How important is networking in the UK (London)?

I've read a lot in the forum about networking - in fact there's even a networking guide I can buy. However, WSO is quite a US-focused website so I assume networking is a big deal for New York IB's.

I'm a student at a target uni (think UCL, Warwick, Imperial, LSE) for BB investment banks in London. How much does networking play a part in UK SA and full time offers? Is it sufficient that I just do the online application?

Comments (34)

 
Apr 27, 2018 - 6:14pm

This is the thing. Networking depends on two things; 1. how high up is the person and 2. how formal is the hiring process at the firm.

BBs traditionally have a pretty standardised and formal online hiring process so most people you contact or reach out to can 'flag' your CV where you go from being 1 in 10,000 to perhaps 1 in 1,000 (provided you also have solid grades and good experience). Unless you know someone at the very top of the bank it won't get you an interview. If you're lucky enough to know someone in that position it might help get an interview but it is usually if you would be applying to their direct department - knowing the head of ECM at a BB won't help you get to the 1st round of DCM.

Having said that, excluding BBs does not lead us with dog shit banks. MMs and EBs have a structure in hiring but having contacts there can be very helpful to getting a first round. I reached out to a senior guy at a top EB (think CP, MoCo or HL) and that helped me get the 1st round which I'm 99.9% sure I wouldn't have got without the nudge.

 
Best Response
Apr 27, 2018 - 6:38pm

From my personal experience, networking does have some impact on getting you an interview. I attended one of the targets you mentioned and also attended a networking event hosted by an American BB. I got on well with the MD who subsequently asked me for my CV to flag me to HR for an interview, so it does help to that extent. Equally, I had reached out to someone (Associate) at another bank as well, who also asked me for my CV to flag for HR. It seems to be that it can help in getting you an interview, but it doesn't do anything beyond that. Once you're at the interview, it's a level playing field. Knowing the MD won't really help you get the offer.

Now a "rumor" I've heard is that when banks host networking events, their is an opportunity for you to be flagged (either by simply attending as often these networking events are selective or impressing someone enough that they drop your name to HR). Now I'm not sure if this is entirely true, but in any case I would recommend you network as much as possible and attend all events, especially for the banks you really want to have a chance at.

On a final note, networking is always valuable even if it doesn't lead to an interview / offer IMO. You never know how useful it might be to know someone, especially later on in life.

 
Apr 27, 2018 - 8:04pm

At a Semi-target, so networking events often available.

Just wondering how to stand out at these- often the reps are surrounded by 15-20 (at least the IBD ones) so often a lot of waiting (not a problem at all) but also difficult to get a word in (more of a problem).

Also seems difficult to follow up as a result cause no contact details obtained often from it unless it's in smaller groups (think roughly 5).

 
Apr 28, 2018 - 11:01am

I agree it is difficult, especially with people crowding. My approach has always been speak to 1 - 3 people who I can get to know really well, as opposed to speak to everyone. A lot of the crowd will only be their temporarily. If you're there for most of the conversation with someone, it helps them to remember you. Standard stuff like ask for business card at the end etc. always helps in following up. If they don't have a card, make sure you write down their name. I've gone as far as saying thanks on LinkedIn but I'm not sure if they like this approach. You can start off asking simple questions about themselves and what they do, and they'll ask about you too. The idea is to find some common ground, which I managed to do with the MD I met in the above story - that usually is what makes you memorable.

With exception to the common ground I found, I find that seniors tend to prefer to talk more about their careers with you as they're less likely to be able to relate to someone at your age in any other way. With juniors though, I find they prefer talking about stuff outside of work. Last thing they want is speaking about models with some overly keen candidate in their first evening out of the office before the AM.

Last note, when in a crowd, just be normal and relaxed. You'll get idiots who are so uptight through the entire conversation and those who tend to try and ask the most questions with the hope they set a good impression, especially with very basic questions they already know the answers too just to make it seem like they're more interested than the rest of the group. Bankers see straight through this, it'll just make you come across as a moron.

 
Apr 28, 2018 - 9:30pm

Been networking with this VP for some time. He flagged me, but his team was not the one that was hiring. So it did help to 'push' my app a little but I diddn't get the interview even as they were only taking in 1 candidate. HR knew me by then because of the VP flagging me and she transferred my app to another division. Fast forward, got the interview and offer eventually.

I think sometimes it really depends on luck as well. Some people are willing to help, to flag you, some just don't do it even though they may be really helpful in answering your questions etc.

 
May 10, 2018 - 4:31pm

In London the only real networking is done by non-target students/grads/analysts who have traditionally a very limited existing network available and very limited opportunities to meet bankers or finance alumni (simply because no alumni work in banks). These people have the real drive to get something out of it. While bankers should be happy to help and meet up, the status of non-target implies that chances to get out of it even just an interview in Tier 1 institutions are very thin

 
May 15, 2018 - 2:19pm

I'm in a non-target UK school and you are right that we have a lot of drive to network. However, this doesn't mean that people in targets don't network. I'm sure a great deal of them do and they actually have more replies due to their uni name. In my first 10 cold emails I got 0 replies. It's not 'how much' you network, it's about how effective it is.

made new unrelated account - dont reply or message as i never use it. 

 
May 15, 2018 - 5:08pm

I agree with you. The hit ratio from a target student will always be significantly higher if done in a similar fashion to the non-target one. Alumni from target schools almost feel (or are?) obliged to reply to a networking/help email. Non-target students need to find something in common with the email recipient (it can be an interest, the city of origin, friends in common, college etc) - a pure cold email from a non-target is easy that will get unanswered

 
May 15, 2018 - 2:22pm

idk why you're getting MS. Your CV has to be really impressive to get offers without networking. An impressive CV would have impressive internships which are almost impossible to get without networking (except for the 0.1% that are world champions in Judo and stuff like that). Just my 0.02

made new unrelated account - dont reply or message as i never use it. 

 
May 15, 2018 - 9:40am

For BBs networking will have little effect unless they are very senior and can get you all the way through interviews on their reference alone. Unlike US, the websites actually do the job they are built for the majority of the time. Most will have room for you to mention a company reference which can help however.

For EB it can really help for some but those that use external hiring, CV, Evercore, then it doesn't really matter.

Knowing people outside can always really help with when you are asked about motivation, etc, so it isnt a waste of time. I got a SA from non/semi target, and i've also helped get a friend straight to an interview through one of my contacts at another firm

 
May 17, 2018 - 1:26pm

For the love of G-d, anyone reading this in the UK please do not take the above comment to heart. I'll break this down very carefully for why networking is the key to breaking into banking, no matter the location.

There are thousands of resumes being submitted on these websites for only a handful of positions at these banks. You could have a very impressive resume - perfect marks at your uni and perhaps a somewhat relevant internship - but you are competing against thousands of other applicants who are just as hungry as you to break into that BB or EB. They will have very similar resumes as you are so the differentiation factors that HR uses to pick qualified candidates to interview, both IQ and competence (ability to complete a task and proven experience), will be harder to differentiate.

The only way to separate yourself from the rest of the pool is to have someone within the company know who you are and vouch for you. People are more comfortable with picking candidates that they are more familiar with for interviews because they can already attest to that person's IQ and competence signals that are needed in order to get the interview in the first place. The reason I disagree with the notion that "The websites actually do the job they are built for the majority of the time" is because that doesn't change the issue that employers can't differentiate between candidates because there are still thousands of candidates applying.

My suggestion to the OP is to network early and often and worse case scenario, learn more about the bank that he / she is applying to.

 
May 17, 2018 - 2:54pm

I agree with this. In London, I got my first banking internship through networking and maintaining a correspondence with a VP, which led to me being aware of an opening I was able to interview for and was subsequently offered.

Additionally, I recently received an offer for another bank in London where they even said that my motivation was clear, through communicating regularly with HR and networking with an associate there, which really made me stand out and influenced their decision.

The bottom line is, there is so much upside and so little to lose. Even if they didn't get you an interview, it's still a great way to practice telling your story, running through your CV as well as getting some feedback on it.

 
May 18, 2018 - 4:28am

I do agree with what you are saying, that networking can help and that there is a great risk/reward ratio, I'm just answering the question with the opinion that you don't need to, as other people in the comments are saying. It is not the only way in the UK, I know that from personal experience, and I know plenty of others who will say the same, plus I was not at UCL, Warwick, Imperial, LSE or Oxbridge. If this person was at a non-target that was even more non-target than mine then yeah, I would recommend it.

There will be plenty of people here who got their internships and jobs by networking and not taking the hard route, but you do have a good chance without networking, and I know that for a fact.

For graduate roles and summer internships, of all the people/my friends who placed, and myself, nobody networked, and some of them got interviews at almost 100% of the banks they applied for (I won't comment on peoples success rate during interviews). Sure it may help, and yes i'm sure there are tons of people out there who gave themselves a much better chance than the rest of the pack by networking, but for me coming from a university that was not a target, you do not *need *to network at all to get through to interviews, and from then on it is up to you to impress.

On a separate note, I've also helped with the CV & cover letter screening and interviews with students (not at a bank, buy-side), and I can say that there are definitely ways to make your CV and cover letter stand out from a pack, they really don't all look the same and not a single person out of ~400 was using the WSO template (I used the template for mine for the first job I landed, I'd recommend it in London because it looks 100x better than what the Unis teach you and not as many people as in the US will be using it),

And to the other comment regarding getting 2 offers, I'm not making any comments into any roles that aren't part of the standard summer/grad hiring processes. I'd 100% agree that networking gives you a much, much bigger shot at jobs like that (maybe smaller boutiques or teams?) and moving once you are already in the industry, but again there are people I can think of who didn't and yet made impressive moves.

 
May 15, 2018 - 4:56pm

I don't know who you are - but for asking this question you most likely do not know anyone in banking or do not come from a background that would help you get into banking.

Networking is the only thing that will get you there. Read this again - networking is the only thing that will get you a job in banking. Networking event are there for a reason, bankers COME to you to meet you, how hard is that to leverage?

 
May 18, 2018 - 4:29am

London Networking (Originally Posted: 05/20/2018)

Saw few posts about networking in Europe. Some say its useless, some say it helps. Can people working in IB really push your CV as in the US?

I will be working in London over the summer. Should I meet bankers during my lunch break for a coffee?

There is an elite boutique with only 1 alumni, an MD, is that too high for networking? Should I focus on associates-VPs?

 
May 16, 2018 - 5:28am

True in the US, definitely not in the UK. With 'spring weeks' (days/week insight) you can convert them directly to a summer internship if you are good enough (BNP/Barclays gave 90% return offers) without having done any bit of networking. Interview for these are usually 1 phone interview + numerical tests. That said most of the candidates for these positions are from diversity/non finance degrees or future superstars.

I know a lot of people getting SA without having networked at all, that said for the top 3 BBs networking is almost mandatory if you do not have a stellar CV.

 
May 16, 2018 - 4:44pm

I did mention BNP in my paragraph, Barclays is just as shit. Otherwise networking is key. Sure if you are the only one legged green coloured transgendered homosexual in your class you have a pretty good chance of getting in with just your application, for the rest of the hetero white and asian male population it's a bit tougher. How do you get your day or week of insight without networking!?

 
May 18, 2018 - 4:31am

Yes, he went to my uni, I stated that he is an alumni. The question is not about having coffees, is is suitable to have a lunch or coffee, the latter being preferable, during my lunch break. Or at 5pm+ once I am done with work.

 
May 18, 2018 - 4:32am

aintnotimetowaste:

Not as important as in US, but still networking can help a lot. Of course you should have lunch/coffees with bankers during your internship.

Do you have any link with that MD? (went to same uni, same nationality etc)


Out of curiosity, why do you think networking is less important in London than it is in the US? My intuition would be that Europe is much more about who you know than the US.
I have a friend who lives in the country, and it's supposed to be an hour from 42nd Street. A lie! The only thing that's an hour from 42nd Street is 43rd Street!
 
May 18, 2018 - 4:34am

Having discussed this with my dad, working for a big corporate (top5 worldwide in what they do) in the financial services (not IB). People wont risk anything by pushing candidates they barely know. They would rather let the HR do their job as there is no OCR, most of the time the first stage will be a video interview. That said if your dad's best buddy is an MD that makes a difference, you probably can get experience outside traditional internships/get through basic CV screening. There is no Bro culture in Europe. That said for exits, knowing people will truly make a difference.

For continental Europe, the process is usually less formal as internship lasts from 3-12 month and less competitive, small offices, smaller firms... Hence basic networking can get you the job.

FYI, my dad was working alongside the Head of JPM EMEA for a project, asked if he could help me/had any tips/could get my CV to HRs for Spring Weeks (easy path to summer offer), he told him to tell me to apply online as everyone.

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