Interview with Credit Risk Associate (Part 1/2)

The following is an interview with Credit Risk Associate Pirho (he is also available to answer your questions).

Are you a professional and want to do an interview? View our interview template here and then email me your responses to [email protected]

  1. What is your current job title and a one sentence description of your primary job responsibility?
  2. I'm a credit risk associate in the financial institutions group at a major US bank. My job is primarily analyzing the creditworthiness of banks in various countries and determining whether or not we want to lend, engage in derivatives transactions, or do other activities with them at entail taking on credit risk.

  3. What are previous positions you have held and how many years of experience do you have?
  4. I worked in an operations role for about 2 years before transferring to my current job, which I've been in for almost 2 years. I was brought on at associate level despite not having an MBA or other analyst background because I absolutely crushed my interview. I spent a ton of time on my own developing my accounting knowledge, financial/economic analysis abilities, knowledge of my company, and knowledge of financial markets.


  5. Did you go to a "target", "semi target" or "non target".
    I went to a semi-target.

  6. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that you apply in your current position?

    I think being able to have an open mind about working with people with different backgrounds is really important. I went to a very diverse school and think that's helped me a lot working with colleagues of different age or in different countries.

  7. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that helped you get where you are now?

    Following what you're passionate about will usually lead to better results than doing something that you're "good at" but don't care much about. I started as a math major, and while I was always good at math, I didn't see much of an application for what I was doing and got pretty bad grades until I transferred to economics, which I really enjoy.

  8. What was your most useful class and why?

    Analyzing banks in different countries requires you to get a good handle on what is going on in their economy, so I would say just general macroeconomics classes were the most useful.

  9. GPA?

    I got a 3.1. Had a 2.4 in math until I switched to economics after 3 semesters and recovered quite a bit from there.

  10. During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?

    I graduated in 2008 without a full-time offer. As the financial crisis picked up, it became apparent that if I wanted to get into banking, I was going to have to take what I could get and build some connections from there.

  11. What kind of internships did you have during ugrad?

    None. After my junior year, I had the chance at an unpaid internship at a hedge fund, but declined because I couldn't afford it.

  12. Graduate

  13. Did you get an mba (or msf or equiv) or are you considering it?

    No MBA. Considering attending in 2014, but I've been doing very well in my current role and have been given hints that I might get VP at some point soon, so we'll see.

  14. Do you have any professional certifications (CFA / CAIA / etc.)? If so, how has that certification helped you in your career?

    No. I've considered doing the CFA, but don't really see the need for it in my current position.

  15. On the job

  16. How did you initially "break-in" to the industry?

    After graduating without anything in 2008, I set my sights lower than I had been looking and started applying via standard online applications for operations roles at top banks. I did this with the hopes of building connections in the company, learning as much as I possibly could, and transferring to something more interesting in time. Luckily, I managed to pull it off.

  17. What were some of the main factors in getting the job position you have now?

    From my operations role, I developed an excellent understanding of some of the internal systems and processes, which definitely helped. I also got a great recommendation from my previous manager, who knew my current boss. Beyond that, I had basically studied so much about accounting, financial analysis, economics, and the like, by the time I interviewed for this job, it was pretty clear to the guys interviewing me that it would be insane for them not to hire me.

  18. What are some of the specific things you do in your current position?

    I'm mainly writing credit opinions on various banks and working with our sales guys regarding justifications for new credit. I also deal with our treasury department a good bit regarding our deposits at other banks. I'm also involved in the country risk process, and write opinions on various countries, in order to make recommendations for our overall credit appetite in that country.

  19. What is a day in your life like during the workweek? Can you give us an hour by hour run down of your typical day?

    I usually get in around 8, grab the WSJ/FT and read through them to see if anything looks relevant. I'll also some other places for news to see if anything happened in Asia overnight and to see what's going on in Europe so far that day. After that, I'll usually continue writing up whatever bank or country I happen to be working on, or I'll read the annual/interim statements, some rating reports, and start pulling together the financial data I want if I'm starting something new. Usually, I'll have a few calls or meetings throughout the day regarding special projects, new sales opportunities, or what I've recently finished working on. I usually wrap things up around 6 and head home.

  20. What is your favorite part about the job? What is your least favorite?

    I like being able to see how the general economic climate affects individual institutions and how they try to manage things. I just kind of like doing analysis and having people take what I think about a borrower seriously. My least favorite part of the job is dealing with internal systems (designed terribly) and having to hand-hold operations when they screw things up (which happens pretty often).

  21. How did your background (life up until graduating college) best prepare you for where you're at now?

    I worked as a caddie, waiter, valet, and bartender at various points starting at about age 13 through college. I think doing these kinds of jobs really helped develop my confidence in dealing with people, especially people that are much older than me. I think this has given me a lot of confidence doing presentations, talking with senior management, and just communicating in a business environment in general. I think a lot of people have really really underdeveloped people skills when they are just starting out from school.

  22. What is the company culture like at your firm? What is the size of your firm?

    The culture in my group and with the people I deal with in sales and on the various trading desks is professional but still pretty friendly. I enjoy working with the vast majority of my colleagues and find them to be very knowledgeable about banking and the clients they cover. My firm is one of the largest banks in the US.

  23. How do you see your type of role and your industry changing in 5 years? 20 years?

    With a lot of the new regulation impacting banks and other financial institutions, particularly regarding counterparty risk in derivatives and trading, I think within the next 5 years there is going to be greater demand for people that can analyze this kind of risk. Going out 20 years is an eternity when talking about banks.

  24. What type of person (what background / knowledge / experience / personality) is best fit to do your type of job?

    I think someone who is analytical in nature but still has good people skills is the best fit for my role. This is typically what I look for when interviewing. Due to the nature of analyzing banks and countries, I think it's very important to have a strong grasp of economics and accounting in order to get by. I wouldn't say someone needs to understand bank accounting or analysis coming in (we will teach that), but having a grasp on typical corporate accounting is an easier base to start from than from scratch when learning about banks.

  25. Did you ever have a mentor and who were some other influential people who helped you along the way?

    Not really, I've always been pretty self-reliant. Having my previous manager put in a good word for me with my current boss was probably a big help, though.

  26. Are the sacrifices you've made to date worth the benefit realized by you so far in your career?

    Yes. I spent a lot of time studying after leaving school and I think that is what got me my current job.

  27. If you weren't working in finance, what do you think you would be doing?

    Probably programming. I've always liked software and can code a bit. I think if I hadn't switched to economics in school, I probably would have switched to computer science.

  28. What keeps you motivated?

    Wanting to continue doing things I enjoy and wanting to be challenged, whether by others or myself.

  29. How much does money motivate you?

    Not much at all. I've seen so many people make themselves very miserable over money they don't really need and it just doesn't make much sense to me.

  30. How much does someone in a role like yours make per year (base + bonus)?

    I think, at most banks, people in my role make 80K-120K with bonus of 10K-30K. Obviously, this can vary a lot by bank and location.

  31. Have you ever considered leaving your job to start your own company?


See Part 2 Here (available on March 13, 1PM ET)

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