Advice for London 2022 Applications Cycle - A Couple of Observations
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
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!