Q&A: Boutique Bank in Chile -> Wharton

GMAT: 760 overall

I'm a New York born and raised white guy that went to a liberal arts college and played top 20 division I lacrosse (earning a 3.4 GPA). My international family background made me become fascinated by Latam. After graduation, I moved to Chile (without fully speaking Spanish and knowing absolutely no one) to start a position as an intern at a boutique M&A-focused investment bank based here in Chile. My company's partners took a risk in giving me an opportunity to intern, but after 2 months they saw my learning curve progression and work ethic and they offered me a full-time position. (I've also interned at smaller hedge funds and a short 2 weeks at a MM IB (REIT group) in NYC)

I've been working here for over three years now and have been thinking about my next step. I hope to use Wharton to move back to the states. My end goal is to work in private equity at a good shop in NYC, but I understand that I may need to work at a bulge bracket bank as an associate before making the move to the buy-side. Happy to answer any questions.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (23)

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:15pm

I work at a small boutique with small deal teams so the hardest part is the responsibility of managing multiple deals at once. In particular, not just creating models, pitches and presentations, but also being able to present and sell clients on the grunt work I have done. 

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:18pm

That's exactly what I am looking to do. I finish working at my current company at the end of this month and start B-school in mid-June so I am meeting with as many people I can with the goal of gaining some additional pre-MBA experience in the two months of free time I have, but I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to my first summer vacation in years.

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Mar 9, 2021 - 5:08pm

Very similar background to you. Hope all goes your way!

what's the M&A environment in Chile/ other latam countries like right now? I'm working in a corp finance role at a large global bank's latam practice and acquisition finance seems to be on a lot of ppl's radar now. What sectors are particularly interesting that you cover?

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:22pm

That's awesome! Small world. Mining (particularly copper) represents over over half of Chile's total exports and much of the country's GDP, so given the recent streak in copper prices the country is seeing more and more activity. My particular bank has also seen lots of activity on the energy sector, particularly renewables. 

What country do you work in/focus on?

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:24pm

Very cool. Sounds like a blast.

How did you get your Spanish to a professional working level so fast. I can understand living there and picking up speaking Spanish but to be at the point of writing materials and participating in meetings, taking calls, doing diligence, etc all seems extremely hard in such short order. I worked and lived in Peru for 2.5 years in a different context and not sure I'd have been at a level to be fully integrated into a banking team, especially early in my language learning journey. 

Mar 9, 2021 - 5:33pm

Language was admittedly the hardest part of the job at first. I moved into an AirBnB room in a house that had a few other locals living there. I insisted on only speaking Spanish at work and with my housemates, so practicing every day before, during and after work made my learning curve steeper. I would also study over the weekends focusing on any terms or major areas I thought might need the most work. I knew I had things figured out when I had to help translate Chilean Spanish for some Colombian investors that came in for a management presentation.

Mar 9, 2021 - 6:14pm

That's cool. You must be a good language learner. How did you convince the group to let a non-native language speaker that was only learning to get the role? Was there a lot of runway / patientce to let you learn? I'm guessing everyone in the office spoke English as well? I lived with Peruvian families and didn't speak English and while I was "fluent" I don't think I could have done it within a banking context unless there was a lot of leeway, probably for at least the first year. But maybe I just suck. I found talking on the phone harder and sometimes tracking a rapid fire conversation with a lot of people, or with people with rougher accents it was really hard - even after 2.5 years. Are deals done in Spanish and English - or just Spanish? I know sometimes down there there can be a mix. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 10, 2021 - 2:25am

Congrats on Wharton, definitely a path I haven't seen before which makes it all the more interesting. With the importance top tier MBAs place in prestige, how important do you think your international experience was in getting into Wharton? You mentioned being really interested in the region before the move but now wanting to relocate back to the US. Did you not enjoy your time in Chile as much as you were thinking beforehand or is it more of wanting to come back to friends and family? Not knowing much Spanish at the time and being a foreigner, why do you think they went with you over someone from Chile? Any advice for someone looking to possibly work in the region for a short period?

Apr 1, 2021 - 6:10pm

Thanks! I think my international business experience was one of the most fundamental pieces of my application. If I had done the same job in the U.S. I doubt I would have been accepted. Yes, I absolutely loved Chile and the sad part is that it feels like my second home at this point. It was more of wanting to come back to friends and family and not lose touch after 4 years without seeing so many people. I think the firm I was at is open to hiring foreigners because they already had local employees and new perspectives are always vale'adds, but the only real way I was able to stand out was work ethic. I made a point of being the first one in and the last one out of the office almost everyday, and in banking that is not very easy to do so it helped me stand out. 

Mar 25, 2021 - 4:53pm

Your story is fascinating because most people choose to stay in NYC. One question, I am from Colombia and I just finished my Master's degree in a top business school in Europe and I want to move to Chile as well. Do IB boutiques in Chile offer sponsorship? where can I find and apply for jobs in these boutiques? What is the average age for Interns and 1st-year Analyst in Chile?. Thank you 

Apr 1, 2021 - 5:59pm

Thank you! Great to hear that you are interested in doing the same thing. The process of "tramitando tu visa" in Chile is relatively straightforward and most quality employers will support it. At my first for instance there were employees from all over Latin America. In terms of finding jobs, you can cold email, but it is always best to have a warm hand'off or introduction so I would suggest trying to find mutual contacts or mutual previous employers. In my case, cold emailing was not very effective, I was able to find a job through distant connections and a willingness to work in pretty much any Spanish speaking country. I was lucky to have ended up in Chile. In Chile, average college graduates tend to be slightly older so 25/26 years old and the analysts at most firms are that age or older. 

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Mar 30, 2021 - 10:22am

Admit that Argentina is better than Chile in almost every way

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

April 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (34) $348
  • Associates (182) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (104) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (95) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (26) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (389) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (317) $82