AMA: MBB, BB S&T+IB, Top MBA, US/Global

Discobolus
Rank: Orangutan | banana points 295

Been on WSO for ages (10+ years) and asked Andy to let me do this AMA with a fresh username so I can focus on giving the most helpful answers without any baggage.

I've benefited a lot from WSO, and I want to give back in the form of a parting AMA.

Main act: Ask Me Anything, because I've done a bit of everything (typical WSO campus opportunity discussion fodder).

I've (in no particular order) worked at, attended, lived in the following (one category is an offer I didn't take):

  • starting soon at MBB
  • BB S&T
  • Top MBA (a top target, not tiering it over here)
  • BB IB "lite" (one of the financing groups)
  • F500 Leadership Development program
  • Niche consulting firm (think FTI, Eurasia Group, etc)
  • Developed markets (NYC, London, Western Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc - more than one)
  • Emerging markets (Brazil, Mexico, Dubai/UAE, India, etc - more than one)
  • Top public university

(Note: tasted rejection in every category too!)

Suggested guidelines:
- don't ask questions that require me to divulge my background to satisfactorily answer
- don't get worked up if I'm critical of your function/firm/pet goldfish
- basic courtesy/EQ (ie. no highly tactical career advice like drafting an email for a coffee chat with an Associate, etc)

Ask away!

Comments (81)

Feb 5, 2018

bump

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Feb 8, 2018

bump back atcha

Feb 5, 2018

Which role made you feel the most fulfilled?

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

B-school student, haha.

Probably not the answer you @AllStateRap had in mind but it was the most fulfilling experience. Don't get me wrong, undergrad was an absolute riot, but at that stage in life you just don't realize how fleeting carefree youth is. When you've gone back to get your MBA, you try to make the most out of every hour you have, because you know how much of a grind the institutional working world can be.

As for jobs, not sure this counts as fulfilling but I definitely got the biggest rush out of the trading floor.

Can't speak to the actual job at MBB because I haven't started yet, but walking out of an interview round thinking "don't know if they liked it but I can look at myself in the mirror and say I gave it my best shot" felt pretty serenely satisfying. (Getting the good news felt pretty damn good too).

    • 4
    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

Did you work in political risk consulting? (You listed FTI and Eurasia group, which are two of the top firms for that, so that's why I ask.) If so, what was that like? I currently work in strategy consulting, but have heard incredible things about political risk consulting (especially at Eurasia Group), and want to know if it is all that it's cracked up to be

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

FTI and Eurasia are actually very different, though I grouped them together because as you pointed out, they're both part of the political risk consulting world. Can't answer whether it's all it's cracked up to be because people have such different definitions of cool, but what I can tell you is:

FTI is clustered with Kroll and Control Risks (they all do kind of the same thing), while Eurasia goes about its business in a fundamentally different way. Kroll is where the industry started and retains some mystique, Control Risks has its really nifty World Risk Map that clients love, and FTI is the most similar to regular consulting firms and probably the strongest in the US.

What do you want to know about these places? At the industry level, I'll say that...

1) Pay-wise, same kind of bracket as the non-consulting sides of the Big 4.
2) London is the epicenter (NY and DC folks would take issue with that but London is the only heavyweight for both M&A and emerging markets relationships, which are the key drivers in this industry).
3) Unstructured from a recruiting POV (driven by network and connections); faces a challenge in harmoniously putting people of messily different backgrounds one consulting service (lawyers, journalists, ex-spooks, ex-military, etc).

FTI, Kroll and Control Risks all tend to work discreetly, say little in public about their work, and embed their political analyses into professional services that are much more typical of the business world than the political world. Example: due diligence on a company's management team and shareholders. The twist is that no one is supposed to know they're carrying out the DD (unlike legal, financial or strategic DD), and in emerging markets, they will uncover whether the business and/or its owners benefit from cozy political access. These things are essentially outlawed in places like the US and Germany so the work is duller there.

Conversely, Eurasia Group is regularly speaking to the press, putting their Analysts on Bloomberg TV, etc. An exit for an Analyst might be Parliament in their country of origin, for example. Very different businesses.

I should say that very rarely will a sophisticated and well-heeled client engage these firms to give them an exhaustive political analysis on Iran, if that's what you have in mind. This answer probably longer than you had in mind so will keep it at that, pending more specific questions.

    • 3
Feb 6, 2018

Did you get into the LDP after your MBA or undergrad?

Life is too short to be on WSO. But here I am.

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

@fine-nance See first point on suggested guidelines - please don't ask questions that require me to divulge my background to satisfactorily answer. Amused by the name, by the way.

That said, indeed some LDP are more focused on undergrads and others on MBAs. I personally admire companies that are willing to commit the resources into developing undergraduate talent by giving them cross-divisional exposure, much to the annoyance of middle managers, in the hope that it pays off in the form of a better leadership pipeline. It's actually really hard to do.

However, my thoughts are that these programs make more sense when focused on MBAs, as they only really pay off in the long-term and 22 year-old Millennials are just way too unlikely to commit their careers to their first employer in meaningful numbers. MBAs are increasingly dicey for these purposes too, but an employer is more likely to find someone on the older end who has the temperament and maturity to take the longer road to success.

If you're considering a LDP, the key factor to screen for you in your Due Diligence is the level of patronage and seniority sponsoring the program. It really needs to be as senior as possible: C-suite level, preferably CEO or CFO, and the leadership needs to be emotionally vested in the program's success.

The banner program in this case is Chevron's Finance MBA program, but 1. of course there are others and 2. you still need to be a fit for a long-term, asset-intensive industry (urban legend is a highly entrepreneurial guy was hired and he quit within a week due to cultural mismatch). The more introspective question to ask is whether you see yourself as someone who can commit to a single employer for your whole career (which is less and less common). If so, a good LDP is very possibly the best job you can get.

    • 4
Feb 6, 2018

Would like to know about the entire journey. I think it'd be interesting to know how you gained exposure to such a wide variety of roles and why Consulting at the end of the day?

Feb 6, 2018

Wow. I'm not even sure my parents or girlfriend want to know about the entire journey (though the coolest parts of the journey are always non-work anyway).

But to answer your questions @DeltaDecay: I honestly craved the variety. I had detailed reasons for each individual transition, but assessing the story as a whole, if there was an overarching trend, it would be that I went from Macro perspective with specialized skills to Micro with increasingly generalist skills, which culminates in consulting.

There was a geographic element to consulting too: I decided to go back to my hometown, which has a big enough business scene for all major banks and consultancies to have offices... but is in that segment where the actual bank headcount is small-ish while the consulting presence is pretty solid.

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

I'm not sure if you didn't specify the order of your experiences for the sake of anonymity or just because your list happened to be out of order. If it is the latter would you be willing to take the time to lay it our chronologically? It helps us identify with where we might be and compare it with our own career tracks / see what is possible

(For example, if your experiences are over a 10 year span and you did your LDP towards the front of your tenure then it might offer comfort for students that fell short in IB but have been accepted into a LDP program).

Other than that thanks so much for your time. My biggest question would be do you feel that doing S&T, IB and LDP all offered a diversified set of experiences or do you feel that you might have invested some time "shopping around" trying to figure out what you wanted to do moving forwards? For context, I've been accepted into an FLDP program, am quite interested in S&T and consulting and ultimately fell short of IB offers. I suppose I'm at a point where I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my professional career but am concerned about investing far too much time "figuring it out".

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

Hi there, looks like you had fun with that screen name @financeiswacc". To your first question, the former.

Since indeed you wanted IB, didn't get it and are considering LDP...

No reason to lose hope. You may discover you really like your company, and if your LDP has the right visibility and support at the very top (see previous answer), it can be an amazing platform to develop a career. When they're done right, they turn into a bit of a 'club' whose members continually get promoted over time. And if you don't like the business or company culture, these programs get plenty of respect come b-school time. And as long as investment banks haven't completely thrown the towel in terms of being attractive employers for MBAs, you WILL get an IB job coming out of b-school.

I understand your decision conundrum. Can't make the decision for you but can offer you the following thought: the only door that will close forever if you don't take it now is S&T (whether the industry will even exist in 5-10 years is another question entirely). FLDP and IBD are still there in significant numbers for MBAs at top 15 and even top 20 schools. At that level, it is almost entirely a "fit" game.

    • 2
Feb 9, 2018

Looks like there are two of us - might have tagged the wrong guy. @FinanceIsWacc"

Feb 6, 2018

Thanks for doing this AMA. What is your take on BB vs EB IB in terms of being a career banker? Did you see your counterparts struggle to bring in deals at EBs?

Feb 6, 2018

You're welcome.

I'd lean EB as the focus on advisory will be better from a skills POV, and the $ is better these days.

Not sure what you meant by seeing my counterparts struggle to bring in deals. That responsibility is/was way above my paygrade. Happy to give it a shot if you clarify...

That said, overall the IB market is increasingly involving balance sheet, which results in way more fees for banks that are able to get in as advisors, underwrite the bridge loans, and get the capital markets mandates to fund acquisitions. This favors BB.

    • 1
Feb 6, 2018

Regarding the trend towards the balance sheet, why is this? Is there an increasing reliance upon debt to finance transactions? Higher volume deals?

Feb 7, 2018

Always harder to know the why than the what. I can't tell you for certain. The resulting financial incentives of sustained near-zero rates are definitely one of the causes. Another is likely the increasing commoditization and crowding effect in the advisory market, leading IBs to creep into capital markets' type stuff to keep themselves fed. And it is definitely lucrative to win multiple mandates off what is essentially the same one acquisition.

    • 2
Feb 7, 2018

Great answer, thanks.

Feb 6, 2018

Thanks for doing this, @Discobolus. I have decided to start my career in S&T over M&A, mainly because I enjoy markets and would regret passing up something I enjoy. With no prior internship experience in S&T- what would you say the pros and cons are when deciding on corporate vs. institutional sales & trading? Also- are there particular groups that are safer to be in for job security? I was thinking rates.

Array

Feb 6, 2018

You're welcome @Buckhead1 . I get your reasons for trying S&T over M&A. Virtually no one is an equal fit for both. One will attract you more than the other.

To be clear, is this a summer internship you're doing and you've been asked to select desk preferences, or is it the same process but for a full-time position?

You'll have seen a ton of previous threads on how basically each desk is its own world, as is each bank. So let that serve as a caveat to what follows.

You're asking about S&T for Corporate vs Institutional clients.

Personally, I prefer Institutional. Institutional clients can want almost anything under the sun, but they usually want to make money. Corporate clients by and large want to hedge their exposure to some kind of financial risk. Just the way my personality works, I enjoy the mindset with Institutional investors way more.

Take the case of Rates, which you said you're interested in. Rates Sales, two desks: one for Corporates and one for Hedge funds, at the same bank. Completely different.

As for groups with job security, asset classes come and go in terms of what's hot and what's not. Apart from the obvious (don't go into something that's getting automated and/or about to move from OTC to exchange-traded), the key point is: try to be on a desk where your bank has a top 3 market position! Life gets exponentially shittier the less market share you have in S&T.

However, ceteris paribus, in the case of Rates Sales, I'd see more job security in Corporates vs Institutional. Corporates often enter these trades because there is some kind of underlying need stemming from an episodic transaction, so there can always be a bit more of a bespoke angle to it (which gives humans a role).

    • 6
Feb 7, 2018

@Discobolus Thanks for the response - much appreciated. This is for full-time at a MM bank. I interned at a MM this summer in M&A, but declined the return offer. Before I start - I get to choose between FX, commodities, and rates on the corporate side or FX on the institutional side.

Array

Feb 8, 2018

Since you said you're leaning towards Rates, start getting your head around the usual fixed-for-floating swaps. Then look into Cross Currency Swaps (which I think are really cool), caplets, floorlets, etc.

As always with S&T desks: people fit, and market share! Good luck and have fun.

Feb 6, 2018

Which role did you feel required the most brainpower/critical thinking skills?

Feb 7, 2018

Brainpower: S&T, on a derivatives desk - the inherent abstraction and logic set a threshold that most common garden banking/business/consulting types have a really hard time meeting. Very narrow application of said brainpower, though.

Critical thinking skills: MBB (from what I've seen of the selection process). Very simple concepts all things considered, but the interviews are designed to test your agility in them. Without practice, lots of scary-smart people can make asses out of themselves in a case.

    • 2
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Feb 6, 2018

Hi Discobolus:

I am currently 1L law student who does not want to be a lawyer. I am interested in management consulting and due diligence job on the buyside, plus special situation / distressed investment. I have a not bad UG grade (3.7+ with Econ, International Studies, and East Asian Studies from a semi-target public university), but I got a terrible grade in my first semester in law school (3.0 from a t30 law school). I don't really want to quit law school because: 1. I am an international student, so I will have to leave the U.S. in the very moment I quit; and 2. I like the intensive training and skills about writing and research which I acquired from law school and I think my grade will be definitely better since I am done with Constitutional law and Civil procedure.

For the consulting career:
My ultimate goal is MBB because they consider JD as advanced degrees. I have applied many consulting summer programs (including MBB, boutique, and all types of consulting) and none of them responded yet. I did spend hours polishing my resume and cover letter, but I haven't had any consulting experience on my resume, which I think is my number one disadvantage. What should I do at this point? Keep cold emailing small/boutique consulting firms and asking unpaid summer job? If I decide to spend my summer back in China, my parents or friends could probably hook me up with a summer intern in a non-MBB firm (like big 4 consulting, or other non-management consulting firms like Mercer). It this option kinda favorable or it should be my last option? Because the job they could get for me will not be the summer associate, and it is in China (assuming I would like to work in the U.S. after graduate).

For the finance career:
As a 1L I haven't learned any course which is actually useful yet. I will take cooperate finance and other finance-related courses in my 2L and 3L. When I try to find a summer job now by cold emailing local boutique firms, what do you consider the best strategy to sell myself? What I have been doing so far are: 1. my communication/writing/research skills from law school; 2. my international background; 3. leadership/competition and other things from college.
Also, due diligence is an important work for buyside, right? Please correct me if I am wrong: as an Chinese-native-speaking law student, I might be valuable for international investors who are interested in investing China, because just like other emerging markets, China has its own business culture and it is quite different from the American one. Is there really a need for such role and if there is, how do I prove my advantage in this?

In general:
How do people consider a law student without law firm intern but finance intern? If I have little intention of working as an attorney at all and I don't mind earning less money than my classmate in the beginning years of my career. Could I go directly to finance without any attorney experience? What do you think are my advantages as a law student? I know there are tons of disadvantages.

This is a long post including many questions. I would like to thank you in advance for your time and help.

best wishes

Feb 7, 2018

Honestly, this question doesn't belong here - not that I don't want to help, but I struggle to see how my experience can be of relevance to you.

Your reason for having MBB as your ultimate goal ("because they consider JD as advanced degrees") is non sequitur. The real reason you probably aren't getting interviews is because T30 Law School is not considered a target for them. I don't know much about law, but from what I understand, T14 are the targets. I have a very good friend who interviewed with McKinsey and BCG while at Harvard Law, but that's Harvard Law, and he was that rare breed of lawyer who had a quant undergrad (think Astrophysics or Applied Math major). Of course there are cases, but I don't think I know anyone at MBB who was hired as a fresh JD - and I know a lot of people there.

Similarly, buyside due diligence, special situations / distressed investments, coming from law school... makes you sound like you don't really know what you want and are just seeking lucrative careers that aren't law.

However, your interest in positioning yourself as an advisor to international investors looking at China and helping them navigate China's business culture sounds like a good fit for Big 4. They have groups that do this. Which exactly, I don't know - as I mentioned from the start, my experience is unfortunately not very relevant to you. It might make more sense for you to do this in China, though no harm in trying the US offices too.

Good luck.

    • 2
Feb 7, 2018

Hi:

Thank you for your comments. I admit that I am not sure what I really want to do at this point. I came to law school directly after under graduate without work experience. I am going to figure it out in this coming summer.
I said MBB are my goal because: 1. I like mentally challenging and not boring work, 2. I enjoy traveling, 3. Management consulting gives me more exit options than legal career. I would also like to work for a lower tier management consulting firm, which I assume could have lower requirement of school ranking.
Anyway, I really appreciate your help and I will take a look on the big 4. Do you mind to give me a little more info about the groups you mentioned? Do you mean big 4 consulting or advisory? I thought the later one are mainly for accountant.

Best

Feb 9, 2018

Don't want to be negative but the reality is, it's almost impossible to get an interview with MBB outside of a T14 law school (I would say ~75% are from HYS) absent other really strong experiences (federal clerkship, V5 summer etc). Might have a slightly better shot with international/smaller offices.

Other consulting firms have less stringent requirements but hire fewer JD's so you really need to network hard to get interviews.

I would say it's not the worst thing to do biglaw for 1-2 years and lateral over since it takes emphasis off of coming from a non-target school.

Feb 9, 2018

Hi sims1:

I really appreciate your advice. I understand my school ranking is not doing me any favor. I am currently asking my parents/friends to get me a summer intern in a big4 or other 2nd tier consulting firm back in China. The position probably won't be summer associate, but it will at least be a consulting internship. Do you think such experience would help?

thanks a lot

Feb 7, 2018

How was your bb ib experience? Is would eventually like tot transfer to a group like dcm, project or public finance but there isn't too much info about groups like that.

Feb 10, 2018

Hi @silverace, thanks for asking. I should preface the answer by recalling that I was in a financing group - what I would call "IB lite", not IBD. Which isn't a bad thing for the purposes of answering your question - DCM, Project Finance, etc also fall into that category.

I found Banking to be highly process-driven, and much more about completing a large number of pre-defined steps (some stressful, mostly tedious, and all requiring attention to detail) as opposed to forming a view or developing an investment thesis, which to me, made it ultimately unsatisfying.

As for what you say about not finding much info on these groups, I'm surprised you're saying that about DCM - there's tons of info on WSO about DCM/ECM. Overall, these "IB lite" groups usually work you about 60-70% of the hours in IB, give you 50%-60% of the skills, and 70%-80% of the pay. So if you purely seek to optimize money with some semblance of a work-life balance, they are good groups to be in. They make sense if you want to pursue a long-ish career at a bank. And to anyone who isn't IBD or ex-IBD, you're considered to be in investment banking (they won't see you as one, though).

However, in my view, the real value in an IBD skillset comes in the last 20%, so these financing groups are going to feel lacking in that department. Out of all of them, Project Finance might be the best one in terms of skills while still paying okay and allow you something of a life, though it's a challenging sub-industry within finance overall (tough returns environment, lots of competition from tier 2 banks who don't mind using balance sheet).

That said, to sum up my time in Banking, it was not the right fit for me and I definitely had to get out, but I am glad I did it. For one, the experience earns you respect in the job market, and I was overpaid. Perhaps more importantly, a strong sense of camaraderie is formed at the junior ranks, so I walked out with good friendships at that level - more than in any other job I've had. Although work-wise the fit wasn't there, I ended up having a solid relationship of mutual respect/appreciation with my MD, and I developed a few other senior relationships too. So I've chosen to keep the good parts and let go of the bad.

    • 4
Feb 8, 2018

I meant not finding a lot mostly about the project finance etc., which is also the one of the 3 that most interests me. Thank you for your detailed answer!

Feb 8, 2018

Tons of back and forth in documentation in project finance. Mainly working with power and infrastructure companies, perhaps some industrials and energy. Very long tenors might make your bank's Risk team uncomfortable. Some modeling, a lot of deal structuring. People are more laid-back than in IBD. Hours are not hell, but usually not short either. As said, some Tier 2 banks are right in there with the BB's.

Feb 21, 2018

Your last paragraph nailed it. Many people may not like banking, but having top IBD experience is priceless. Aside from the money, it adds major credibility to your resume and gives you so many exit opps. MBB consulting also has the same effect.

Feb 7, 2018

When you made the decision to transfer from developed to Emerging markets, what were some of the driving factors in evaluating which market to transfer to; and what skillsets you could grow/develop in an EM as opposed to a developed market?

Some of my colleagues have gone to EM countries and end up "handcuffed" (UAE for example) where they can't return or are seen as permanent expats. I'd like to make this step in my career, but am nervous/ambivalent about the potential consequences on my career.

Feb 7, 2018

Excellent question @gryphus. There is absolutely a "golden handcuffs"/impossible to repatriate risk with heading off to EM.

My reasons were basically: I wanted adventure; I saw high growth rates and a chance to accelerate my career; EMs tend to have lower tax rates; and depending on the market, the babes, the chicks.

The UAE, as you mention, is particularly pernicious. Sunny lifestyle, pampered service, hedonistic spending, tax-free salaries with cushy expat benefits... Most folks down there come from London. After a few years of that, the idea of losing half your take-home income to cram yourself and possibly your family into a house a third the size, with no domestic help, competing harder at work, and in dreadful weather... just becomes too much to bear. So people become career expats.

So yes, that risk is real. The key considerations that come to mind are:

1) Time your move well. If it's a pre-MBA move, you've got an easy ticket out. You'll come off twice as interesting as the version of you who stayed in whatever vanilla job you had.
2) Build expertise around execution and/or management, as opposed to clients. If you go to to some EM and the clients love you there, it just no longer makes any sense to have you anywhere but there. But if your skillset isn't directly tied to local revenue-generating opportunities, you can move around more easily. (Of course, you'll probably make less money at the EM if you don't milk the local opportunities).
3) You'll develop an insight from the experience that you currently don't have, which may or may not allow you to pursue something entrepreneurial. EMs are a high beta proposition. When an economy has been growing for 7-8% compounded for a number of years' straight, the irrational exuberance becomes deafening. And when the crash comes (it always does), everyone thinks the country is about to become a failed state - the next (sorry) Pakistan or Venezuela. You get tons of perspective from living through these kind of mass episodes of mania.

    • 4
Feb 8, 2018

Thanks so much for your perspective. Do you have any particular thoughts on latam? Where do you see growth with limited political risk? From sometime working there, it seems as though most companies are irrelevant unless they have a presence and or based out of brazil or mexico. I have, however, heard that Argentina is a breeding ground for tech startups and the rich valuations that typically proceed them

Feb 8, 2018

The best in terms of economic fundamentals and limited risk is Chile. Probably also the least fun. But I'll admit that out of the major Latam markets, it's the one I know the least. Colombia has been on a good run too.

As for Brazil and Mexico being the two hubs, yes - this is indeed true. Brazil for South America and Mexico for Central America. Lots of Spanish-speaking expats in Sao Paulo with Pan-South America type coverage, as well as some American expats who speak Portuguese but not Spanish. In Mexico there's an expat scene of people from other Spanish-speaking countries and some random American expats; cracking the elite Mexican social circles is quite a lot harder than doing the same thing in Brazil. Sao Paulo and Mexico DF are shockingly similar. I'm partial to Brazil, though it can be frustrating. "Brazil is the country of the future; it always has been, and always will be."

What you're saying about Argentina is the first time I've ever heard it. It's a fascinating country, absolutely worth a visit (even an extended visit), but I have no intention of committing capital there. At all.

Heard more about startup infrastructure in Chile. Would suggest you look into that instead...

I'm actually extremely fond of Latam and have developed strong ties with it, but based on experience and observation, you really need to gain a significant equity stake and monetize it after riding out a full economic growth cycle. Don't really see myself wanting to live there long enough for that to play out.

    • 3
Feb 22, 2018

It doesn't always come.

Australia and China haven't seen recessions in 30 years

Array
Feb 7, 2018

Which step do you feel has given you the most preftige and do you have your hbs jacket still

Feb 8, 2018

Thpeaking with a lithp has been the most preftigious.

Feb 8, 2018

Which S&T Desk were you a part of? Like which Asset Class? Equities Rates... Also were you in exotic products or more vanilla type? Did you also pick up programming along the way?

Feb 8, 2018

Started out getting exposure to two of three defining asset classes that constitute FICC Sales via short rotations, and did well, but for a number of reasons ended up in Equity Derivatives. I would say we spent 2/3rds of the time with vanilla European options and 1/3rd with exotics (most of which were on the lighter end).

Did not pick up programming beyond some very elementary code in Visual Basic, and while it was not at all the main reason for my departure, it absolutely would have been beneficial to a future in Trading/Structuring, and I didn't see myself building a career around those skills.

    • 1
Feb 8, 2018

Thanks for doing this.

In your opinion, when do you think is the minimum amount of time you should spend with your first employer out of undergrad? I am currently in S&T FICC Sales, looking to move to a different product group and/or location.

Feb 9, 2018

Conventional wisdom is 2 years in general, and even more so for your first job. I definitely cleared this bar in my first job.

If you are staying within the same bank and just moving product and/or location, I think you have some margin.

Feb 9, 2018

Have you found job hopping to be detrimental in any way? I just imagine an interviewer questioning your "focus" and what made you take on so many disparate jobs and locations. How did you break through that barrier?

I'm also rather fond of LatAm (as well as HK). If you have more perspective, please do share.

Would you saw it was the most fun of all the places you've lived?

Feb 9, 2018

Hey there @warmpi, good question. Overall it has not been detrimental. I'm no spring chicken anymore so these employers span quite a long time, and S&T and Banking were at the same BB; plus, I had a summer internship where I didn't take the return offer. So, while an interviewer has to read my resume a bit more closely than they like, it doesn't set off job hopper alarm bells.

That said I did encounter a couple of issues. A minor one was that a certain profile of interviewer would react poorly: a career (insert product group/asset class) banker/trader within my own BB during internal interviews. In contrast, external interviewers would express benign envy: "[wow or sigh] I wish I could have done that."

The second and more important issue is that my experience was not additive, as the job functions were so different from each other. That's one of the reasons I decided that consulting would cast a generalist sheen on my professional profile and allow all my past functions to serve as extra color.

As for locations, in general almost all of them have been a ton of fun, as long as you have the mentality to take advantage of the opportunities. I've been a lucky guy in that sense. I had a blast in college and b-school for example, and they weren't in exotic/far-flung locations at all. I went wild during the training period at the BB at one of the major hubs. My hometown (to which I'm returning) was also ridiculously fun (think of it as a lifestyle city that is big enough for most banks and all MBB to have offices, but not big enough to be a major hub - ie. LA, Miami, or if you want to picture it in a European version, a major continental cities like Paris, Madrid or Munich).

Hard to compare Latam and HK - gigantic region vs a tiny quasi city-state. While a lot of things remain the same (hustle and bustle, money out of control, amazing food), my perspective on HK is outdated - mainland Chinese were not at all a significant demographic in the HK that I was exposed to, so according to my friends there now, that's a big change. Latam and HK are also just so different in mentality that I'd need to know a little more what you're trying to ask. But if it's just straight up personal preference - Latam over HK, no doubt.

    • 4
Feb 9, 2018

Hey thanks for that. And congrats on the MBB move.

Wasn't looking for a direct comparison of Latam vs HK. I just happen to have some familiarity with both areas and enjoyed reading your perspectives on Latam above. I was just looking for more, hah. I'm personally looking to position myself as a Latam-Asia specialist, post-MBA... and I would agree that Latam is wayyyyy more fun.

Feb 9, 2018

Hah, gotcha. If you let me know a little more concretely what countries/aspects you want more perspective on, happy to indulge.

Latam-Asia specialist could be interesting if you found a way to turn that into $ in a buyside role, or have someone important at a corporate think they really need your constant perspective on the topic.

Feb 10, 2018

Do you have any familiarity with Colombia? I dated someone from there, and I love the country (but abhor the food). Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there are as many opportunities there versus say Mexico/Chile/Brazil.

I also dated someone from Mexico and have an extended network there. You mentioned it being tough integrating into social circles there? Do you think there's a low ceiling for outsiders coming in? Versus, say, Peru, where there are foreigners that have gone on to be president.

I think Venezuela in a few years will be interesting once Maduro is gone. I imagine it would see a recovery much like Colombia has the past decade or so. Would love to be there for that. Not sure if you've seen much of Venezuela.

In terms of roles, I'm thinking something like buyside role for an Asian SWF -- maybe help build that Nicaraguan canal they were bandying about lol. My only issue is deciding what intermediate roles would best lead into that path. E.g. LDP roles might lead to a lot of exposure in the right regions, but wrong skill set, etc.

Feb 10, 2018

Hah, yeah I wouldn't say I hate the food, but even a place like Andres carne de res is more about the party environment than the food. I'm quite fond of Colombia (good friends from there) and there are some business opportunities there. That said, going to Colombia with a girlfriend is liking taking sand to the beach, wood to the forest, etc.

Re: low ceiling for outsiders in Mexico - you can have a great time in business and social life without being Mexican. Living/working around Polanco or Santa Fe, and going out in Condesa/Roma etc. That said, the movers and shakers are Mexican, they all know each other, throw great parties in their mansions in Lomas etc. This segment is tough to crack. The only way I can really think of is to marry into it (which I have seen happen).

Venezuela - never been. Kinda regret that. Venezuelans of means have been fleeing and putting their assets in safer/more developed parts of the wider Spanish-speaking world, so if you are part of that you will have met them and they'll tell you about it. Rich country, wrecked by the dumbest ideology.

Right, the Latam guy at Temasek or something. If you're fluent in Spanish you could try for MBB in Latam; you would get exposure throughout the region and go back home with experience that everyone recognizes and trusts. IBD has local presence in the major Latam countries but at a pan-regional level it is usually done out of New York. LDP could possibly work but the international ones will usually be from oil cos and while you have a shot at ending up in Latam, you could easily end up in Nigeria too.

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Feb 11, 2018
Discobolus:

LDP could possibly work but the international ones will usually be from oil cos and while you have a shot at ending up in Latam, you could easily end up in Nigeria too.

Hmm, that's a really good point. I don't have too much familiarity with LDP's. Any advice on how to navigate them, and maximize the odds of getting staffed in preferred locations? I speak 3 languages, so would assume that'd be a strong business case for requesting a location. But I could just as easily imagine them saying they need someone in Nigeria and there's no other choice.

Feb 12, 2018

With oil cos I think they call the shots. Luanda and Kazakhstan seem popular these days.

Of course there are other options too. Banks sometimes run LDPs too, but I think the most successful/long-lasting ones tend to be more Middle Office-focused (JPM MAP, Citi FMA), not Front Office (doesn't fit the culture).

In other industries, I actually remember that Inditex has an international program for MBAs! Could be cool.

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Feb 11, 2018

Thanks for doing this. I'm joining a BB S&T desk in one of the developed markets you mentioned in your intro and I would like to hear your thoughts on how you think the business will develop in the short and long term. Volatility has been pretty muted for the past few years leading to declines in revenues, but seems to have picked up quite a bit in the recent weeks. Would appreciate any thoughts or experiences you would like to share about the field (disruption, exits, things to be aware of etc..).

Feb 11, 2018

Hi @inhopesofshorterhours": the short of it is that my main reason for leaving was that I didn't think the industry had much of a future from a headcount perspective. Unfriendly/burdensome regulation and technological substitution are a pretty nasty double whammy facing hitting folks on the trading floor. With this outlook, I'd rather be a salesman - if you can sell, there's always an outlet for you, whether it be headhunting, houses, used cars, or opening a strip club. Being an obsolete trader strikes me as way more terrifying.

You mention volatility and revenues... If you've been on a derivatives desk during a volatility spike, you'll see that there's going to be a trader or two with a 8/9-digit P&L thanks to that one day. Remember that while volatility, mathematically, can mean an asset is making big moves up or down, in practice, based on social realities (takes Michelangelo years to build the skills necessary to sculpt the statue of David, but any moron with a sledgehammer can demolish it within an hour), high volatility usually means falling asset prices. So yes, volatility can be good for intermediaries (which is what investment banks are), but it depends very much on the function and the way risk is managed.

What desk are you joining?

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Feb 11, 2018

I'm joining an Equity Sales desk and I understand that it is one of the higher risk (if not the highest risk) desks right now. From what I have heard, job stability shouldn't be of immediate concern, partly because our team is already so lean and I heard that there was quite some overcutting last year. Do you have know where I can find numbers on market share?

Feb 12, 2018

Equity Research departments publish some deep dives every few years, on this site there was one by Citi but it's 7-8 years old. Some consulting firms capture the data too. The only example I can remember off the top of my head is this one, but it's really broad https://news.efinancialcareers.com/de-en/256351/ti...
In any case, it's good practice for Equity Sales to be able to find reports, so I'll leave that to you as prep work ;)

Feb 12, 2018

Seems like I'm fortunate enough to be working in a bank with top three market share in both cash equities and the general equities business. Thank you for your thoughts and sources.

Feb 12, 2018

Well done.

Equity Sales can be done well in more ways than one.

This article here cites some good slides that show that as I wrote previously, Sales and products that are not on an exchange protect you best from the threat of being replaced by a robot.

https://news.efinancialcareers.com/us-en/224614/ho...

Feb 14, 2018

Apparently the level of digitization for today and the future is already high for the desk I'm working with, as I'm working on the most liquid products on the most well known exchanges. Probably will figure something out along the way though. Thanks.

Feb 11, 2018

+1 SB

A lot of quality insight offered here, especially on comparisons between industries and geographies - thanks for doing this.

  1. Is MBB another stepping stone for you or do you hope to be there for the long-run?
  2. It doesn't seem like you're the kind of person swayed by marginal differences in pay, but how did you think about your long-term earning potential in consulting vs. finance?
  3. Are there things you are going to sorely miss about living/working in the US vs. the hometown you're returning to?

Ugh the FBI still quotes the Dow...
-Matt Levine

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Feb 12, 2018

Thanks man @Lead Left, smart questions and of course the SB to the original post is always welcome (gives the thread visibility which results in more questions).

Happy to do intra-industry/geography discussion too though folks are probably right to ask inter-industry/geography q's.

  1. Open-minded about it. All the odds suggest it's a stepping stone but I could see myself staying in the long run too (which I couldn't actually see when at the BB).
  2. Nice observation regarding marginal pay differences; my answer here is a continuation of the first answer. Any discussion of long-term earning potential must involve the probability of making it to the top (MD/Partner level). In banking the industry growth rates have been so stagnant that I simply did not see enough net new senior position creation for a career path up top to be feasible, nor the grind remotely desirable. In consulting a lot of campus jobs (which is the lion's share of the hiring) are replacements, but there is still some net headcount growth. Compensation-wise, finance pays better in every step of the way until Partner/MD (though the delta successively decreases), so consulting only beats finance in compensation when you consider the really long view.
  3. Who said I'm not American? I don't recall doing so, hah. In general, I always miss something about each place I've left (usually friendships, work and non-work related). But to your point, since (American or not) regardless I'm not from any of the US cities I got degrees from or worked in, yes, there is a lot I will miss from these places (already do). They treated me really, really well.

To the general matter of what I miss about the US when I'm outside it: the general spirit of constant reinvention. I've, on rare occasion, seen this spirit elsewhere, but never as broadly and constantly as the US. The common denominators are: being a young country, lots of exposure to people different from you (usually via immigration), and viable growth prospects.

Conversely, I've noticed a correlation between nativist attitudes and sclerotic labor markets. Thinking that everyone has their place based on predetermined qualities usually means you're also hostile to reinvention. That spirit of constant reinvention, which I love about America, is more fragile than most people realize. I wouldn't take it for granted.

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Feb 22, 2018

This is an amazing AMA thread, easily one of the best I have seen.

  1. For MBB consulting, if you are a lateral hire as opposed to MBA campus hire, will you be a first-year associate regardless of level and type of experience? Any advice for those who are a few years out of b-school on how to go about breaking in?
  2. From talking to friends at MBB, one of their complaints (aside from the traveling) is that the work is less about strategy and more about pleasing clients and operational "grunt" work. Have you heard this to be the case as well?

Thanks.

Feb 22, 2018

Thanks for the kind words, dude.

To answer your first question: from what I've seen ... Lateral hires from other consulting firms should usually preserve most of their seniority. Lateral hires from other industries will usually come in at the corresponding entry-level depending on whether they are pre-MBA or post-MBA (ie. someone who is 2 yrs out of undergrad will come in at the undergrad hire level; 2 yrs out of b-school at the b-school hire level). Sometimes, an "accelerated track" can be negotiated, but not always.

The exceptions I have seen are when laterals are senior and established enough that they are hired into a specific practice, in which they are sometimes temporarily placed at the post-MBA level for 6 months so they can learn how to be a consultant, and then assume their 'proper' seniority at the Manager / Principal / Partner level.

All told I am certainly not an expert on this topic and imagine it varies quite a lot not just firm by firm, but also, office to office.

To answer your second question, in your place I would choose to apply to a specific office and/or specialization (if you have one), and network with MBA classmates who are in that office. I think it would be enough to ask them for a quick intro to the recruiting manager, whom you would follow up with on the phone, for example. There, you both can figure out what the right 'spot' for you is and what the corresponding selection process will be. If you can get that started, then well done and the rest will be the usual: prepare your story and above all case prep.

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Feb 21, 2018

Not sure how well you can answer this but...

I'm fresh out of undergrad from a non-target in the northeast. Currently interning at a boutique IB and just accepted an offer for a first-year analyst position at a MM IB in NYC. I'm extremely excited to have landed this because I worked my ass off to get here, but I want to know what I should be expecting. Haven't had any experience modeling at the internship but have had a lot of experience putting together pitchbooks, due diligence, and comps. I know the learning curve will be steep. Any and all experiences from MM IB firms is appreciated. Also, any tips to try to get off to a good start is greatly appreciated as well.

Feb 22, 2018

Damn. I had replied to this but it got lost.

Congrats on getting that IB offer, especially from a non-target!

You're right in thinking I may not be best-positioned to give you advice, since I didn't work at a MM and I was in financing rather than advisory.

There's tons of material on the internet on how to succeed as a fresh IBD analyst, so I'm sure you can find it and I won't reinvent the wheel.

To the extent that most 1st year Analyst jobs are also supposed to be your first full-time job ever, a big part of the learning curve is simply about learning how to work, period. As a result, a lot of the focus is on not fucking up.

In that vein, two common fuck-ups that have come up often in discussions my buddies and I had when evaluating summer analysts and 1st years, and what to do instead:

1) analyzing some material and discovering a problem. This will just annoy people. On the other hand, discovering a problem AND solving it will impress, and people will start imagining you being useful on their team.

2) eagerly taking on work, returning it quickly, only for your 3rd year analyst or 1st year associate to find it has numerous mistakes. Then, when having the mistakes explained to you, you say you've understood and don't ask questions. Then it turns out that you haven't understood and the mistakes are still there. This will really annoy people and you'll develop a reputation for being motivated but unreliable. Most tasks are not complicated, so be very focused, methodical, check your work. And don't pretend you've understood; ask until you've understood. Then prove it with the work.

Good luck!

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Feb 21, 2018

did you make money trading? about how much?

Feb 22, 2018

9-digit PnL. The powers that be said I took on too much risk and to please the man upstairs and in DC, they had to make a point of giving me a lower bonus to show that incentives were in the right place. I quit in a rage and splurged that underwhelming bonus on hookers, blow, and an MBA.

No, for real, I wasn't in Trading (except one super short rotation) - I was in Sales/Structuring.

Feb 21, 2018

Did you write enough FUCKING acronyms? What a jackass.

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Feb 25, 2018

Hi, thanks for this!
I am offered admission in Simon as well as Wisconsin for a FT MBA program. Both of them have offered me very good scholarship, so not much of a difference cost wise. I am not sure which school will fit me best to get in a BB bank.
Any guidance will be appreciated.

Mar 12, 2018

Hi there,

To be brutally honest, I did not encounter any Simon or Wisconsin MBAs in my recruiting experiences with investment banks. This is exclusively for FO; might be different for some Risk, Ops or Finance positions.

In general, I have heard of Simon discussed more often than Wisconsin. I recall it has a very good faculty and some prominent alumni.

Good luck!

Mar 10, 2018

Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. I'm currently a junior at a Canadian university. I've done internships in investment banking and asset management but I will be doing a corporate strategy internship at a tech company this summer. Do you think I should focus on recruiting for consulting (MBB) for full time or IB/PE ? After working in finance, I realized I don't really like finance that much and I think I'm a better fit for consulting than finance. But, I only started preparing for consulting like a week ago and I've never done any networking or other stuff prior to this. I've been solely focused on IB. Would it be harder to go from IB full time to MBB or should I focus on recruiting for consulting now ? Thanks.

Mar 12, 2018

Hi Michael-Cohen,

Crap - I thought I had written a response here.

If I've understood you correctly, you are about to head into your last UG summer internship in Corporate Strategy; you didn't seem to like IBD that much; and you have one full-time recruiting season left.

The rational choice seems to be either get a return offer from your summer or do consulting recruiting.

I recommend against the MBB-or-Bust mentality. MBB is the most established/prestigious as a general rule, but you can still get the toolkit and plenty of career options from the "Tier 2" firms (I don't like that moniker) or the Big 4 strategy arms.

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Mar 12, 2018

thanks. why do you recommend against the MBB? Actually I won't be doing full time recruiting until next year(september/october). I'm doing like a year long internship in this corporate strategy role,So I have time to prepare. thanks.

Mar 12, 2018

That's not what I said. I said I'm not a fan of "MBB or bust".

Good luck with consulting prep.

Mar 12, 2018

haha. my bad. do you know which firms is the best for technology consulting ? I heard accenture is pretty good for tech. Thanks.

Mar 13, 2018

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