AMA: Non-Target 2014 grad with 2 off-cycle BB offers (ER & DCM)

I've been a long-time WSO reader and have read countless AMA's that have helped me out along the way, and with FT recruiting in full swing I thought it'd be cool to share my story and give whatever advice I could to people in similar situations to myself.

So first I'll start with my background: I went to a small liberal arts school (non-target) and doubled majored in econ/pre-med (3.4 GPA). I was a varsity athlete and had a couple of awards to my name but nothing even remotely transferrable to finance. After not knowing what field I wanted to go into, I got my start junior year summer with a part-time summer internship at a BB in PWM (and when I say part-time I mean I was in the office two days a week, 3 tops).

Senior year came around and I spread myself thin applying to whatever had the name "analyst" in the job title, given the limited opportunities for OCR at a non-target. Needless to say, I struck out miserably and wound up in April, with just a month and a half to go before graduation, without a job lined up. Ultimately I landed an internship in retail wealth management (I know what you're all thinking) at a big international bank. Not even remotely attractive, but it got my foot in the door and I knew I could leverage the brand value, if nothing else, to help get me somewhere better.

The summer went by uneventfully, meeting with anyone with the 5 spare minutes to talk. After building up some rapport within my bank, I got a few interviews, only to find myself once again coming up short. So the end of the summer found me as an intern still, with nothig promising in the works. Luckily I extended my internship, and that's when things started to take off. Not wanting to end up an intern forever, I stepped up the networking and wrote an ER report (obviously nothing stellar) to have something concrete to show to the people I was meeting with. Fast forward to early October (having shopped the report around to anyone who reads them/could give me advice or feedback) and I managed to land interviews with the DCM team at my current bank, and ER at another BB firm (even though its completely off cycle). Somehow I managed to land offers from both, and in case you were wondering, the ER job is the clear front runner.

It just goes to show that these things really can happen if you play your cards right. If someone told me a guy with PWM and retail wealth management internships would wind up with these two offers I wouldn't believe it, and yet here I am. And to anyone who reads the horror stories about how hard it is to get out of wealth management, and from a non-target no less, I'm not here to say its easy. The struggle is real. But it really is possible, so feel free to ask me anything

Comments (36)

Oct 10, 2014

nothing to ask, just wanted to give you kudos. great story.

@"AndyLouis" homepage the eff out of this!

    • 1
Oct 10, 2014

SBs

Oct 10, 2014

Can you elaborate on how you reached out to people specifically?

Oct 10, 2014

Sure. During the summer when things were looking particularly bleak, I started cold-emailing managing directors at the bank I'm currently working for to meet and talk about their experiences. Some meetings were more productive than others depending on the directors themselves-some want to see how much you know and grill you on technicals. Those didn't lead me anywhere, so I relied on networking. At an alumni event I met someone looking to hire an ER analyst at the bank I'm moving to, and I interviewed with him. It didn't work out, but I gained valuable contacts. I knew at that point I wanted to do research, and to show I was willing to work for it, I did everything I could (reading websites like SeekingAlpha) to get information on the company I eventually chose to write a mock ER report on. I did that and immediately fired out emails to everyone I had met and asked for constructive criticism. The quick turnaround and what I was able to put together rubbed people the right way, and ultimately I was looked at more positively than a few months ago. This led to two interviews within the bank I'm moving to within a week, and I landed one of those two offers.
The other offer, I went on my company's intranet and looked at each analysts direct reports. I applied online, and emailed each analyst and asked to meet. I did my due diligence on the industry and was able to intelligently hold a conversation with the analysts-seems obvious but is nonetheless a crucial point. After talking to analysts I moved up to associates, then eventually I sat face to face with the hiring MD. Again I was able to show genuine interest, leading to a superday, and the rapport I had built within that department paid dividends and I received an offer from that group as well.

    • 1
Oct 10, 2014

Well done.

    • 1
Oct 12, 2014

Would you recommend building a pitch book if you're aiming for an investment banking analyst candidate?

Oct 12, 2014

I think anyone in a situation like mine needs to have something to physically show to prove you're actually interested in the field you're trying to break into. I also wrote a credit report on the company I wrote my mock research report on for my DCM interview I felt it would just really work in my favor. From the MDs I met with, a lot told me they just didn't have the time to read a long report so a pitch book might be a little lengthy for their tastes so I'd recommend something combining industry/technical knowledge that's short and to the point

Oct 12, 2014

That's awesome. Always happy to see kids work their ass off to get to where they want to be. Your points resonate with a lot of people--regardless of where you come from, what school you are in, the internships you've accumulated, the road to FO is always tough (though some routes are easier). I'm from a non-target and, like you, did not have the "credentials" yet I leveraged what I had and put work in and people notice it. So cheers to you my friend for landing an offer.

Quick question--worked in ER and loved it last summer, just couldn't see myself doing it for the long haul. What drove you to pursue that option? You'll love it man. Great field with enormously talented and bright individuals. Learn everything you can. Best of luck +1Sb

Oct 12, 2014

@henchman I like the work in equity research. I felt it would benefit me more in the long run to understand a single sector and really specialize in it as opposed to DCM, the other offer I was considering, which is just plain vanilla bond issuance (so I picked coverage over product in the end). The team I'm working for are all alums from my non-target school which was also a huge factor, and the senior analyst is well respected within his sector. I felt it was the better option and kept a lot of doors open

Oct 14, 2014

thanks for doing this! adding to the frontpage today

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Oct 14, 2014

This is pretty awesome to hear man. Congrats coming from a fellow non-target who ultimately didn't "hustle" hard enough. Realizing now that it's ultimately up to me to change it so I commend your drive and dedication to keep going even after things didn't work out at first.

Oct 14, 2014

Good for you man!

Oct 14, 2014

As a fellow 2014 grad(target too) who has wanted to break into ER but has had no success major kudos to you good sir.

Oct 14, 2014

Damn I am a non taget 14 grad with no success so far. This is pretty inspiring.

Oct 14, 2014

I sent you a PM

Oct 14, 2014

Congrats on the offer! Your story is really amazing.

I'm still in a non-target school, majoring in Math & Economics. I'm pursuing a summer internship in 2015. I want to write a mock ER research report but I don't know what would be the appropriate length and structure. Do you have any advice on this? Thanks!

Oct 15, 2014

The report isnt as essential for SA recruiting, but PM me and we can talk about structure, content all that

Oct 15, 2014

unfortunately I'm still new to the forum and don't have enough bananas to send a PM.. Would there be another way to contact you?

Oct 15, 2014

@seekingalphabet An inside souce tells me you had some help from a fellow co-worker whom shall be unnamed. Would you care to elaborate on his role in the Process?

-BankingArsenal

Oct 15, 2014

Great! It is inspiring.

Oct 17, 2014

Great post.

Oct 17, 2014

What does the pay look like for ER (and for PWM)? Glassdoor says 90k median... Would you say thats close, too much or too little?
Some people say that its mostly like 60k + big bonus if its given.... Any feedback would be nice. Thanks
- new monkey here.

Oct 20, 2014

Well ER pay can vary based on the sector youre covering and the company you're working for. The BB I'm moving to for ER is a confirmed 85k bump company based on the posts on WSO and I can't speak to bonus just yet but from what I've heard all in is ~100k. PWM doesn't pay as well especially at the entry level where you're attached to a team and most times is between 55-70k, most probably on the lower end of that range, and typically without a bonus.

Bonuses aren't as big in ER since you're not a fee-generative business like IB or S&T. There you earn fees off of deals, spreads etc. but in ER you're selling research to institutional clients and giving ideas to S&T, and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings.

Nov 1, 2014
seekingalphabet:

Well ER pay can vary based on the sector youre covering and the company you're working for. The BB I'm moving to for ER is a confirmed 85k bump company based on the posts on WSO and I can't speak to bonus just yet but from what I've heard all in is ~100k. PWM doesn't pay as well especially at the entry level where you're attached to a team and most times is between 55-70k, most probably on the lower end of that range, and typically without a bonus.

Bonuses aren't as big in ER since you're not a fee-generative business like IB or S&T. There you earn fees off of deals, spreads etc. but in ER you're selling research to institutional clients and giving ideas to S&T, and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings.

Many thanks for doing the thread, but the following is a no-no: "and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings"

Nov 1, 2014
seekingalphabet:

Well ER pay can vary based on the sector youre covering and the company you're working for. The BB I'm moving to for ER is a confirmed 85k bump company based on the posts on WSO and I can't speak to bonus just yet but from what I've heard all in is ~100k. PWM doesn't pay as well especially at the entry level where you're attached to a team and most times is between 55-70k, most probably on the lower end of that range, and typically without a bonus.

Bonuses aren't as big in ER since you're not a fee-generative business like IB or S&T. There you earn fees off of deals, spreads etc. but in ER you're selling research to institutional clients and giving ideas to S&T, and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings.

Many thanks for doing the thread, but the following is a no-no: "and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings"

Nov 1, 2014
seekingalphabet:

Well ER pay can vary based on the sector youre covering and the company you're working for. The BB I'm moving to for ER is a confirmed 85k bump company based on the posts on WSO and I can't speak to bonus just yet but from what I've heard all in is ~100k. PWM doesn't pay as well especially at the entry level where you're attached to a team and most times is between 55-70k, most probably on the lower end of that range, and typically without a bonus.

Bonuses aren't as big in ER since you're not a fee-generative business like IB or S&T. There you earn fees off of deals, spreads etc. but in ER you're selling research to institutional clients and giving ideas to S&T, and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings.

Many thanks for doing the thread, but the following is a no-no: "and you're measured by your analysts ability to predict earnings"

Oct 18, 2014

Great post. Congrats on the offers.

Oct 19, 2014

Did you already know how to model beforehand? Or did you learn it on the side

Oct 20, 2014

No prior to writing the report I had no idea how to model I taught myself on the side

Oct 19, 2014

Was your GPA at 3.4 an obstacle? Or was pretty much considered good enough not to get grilled about?

Oct 20, 2014

At first my 3.4 was an obstacle. I interviewed for an ER position in August and the senior analyst told me to keep in mind that when you're applying to these positions, there are some guys who have other experience and are looking to break in, guys who have 1 or 2 levels of the CFA down, have 4.0's, or some combination of those things. So when applying to these roles you have to do something to distinguish yourself; I though the best way for me to do that was sign up for CFA 1 and write my own research report. The 3.4 pre-med/econ double wasn't a deal breaker because pre-med is a difficult major and I had a high econ gpa

Oct 19, 2014

Thanks for the post.

I'm in pretty similar shoes. Went to a non target majored in econ/pre med but am one year out of school now looking into MSF.
I wanted to ask if you had challenges attaining internship while not being enrolled in school (if that was your case)
and who was most helpful in attaining an internship, and if you recommend following a similar sequence of reaching out to analyst>associate>MD. Some posts on M&I say there is virtue in being bold and contacting the top dog first.
Also did you only reach out to MDs where you had your foot in the door?

My whole resume is filled with clinical hours, research, and the like, with nothing remotely related to finance.
Given the non finance background, how much technical knowledge was expected of you in interviews? and did you use your healthcare background to establish common ground with healthcare groups?
I've only made my initial outreach to the very few bankers in my alumni network (you can literally count them on one hand) and felt that though they were extremely patient and helpful in pointing me to the right direction, I should be much more prepared technically before cold emailing/calling individuals at firms of interest.

Best of luck at the new gig.

Oct 20, 2014

I actually had internships while an undergrad and wound up as an intern after graduation. For me going up the chain of command helped me get a better idea of who I'd be dealing with. Some analysts are content to talk, others will grill you. Talking to analysts, then associates, then the senior analyst will give you an idea of what the senior analyst is like and how to prepare for them specifically. Cover your ER interview basics: market trends, especially in the industry you're trying to get into. Also expect a "walk me through a DCF," come up with a stock pitch (both long and short to be safe), walk me through an income statement, balance sheet, or cash flows statement, and also the interrelation between the 3 (how does an x dollar change in one line affect all 3). Know market trends too. I got the question how can companies boost their earnings and which of those ways is being done most frequently right now

Oct 20, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
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Johnny Rocket