AMA From a Semi-Target Lower GPA to a Hedge Fund and Bulge Bracket

Joobacca's picture
Joobacca - Certified Professional
Rank: Orangutan | banana points 366

My story to get to where I did is a very strange one. I went to a semi target school, had an OK GPA, didn't join any finance clubs, and had zero connections into the business. At this point I was pretty much shunned and didn't get any interviews at a bank, even regionals. I personally didn't think I would ever get to where I wanted to be in finance, so I shifted to try and look at consulting, as the big4 recruited heavily at my school.

So I was lucky enough to get a position and I started my career at EY in their BAP program and was put into a valuation team. I realized because I was working with specialty finance, and a complex one at that, this could 've my chance to try and leverage it to break into finance. I worked my ass off learning for just less than a year and wanted to leave from their as soon as I can. I happened to find a HF on LinkedIn of all places who posted and applied. Out of sheer luck, I got an interview and an offer as an Investment Analyst after 3 rounds of interviews.

The next two years I reverse commuted to CT and learned the business. We went under. Having not many connections, i relied on my resume to do the talking, sending it out to recruiting firms, company HR portals, and LinkedIn. Finally, after a few weeks, I got interviews at PE firms, BB shops, capital raising, and boutique AM and trading shops. I got multiple offers and took one at a BB.

To me, it is satisfaction knowing one can get in when they are totally ignored and don't have the perfect gpa in the beginning. In just 3.5 years, it all changes with no connections helping.

The summary is generalized, but If anyone has any questions I would love to give any advice people are looking for on any front. To me, I went through a lot of psychological changes to thinking I wasn't good enough to landing at one of the most prestigious firms in the world in a short time. I'm very lucky, and I want to help others get out of that mindset I was in.

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Comments (19)

Aug 17, 2017

Did you leave gpa off your resume after your first job? Did anyone ask about your GPA after your first job?

Aug 18, 2017

I kept it off, but some places asked for it and I would tell them, and didn't really frame a response to it. If anything I let my interview do the talking when speaking about technicals. It'll really depend on the firm.

Aug 17, 2017

Could you break down what specialty finance you were doing in EY BAP? From what i've heard most EY BAP'ers work on finance implementation projects (accounts payable, internal cost analysis) so curious how it helped you transition to the buyside.

Aug 18, 2017

Yeah the BAP program does a lot of financial regulations, ccar work. We had the ability to align into structured finance, specifically for myself, the valuation team. The other team in the program is the one that works alongside banks in deal creation. Most exit opps from that group is IB. Valuation is a bit trickier. But now you just apply directly to the program, from what I've heard.

Aug 18, 2017

The one thing I will say with BAP that they don't tell you is, if you stay too long, you're exit opps are going to be back office most likely because that's what you help in. If you want to get a more front office role, leverage their name early and try to get out within 2 years. That being said, EY is a great place to start your career and a good "boomerang" firm. Also being able to charge things to the client for working more than 10 hours is an added bonus

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Aug 18, 2017

how difficult were the interview questions? (behavioral and technical)

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Aug 18, 2017

At which place? My asset class is impossible to fake, you either know it or you don't. Most places really focused on technicals. The technicals ranged from describing a specific ABS deals structure, tests, triggers, payment waterfalls (these aren't bullets with coupons or only sequential pay, they can get pretty complicated), and how I went about modeling my curves (VPR, CDR, 60+, SEV) and what stress scenarios I ran, to where I see value, what are the trends, market info, legal issues and current litigation, hedging strategies, return profiles (levered and unlevered), and thoughtful discussions of specific asset classes, like subprime auto, for example. This is the way to differentiate yourself, and i think this is what helped me once i got into the room. There's definitely other stuff but I'm blanking. If you don't know an answer though, it's okay to say you don't know but want to learn it. Being a younger analyst, higher ups wants to know that they can teach you and grow within the
organization.

Behavioral I didn't really get any tell me about a time... questions. They asked why I like the asset class, what I want to do, why did I choose what a studied, why this firm, easier things like that. They can figure out the type of person you are by how you conduct yourself, howbthoughtful your responses are, and can you generally just have a conversation! Every interview I make sure to talk about things non finance and connect with them on a more personal level, whether it's sports, movies, music, books, etc.

My asset class is very different than others, so technical wise may vary. If you're interested in structured products I'm more than willing to walk you through

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Feb 13, 2019

Messaged you !

Aug 18, 2017

Well done man, story could have done with a little bit more struggle (didn't get a high reading this one).
With regards to technicals, did you learn more from your job or self-studying?

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Aug 18, 2017

Thanks.. tbh I want to focus more on the fact that just because you don't get interviews out of school doesn't mean you can't get to where you want. I don't want to highlight my "struggle" or get a "woe is me" because I personally don't want that type of response... I went to a good school, I still got a good job out of college and was able to maneuver. Just want to make sure those going up the ranks know it's not the end of the world if you don't get it right away and you still can get there, you know? I see students flipping out when they dont realize the opportunities given to them right now are better than so many around the world and that should never be taken for granted.

To answer your question it was a mix of both. Reading offering memos, presale reports and looking at how cashflow flowed through different scenarios in Intex helped me a lot. It takes time, i would study in downtime at work and during weekends. My seniors also helped a lot and gladly answered any of my questions. I'd say I learned the most on my own reading the legal docs and using intex while asking clarifying questions, so it was a mix.

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Aug 19, 2017

Mad respect my guy.

I didn't mean write a struggle story so people felt bad for. But so people can see how you handled your business during your uphill climb and emerged victorious.

It provides encouragement for people who may be in similar situations, which gives them the strength to believe in themselves so they can persevere.

I also get off on struggle Pon but that's not the point (damn, I love watching the underdog win).

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Aug 18, 2017

What's your current role at the BB you're at?

Aug 19, 2017

I'd like to keep some anonymity, but work in secured lending. Hope you can understand that

Aug 19, 2017

What do you think about people's statements that sending your resume to recruiting firms, company HR portals, and LinkedIn is a black hole and won't lead to anything?

Aug 19, 2017

Well I don't think I can bash it, because I got one job via linkedin direct to company and another from a recruiters posting on linkedin... that being said, I did reach out to a lot of recruiters and i would say 90% led to nothing. If you are qualified and find a specific position with a recruiting firm, they will work with you to get that interview, it's how they make money. I have been receiving calls from firms now that I just sent my resume to, so there can be successes.

I also got two interviews at great firms, one IB and one PE, through their portals. If you match what they want, they'll reach out, simple as that. I did tailor resumes individually.

I do believe people who claim all that stuff is a black hole and nothing comes out of it either didn't have a good resume or didnt qualify. Otherwise, how else are you supposed to get a position, by referral only? Then so many people would be unemployed.

Sure it's absolutely harder to stand out, but if you are qualified, you'll be looked at. Utilize EVERYTHING. Apply to 100 recruiting firms. Apply to every posting you see on LinkedIn. Apply on company sites. Reach out to your contacts. To say one never works and not utilize it isn't a smart move.

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Aug 20, 2017

For the capital raising interview you had, do you mean like a Placement Agent that raises capital from LP's for general partners? Was this on the banking side similar to a Private Fund Group, or one the indepent side like MVision? I'm hoping to get into this line of work. Was the role for a project management job, or distribution job?
You seemed to have had a techincal background, what stood out to you about the job, and what did they like about you?

Aug 23, 2017

It was capital raising for hedge funds, AM and CLO equity as well. They do some really niche products as well, the job was really interesting. It was Park Hill Group, really big in that space under the boutique IB PJT partners. It would've been an analyst kinda just helping on all sides.

I really liked the firm and the people. I double majored in college in finance and marketing, so I do really enjoy conversing, traveling and doing the pitch. I try to have a mix of both technical and more macro and interpersonal skills, I think everyone should, it's important skill to have. I always say when they ask in interviews, marketing helped me learn how to sell, because whenever you talk, you sell something, even yourself. They liked that I worked in products they were trying to get into, and I would understand the client need because I was on their side.

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Aug 21, 2017

When you started at EY what city were you in? Just curious if someone is trying to break into finance in NYC just how beneficial it is to be close geographically.

Great post, banana for you.

Aug 23, 2017