How important is it one come from a rich family and be younger with regard to being hired as an Investment Banker?

Go-getter's picture
Rank: Chimp | -51

I've always had an insecurity that i will be discriminated againist by Investment Banks even though i'm tall and good looking, but older (28), and cannot relate to much any of the same experiences as my well-to-do classmates. How important is it to be young (around 20-22) and have rich parents to get an internship and ideally a job offer at an Investment Bank? I am 28 and have not graduated yet do to life circumstances and with the realization that i needed to transfer to a target school, (which i did, Harvard Extension School) otherwise i would be screwed as far as getting a high paying finance job. Also, being the first one in my family to go to college, would my wealthy collegues (not to sterotype but most of them will be) not consider me equal and invite me into their circles beucase they know i did not come from money like them? Any light which could be shead on the subject matter would he helpful.

Comments (21)

Apr 4, 2016

Is Harvard Extension School an official college under the Harvard University umbrella (i.e. do you get a Harvard U degree)? If I recall correctly, it's not. This may complicate matters for you in regards to undergraduate finance recruiting.

In any case, there isn't any age or socioeconomic discrimination if you are taking the traditional on-campus recruiting route. I should know because I landed both a SA and FT IBD position in my late twenties. In interviews you are given a chance to speak to your story and life experiences, which is a perfect opportunity to differentiate yourself from the pack, all things being the same (technicals, fit).

Further, investment banks have workers that span the age and background gamut, including post MBA Associates in their early thirties, military veterans, older analysts from non-traditional backgrounds (myself), etc.

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Best Response
Apr 4, 2016

Being richer in of itself doesn't present much added advantage unless your last name appears in the WSJ, etc often, or come from a family thats a big client for an investment bank.

A main advantage of being rich is that it does however teach you about the business world EARLY: the importance of networking, the confidence to talk to adults, the non-expectation of not being taken seriously, the diversity and normalcy of some jobs (someone whose family has struggled financially, lived in dangerous neighborhoods, etc may not know what it means to be in high finance, nor expects him/herself to get there), etc. Rich families tend be have been successful in one area or another, and well-connected.

However, those same advantages can be developed in life outside of your family through networking, pursuing professional development, diversity/mentoring programs, finding your own mentors, etc. Dingdong08 came from disadvantaged background, and now is an MD in PE.

Apr 4, 2016

as someone who's from a similar background i feel this is very real. many seniors just don't want any non-whites non-rich kids in their firm. this is especially true in PE where HRs/head hunters are reluctant to present you to the firms even tho you verify all the criteria.
i have like 5% response ratio when networking with alumni. my response rate is much higher while addressing other arabs be they alumni or not.
And i suppose this would stick with you when you'd need to win mandates for the firm. i have trouble imagining myself dining in some very upscale place with CEOs/CFOs/board members talking about champagne and #random_topic_rich_europeans_like_to_talk_about.

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Apr 4, 2016

It's less wealth that matters than whether you can conduct yourself in a manner appropriate to the social class you're trying to crack into (largely white, upper middle class professional).

While there is a strong correlation between class and financial wealth, the two are not the same. Americans often conflate the two, I think because your national mythology (particularly boot strapping, entrepreneurs in garages etc) largely refuses to acknowledge class as an explanatory factor for success*.

Going to college, hanging out with friends from different class backgrounds etc, is partly about learning how act within a certain class culture (or at least mimic the behaviour of that class). Hopefully you've spent some time in college doing that. If you can then send the right signals in interviews ("I am essentially one of you"), then breaking into an investment bank will be easier than if, other things being equal, you're talking with an Appalchian accent or rural South drawl.

Important note here - The point here is that being a member of a particular class opens doors which means you're allowed to succeed, not that members of a class have certain innate characteristics inherited from birth.

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Apr 4, 2016

Just to be honest, I think the bigger issue is Harvard Extension School. That will not be viewed as a target for banking or any high finance job. 99% of the people I know would automatically ding a HES resume despite the other qualifications. I would try to see if you can transfer to another institution (maybe a top public or LAC) if you have not enrolled

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Apr 4, 2016

You say 99% of the people you know. Who are the people in your social orbit with which you refer to and why would they ding it?

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Apr 4, 2016

Colleagues in investment banking. Unfortunately HES is viewed negatively not only because it is not a target school but also because it is viewed as a backdoor based on the Harvard brand name. FWIW most of us would not be averse to someone from a state school or a local school per se but would react more negatively to HES

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Apr 5, 2016

HAHAHA the kid thinks harvard extension is a "target"... You'll be completely locked out of IB recruitment: HES is a scam, and well-known as one (I've met a couple of losers who tell me they graduated from "Harvard," only to find out it was HES).

Harvard will not let you recruit alongside the College kids for OCR and even if, your resume will be tossed aside by the BBs (trust me as someone who works for one)

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Apr 5, 2016

Mathematically speaking, there are hundreds of companies which operate in some form of Investment Banking. It does not have to be BB. Anyone who is interested in a long-term career in the field i imagine would not start their career at a BB becuase you you get pigeon-holed resuling in a limited skill base as oppose to working at a smaller firm and getting greater exposure before hand and you're a terrible person.

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Apr 5, 2016

Anyone who is interested in banking long-term should not start a BB? BB's are one of the very best places to start your career for long-term banking; it is much easier to move from a BB to a smaller shop than vice versa (places like PJT, Laz, Moelis etc. might be an exception and an even better bet to start a long-term career in banking). You definately can't go wrong starting at a BB.

Apr 5, 2016
Go-getter:

Mathematically speaking, there are hundreds of companies which operate in some form of Investment Banking. It does not have to be BB. Anyone who is interested in a long-term career in the field i imagine would not start their career at a BB becuase you you get pigeon-holed resuling in a limited skill base as oppose to working at a smaller firm and getting greater exposure before hand and you're a terrible person.

You ain't much of a go-getter are you

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Oct 21, 2016

Stop looking down on yourself. Even if you are sleeping on the street type of broke and you land IBD at a BB, everyone there will know you are qualified. To be successful in life, your wealth in terms of knowledge and ability is much more important than your monetary wealth. Plenty of MD came from poor background, heck even Lloyd Blankfein grew up in the projects. Being poor shouldn't be an excuse as why you don't get far in life.

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Oct 21, 2016

ignore him .. he makes these posts frequently:

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/if-youre-a-t...

Oct 21, 2016

Lol I'm guessing he struggles with having some form of confidence.

Feb 2, 2018

As a ALM Management graduate, I can say that the quality of the coursework is great especially for the cost. Many professors come straight from Harvard (HLS, HBS included) or other top schools.

While firms don't discriminate based on age or socio-economic status, you'd be smart to learn the norms of the industry. For example, learning how to dress and speak in a professional in accordance with the firms' culture. As for not coming from a wealthy family, if you do end up at an investment bank, for lack of better terms, you'd be considered new money versus coming from old money but at the end of the day, money is money. If you wish to relate to your wealthier colleagues, then adapt with the new money you've earned.

Post-graduation, your mileage may vary. If you get a 3.5+ GPA, you may be eligible for Harvard College's Undergraduate Career fair for entry-level positions. As for Harvard Extension's career fair, many prestigious firms take a hard pass. As an Extension student at Harvard University, you'll have to work much harder versus the other schools at Harvard to land an internship at an Investment Bank.

Feb 3, 2018

As someone coming from a disadvantaged background, the only way coming from our background disadvantages you is when you're not comfortable around people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Also, if you have to make trips out to NYC then it definitely is a burden, but I started saving money from my job months before.

I've had issues throughout the recruiting cycle relating to interviewers or others but it is something you can work on, especially being at university. A previous comment is correct that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are in this mindset of not being taken seriously or even thinking we can get to this high-finance world. This is where confidence will be crucial, it took me a long time to do this but it is doable. This is the imposter syndrome many people face.

Coming from a disadvantaged background does distinguish you from the pack, assuming you've had to work blue-collar jobs, by creating unique narratives for fit questions 99% of the other candidates cannot make. I used my blue-collar job, which had a ton of team work involved, to give differentiated answers that I'm sure no other candidate could give. Best of luck with recruiting...

Feb 3, 2018
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