AMA: Investment Banking in Singapore

cricket008's picture
Rank: Baboon | 169

Hi All,

My background:

I am a senior Analyst in the Investment Banking Division of one of the international banks. Entered the field after receiving a return offer from my Junior year summer internship.

Ask me anything

This thread would be most applicable for College Juniors / Seniors looking to enter the Investment Banking (i.e. M&A and GCM, not Markets) space in Singapore.

Feel free to ask me anything about Investment Banking from a junior perspective and I will try my best to answer based on my experience.

Comments (127)

May 6, 2019

Hi, i'm entering university in 2 years, and i'm currently applying to singapore universities. May I know which degree would most likely get me in investment banking? And also the GPA and extra-curricular required? NUS or SMU?

I can't decide between business administration and accounting. I've heard rumours about the latter being harder to score in and get a high GPA because of the way tests are marked.

Sorry for the many questions! But I really look forward to hearing your reply!:)

Thanks so much!

May 6, 2019

Your degree is not really relevant. Im currently taking a tech degree (CS/IS) in one of the 3 local Us and going to one of the BBs for summer. In fact, it is rather "interesting" when you are slightly different.

Of course there are pros and cons. Since Im taking a tech degree I have to split my time between studying finance for interviews/internships and programming for my degree. I imagine it's slightly easier if you just study finance as your degree so you dont have to study other less "relevant" things. It's really up to you what and how you want to learn.

Between business and acct, you are right acct is harder to score. BUT you learn many important things in acct since im IB acct knowledge is fundamental. You can always learn acct even if you are in business but with less structure it's harder. GPA is still important of course so I lean towards business. Keep in mind, GPA is most relevant in filtering out candidate at the start. Once you meet their cut-off, it doesn't matter much. Your interviews and tests would be the main determinant factors.

For CCA, it's most relevant when you are looking for your first internship since you don't have any exp. Join any of the finance CCAs to showcase your interest and learn a bit on what you are getting yourself into. After your 2nd internship, it's not relevant anymore.2

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May 7, 2019

Thank you so much for the insightful comment! I'm struggling to think of the other jobs/paths that business degree students might have if they don't make it into the banking industry. What are the options and any advice you'd give me if I were a business student?

May 7, 2019

For Singapore colleges, the most common are Business Administration and Accounting. Typically a 3.5 GPA and above will suffice.

If you study Accounting, be prepared to be tested on Accounting technicals at a deeper level than others

    • 1
May 7, 2019

Thanks a bunch! If you don't mind sharing, may I know your degree, the school, and your GPA?

    • 2
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May 8, 2019

Hi! Sorry for the previous post. It was an insensitive question.
Could you share some examples of what it means to be tested at a deeper level on accounting?

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May 6, 2019

How large is the size of your team? Also, if you were to give a rough estimate of the average size of deal you would work on from a M&A perspective, what would it be? From a career standpoint, do you see yourself in IBD long term?

Thanks for the AMA!

    • 1
May 7, 2019

10-12 people. Deal size about US$500m - US$5bn. It's a possibility - IBD in Singapore can be a long-term career path as people are generally nicer to work with than in the US

May 7, 2019

At what level do you start to specialize in an industry?

Thoughts on S'poreans working in IBD in US/UK and then moving back home? Is it quite an easy move? Does the overseas experience carry some value?

May 7, 2019

In Singapore, the offices usually have corporate finance teams that cover M&A and GCM together, with sector teams based in Hong Kong. Hence you may specialise in a field only at the VP level or above (though you can "specialize" by requesting specific project types to your staffer)

The overseas experience is not really valued as much these days. There is an excess of candidates in Singapore at junior levels - The preference would still be for Singaporeans who did College in the US / UK looking to work in Singapore upon graduation

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May 7, 2019

Hi, with regards to landing an internship with investment banks, would having CFA certification increase one's chances of getting it? Also, how important are business case competitions and what else do banks look out for specifically in the selection process apart from GPA?

Thank you!

May 7, 2019

Not really. CFA is not really useful in IBD. Be prepared to get quizzed more in-depth on technicals if you mention you have taken the CFA

Case competitions are a talking point - It can go both ways depending on how you answer in the interview

Most important experience I've seen so far are previous IBD internships - especially 6 month ones as these students tend to be more polished in their corporate finance skills. SEA languages are a significant advantage since the Singapore office usually covers SEA

May 7, 2019

What about students without any prior IBD internships? Are they required to have relevant internship experience in corporate finance before applying for IBD internships afterwards?

May 7, 2019

Can you shed some light in pay for a top BB analyst pay? From 1st year to associate?

May 7, 2019

S$10 - S$12.5 for A1-A3

Goes up a bump for Associate 1

May 7, 2019

S$10,000 per month you mean?

May 8, 2019

if it's S$10k then it's roughly $7.5k (USD) what's expected bonus like? and how heavily do you get taxed in Singapore?

    • 1
May 7, 2019

Thank you for doing this @cricket008 . Here are a few questions I have:

a. Are banks open to hiring at Analyst levels from the new MS Finance programs at NUS and SMU? If yes, is there any bias against immigrants in these very programs?

b. I recently had a talk with a student in the MSF program at SMU. She said the financial recruiting in Singapore has been shrinking for a while and it is an uphill battle for immigrants pursuing graduate school programs. Up to what extent are these assertions true?

Once again, thanks for doing this. I hope we all get to hear from you, soon!

May 7, 2019

No bias against them. Be prepared to be compared against Singapore College undergrads who are generally very capable though

Yes, IBD recruiting has been shrinking in the last few years, due to a shrinking fee pool and lower deal activity. Most of the campus hires are replacement hires

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May 8, 2019

Cool. Thanks for the info.

May 7, 2019

What's your comp?

Array

May 7, 2019
The Accidental Banker:

What's your comp?

As above

May 7, 2019

Thank you so much for doing this. These are some of the questions I have:

  1. Do you work across different industries within M&A and GCM that you mentioned in Singapore office? Or do you specialize in specific industries and if yes, when is the point you start specializing?
  2. How is the deal flow within the Singapore office? I guess that Singapore office mostly work with SEA clients but do you work with other clients from China or HK often?
  3. How is the FT recruiting process for your office structured? I'm currently a rising senior at a US college and want to search for opportunities in Singapore but dont know much about the networking style in Singapore. Can you give some advice on the best way to reach out to people? (cold email, linkedin?)

Thank you again and hope to see your response!

    • 2
May 7, 2019

Yes. You can try to specialize by requesting to your staffer. As far as I know, only JPM does sector specialization at the junior level in Singapore

Deal flow has been slowing in recent years due to macro factors. Mostly SEA. Hong Kong / China clients are more rare, usually in cross border scenarios involving an SEA client and a Hong Kong / China client

Attend the campus presentation sessions of these Banks's Asia IBD division. That would be the best way to make an impression for internship interviews. FT recruiting is very rare in Singapore since most FT hires were interns and headcount is so little compared to the US (e.g. 2-5 a year, except CS)

    • 2
May 7, 2019

Would you say the best banks are generally similar to the US hierarchy? GS/ JP / MS at the top then Citi/BAML/CS etc.?

Most Helpful
May 8, 2019

In terms of deal flow, JPM and MS are the top 2. CS is a close third

Next in the pecking order are Citi, BAML, UBS, and Evercore

Others with some presence in Singapore include Barclays

GS is not really in the top 5 in Singapore due to the 1MDB incident

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May 8, 2019

I would say MS is ahead of JPM recently. CS has strong deal volume.

How is Evercore tiered with Citi/UBS?

Barc is lacking in Singapore; does not have an equity team.

    • 1
May 8, 2019

BAML on the list is very surprising, I think there's only 3-5 analyst in Singapore, if not less.

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May 8, 2019

Are students be expected to have in depth knowledge of financial modeling(or any other skills) or is it something that you pick up during the internship itself? Also, do most analysts in IBD go for their masters in order to get promoted more quickly or would a bachelor's degree suffice? Thank you!

May 8, 2019

The most important traits to have are grit, humility, and a willingness to learn

Basic knowledge of finance is enough (3 statements, basic valuation techniques like DCF and comps). However, having modeling skills and other practical skills (e.g. structuring principles for M&A, knowledge of markets for GCM) is a plus for performance evaluation during the internship. Learning on the job is expected

College degree is sufficient. Grad degrees are more common in the UK offices of the international banks

    • 1
May 8, 2019

How are the working hours like in the IB industry in Singapore? And are Analysts required to stay on with their associates when they don't have work to do?

Thanks!!

May 8, 2019

Usually you start between 9.30 - 10AM. When there's no deal execution / RFPs, 9PM is possible. Otherwise, it can range from 11PM - all nighter depending on the project and the stage of the project

Face time depends on the bank. From what I know, Citi, UBS, and CS has that face time culture

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May 8, 2019

Any pros and cons for getting into IB in the "lower tier" banks like OCBC,HSBC,DBS, etc etc?

May 8, 2019

I've always heard that hours in Singapore (& other ASEAN countries) are much much worse, simply because banks have to fight so hard for deal flow. The hours you stated are actually pretty reasonable. Is it just bank dependent?

Jul 25, 2019

Is it normal to work on weekends?

Jul 25, 2019

Are the hours for associates or post mba associates better?

May 8, 2019

This summer, I will be interning at KPMG (deal advisory department) and next semester (starting september) I will go on exchange to Fudan University in Shanghai (master in finance).
Afterwards, I would love to to an internship at an investment bank (or local PE fund) in Singapore.
Do you know if it is at all possible for an international student (I'm Belgian)? Any tips on recruiting for Jan. 2020 or in general? Thanks a lot sir!

May 8, 2019

It's possible, but you will need to work extra to get that internship compared to Singapore nationals studying in the US / UK / a Singapore college Junior

The Singapore offices prefer the latter 2 due to foreigner restrictions on the work force and the high quality of Singapore college students / the commitment to Singapore they show by studying here

My advise would be for you to attend the Banks's campus presentations in London and make a strong impression when networking with them - especially highlighting why you want to work in Singapore and your commitment to SEA. Completing a semester in one of the Singapore colleges and an internship here before applying to the Junior year IBD internship in Singapore can demonstrate your commitment to SEA

    • 1
May 8, 2019

I go to a UK target uni and I'm not Singaporean. Would it be hard to break into IBD in SG? Should I still apply for summer internships in SG or apply elsewhere and try to move to SG later down the road?

May 8, 2019

Yes, it will be more challenging for you, unless you are a South East Asian national

If you are a South East Asian national and can speak your home country's language fluently, go for it - you would stand a good chance due to your college experience and your language capabilities

Otherwise, would suggest for you to apply to the UK offices - recruiting in Singapore is significantly more challenging due to the limited headcount. Also wouldn't put your hopes up for an internal transfer to the Singapore office - usually the Singapore offices prefer to hire someone already based in Singapore and the talent pool here has an excess of candidates

May 28, 2019

Bump. SEA candidate, UK target uni also looking into IBD in Singapore or HK. Any advice? Should I consider taking any finance job in SG and then going for IBD or doing something relevant in my city then going for IBD SG? Thank you!

May 9, 2019

Hi,

I am applying to university this year, before I enlist in NS. I wanted to know how do UK semi-targets like Bristol, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Durham face up against the SG universities. Also do you know if there is more or less competition for IBD or FO roles in BB's in SG or in the UK, in terms of Openings to Applicants ratio. I am a Singaporean.

May 9, 2019

Don't see much representation from those Colleges in IBD here. Definitely see more Singapore College kids than those UK Colleges

Definitely more competitive in Singapore, due to the very limited headcount here. Do note that the UK is challenging for foreigners as well, as they tend to prefer UK / EU nationals (at least until before Brexit)

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May 9, 2019

thanks for your info, when you mean they tend to prefer UK/EU nationals, is this because of Visa requirements or just bias's that exist.

May 13, 2019

Perhaps I could chip in here as I know quite a few people from those semi-targets. If you end up in 1 of those names, aim for the UK. Work hard, network, go to events, apply to SWs etc.

It's going to be really tough for Singapore office coming from a semi-target unless you've a solid, solid background.

    • 1
May 9, 2019

Hi there! I'm still rather new to WSO, but thanks for doing this AMA!

I am a Singaporean pursuing a Masters in Finance in the UK, and I did my undergrad in SMU back at home. I am looking to break into the IB/PE industry upon graduation in September.

  1. However, I do not have any previous IB or PE internship experience, the only thing I have is a good GPA (first class) in my Masters and non-academic stuff (student council, co-founder of startup etc.) How good are my chances of breaking in?
  2. Given the choice, would you rather work in London or in Singapore for IB/PE?

Thanks and much appreciated!

May 9, 2019
  1. The GPA is good and the extra-curriculars are good to have. The internship experience would make your case more challenging - most of the interns my place accepts has prior internships, since in general these people have more polished technicals
  2. Singapore IB / PE any day. Tax rate in London is very high compared to Singapore, food there is not very palatable, and there's generally a bamboo ceiling there. Only reason I'd go there would be for transaction exposure
May 9, 2019

Hi, thanks for your reply! Just a couple more questions, if you don't mind.

  1. How you would best advise me to enhance myself since I lack the internship experience? Purchasing the IB/PE interview guides and just start networking/reaching out to firms?
  2. Is it more feasible for me to try to start off with a boutique IB/PE, or try to get a non-IB/PE role in a BB and spend the next few years to try to lateral into those?
  3. Lastly, do IB/PE recruit all year round or is there a cycle?

Thank you very much!

May 9, 2019

Hello! I am a Chinese-Canadian currently studying at a target school in the US, and am looking to break into the IBD space in Singapore/HK after graduation. I had a couple of questions about the recruiting process:

  1. What is the best way to secure a junior-year internship? I have a friend who is going to a top-tier bb in Singapore post-graduation, and he claimed that networking is much less important for Asian offices than it is for the US, and that my GPA might prove to be a huge disadvantage to getting through the initial HR screening unless I were to get an MD referral (I currently have a 3.3-3.4). Would analyst referrals suffice, or do analysts not hold any power in the recruiting process in Singapore?
  2. In regards to Singapore specifically, what would you say are the most exciting sectors to work in and why?
  3. Would not being a Singapore national prove to be a disadvantage in any way during the recruitment process? I am bilingual in mandarin/English, but am not sure if that would be an asset in recruiting for Singaporean offices.
  4. What are you looking to do after your analyst years? Megafund? Lateral transfers to another office? Biz school?

Thanks so much for doing this.

May 10, 2019

Attend the recruitment presentations and make an impression

Referral from anyone VP and above will suffice

Consumer and NRG (Indonesia projects are run out of Singapore)

Yes, not being a Singapore national is a disadvantage - your story chimes more with the Hong Kong office. Mandarin is not as useful as an SEA language in Singapore due to the geography covered here

Either stay on or go back home to work

    • 1
May 9, 2019

Hey there, I have a proprietary algorithm that automatically calculates the corporate credit rating of 10,000 US publicly traded companies. This is significantly greater coverage than Moody's or S&P can offer and we cover many small-cap and pennystock companies that have never been rated before. I'm trying to figure out who might find value in such a data set. Got any ideas on who might give me some real feedback?

    • 1
May 9, 2019

Hi, there,

Thank you so much for doing this ! I am a student from one of the 3 local unis in Singapore. Just to get a general feel:

1) Do you intend to stay in banking as a long-term career choice?
2) Of your friends working in the big banks, how many of them actually try to move on to private equity?
3) Is the recruiting in PE similar as it is in the US?

Thanks you once again

May 10, 2019
  1. Yes
  2. About half do. Others planned to stay on or move on to other fields / create a company
  3. No. Less structured than in the US, with no fixed recruiting timeline
May 10, 2019
  1. Yes
  2. About half do. Others planned to stay on or move on to other fields / create a company
  3. No. Less structured than in the US, with no fixed recruiting timeline
May 10, 2019

How has bonuses been for the last 1-2 years? I am hearing the minimum across all BB's is 6 months, with one or two BB's paying up to 12 for top bucket. Also sounds like IBD base is much lower than market? I hear that after the stub period (from August till the banks FYE / promotion period), market guys get bumped up to 11+ for Anl1?

Re: overseas experience, I saw some regional recruiters posting on job sites (for both IBD and PE) "interested in talking to overseas Singaporeans looking to come back" -- I can't imagine their experience is any much different from those that studied / worked locally. Do you know why this is the case (and isn't this mild discrimination)?

Many thanks for doing this.

May 11, 2019

As above, 6-7 months for middle bucket and 11-12 months for top bucket

Don't interact much with Markets people, so can't comment on it. I know they have the same starting base in most banks, but unsure of the difference after stub

A small minority of firms have that preference for overseas Singapore citizens due to legacy reasons. They may have more exposure to restructuring / full LBOs which are less common in Asia

May 11, 2019

Notice that Investment Banks did not do well in the recent quarter (Europe banks more so) and seems that the market sentiment is more bearish lately. Do you think the 2020 Analyst Pool will shrink?

Thanks.

May 11, 2019

Intern hiring may not be as affected (since it's not an FT role), but FT conversion of interns is expected to be reduced due to market conditions

May 11, 2019

Thanks for the info!

May 11, 2019

Hi,
Thank you for the AMA.
I am looking to apply to MSc in Finance courses for the 2020AY with the aim to get into IB/PE post graduation.
I wanted to know:
1) Do IB/PE companies in SGP hire from SGP colleges who offer the MSc Fin courses.
2) What are the constraints in acquiring work visas in SGP post graduation for international students AND/OR are their any bonds that the applicant need to sign during enrolment?
3) Lastly, any recommendations as to which colleges have the best course to offer for MSc Fin in SGP (target schools for IB/PE)?

Thanks.

May 11, 2019

As above.

  1. Rarely - have not seen anyone from those courses
  2. Your College would be better placed to answer this question
  3. None, as I do not have sufficient data points to comment on it
May 11, 2019

All WSO users,

Thanks for the active participation in this thread.

Going forward, please read through previous posts in this thread prior to posting your question to minimize repetitive posts in this thread. Thanks.

    • 1
May 12, 2019

Hi,

I'm from Korea, tech institution (Think KAIST, POSTECH) with a dual degree in Finance & Computer Science with 6 months boutique IB experience (3 more this summer in MM IB), thinking about applying to a BB winter internship (MS, GS, ...) In Singapore. Will work visa be a huge obstacle for me comparing to those studying domestically? Furthermore any advices or recommendations would be great.

Thanks in advance and appreciate any helps!

May 14, 2019

Yes it will be

The winter internships are mainly for Australia college students

Apply for summer in Hong Kong (assuming you are Korean and are fluent in Korean)

May 12, 2019

Hi,

I'm a SEA national (not Singaporean) studying in Australia. Wasn't successful in securing SA offer in SG IBD this summer, planning to apply for FT recruiting in next couple of months.

Since you mentioned above FT hires are rare and analyst pool in SG will contract, so probably don't stand a ghost of a chance but I intend to apply anw.

1) What courses of action you think I should undertake to maximize my chance? Currently, I'm trying to connect with some senior bankers sharing the same nationality with mine.

2) If the aforementioned plan didn't work out, I will try looking for some off-cycle gigs, what's your opinion about those off-cycle internships? Are they served as a substitute pipeline for FT analysts?

May 14, 2019
  1. Don't really have any advice for your scenario. IBD is a buyer's market now
  2. Off-cycle internships sometime serve as pipeline for the summer internship (e.g. JPM does that). Worth a try if they are willing to accept graduate interns
    • 1
May 13, 2019

As my username suggests, I'm a Singaporean analyst 1 working at a top pure EB in London (CVP/PWP/PJT). I'm wondering what the view on these sort of places is in Singapore, and what the ease of being able to lateral into MS/JP/CS would be as an Associate or VP if I decide to move back.

In the US/UK, these are highly regarded names and juniors have great exposure to megadeals. But I'm aware they don't have Singapore offices and sometimes not even HK offices.

    • 1
May 14, 2019

Know these names, and they are regarded well in IBD circles. Would advise moving back in the Associate level or below. Once you reach VP level, the expectation here is for you to start sourcing deals, and having Asian transaction experience helps

May 13, 2019

Hi, many thanks for the AMA! I was wondering whether you can give some guidance as to whether a European student could find a job in IBD at top banks in SG. Have studied for one-term at a Singaporean university (SMU/NUS/NTU) and loved the city. I have done multiple internships in top tier IBD, PE, and MBB. Unfortunately, I am not proficient in any SEA languages / Chinese but speak several European languages.

May 14, 2019

Your case would be challenging. Completing a semester here is not sufficient to show your commitment to the region. Banks don't want to hire people whom they think will move back to Europe after 2 years

European languages are more applicable for the London office. SEA languages are very advantageous for IBD in Singapore

May 13, 2019

What about private degrees (SIM) students trying to break into IB at banks with multiple IB/M&A internships at boutiques/big 4. Are top banks open to hiring them or would u suggest taking a masters to re brand?

May 14, 2019

Not really. Have not seen anyone outside of the Singapore public colleges

Would suggest pursuing an MBA at an M7 College. A Master degree is only helpful if it is 2 years, such that you can complete a summer internship during your Master studies

May 14, 2019

Have a friend in your position. The person joined the middle/back office as FT and lateral to front office.

Not sure how rampant is this.

May 14, 2019

Hi thanks once again for doing this.
Just want to know if the Singapore IB banks require candidates/interns to have taken the SAT? And if so, what score is good enough to put on the resume? I'm an incoming freshman at one of the 3 Unis (SMU/NTU/NUS) studying accounting. As i've heard the US offices do require applicants to have good SAT scores.

May 14, 2019

..

May 15, 2019

Thanks for your reply!
If you could kindly explain further, what would IB banks pay more attention to in a resume?

May 14, 2019

How often do you get hit up by headhunters for opportunities in other fields e.g. PE/HF/Corp Dev? Singapore COL is high so would you say your comp allows you to live well in the city?

May 14, 2019

Have you been to SG?
Singapore is much cheaper to live in than NY or SF

May 15, 2019

I wouldn't say "much cheaper"
Housing in Singapore is crazy af

    • 1
May 15, 2019

Quite often for Corp Dev and PE

It's more than enough as long as you don't go partying every week (I don't party much) and don't rent an entire apartment by yourself in a prime area

May 14, 2019

Hey there,
I'm an Australian student that's looking to work in IBD a few years into the future. Would you think making associate in Australia and transferring overseas to SG or HK is viable? Will this play out to be an advantage or disadvantage for my career in the long term? I'm envisioning my Mandarin to be good enough as to not be a problem.

May 15, 2019

If your Mandarin is business level, transferring to Hong Kong in future should be possible. Singapore would be more challenging due to the less SEA angle

May 15, 2019

Hi, thanks for doing this again!
I was reading up on SMU business school's advisory board, and I noticed some big name companies sitting on the board. Example CEO of Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, AMRO, etc.
Will them being on the advisory board bring any form of networking opp. for students?
If not, is it advisable to cold-email them and invite them for coffee/tea to get to know more about the industry and build some meaningful presence?

I apologise for the really Long question.
Thanks for sharing!

May 16, 2019

Highly doubt they will - usually these people are busy

Would not suggest contacting them simply because the downside of annoying them is too high

May 16, 2019
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