time offer from the bank you're interning at

Closing Remarks

I hope that some of this advice will help those of you who feel like the London recruitment process is a bit opaque. The London system is almost certainly more luck-based than the US equivalent and networking holds a lot less weight but can still yield some useful insights and occasionally an important referral. I will also add anymore observations that come to mind in future / any that pop up in the comments so please feel free to add. Best of luck!

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Comments (18)

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:20am

I don't agree with the linkedin message request. I've tried both and it didn't seem to change much. Some people even told me that they don't accept people when they already know it's to network and just accept people when they think it's spontaneous. The key thing is to add people from your school. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 19, 2021 - 11:26am

It just flat out won't work for some people and there's no getting around it. But most people are more receptive to a request with a message than just a blank request. Agree that people need to focus on reaching out to those with the closest profile to themselves for the highest success rate:

  • Casting a wide net for networking on LinkedIn is very reasonable but focus on people that have the closest possible background / story to you for the best results
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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 21, 2021 - 7:41pm

Think it would depend on the context of the message and the person's background / age / chances of actually getting a spot. In general I probably group my likelihood of response under:

  1. Candidate already has an interview coming up for my team specifically - will almost certainly try to give advice assuming there are no glaring errors in the message
  2. Candidate is from a strongly relevant background (smaller banks / Big 4 advisory) and will likely have HHs reaching out but is not in the process already - will try to give advice if I have time
  3. Candidate is from a less relevant (but still possible) background and just wants to learn about the process / job - generally won't respond given time constraints but if you caught me on a quiet day with a good message I could take a call at short notice
  4. Candidate is from a broadly irrelevant background or shows no real initial understanding of the process - would require a very specific personal connection in order to take the call 

To answer your question directly, at Big 4 audit you're somewhere between 2 and 3 so there'd be a pretty good chance of me taking a call if I had the time and the message didn't have errors / weird questions. But it would be pretty unlikely that I would refer or anything like that following the call.

Aug 23, 2021 - 8:52am

Hey, thanks a lot for the really in depth repsonse, very helpful. One final thing if I may, are there exit opps from IBD which have solid pay but decent wlb? Im not sure what exactly I mean by solid pay but roughly £150k and up but with decent wlb? Or are most banking exit opps similarly intense? Thanks

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 21, 2021 - 4:57pm

I would also add one point which happens many times from those who studied at HEC, and that, we, alumni, are not usually supportive with:

Please dont send an invitation saying "I will shortly start my internship at XXX bank in the XXX (i.e. consumer team) and I would like to join XXX bank in Paris / London / NY"

This is a very bad first impression, you have not even started with your internship and you already want to jump from the boat

That's a no from my side, if I receive your CV I will not provide an interview no matter, this shows no ethics. If you already started on that firm this would be different tho, and I would be open to listen why you would like to change, what did you not like at your current firm and what would do you expect from mine

I even saw someone being exposed in Litquidity or one of these finmeme accounts when he did this for a TMT role 

Please dont do it!

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 22, 2021 - 3:49am

The worst part is that many times they will join teams where some GE colleagues are working at.

This means that they could could destroy your conversion if they happened to get offended for any reasons

Sep 20, 2021 - 2:26pm

hi there,

just starting my MSc in London so this is all super useful as well as linking Pan European Monkey's post which is one of the best out there.

I had a question surrounding ER interviews, are the technicals similar to IBD? Or will it be mostly fit also? 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 21, 2021 - 6:33am

I have no idea on ER quite frankly.

Just to clarify, IB interviewers will ask technical questions and if you royally mess them up you'll still be rejected. My point is mainly that people focus too much on the technical preparation and not enough on the fit side / being aware of how they come across. A little technical slip is much more forgivable than someone with a terrible personality.

Sep 23, 2021 - 4:56pm

Thanks for posting. How often do you see American transplants coming to the London office of their respective firms? I am interested in doing so and my firm told me its a possibility once I get my promote to Associate, but wanted to know if you've ever seen anyone do that.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 23, 2021 - 8:04pm

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