How to break into S&T as a graduate?

Hello guys,

First of all, I wish you a Happy New Year. Hope all your wishes come true in 2019.

This is my first post here so please correct me if I happen to break any rule.

I graduated in June 2017 with a Bachelor in Business Administration from a top European business school in Spain. I did my exchange program in a top Canadian university as well and took many financial markets electives during those years. Learnt some basic VBA for Excel in Canada. I did apply for a lot of Summer Internships and all these kind of programs for undergraduates and actually got some phone interviews but only with Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. I didn't manage to make it.

After that, I took a graduate program (not a Msc) in Quantitative Finance even though that did not make me become a quant, obviously. Learnt some basic Matlab here. Needless to say that I have been interested in trading and financial markets since I was 18 and I have read a lot of books about financial markets, trading, investing, hedge funds, etc. Traded for around 3 years with these kind of paper money accounts and started investing with real money in November 2017. Since then, made 175% return in 7 months implementing a short strangle strategy for daily Spanish index options until the European regulator stopped allowing retail investors to trade with those products. However, I am still in the market.

I am 23 and currently working in wealth management in a bank after having worked as a Risk Analyst in a financial lines insurance company (mainly financial statements analysis).

The question is simple, how to break into Sales & Trading (specially Trading) as a graduate? I feel I have missed a huge opportunity to get into the job I truly love as I have the impression it becomes extremely tough to get there as a graduate. I would really appreciate your help.

Best regards and have a nice day,

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Comments (30)

Jan 7, 2019 - 12:44pm

your best bet now would be the masters in financial engineering at columbia (or an equiv) to get into trading at NYC banks.

just google're welcome
  • 1
Jan 7, 2019 - 2:00pm

Thanks a lot for your advice, sure that would be my best bet. Unfortunately, I cannot afford taking a Master's Degree in the US as they are extremely expensive compared to what we use to pay here in Europe. I was considering taking a Msc in Financial Engineering in Canada at HEC Montreal although I know it's not a top university but that would help me to land in North America (I am Spanish) and get a job at S&T I guess, what are your thoughts about that? I speak French too. In anyce case, my initial objective was to get a job in S&T in London and then have the chance to move to the US through internal rotation.

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Jan 7, 2019 - 2:20pm

any good financial engineering education will enable you to break in (if you really learn all the skills that these positions look for...because talent is scarce)

your best bet would then be to target emerging markets desks (Latam desks are always looking for multi-lingual with finance skills)....and to backdoor your way targeting a job in quant IT. So, learn advanced Python, Excel VBA, SQL....then get a job working on emerging markets IT dev...and then network your way onto an EM trading desk.

just google're welcome
  • 3
Mar 4, 2019 - 2:44am

In case you're curious about commodities there is a great masters at the Uni of Geneva in Commodity trading that get people to tradsup/tradeops desks upon graduation. Otherwise, as others in the thread, especially if you want to stay on the more "financial" side of the markets I'd recommend improving on the quant side, as nowadays many of the shops recruit with a very heavy quant bias to implement their strategies. There are some nice programs the also Swiss ETH/UZH Quant masters, but the best thing you can do is to run your own test strategies and use them as a portfolio of your own work during the process.

If your target is London, then Try UK Masters as it will make easier to recruit and will prob give you a more stable class network. UK uni is also good if you come with a ESADE/IE/CUNEF maybe UC3 or UPF too, otherwise more difficult for Spaniards. RSM is very good value but unless you go for CEMS or Finance Honours it's gonna be tough to break into London.

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Jan 7, 2019 - 3:08pm

hey sibarz in a similar situation as you right now, although I'm currently doing an MSc (1st year) in finance at a semi-target in Europe. Applied for a bunch of S&T summers this year but got nothing. Will work part time as a software developer this spring doing SQL and VBA though. If you want to team up to have someone to talk to while fighting the good fight, I'd be happy to. Shoot me a message if you are down

Jan 7, 2019 - 3:13pm

search for the jobs you want...note the tech/math skills required...go learn those things...get a tech job using at least some of them (should be easy with the darth of talent)....then lateral to a financial/trading role.

just google're welcome
  • 1
Jan 7, 2019 - 5:21pm

I think you might have been having "misconceptions" about trading here. The type of trading you have been doing is very close to what hedge funds (and basically all buy-side firms) do - that is taking positions in the market to make money and having some hedging strategies. Trading in investment banks like the one you've mentioned is much more about helping your clients trading needs and selling your products. That's why I would say banks would prefer soft skills over your past trading experience, although it's good on your resume.

As for education, Spanish schools are not popular among banks and hedge funds in London, you should maybe try to apply to Latam roles or apply in Continental Europe (Spain or France as you speak French?). If you really want to break in in London you'll have to do a master in finance in the UK - or in one of the top French schools - or Bocconi.

As for the US (as someone mentioned that in the comments), you have no chance just from the fact you don't have a visa allowing you to work there - they can easily find an American with the same/better credentials than you - sponsoring visas is costly. If you want to work in the US it's easier to be internally pushed once you've worked your way in the UK / Europe.

Jan 8, 2019 - 2:57am

Many thanks for your reply, really appreciate it.
- Yes, I know what trading in a bank means, basically market making, running your book and deciding what to hedge and what not to hedge given your market expectations. Effectively, the type of trading I've been doing is close to buy-side firms trading but, all in all, is all I can do to learn and get some market experience I guess, right?
- Yes, I alreayd knew it was extremely tough to work in the US just because of the visa issue, that's why I wanted to land first in London.

Jan 8, 2019 - 12:03am

You can probably still apply for off-cycle internships in London and then use that experience to get a full-time job (since most off-cycle internships are not intended for conversion to full-time). For summer internships you usually have to still be at university but as far as I know for off-cycle internships banks don't care too much (check the French banks which usually have these kind of positions in S&T).

Jan 8, 2019 - 9:37am

I cold called my way through. Had coffee with at least 1 or 2 people from the top 20-30 banks over 6-7 months. Someone finally sneaked my resume in for an interview. Clinched it, never look back. It really is about how bad you want it, how hard you're willing to work for it.

All the best

Jan 11, 2019 - 1:18pm

Rotterdam is definitely not a target for London in BBs neither - maybe for Continental Europe though. A full degree for £30k is worth it, especially at LSE/Oxbridge/Imperial, you'll be able to pay that back with not even a half year first-year analyst compensation at one of the BBs in London. Same for the U.S. (higher fees but higher comps in BBs too). Realistically in 5 years it's paid back. Of course some people at these unis don't secure internships because they're not a fit/don't know stuff about the division, but to maximize your chances that's the best to do. If you want to work in London BBs LSE/Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL/Bocconi are the top tier targets [according to LinkedIn & my experience]. Warwick/HEC Paris are not far from becoming ones too. Studying in one of these unis help a lot to get interviews - after that your uni name "doesn't count" anymore. Trust me that people that get into these schools are very smart and the degrees are demanding.

Anyways, good luck with your apps!

Jan 9, 2019 - 5:06am

You're right my friend, this strategy might generate huge losses when volatility spikes. However, as I mentioned, I traded daily options, so they expired at the end of the day, which means I had the chance not to trade one day if I felt market were gonna go crazy that day. Additionally, I was not allowed to place an order until the market opening had already taken place -which is obvious-, so I already had some information about what was going on before placing my order. What I am trying to say with this is that I was not randomly selling options, there were statistics and numbers behind this; actually I lost money in just 2 days and they were not major losses at all. In conclusion, this strategy has an unlimited loss risk but it can be extremely profitable if runned appropriately and by taking profit from volatility smile and the subjective component of implied volatility.

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