Interview with WallStreetPlayboys: A Top 3 Institutional Investor Ranked Analyst (part 2/2)

The following is Part 2 of an interview with WallStreetPlayboys (he is also available to answer your questions). See Part 1 Here.

General Advice

  1. What is the one tip you would give to current students (ugrad and/or grad students) to help them succeed?

    Work hard and get job experience. When a résumé hits an inbox they look at school, GPA and job experience. They also run key word searches on the resume so if you have good experience the software will realize it for example "investment banking analyst" is much better to write on your resume than "corporate finance analyst" if you in fact did an investment banking internship.
    The world is changing fast and we don't want to train an employee as much as previously, so the more relevant experience you have the better you stand at getting a job offer. Banks are becoming risk averse to hiring candidates with no experience.

  2. What are some tips for moving up and becoming "the boss" (i.e. a department head / managing director / partner)?

    Develop trust. The reason why we care so much about attention to detail and hard work is we want to know you care about your work. The more you care the more people trust you will also stay around for a bit longer. Also the more responsibility you get the more leeway you have when it comes to getting promoted, getting a higher bonus, finding a new job or otherwise.

  3. Any specific cold-emailing or cold-calling tips you can pass on?

    Do not send resumes with photos, blatant lies, or elongated email messages. If you are going to cold email an MD keep it short, 3-4 sentences or so should be solid. This sounds harsh but if you are sending a Wikipedia level life story to a Managing Director, the chances of him/her responding to you is zero. Positively, if you do not get a response back you can go ahead and try to send another email, in the same format, a few months later. Your average Managing Director is going to receive thousands of emails in a day so it can easily slip.

    With that said remember to keep it short. The moral of the story is this "Don't waste his/her time". This post was a good summary on networking and I hope he finds a new job soon.


  4. What is a memorable experience you have of how someone got your attention? (for networking / internship / job purposes)

    One associate candidate approached me at an Analyst Day (where research analysts and/or associates attend a long presentation from a company under coverage) and pitched me on the spot during a break.
    I knew of a place where an associate slot was open and passed along his resume the next day. He was hired a few weeks later.

  5. What are unique things college students and young-professionals can do to separate themselves from the crowd?

    This needs to be reiterated, get job experience. Your degree in (insert sector) engineering is not worth it if you're below a 3.5 GPA and cannot obtain an internship in investment banking, equity research, sales and trading or otherwise.

    Sample of transferable skills as follows:
    1. Experience with excel spread sheets (updating models, updating CapIQ/FactSet Sheets etc.)
    2. Experience with PowerPoint and Word in a professional environment
    3. Sector knowledge (Oil & Gas, Medical etc.)

    If you have zero job experience start at the bottom and work your way up if you must. For example, if you are a freshman it may make sense to work in wealth management, financial advisory or otherwise as an intern during your semester/quarter. These small jobs signal to employers that you're interested in finance.

    Notably, on the Non-Target front, job experience and networking are going to be your best options to get a job on the Street. If you have a below average GPA and you are at a Non-Target the odds are stacking up against you so you need to hit the phones/emails/friends/family connections and find ways to make your GPA less of an issue. If you have a front office sell-side internship or otherwise and your GPA is sub-par or you're at a Non-Target the work experience will certainly get your foot in the door.

  6. What are some ways (in general) someone could best prepare for an upcoming internship or ft job at a firm like yours?

    Assuming your financial knowledge is in good shape then simply practice speed and accuracy in Microsoft Office. Accuracy is more important than speed, particularly when you are new to the job.

    When you turn in a document and you are a new person to the firm if there is a single error in the document we will assume the entire document is done incorrectly. Everyone makes mistakes but the less you can make from day one the better.

    Over time the errors decrease substantially and no one is ever entirely perfect so if 99% of your work is error free your clients will simply joke about the 1% of errors you do make. With that said it is certainly not okay to incorrectly spell a CEO's name or say a company is trading at 1x P/E when it is really trading at 100x P/E

  7. What is your opinion on gaining relevant experience at a lesser known firm vs. working for a brand name firm (with less relevant experience)?

    This depends, relevant work experience is key, if you want to do investment banking, choose a middle bank for an internship over a bulge bracket bank for a sales and trading job. Long-term, prestige does matter. Notably, it is hard to decide where in finance you want to go long-term at a young age, however the earlier you do the faster you can position yourself to get there.

  8. What do you look for in a potential intern candidate?

    To be honest HR and associates do the vast majority of the screening. I will certainly interview them.
    Once in the interview I look for the following: Proof of hard work, GPA, knowledge of the job, knowledge of the sector, knowledge of the bank and why he would like to work in our group/sector/bank.

  9. What are some of the worst mistakes you've seen people make in interviews?

    Lots of mistakes. Sending resumes with a photo, incorrectly spelling the Company name on their resume, format is not aligned, lying about their background… The list goes on.

    Specifically for interviews, many people simply do not know what they are signing up for and do not know what the job entails. In addition, another major issue is rambling, you want to give clear and concise answers. This is similar to the email template, if you're wasting their time they will unlikely hire you.

    To drive the point home, even the biographies of Managing Directors are short. They generally have a template that is one paragraph long, about 5 sentences or so. To get an idea of the biographies, you can find press releases when major managing directors switch firms.

  10. Thoughts on resume?

    Overall, make your resume spotless, this is your first impression. If you cannot make a formatted one page resume with no errors then we will not trust your ability to make a power point presentation or excel model with zero errors.

    Make the important things stand out. Example closing two M&A deals is much more interesting than saying you made pitchbooks and spread comps.

  11. How to Standout on the Job?

    In short here is the order of priorities and how to move up the ladder starting as an associate (time frame is ~5-10+ years to be an MD). When you reach point 4-5 is when you begin adding value. That usually takes 2-3 years of experience. Again, do not expect to add value from day one, start off by learning the ropes and doing exactly as told then move up over time.
    1. Marketing Decks, FactSet/CapIQ Screens, "data dumps" eg: aggregating vast amounts of information
    2. Comps
    3. Updating and revising models
    4. Answering low end client requests
    5. Begin fielding calls for low end clients
    6. Begin marketing with companies under coverage from time to time (Corporate Access)
    7. Begin doing teach-ins and initiations on his/her own
    8. Begin fielding calls from middle end clients and begin carving out ideas for a space to cover
    9. Begin answering all questions on a small subset of companies (2-3 or so)
    10. Begin initiating on companies and becoming a Vice President by carving out names

  12. Buyside and Sell-Side?

    One looming question is why don't some Analysts move to the Buy-side and the answer there is variance in pay and timing. An example comp structure at a hedge fund could be something in the range of $250-$850K all-in (wide range at hedge funds and SirTrades or other members on the buy-side can chime in).

    Basically, the difference with the sell-side is that you're generally at the middle of that area (assuming you are not a top ranked analyst where you move to the $1M+ mark). So the idea is that pay is more consistent on the Sell-side (relative basis).

    (Note: for associates and/or lower end jobs there are different pay scales, but the same theme plays out with variability.)

    In addition, timing is important. If you are interviewing for a hedge fund with the comp structure laid out above, however you just got moved up the ranks in Institutional Investor… The buy-side job offer is now unattractive. The same can happen at the associate level, if you land a hedge fund job, but are getting promoted to a Vice President role… The give and take becomes difficult.

    Overall sell-side and buy-side jobs both have positives and negatives depending on your personality. To be honest I enjoy sales, I enjoy helping people and I enjoy researching new companies. If a major opportunity for the buy-side comes up any Analyst would certainly take a look.

  13. What are your thoughts on this statement: "Wall Street is a more meritocratic place than most. If you are a young person and you have good ideas, people will often listen to them, if you are in the right role" ?

    We left a post on this basically its two tiers:
    1. Hard working and talented
    2. Hard working not talented

    Number one will find a way to get to a revenue generation role at some point in the future (opinion). Number two will also be able to get into a finance role but will unlikely ever make it to revenue generation.

    With that said, the post came off a bit pompous so that's really the message. If you're willing to work like a dog you can make $200K or so which is not bad if you're really not incredibly smart. If however, you are both well the sky is the limit for you.

    Notice though if you're not willing to learn or work, you're not going anywhere on Wall Street it's not a cake walk like the media likes to tell people. If it is a cake walk, you've already put in a large amount of effort or got extremely lucky where your dad was the CEO of a major corporation. The truth however, is that more people actually make it without the aforementioned CEO connection.

  14. Any other interesting stories or wisdom you would like to share with the WSO readers?

    Hopefully this interview answers the major questions. Questions that require longer responses will be answered this weekend, will try to answer easier questions during the week.

    With that said, stay positive about everything in life. It is easy to be negative and cynical, it also adds no value to your life and can cause major health issues which is even more important than the number of dollars in your bank account. So keep working, keep grinding, keep improving and things will get better.

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