Investment Banking in the UK - An Overview

I've noticed a few more UK-related questions popping up and as this site has (understandably) been very US-centric over the last 5-10 years I thought a brief overview of what the industry is like in the UK would be helpful.

Who Are The Firms?

  • Bulge Brackets – the usual suspects

  • Mid Market Full Service – Smaller firms of c.100-500 people providing all the expected services (Research, Sales, Trading, IBD) but focussing more on the mid-market (£250-£1,500m MC). Key names include Jefferies, Numis, Peel Hunt, Investec, Liberum, Stifel.

  • Small Cap – focussing on AIM companies (more on this later) with MCs usually £5-£100m. Some names include Shore Capital, finnCap, N+1 Singer, Zeus Capital.

  • Advisory Firms – Rothschild, Lazard, Evercore, Moelis etc. Rothschild in particular are a dominating house

  • Big 4 - Big4 professional service companies are increasingly trying to compete more against the Advisory firms in particular with their corporate finance teams. Typically these are execution / advisory roles only, focussing on M&A and IPOs. No underwriting capabilites. Deloitte / EY / KPMG / PwC.

How Do You Get In?
If you've read any of my posting history you may have gleaned that I think the US system and its emphasis on 'networking' is absurd and just an attempt to learn and force basic social skills. Well good news! It's very different in the UK.

There's 3 top 'target' universities (what you refer to as schools) - LSE / Oxford / Cambridge and then you have places like Bristol, Durham, UCL, Imperial just below these, with the wider Russell Group below that. If your university is not in the Russell Group you'll struggle to get in.

Recruiting is done with a lot of skills assessments, usually online tests covering maths, verbal reasoning and logic. Once you pass these you may be invited to interview and from there the process is the same as the US.

You do not need to try and caddy for an MD's brother-in-laws father every other weekend or cold call everyone working in the industry for an 'informational interview' – in fact doing this will just make you look a bit odd. Try and get to know a few people from your university or that you have some kind of link to but remember these are basic social skills and you can't really learn them.

Many firms offer a 'Spring week' during the Easter holidays in your first year and this can be a good springboard towards getting an offer for an internship.

Internships are done at the end of your second year of university and then you may or may not get a return offer. The route in is a lot less structured and you often see people joining as analysts who've done Masters, PhDs, some other line of work etc.

Note that there's also a lot of 'off cycle' internships offered to people who have just left university, but the hiring rate from these is generally lower than the classic summer programme.

It's also quite common for people from Big4 professional service firms who either started in audit and got their ACA and moved to CF/TS, or who started off in CF/TS to move across to IBD (at an Analyst3 or Associate level). It isn't so easy to go to a bulge bracket but the Advisory places (Rothschild, Lazard etc.) and Small/Mid Cap houses are frequent recruiters.

Where Do You Work?
London of course, not much regional presence to speak of although some of the Small Cap firms (see above) have offices in Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh etc.

Within London there are 3 areas to know about.

  • The City – the financial heart of the UK. The 'Square Mile' located on the eastern side of Central London.
  • Canary Wharf – new business district about 2 miles away from the City in the east. Many of the banks are headquartered here
  • West End / Mayfair – about 2 miles west of the City and home to private equity, hedge funds and other asset managers.

Note that 'the City' is our equivalent of 'the Street' and can be used to refer to anything in finance.

What Do You Do?
Working in investment banking (or as it's often referred to here – corporate finance) is pretty much the same as the US. As I'm writing this I can think of 3 main differences which I'll highlight below

  • Role of the Broker – broking is very much an old-school UK service but is still absolutely key in the City. A broker is essentially a retained financial adviser who will advise a company on all matters relating to investors and the markets. Being the broker (sole or joint) also puts you first in line for work on any transactions so winning a broking client is very important.

  • The Takeover Code (the Code) – the Code governs all M&A in the UK involving public companies and this also applies to overseas firms trying to buy UK companies. The Code is a set of rules and principles which outline what you can and can't do on an M&A process, timeframes, requirements to announce etc. Knowing the Code is essential for working in M&A.

  • Sponsor / Nomad – these are regulatory-type advisory roles which are required on most transactions. The Sponsor or Nomad will typically be a bank or Big4 firm and will have to liaise with the regulators (FCA / UKLA) on behalf of the company to make sure a transaction is executed properly. These are required on any IPO and on many M&A transactions.

The Markets
FTSE 100 is the headline market although the FTSE 250 is more representative of the UK economy. The FTSE 100 is dominated by financial services and international commodity firms whereas the 250 contains a lot more industrial, consumer etc. Tech is not such a big area in the UK.

At a high level there are 2 markets – the 'Official List' (Main Market) and AIM. AIM is for smaller companies (usually up to £300m market cap) and contains a lot of E&P, mining, start up tech firms etc. The Small Cap firms I mentioned at the start will often focus exclusively on AIM.

Moving On
As with recruiting, there's some more key differences here. Most people do not go to business school. Typically you'll do 2-3 years as an Analyst then either move up to Associate or move to the buy side. There's only 1 business school in the UK worth going to (LBS) and as I said, nobody really cares too much about an MBA.

Hopefully this is of some help to all the aspiring UK corporate financiers. Happy to answer any questions anyone may have or elaborate.

Mod Note (Andy): top 50 posts of 2017, this one ranks #27 (based on # of silver bananas)

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Comments (347)

May 18, 2017 - 12:29pm

European schools definitely get a look in. Seen interviewees from Milan (Boconni) and Sweden. The intern in my team last summer was from EDHEC.

I think it depends a lot on the bank, but Europeans are generally very well represented in London BBs.

May 19, 2017 - 3:32pm

Agree. Almost all top schools in every Western European country with a solid reputation is a shoo-in for an interview at most firms.
Eg: WHU, Bocconi, Ecole Superieures, EDHEC, KTH, HSG are names that I can pull out of my head right now

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 19, 2017 - 6:51pm

There is a good intake from IE, keep an eye on analysts starting in July in both EBs and BBs and you'll see that there is a strong presence from the uni (masters students)

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May 20, 2017 - 2:21pm

Also, Europeans are there and well represented because the job is client facing and English is not as popular as you think in many regions (Spain, Italy and France in particular). I heard colleagues having calls in French because the client doesn't want to talk in English...and I can guarantee that if you want to build a relationship in the long term you need to speak the language and share some cultural traits.

Regarding IE, it is well regarded..I have a close friend in a US BB from their MSc in Finance

Jul 24, 2017 - 5:50pm

Target schools per country in Europe (except UK)
France : HEC, ESSEC, ESCP, EML, EDHEC, Ecole Polytechnique
Spain : IE Business School, ESADE
Germany : Mannheim Uni
Switzerland : St Gallen Uni
Italy : Luigi Di Bocconi
Sweden : Stockholm School of Economics
Nederland : Rotterdam School of Management
Ireland : UCL, Trinity

Might forget some but mains are here...

May 18, 2017 - 11:40am

Can't comment on the difficulty of the move as have not done it myself and don't know anyone who has - don't imagine it's too difficult if you move at Associate or above and have excellent experience.

Off cycles are probably marginally less competitive to get into, but a lot more competitive to get an offer from.

May 19, 2017 - 3:39pm

The move from large MM to BB/EB is easier once you've crossed the A2A mark. Before that, the competition is insane, tbh, thanks to the large pool of candidates.

Off-cycle programs are not competitive in that sense, rather they are highly limited. Hence your probability of getting an SA is higher. Also, off-cycle programs are mainly reserved for recent graduates.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
Best Response
May 18, 2017 - 12:34pm

Good one.

Yup Spring Weeks are essential some good students do like 4 spring weeks during the break in first year at LSE, then summer in second year (impossible to get a summer in BBs for 1st year) but try to get a summer in boutique is recommended.

I heard Off-Cycle were incredibly hard to get yes, I do not know why, mostly because they do not have a typical amount of space for that and I guess they take you only if you are really worth it (?).

Associate at MM then lateral to BBs should not be a problem, your door of entry will be your specialisation for a smooth transition, if you work in aviation finance for example at natixis/BNP then, to move you'd have to go with the biggest underwriters in the field for that financing (and a BB as you target it) like GS or CS for example, its an example but you get my point. Depending some fields MM are much more prestigious than some BBs.

Friends from France, from EDHEC, Audencia, etc. are all in places such as GS, BlackRock, DB, so London is very well aware of the worth of the biggest finance programme from top schools from each countries (tbh in some bannks/department you have a very high % of foreigners compared to uk guys)

May 18, 2017 - 1:10pm

This is terrific, thank you. It would be great to hear about how banks rank up for recruiting, and when recruiting how useful is sponsor / Broking / code work?
Any more flavour on anything recruiting or U.K. M&A based is highly appreciated!!

May 19, 2017 - 2:52am

Not entirely sure what you're asking here about 'rank up' for recruiting?

You simply won't be able to do any Code / Sponsor / broking work unless you're already in an internship / job but knowing what these things are would be helpful in an interview. It's not like valuation or accounting where you can read about it and practice it yourself.

A lot of banks don't have pure M&A teams but rather this is sometimes done as part of an overall coverage job. Having said that, some places certainly do have pure M&A so it's luck of the draw really (and who you apply to).

May 18, 2017 - 1:21pm

Since MBA's aren't as big of a deal, do they still have MBA associate direct recruiting? Outside of LBS, what about schools like Oxford and Cambridge for banking recruiting? Is there anyway to do a masters at LSE and come in as an associate, despite them not having a MBA program? ( they really need one....it would kill)

May 19, 2017 - 3:45pm

Oxbridge, LSE, LBS work well for breaking in.
You can do a masters in LSE/Oxbridge and break in as an associate in some other office - Dubai, Singapore, etc.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 19, 2017 - 2:40pm

I sent a fairly long PM to someone on this recently covering the different aspects of Big4, which I'll link below and I highly recommend reading for an overview. Bear in mind the salary figures I quote there are based on old FX rates so the USD equivalents are now lower.... Happy to comment on comp if of interest.

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/big4-ma-an-explanation

At a high level, going into both is fine (and a step up from audit) and it's certainly possible to get hired into many firms with 12-18 months in TS or CF.

In TS you'll see a lot more deals and they'll be pretty large (usually), but you'll only focus on the due diligence side. In CF you'll actually be taking a lead advisory / execution role (i.e. exactly the same job as you'd do in IBD) but the deals are usually smaller, often for private companies, and further between.

I myself did a grad scheme in audit, then some time in Big4 CF before moving over to IBD and many many other people followed exactly the same path. Mid market firms, small cap houses, advisory firms etc. all LOVE ACAs and it's often a pre-requisite for recruiters.

In short, both are good with CF probably being marginally better but either can get you to IBD.

May 23, 2017 - 10:42pm

Thanks for the post, it was a useful read. Out of interest, do these MM / smaller advisory firms that you mentioned give recruiters the mandates for sourcing new Analysts, who in turn get in touch with ACA qualified candidates? I've noticed that whilst the larger MM shops publicly advertise Analyst vacancies on their websites, I very rarely see smaller places doing this. Also, do you reckon the same places / recruiters that look for ACA qualified guys would be interested in a MSc Acc/Fin graduate with MM M&A experience under their belt (

May 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

Mind if I shoot you a PM? In a very similar position to you at the start of your career, would appreciate some insights.

May 19, 2017 - 11:03am

Great post, thank you.

For people studying a 2 year Master's degree (+ 3 years BSc.) would it be possible (and recommendable) to get a spring internship while in the third year of your bachelor's degree and getting the summer internship after the first year of the Master's degree?

May 20, 2017 - 5:43am

Thanks for the reply. But would it make sense to aim for a spring week at a BB, or should I instead try to get a summer internship after finishing my third year at an EB or similar?

Should also note that almost everyone work relevant part-time jobs where I live, so I will still have relevant work experience even if I don't do summer internships in London before my penultimate year.

May 19, 2017 - 2:53pm

Pretty solid write-up.

Would add that there are 6 target schools in the UK - i.e. you forgot Imperial, UCL and Warwick and then a slew of semi-target schools i.e. schools that are present every year in analyst/spring week/intern classes but in smaller numbers like Bristol, Durham, Nottingham, etc. As for European targets, most banks recruit at the top Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Scandinavian and Spanish business (or technical schools).

Age is also not as much of an issue here because of how many people come from European Masters programs or those who took years out before starting university. Being older than 21-22 is more common than most would think.

Re:Off-Cycles, they seemed primarily aimed at those on year in industry courses, europeans with mandatory internship requirements in their masters programmes or those who've graduated. Placement years are also becoming more of a thing lately in the UK - not just in back office but also front office roles.

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May 19, 2017 - 4:52pm

I'll take them for consulting, maybe someone else can pitch in for IB

1) If for consulting UCL does better than LSE nowadays it seems

3) No

6) Yes. I'd say 65% is Oxbridge, 15% LSE/UCL, 20% Other (Durham, Bristol, Imperial, St Andrews mainly). Oxbirdge/UCL/LSE are main targets for MBB interviews. Maybe the Oxbridge candidates are on average stronger so they do better in the process.

8) No

May 19, 2017 - 5:03pm
  1. UCL is a top tier university, he'll be fine. Obviously Oxbridge / LSE is a bit better but no problems there.

  2. You missed 2.

  3. In his situation I'd say KCL, but either is fine.

  4. Not worth the slim chance over UCL.

  5. You missed 5.

  6. No idea about consulting but as I said, it's a top tier university.

  7. Not at large firms, yes at small firms.

  8. Indian won't help him, German/French/Italian/Nordic would. No problem being monolingual though.

  9. No.

  10. Yes there will be tests whenever you apply. They're pretty easy.

May 19, 2017 - 10:49pm

Thank you so much for the great information, I was also wondering if the fact that he is studying History and not a STEM related field hurt in IBD recruiting?

Array
May 23, 2017 - 10:19pm

Hi Jack,

Interesting and very understandable concerns. I thought I might be able to offer you a perspective as a student (from LSE). First off, UCL is sick. It is very well respected and targeted among the BBs and consulting firms.

In fact, I would argue that a UCL BA in History may in fact add a more interesting shade to his 'why banking' pitch. I have also worked with recruiters as part of my society job at LSE, they really DO value diversity.

A piece of suggestion tho: shall your brother be really set on a front office career, he needs to get into speed at the start of year 1, go to on-campus events, meet seniors and alumni, know the banking basics and get involved in societies. This is because Spring internship applications are mostly on a rolling basis and the British curriculum is indeed very packed.

He might want to learn an European language during his three years here. Worth the investment.

Hope this helps.

May 25, 2017 - 2:14pm

Thank you so much for help and your advice is great! (Gave you SB)

Array
May 19, 2017 - 3:38pm

You forgot to mention anything about a really important topic: compensation.

How does IB in the UK compare to the U.S. in terms of how much money you'll make? Is it the same or more than or less than?

May 19, 2017 - 3:51pm

It was lesser, it's going to be even less, now that Brexit is certain. Plus London and NYC have similar COLs, so you'll be saving less. And the females aren't that great, unless you have friends in Chelsea (London), where they'll be more or less the same.

Once you rise through the ranks though, comp becomes higher. Plus you'll get to easily stash away most of that bonus, unless you're American

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 19, 2017 - 4:08pm

FATCA is one of the big reasons why my brother is thinking about coming back to America after finishing his undergrad degree in the UK instead of staying in London.

Array
May 19, 2017 - 5:13pm

A few years ago I'd have said comp is broadly comparable, especially at the Analyst level. Now however it's worse. For reference the base comp for a 1st year analyst is going to be in the region of $60-65k equivalent whereas a few years ago it would have been $75-80k equivalent.

If you stick with it and are successful you'll make a hell of a lot of money in both the US and UK so IMO it's not something to worry about.

As other posters have alluded to, the COL in London is absurdly high, possibly even higher than NYC. Add to that the fact that your marginal rate of tax/NI/student loan will be over 50% and that the average price for a 600-700sqft 2 bed flat in Zone 2 is about $650k, and it's very expensive when you're an Analyst.

EDIT: I didn't mention comp in my original post as I don't believe it's a relevant factor if you had the choice to live in the UK or US - there's so much more that will impact your day to day life than a few extra thousand dollars/pounds a year.

May 19, 2017 - 6:42pm
<span>Asatar</span>:

As other posters have alluded to, the COL in London is absurdly high, possibly even higher than NYC. Add to that the fact that your marginal rate of tax/NI/student loan will be over 50% and that the average price for a 600-700sqft 2 bed flat in Zone 2 is about $650k, and it's very expensive when you're an Analyst.

And that kids, is why London MBB/Consulting sucks. Better move to a German/Amsterdam office in a low COL area if you have the opportunity and are qualified for it. Shit ton of MBB dudes from Germany, afaihs.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 19, 2017 - 6:51pm

Hi Asatar,

I'm a penultimate year Econ/Fi student currently enrolled at a non-target/non-Russel group mid ranked university, however I'm averaging a high 2:1 which I'm confident I can turn into a 1:1 by the time I finish my undergrad (I'm only 1.5% off) . My plan right now is to nail a 1:1 and apply to a better known (target) school. However in the mean time I'm obviously looking to add to my CV by gaining some form of experience.

Now to the point, you said that emailing people isn't the norm, however, would it be a bad thing to do? Especially considering my position (I couldn't find an internship through typical recruiting channels), I currently have 50 ready for Monday morning essentially following the informational format you commonly see here. I'm currently focusing on PWM and AM (mutli-asset). What advice do you have for me and for others in a similar situation?

Thanks,
21

May 19, 2017 - 7:39pm

How non-target are we talking....? Top 20? Did you get all A/A* at A Level / GCSE?

Emailing people is fine, but it should never be forced like it appears to be in the US and there's no such thing as an 'informational interview' so please never use those words in an email!

Given your aspirations I'd suggest you take a look on LinkedIn and see if you can find anyone from your university working at a Wealth Management firm or one of the long-only funds and try and have a chat with them over coffee and get to know a bit more about what they do and the routes into their firms. Non-London is fine and may actually work better (I have Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh in mind, maybe Cambridge).

Essentially you need to get some work experience, even if it's just shadowing someone, but don't stress too much if nothing comes up.

Although they're often black holes, I'd suggest you do all the online applications for a grad position at all the long only funds and the PWM divisions of the larger banks, particularly JPM, HSBC, Barclays, Credit Suisse. The odds aren't great but a lot of people do get in through these.

I suggest you do some research and find all the names of relevant firms you can, here's a few to start you off.

  1. Asset Management - Aberdeen, BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, Schroders, Fidelity, Aviva, Standard Life, Legal & General, Henderson, Royal London, M&G, Kames Capital, Kilik, Credo Capital, Rathbones, Smith & Williamson, Invesco, Brewin Dolphin

  2. Private Wealth Management (specific) - Charles Stanley, Brewin Dolphin, Canaccord, Arbuthnot

  3. Private Wealth Management banks - HSBC, Barclays, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, State Street, Investec, Canaccord, Cheviot

Also as a backup consider doing a grad scheme at a Big4, potentially in Tax. As I mentioned above, in PWM/AM you definitely do not need to be in London so do not limit your search to there.

Happy to discuss further in PM if you wish.

May 19, 2017 - 8:37pm

Non-target, ok A-levels (say A*BB/AAB) and always in track for a first. Soon to start as an analyst in an EB (say Roths, Laz, Evercore, Greenhill, Moelis). If I was you I would message as many people as you can. Never ask for an internship, or for a "favour". Ask for a coffee, ask for advise, ask for their story.

I spent my placement year meeting up with a different person almost every week, most of them on the Director Managing Director range. Networking is critical. Just keep pushing and you will see how a door opens.

May 20, 2017 - 3:34am

It's actually quite possible if you go out and network with guys working in BBs. And it is certainly easier than it is in the US.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 24, 2017 - 8:35pm

can confirm - did an internship at an EB a couple years ago (Laz/EVR/CV) and I met numerous people who spent 2-3 years at big 4 corporate finance and joined my EB as a 1st year associate. That must have been one hell of a pay jump. Also met an MD who was a former big 4 corp finance employee before joining.

Also met a couple of magic circle lawyers who joined after finishing their training contract.

Coming from big 4 CF is very doable and more common than people think.

May 20, 2017 - 3:32am

Was fortunate enough to have landed an summer internship at McK or BCG. I've read about how terrible the COL problem is in London for entry level MBB. If I get the FT-offer, should I try to get Germany as my home office? I speak German and a Nordic language natively for what it's worth. How would this position me for London PE after 2-years compared to having London as my home office?

Currently studying at LSE/Oxbridge...

Array
May 20, 2017 - 3:38am

Yeah. Europe's best McKinsey and BCG offices are in Germany.

But London PE is a hard sell then. You'll be better off doing PE in Germany.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 20, 2017 - 3:48am

So I should try to get on their PE-rotation? Does your home office location really matter that much? I'd be travelling all the time anyways...

Array
May 20, 2017 - 4:12am

You'll still make double of basically everyone else starting. If you want more go to banking. Yes, London is expensive and not you'll probably save more in a boring city like Frankfurt, but does that really matter when you make more than you can spend anyway?

Also, see my other post. German work culture is plain horrible and you won't be traveling all the time, especially in German offices. Don't do it. And for PE, go for McK or Bain. Those place really well, BCG not so much apparently, and most people I know who wanted PE got it.

May 20, 2017 - 4:19am

My internship won't be in the LDN-office. Do people who receive a return offer usually get the chance to choose another starting office after their studies? If not, I would have to turn down the offer and apply for LDN-offices in my last year at Oxbridge/LSE. If I wanted to start in LDN full-time...

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Dec 28, 2017 - 5:08am

You earn quite a bit less at MBB in the U.K. compared to Germany, and the COL in London range anywhere from 1.5x to >3x compared to german cities (Berlin being on low end, Munich on high end of COL spectrum).
I don't think anyone is trying to say the you need to pity MBB consultants in London, but there's no doubt that it's a much better job kn Germany, especially given that the german consulting market is much bigger and much more sophisticated (#2 consulting market after US)...

May 24, 2017 - 10:32am

What's the STAR technique

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.
  • Intern in IB - Ind
May 25, 2017 - 10:53am

answering interview qns like 'tell me a time you worked as a team' basically any competency interviews

S - Situation of event where you worked a s a team (describe)
T - Task of the event that required you to work as a team (describe)
A - Action you took in working as a team (explain your personal actions)
R - Results of working as a team (refer to the results of your contribution)

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 24, 2017 - 3:43pm

finance RELATED society - was literally right there lmao

May 20, 2017 - 8:36am

Thanks for the post, very interesting read.

I'm currently at a very small boutique in London and looking to move to a bigger bank (though doesn't have to be a top BB). As I do not want to work 100h weeks, which banks are known to have a culture of not working people to the bone? If it comes at the cost of lower bonuses so be it, the industry pays far better than most of the jobs out there anyway so this really doesn't bother me.

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May 20, 2017 - 11:37am

I don't believe there are any banks out there which have a regular 100h work culture like they do Stateside. Sure, you'll have to pitch in for the all-nighter once in a while, but if you're thinking of a regular culture thing, there aren't any. Though, obviously, the work at BBs is still going to average 80-90 hours inspite of their efforts to curtail on insane working hours.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 20, 2017 - 12:04pm

80-90h is still only a marginal improvement on 100h. I'm looking for something where I generally would not have to work weekends and where I can be out of the office by 7.30-8PM on a weekday. Currently this is what I'm achieving at the firm I'm working at (front office debt role).

Surely there are other banks out there, perhaps the ones that don't quite make it to the top of the league tables, where the culture isn't insane about the hours? I have heard from an MD at a European bank that he left his job at an American BB because the hours were so horrible there. Can anyone confirm such claims that European banks are more relaxed?

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May 20, 2017 - 3:33pm

Are you at the analyst level? Unfortunately you will struggle to leave before 7 or 8 during the week as an analyst, unless you go to one of the small cap firms (see my original post).

Once you get up to Associate and higher, many of the mid market firms have a better W/L balance. For example I get in to the office for 7:30-8 and typically leave between 7 and 8. Obvious caveat being that no matter where you are, if it's deal crunch time you'll be there late.

Unfortunately you pretty much have to suck it up and take your lashes for 2-3 years as an analyst but then it does get better.

May 20, 2017 - 10:50am

Does anyone know how being a visiting student for a semester at a target compares to getting a master's degree from a target when trying to get into BBs in London?

Admission for visiting student seems a bit easier and I'm fairly happy with my current university, but it's not really a target.

May 20, 2017 - 3:25pm

Thanks for the reply!

I'd prefer studying abroad in the US either as a visiting student or getting a MFin from a target, but since I most likely won't be able to work in the US due to Visa requirements, isn't OCR irrelevant?

Also, it's my understanding from this thread that access to OCR doesn't matter as much in the UK compared to the US as long as the place is a target?

May 20, 2017 - 4:19pm

Strongly disagree with your no need to network advice!

Networking had a pivotal impact on my recruitment process.

1st year did no networking didn't get a single spring week interview.

Come second year I made sure to have known at least 1 person with a relatable background to me who would push my cv.
Had emailing correspondence with a head of M&A at GS/MS/JP etc. and randomly got invited to a final round interview in the office without having done any prior interviews/calls.

Reached out to the head of lending at think CS/Barcap/DB and was invited to their summer party met all the team.

My contacts also got me interviews by pushing my cv for several elite boutiques.

Others contacts in MM outright said they'd just take me on for the summer.

Maybe it's not the culture to do it, if so that should only entice people to do more of it, it's a great way to get an upper hand against people coming from Oxbridge etc. (Note I come from a European university)

May 20, 2017 - 5:04pm

If I gave the impression that you don't need to network, that was my mistake. Knowing people in the industry can be absolutely essential, especially if you're trying to make a move out of your initial job. What I meant is that you shouldn't treat it as forced and 'unnatural' as it appears to be portrayed in the US.

May 22, 2017 - 7:38am

I got an offer to do Undergrad in Economics and Finance at a strong semi target ( Bristol/Nottingham/Bath) and I am an Indian. Well being a non EU international student is kind of a disadvantage for me to get into BB or Top Boutiques. Well i am dead set about making into IBD. I am planning to take extra modules of German/French so that it could boost up my chance and I am kind of learning more about valuation and all that stuff right now as i am having my summer vacation so Do you guys think i should network more inorder to get an internship then a FT offer? ( Even though networking in UK aint "that" useful like networking in US)

May 22, 2017 - 9:12am

I'd recommend taking German/French modules, only if you're willing and able to learn the language to a high level of fluency. You should be able to use it in a business environment, otherwise, there's no point. Learning about valuation is a good start. Plenty of resources lurking around WSO. I'd recommend having a read through the Investment Banking and Valuation book by Rosenbaum. I used that religiously.

There's no harm in networking. It's not as important as it is in the US, but as you'd be applying from a semi-target, it would definitely increase your chances of getting your application read.

Your main priority at the moment is to start preparing yourself for spring week applications. They open early into the academic year, and they recruit on a rolling basis. Familiarise yourself with the industry, and incorporate that information into your written answers in the application process. I can't stress enough how important it is to apply as early as you can to the spring weeks. All the best.

May 28, 2017 - 4:59pm

Yo man,

I was in a very similar position to yourself and gained an IBD summer at a BB.

100% agree with ThrowawayCactus - apply ASAP to Spring Weeks. Your chances of being accepted are far far higher when you apply within the first month (or first 2 weeks). They usually open a couple weeks before most universities start, so you can gain an edge by applying to several before you get to uni (this will also help you to avoid getting swamped with apps in the first few weeks).

I also did extra language modules, though no Banker/HR that spoke I to seemed to notice. Do it if you're actually interested, but don't feel obliged to do it for competitive reasons.

It will be useful to have an idea of the work done by M&A/ECM/DCM and what motivates mergers and IPOs. For valuation, learn the brief steps of each method and the key info you would need. Try to find out about recent deals too, it will give the things that you're learning about a lot more context (ask: why is the deal happening?).

Perhaps on the other side of summer, try to set up some calls with analysts at banks (more for learning about their roles than networking).

May 22, 2017 - 9:05am

No experience of PE recruiting in the UK, but A Levels would be irrelevant. They'd care far more about your deal experience during your IB years. If they did care about your academics, they'd just look at your undergraduate studies.

May 22, 2017 - 6:19pm

Agree. PE recruiting does not care about your high-school grades, though some PEs will take your ranking (distinction, 2:1, etc) into account if faced with a difficult tie.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 24, 2017 - 11:33am

Apply fast, try to network since most boutiques rely on networking to find people and give them interviews. This is for London btw.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
  • 1
May 24, 2017 - 9:57am

I've posted in a separate thread but just noticed this topic and was hoping someone from the UK could update me on my situation:

I'm at a target university in the UK, looking to apply for grad jobs in M&A in BB in London. However, I have an unusual profile given that my main internship was a one year long placement at one of the tech giants in Silicon Valley (think in terms of Apple, Google, Amazon etc). I have also two other internships at smaller finance boutiques in London before the tech one. In addition have received top grades both at school and the first few years of university.

I was wondering whether it's realistic with such a background to get into M&A for a graduate job given that I have no investment banking internship experience but have the equivalent in the tech field.

May 25, 2017 - 3:03am

I'm sure Qatalyst would be willing to hire you.

Your profile is solid IMO for BB tech teams.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
May 26, 2017 - 5:18pm

As someone in Canada, who is finishing his degree one year earlier than expected, i was able to land a summer at a big 4 and then a BB in Toronto, but i am extremely interested in working in London or New York. Do you think i would have any luck applying to IB jobs online without networking in London. I am not a British or EU citizen and my GPA just barely meets the cutoff for most places in Canada if that helps.

On the flip side, i could just work in Toronto and try and get a transfer internally but from what ive seen so far that usually takes some time.

May 30, 2017 - 5:51pm

I have no idea what GPA cutoffs are in the US or what the equivalent in the UK is, but I'd assume the grade requirements are fairly similar globally so you won't hit a stumbling block there. However, weak academic credentials could put you at a disadvantage, especially with applying globally.

Nothing to lose so go for it! Not being a citizen won't matter.

May 28, 2017 - 10:41am

For the IBD, it varies a lot, but if you look at the stats it's normally GS/MS/JPM at the top.

M&A: GS, JPM, MS
LevFin: JPM followed by DB and BAML
ECM: MS and JPM
DCM: JPM and I think Barclays also has a fairly strong team
Industrials: GS, JPM and BAML
TMT: GS, MS and JPM
Healthcare: JPM
Real Estate: MS, JPM, BAML and GS
Consumer Retail: JPM, BAML, GS, MS (Lazard is also very strong in this)
FIG: JPM and I think also GS and MS
Nat Res: it varies between areas like mining, oil&gas, utilities etc.. but normally its JPM, GS, MS, Citi and BAML

This is just my scent on it, using various different sources but I wouldn't worry about it too much tho, these tables vary and change almost every year and it's really not that important, any of the BBs will most likely have solid teams.

May 27, 2017 - 11:55pm

This ranking is relatively inaccurate for Europe.

European banks typically are way stronger in their local market and this is reflected in rankings (a quick look at EU league tables on reuters will give you clues)

I.e you should add:
UBS for TMT
Top LevFin players in europe are JPM, DB, CS, followed by Citi, BAML and GS
BAML is definitely strong in NRG/Power
HSBC and BNP for DCM
UBS is also usually top 3 for EMEA ECM

Some EBs also top some sector-specific M&A rankings. There are definitely weak teams in every BB (GS/JPM/MS are far from dominating every category)

May 30, 2017 - 5:49pm

I've said something to this effect several times before but unless you have specific offers for these teams at multiple banks, this question is utterly irrelevant and you will never get a sensible response.

Apply to everywhere you can find and only once you have multiple offers start considering 'rankings'.

Working at any of the bulge brackets, Lazard or Rothschild will set you up incredibly well.

May 28, 2017 - 8:17pm

Asatar Hey man, I am gonna start my audit grad scheme at a big 4 firm in London. However, instead of doing the ACA as one would except, I will be doing the ICAS CA (Scottish equivalent). Would this put me at a disadvantage in any way? Would you happen to know people who've completed the ICAS CA and went on to land decent IB/ER gigs or will this be an impediment?

May 29, 2017 - 7:05am

Other than exam structure there's literally no difference between the two. They're both equally valued and no employer will look at you any differently for having a CA instead of an ACA. I know a lot of EY guys who've done the CA and landed decent finance gigs.

The only reason they have some grads doing the ACA and some doing the CA is for resource purposes so they don't have all the first/second years away at the same time to do college/exams.

May 30, 2017 - 5:44pm

I don't know what the CA entails but if this post is correct and it's the same (and some light research seems to suggest they are), then I wouldn't worry too much.

The only reason I would still try and get the ACA over CA if at all possible is due to 'brand recognition' outside of the accounting world. However, don't worry at all if CA is all you are offered.

May 30, 2017 - 5:47pm

No idea about getting into the US but LSE/Oxbridge are world renowned so I can't imagine it would be too tricky. Only issue could be lack of contacts.

All 3 will set up very nicely for UK positions. Bulge brackets won't care that you need a Visa, it could be an issue for smaller firms.

Jun 24, 2017 - 11:50am

Hey guys,
Would appreciate any advice on my situation:
I'm currently a MSc student at a target in the UK (think UCL, Imperial, Warwick) and did my undergrad at a non-target. I also have a year of work experience as an economist at a boutique consultancy. Obviously BB summer internships aren't really feasible for me, so could anyone shed some light on how i'd break into the industry?
Cheers.

Jul 24, 2017 - 6:22pm

Not meant to hijack but consulting has been spoken before so..
I am a student at a central european master which is heavy target for german speaking BB and MBB . But thing is that from what i know, without German mothertongue level , you can't get a gig at a client facing position.
Which offices should i target except London? (assume speaking only english).
Should i get an internship in london and network from there? What kind of internship would be seemed as sexy?

Dec 28, 2017 - 12:36pm

IB keeps its rep because no one will admit they slaved away their undergrad earning perfect grades to simply slave away at an IB as a glorified assistant. Therefore IBD analysts make it sound "baller" with how much money they make and how they are closing deals while making it rain. In reality, they are powerpoint b!tchboys (aka the deck) who make pretty presentations to the sellers of businesses. Modeling is part of the job, but not a huge part. Despite what you learn in the CFA, valuation does not equal price. Some of you were bashing me for my comp valuation I was attempting awhile ago and how I should use free cash flows. Look, we are looking to buy a company at the lowest price possible and justify it by comps in the market, not do a DCF valuation and pay what the company is hypothetically worth 10 years from now.

IB is like spring break. Has any of you ever went for one? Every year tons of horny frat boys go South to places like Cancun, South Padre and Miami to party and hook up every night with ease like MTV made it out to be. I am here to tell you that it was all a ruse. When I went on spring break, it was easily 10 to 15 guys per girl, and most girls kept close to their crew since they know what our agenda was. The truth was far from what MTV made it out to be. However, no guy was going to admit they blew $2,000 on a spring break that was shittier than the run of the mill weekend in their college town; so they lie and say it was crazier than a GGW gang bang.
There you have it folks. The cat is out of the bag.

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