Is there even a point in investment banking?

Non-target Accounting and Finance (very low ranked UK uni) who wants to be an investment banker. Applied to 20 investment banks in autumn. Now I'm in my third and final year of uni (plan on taking a masters at a Russel group). Should I apply to investment banks for next summer (which will in effect be my penultimate summer), or should I concentrate on internships that are less prestigious which will give me a higher chance.

I did get a 1:1 (equivalent to a 3.75+ GPA) for my second year of uni. 

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Comments (68)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 30, 2021 - 8:19pm

After I finished my last internship after uni, I had no job while most of my friends landed McKinsey, Citi, Goldman, Rothschild, BCG, etc. Applied to literally 150-200 jobs. I came from a top target school and had good exp. then I Had a couple interviews at top firms. Found one where the culture was a match and I liked the people. Now headhunters are hitting me every week and I barely have time to reply. Keep going. It will work out. You just need one person believing in you. 

Aug 31, 2021 - 10:31am

Gonna be real with you here, you're probably not getting into IBD off the bat if your uni is as low as you're making it out to be and you have no relevant work experience. You should aim lower, and by lower I mean not in front office high finance. I also don't recommend you doing the masters in just "a Russel group", it would be a waste of money. Russel group means fuck all, especially at MFin level. There are basically like 5 targeted UK MFin programs and the placement in IBD beyond these programs drops drastically. Where it might make sense is if you can into Big 4 from this MFin but can't from your current uni.

You should think and research a lot about alternative routes in: Big 4, Tier 2 professional services firms. The finance division at other companies. If there are any people from your school or any school in similar stature that have made it into IB , find them and emulate them. 

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  • Prospect in Research - Other
Aug 31, 2021 - 2:43pm

Damn, someone should tell all the oxbridge applicants to forget it since this guy thinks Russel group means fuck all. 

I'm applying to Warwick and Durham. 

Aug 31, 2021 - 3:04pm

As I said, there are like 5 UK targeted MFin programs (I think it might actually be 4 - Oxbridge, LSE and LBS), IBD placement drops off after them. Warwick and Durham do not form part of this group. You can look at Warwick MFin IBD placement over the past few years. It's not significant. Most people don't end up in IBD and the ones that do usually had past experience.

All I'm saying is consider alternative options. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2021 - 4:44pm

Went to Durham for undergrad. It's a good university for placing into banking for UG, but it's not for a masters. Have a look on LinkedIn.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2021 - 4:59pm

I do agree with this guy. Russel group is one of the worst classification ever. You can't peer Oxbridge with good/average unis. Across all departments, realistically it is probably Oxbridge > LSE/Imperial/LBS/UCL > KCL/Warwick/St Andrews/Durham > else. 

Grouping into "Russel Group" is nonsense, like would you group HYPS and MIT with a top 50 US uni ? Probably not. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2021 - 11:19am

I'm gonna be straight with you bro. If filling out 20 applications in the Fall was so strenuous that you were still burnt out 6 months later, then you're not cut out for banking and you don't want to be in the industry as much as you think you do. I went to a shitty non-target too. But I sent out hundreds and hundreds of cold-emails and applications. 20 is absolutely nothing, and if you're solely applying through company portals, then those applications probably weren't even looked at in the first place. Get on LinkedIn and start emailing 20 people a day and then you might make some headway.

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Aug 31, 2021 - 2:46pm

I spent 8 hours per job application and then got zero invites for interviews (all the research of company and job to master the cover letter). I didn't just click and send. 

Anyways, I was wrong for applying to BBs back then. But I think I might have a chance for some boutiques next summer given the experience I have on my CV now. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2021 - 5:06pm

Sheesh that's a ton of time per app. Didn't realize UK recruiting was so bloated. Good luck dawg. Disregard earlier harshness but keep pushing.

Sep 24, 2021 - 3:28am

My man here spitting the truth. Applying on actual apps will never help you. Always gotta reach out to people individually if you're from a non-target and embrace that hustle. Nothing else to it

Aug 31, 2021 - 11:40am

Giving some actual UK-focussed advice rather than American non-target hardo BS:

Your chances aren't zero, but they're almost certainly zero straight out of university. Your biggest hope is to go into something like big4 audit after graduating, get an ACA and then get hired after that at a bank that takes post-ACA hires. Networking is largely a waste of time because of how automated the application processes are now, and don't waste your time and money doing a masters.

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Aug 31, 2021 - 2:48pm

Once I do my masters, I then go to a target school. But you're saying I shouldn't even do that? I don't get this piece of advice at all, sorry. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2021 - 9:00am

This is plain wrong. Doing a MSc at target school is much much better than going into audit to get an ACA. 

half the analysts in my class have a MSc from LSE/LBS and other EU unis (HEC, EDHEC, ESADE, St Gallen etc). After MSc you can either do summer and try to start earlier (easier path) or apply to full time directly (preferred path if u can pull it off). 

I agree though that doing a MSc at Durham is not the same thing as LSE - won't get you interviews at a lot of BBs/EBs but MMs should work

  • Consultant in Consulting
Aug 31, 2021 - 11:17pm

"Is there even a point in IB?"

It comes across that you're disillusioned with IB because you don't think you have much of a chance. The reality is you don't and it's not easy, where you are now it will likely take 2-3 years of focused, hard work before you would end up in IB.

Your post history indicates you're at South Bank uni, have just started learning financial modelling and don't have any experience other than bartending (which is fine). I can't work out why you want to go into IB but you're going to need a good enough reason to keep yourself motivated. As others have pointed out, being fatigued from 20 applications means you might not have your motivation fully formed (I'm only guessing) and you probably aren't investing your effort in the most effective way (20 x 8 hours of research to know what to write in a cover letter doesn't seem optimal, could have spent 20 hours applying and 140 hours learning technicals and networking). Further, why are you telling us only your second year grade and not cumulative grade?

My recommendations would be along the lines of 

  • Buy / find a guide on breaking into IB, learn it through and practice (BIWS, M&I, WSO, etc) 
  • Focus on gaining any relevant experience (Transactional > Advisory > Accounting > Wealth Management > Other. Or along those lines, sometimes worth consider research analyst roles)
    • Go for big 4, boutiques, MM firms first as I can't see you being able to go straight into IB internships
    • Can do a gig alongside uni
  • If IB is your goal, understand in the long run it doesn't matter if you take a few extra years to break in
  • Based on your replies in this thread (and others), it might be appropriate for you to check your ego or at least how you come across in social interactions. To me, on this forum you come across as dismissive and sometimes straight rude when others are going out of their way to try help you. Doing this during networking/interviewing can get you immediately dinged.

As for masters. As above, don't waste time and money with Durham. Higher ROI working for big 4.

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Sep 1, 2021 - 9:58am

I do have experience as a finance assistant. Currently I'm an investment banking news writer. I'm not disillusioned, I just meant, is there a point in IB internships for me next summer. You're right. I didn't invest my effort in the most effective way last year. The reason why I'm only telling you my second year grade is because in the UK first year doesn't count. So my cumulative grade is 1:1 (3.75+ equivalent). 

I will buy the WSO guide for sure. 

 A lot of people on here are telling me to take a similar route as you have recommended. I think I'm going to seriously consider those extra options now. Thanks for everyone that chimed in. The advice was helpful. 

  • Consultant in Consulting
Sep 1, 2021 - 9:08pm

Congrats on finance assistant role. Didn't know about first year grade in UK, that's cool. As pres of IB society it might be worthwhile hosting speed interview, mentoring, networking, etc. events if you haven't already. Where I'm from about 1/3 of students in student societies landed gigs through referrals.

Honestly man, if that if your reason to go into IB, I doubt that will be bringing you much intrinsic motivation and if you said anything along those lines in an interview you would get dinged. I'd recommend working out what makes you feel fulfilled, engaged & pleasant and draft the most attractive life for you balancing those long-term. Sure money is great, but the money itself can be directly traded for pleasure (blow & hookers) or can enable you to do something fulfilling (making a change in the world you care about whether big or small (whole population or family/you)). Having a goal of getting into PE to buy companies and grow them is a good start, but the more granular and specific you can be about why you want to do this, the more you'll realise how important it is to you, more motivation, and you'll learn about yourself. You might find another career path is better, you really need to be able to explain why PE over CorpDev or VC for instance. Then why a specific industry/firm/etc. 

As for what to say in an interview to that question, this has been covered to death on BIWS, M&I, and probably the WSO guide (I haven't personally read). In fact, looking at your post history, honestly most the stuff you ask has been covered in these guides. Once you start to gain some awareness of exactly who you are, where you want to be, and the gap to get there, I would advise trying to find a mentor / someone in industry for feedback. Can use the WSO mentor tab, better if it's someone in your geography. Use this to gain feedback on your pitch, cold messages, CV, and also to grill you on your why. It'll also build your confidence and self-awareness on gaps. If you do that you'll have a crystal clear vision of what you need to succeed.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2021 - 12:14pm

Focus on actually getting internships at the smaller investment banks (as in the regional corporate finance boutiques). The most important thing right now is to get some actual work experience in corporate finance (not whatever you have listed on Linkedin). 

You should also try Big 4 internships as you can do them, get a brand name and then "fingers crossed" either become a graduate there or leverage that to get some more work experience at some real investment banks.

There's no need to buy the WSO guide, there are a ton of free resources online e.g. Streets of Walls etc. 

Getting work experience is much more important than your degree right now. If I saw your profile as you are but with big 4 / corporate finance internship / full time experience,  I would consider you. If you were as you were today + Durham / Warwick Masters, straight into the bin. 

Not sure your profile will get through the major investment banks BBs / EBs / even MM boutiques (who like Europeans who have actual investment banking work experience). 

Would also remove your A-Level grades from your Linkedin. 

Edit: Would also think about which division you want to join - your cold email from a month ago was about equity research and now you want to be an investment banker. Whilst Equity research is in the investment bank, you aren't doing "investment banking." Would have a think about what you want to do. 

  • Prospect in Research - Other
Sep 2, 2021 - 4:48pm

I really appreciate the input man. Thanks. I think the reason why I want to do a masters, is so that I can aim on getting a corporate internship next summer. So that by the time I graduate I am 'Durham / Warwick + big 4 / corporate internship'. Since I did not secure a corporate internship this summer. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 2, 2021 - 12:57pm

lmao why are you so mad. People responding to you don't even know you, it's not personal, there's no need to be so defensive over whatever school you went to or what your little plan is. By the way, you sound annoying

Sep 2, 2021 - 2:12pm

if you have no experience and are blindly applying without networking you are doing it totally wrong. Instead of going to company websites you need to get a LinkedIn premium account and connect and send a message to every investment banking professional you can find. 

Do not listen to people on this forum saying that you can't break in because its total bs. I and many friends that went to non-targets have broken in by networking everyday and setting up calls. Once you get calls set up, its just a matter of being able to getting your story right (i.e. background, why banking, etc.) and general knowledge of banking and finance technicals. There are plenty of resources on WSO to help you out with mastering your network approach.

Just remember that the only people that don't get in are the ones that quit! 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2021 - 9:12am

I have only had 3 good students who networked with me and for whom I would have pushed the app (one of them is a friends' a girlfriend and wanted to go to PE, the other was too early to apply, the last one went to Goldman or something ). The others were so terrible that I'm not taking any calls anymore unless the guys already have multiple BB experiences and go to a super top target. Otherwise waste of time for both of us. 

the difference between good and bad networking is the bad ones ask me "why banking" "what's special about your firm" etc (ie want me to fill their app form for them) and then "can I put your name on website". I've literally had someone say "can You talk about your firm" and "how is the application process" and then say he had all he need. Like wtf ?

While the good ones already know why they want to apply and ask me detailed questions on specifics of the firm and our knowledge areas (ie you feel you're providing value besides what they could have found on website or WSO), are great conversationalists and convey real enthusiasm 

Sep 6, 2021 - 9:47am

UK recruiting is different to US recruiting. Anywhere with a structured program is going to be inundated with qualified applicants and no amount of networking here is going to make them choose a non-target over a target/semi-target kid with actual experience. 

Now, the places without structured programs are a bit more malleable but there aren't too many of those who actually take graduates. 

No one is saying OP can't break in, we're just saying he probably can't break in without a few stepping stones.

Sep 8, 2021 - 10:50am

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