European IBs & Commercial Banks

Hi all,

I just wanted a discussion about what your opinion is concerning European IB and Commercial Banks (French, Italian, ... ex UK). Strengths? Weaknesses? Best? Worst? Would you work in Milan, Paris, Frankfurt...?

I would just like a general discussion to see where our brainstorming could arrive. Also, helpful IMO for Uni guys who want to learn more about these players.

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Comments (28)

Apr 30, 2020 - 5:54am

Paris: hard for foreigners, French don't (want to) speak English. W/L for As is worse than Lon to my understanding.
Madrid/Milan: same as Paris + 50% lower comp, but great places to live (pre covid at least..)
Frankfurt: professionally OK, but living there..
Vienna: no deal exposure, good w/l balance
Belgium: hardly any IB there
Amsterdam: ok-ish on all aspects
Lux: no clue
Zurich: professionally OK (just below Frankfurt I would say), salaries good but high cost of living

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:23pm

That's a perfect description about Europe imo. Paris, Milan and Madrid have a perfect atmosphere but salary is not so good very often. There is w/l balance but..
Same opinion here. What are your favorite institutions? I do not work in M&A, so take this into account for your answer.

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Apr 30, 2020 - 6:21am

Problem with any IB in EU is that they are regional, almost none only require English. In the Nordics (Stockholm, Copenhagen,etc.) you are required to speak the native tongue. Same goes for PE, it's just so regional. You may be able to get away with it at more firms in Paris, but any T2 EU city and you'll have to know the language.

Nordics deal flow is meh, pay 60-70% of US salaries, taxes are 40-50% as well.

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:27pm
bcrew13:

Problem with any IB in EU is that they are regional, almost none only require English. In the Nordics (Stockholm, Copenhagen,etc.) you are required to speak the native tongue. Same goes for PE, it's just so regional. You may be able to get away with it at more firms in Paris, but any T2 EU city and you'll have to know the language.

Nordics deal flow is meh, pay 60-70% of US salaries, taxes are 40-50% as well.


I was thinking that Nordic countries were more English speaking than the other countries! Good to know, thanks bro!
Apr 30, 2020 - 4:01pm

Yup, go to school in the Nordics and pay is fine, I think you can expect $80k-$100k for analysts, but almost all require the language. PE is even worse as they generally stick within the country in deals.

Everyone can speak English, its like 97%, but all the software and documents are in the native tongue. I got lucky and got in with a boutique that has investors from Germany and UK and even I am on Google translate a couple times a day.

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:32pm

May I ask you about Geneva? Zurich is not so easy as a target, German is required..moreover, is there any business in Eastern Europe in your opinion? I do not work in M&A or similar, so take that into account (I am more a Markets guy). There are some BB from US with quant offices there, hope you could tell me something more!

May 1, 2020 - 5:14pm

I was thinking about how Poland particularly has a fairly bloated SOE sector that can be privatized, there might be some good opportunities there.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

May 1, 2020 - 5:16pm

How's the experience in Amsterdam for English speakers only? Heard that the Dutch are more open than the French/others but that in the end they'll still want you to speak Dutch.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Most Helpful
  • Associate 2 in Consulting
Apr 30, 2020 - 8:19am

I can only speak for the Italian because I know people that work there or have seen alumni end up there.

Intesa Sanpaolo - solid Italian bank with much better pay in London than in Milan (no joke, a family member is an MD there and mentioned that their CIB division pays grads ~1.6K EUR/month. I'm not talking run of the mill idiots, I'm talking top grade Bocconi and Politecnico grads. Who the fuck would take that?). In London the scene is different as you have better pay, a good WLB (50-60h weeks) and decent dealflow. Banca IMI is their true IB division and they get decent deal flow with predominantly Italian exposure and some broader EU exposure. The structured finance team in London is quite good.

UniCredit - pretty similar to the above, but better CIB division IMO.

Mediobanca - coming up there as a real solid Italian name in the M&A space. Not sure about comp but the deal flow is good. Consistently in the top 20 European M&A advisors for deal value. Probably won't get exposure to "big boy" deals, but good MM exposure. Not a bad place to start your career if the traditional MMs, BBs and EBs don't work out.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2020 - 1:57pm

Zurich is very nice. Great, safe place with a fantastic nature and a very convenient airport. Taxes are ridiculously low too and salaries are fantastic as well. Perfect to have a family there IMO.

You definitely need very good/native German skills and preferably (the really like it) Swiss-German to have a good career in most front-office jobs (think IB) but there are some exceptions (some very reputable Corporate Banks, etc.)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 1, 2020 - 6:25pm

Can speak for Frankfurt. German definitely required. BBs / EBs pay very well (in line with London, can sometimes be higher due to FX) but commercial / regional banks not so much. At a place like Commerzbank you can expect 70-80k EUR all-in as a first-year analyst in IB. Capital markets dealflow for these types of places ranges from alright to surprisingly good, but you're not gonna get much – if any – M&A experience.

Culture is pretty trash across the board if you're not used to the German WHU M&A worshippers. Some groups like JP are decent, but then there's the Rothschild / Lazard analysts jerking off to working until 3am every day. Generally speaking it's nowhere near as 'fun' (for lack of a better word) working in Frankfurt IB as it is in NYC / London.

My experience as someone having worked in 2/3 cities with tons of friends at the 3rd.

May 4, 2020 - 6:05am

I would echo what most people have said on here. One thing I'd add is that although there is less large-cap dealflow outside of London, Paris, Frankfurt, there are numerous small boutiques that work on deals in the sub EUR250m space. Language skills are a must.

Obstacles are the things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.
  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 4, 2020 - 6:34am

Madrid: pay is very low for internship (can be lower than 1K a month), very low for graduate programmes (30-35K) and decent after that (analyst 2 might do 44+15 which in Spain is a lot of money). Hours are a bit lower than typical London BB, city is very cheap, weather and food are amazing.
Very little diversity (95% Spanish, 5% south americans and portuguese) and everyone is from the same 4 schools.

May 4, 2020 - 9:44am

Will chime in as have interned/worked in a couple of these places:

Milan
As regards Mediobanca, I believe the poster above meant they are "up and coming" in the European space because for Italy they are very much kings in M&A, especially FIG M&A, they basically get every mandate in the space. Canzonieri (head of IB) is Italy's best banker and is VERY hands-on. Messier Maris was a great acquisition. RE is also top in Italy with Lazard. I would say there's a fair bit of distance (both in terms of deals done and reputation) between them and the runner ups. Mediobanca S&T is ok, don't do too much in flows but thanks to IB always have good deals to pitch to clients. Analyst 1 pay is 45k in Milan, drops off at the associate level (think 85k) compared to peers so quite common for analysts to bounce to the American firms after their analyst years. This is also because culture for IB in Mediobanca isn't great, lots of facetime and bosses are pretty old school in terms of not giving a damn about ruining analyst and associate's nights. Still, probably best place to be in Milan for IB.
Unicredit are ok, obviously better at DCM deals where they can throw their balance sheet around, don't do much in S&T.
Intesa, as mentioned above, go under the Banca IMI brand for IB although there's been talks of uniting Banca IMI under the broader Intesa brand (not many are happy about this). As described above, DCM and structured finance are pretty solid and IB in general is good, S&T also decent

School split is basically 60% Bocconi, 20% Cattolica, 20% Politecnico. The Bocconi crew is fairly tight-knit, so a bit hard to feel at home if you're an outsider. Milan in general is nice, restaurants and bars are more attractively priced (and better imho) than Paris and London. No Pret-a-manger in Milan though so kind of a pain when you just have time for a sandwich in between meetings (definitely gonna get hit by MS for this). Clubbing is fine, there's the fashion crew which is both good and bad (to each their own I guess). Rent in Milan has gone up pretty drastically in the last couple of years, perhaps more as a function of it being far smaller than the other large European cities. You basically have to be Italian to work in Milan (some foreigners in the S&T desks, 90% speak Italian fluently though).

Madrid
Don't know much about Santander and BBVA IB, from the limited people I met in the space I think BBVA is a little more interesting as they have embraced the LATAM/Central america coverage a bit better and they don't have the dreadful Ana Botin making decisions. For S&T I got the impression that unlike in Milan, most of the flows come from London, in the sense that the Madrid desks are quite lean. Still, know of lots of Spanish guys who given the choice come back to Madrid after their first 2-3 years in London because COL is so much lower. Rent and going out is really good, both in terms of price and experience. Schools represented I would say are like 35% ICADE, 35% Complutense/CUNEF, 15% IE, 15% ESADE. The former two are extremely Spanish (I don't think they have courses in English, someone perhaps can clarify), IE and ESADE are more international so larger parts of their classes go to London /other parts of Europe. I think Madrid has been better colonized in terms of EBs for IB than Italy has. Beautiful city, weather's great and the Spaniards are more chill to work with than their counterparts in Milan, Frankfurt, Paris from what I've seen.

Frankfurt
Kinda been said already, pay in line if not better than London when adjusted by currency. Most people are German/Austrian. Offices speak German, culture is not great in my personal opinion, there's often the stigma that Frankfurt works harder than London just because. Still, along with Paris, Frankfurt is head and shoulders above Milan and Madrid both for sell and buyside. Citi and GS upping office sizes there should be interesting. Schools represented I would say are pretty even with the London schools and the German ones both sending lots to work in FFM. Pay from what I know is 70k for Analyst 1

Paris
The French don't like to speak English but they're having to play by the rules more now that they're gunning to overtake Frankfurt. BAML setting up its new EU HQ there could help with that (seems like for markets everyone from London that isn't UK/US/ASIA client facing is being moved to Paris), think there's a better expat community than in the other three cities. Have noticed there are more Small cap focused funds in Paris than anywhere else (could just be personal experience bias). Paris also helped by the fact that BNP & SocGen are bigger players in IB/Markets than their Spanish/Italian/German (Deutsche still very good for some desks). The two French banks are still very strong in the exotic derivs space, CA a bit less so but haven't had too much to do with them. Rent in Paris costs an arm and a leg and so does going out to eat and club, city is beautiful and the weather is perfect. From my experience Paris & FFM offices pay the exact same so net-net your takehome is higher in the latter because COL is much lower. Schools from what I've seen is your run of the mill French schools. You can get around with English for people in the sector but will be harder in the day to day

May 4, 2020 - 10:00am

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May 5, 2020 - 10:58am

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