Moving from AM to IBD (M&A) in Asia/ASEAN?

j13x's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 22

Hello all,

First time poster, though long time lurker/reader.

Quick intro:

Went to non-target school in US, graduated with a decent CGPA in 2011, now back in ASEAN region where I'm from. Got a job in Corporate Banking at a local IB and stayed there for two years.

Recently joined a MM Asset Management firm (think Franklin Templeton, Invesco, Nomura, Aberdeen, Amundi, Nikko) doing sales/marketing where I'm responsible for increasing AUM by pitching for mandates from pension funds, sovereign funds and occasionally corporates.

My job currently is almost full-blown sales and marketing, with almost no analysis work at all. I was "lucky" in a way, because people in the industry usually say in order to join sales and marketing, you have to start as an analyst. I skipped that part and got straight into marketing (can be argued that I was an analyst doing Corporate Banking, but never an analyst in a FM firm).

So was wondering, say in the next year or so I'd like to move on to IBD (M&A), how would this experience be relevant? Would it be more difficult for me as I've "skipped" the analyst part? Or would it be an advantage since this role can be considered relatively senior?

If not, would an MBA at a top school in Singapore help? Do BB's recruit heavily out of Singapore considering their big presence in Singapore? Or do they still prefer Western graduates? Mentioning Singapore because it's much closer to home relative to going to Europe or the US.

Am obviously now aiming for a BB and am actually particularly interested to explore M&A.

Hope you guys can help, thanks! Feel free to ask more.

Comments (12)

Jan 3, 2015

Forgot to mention that the reason why I might be consider IBD over AM is because I think M&A is much more interesting than AM..

    • 1
Jan 3, 2015

Not many people are looking to get back into banking after their MBA in Singapore, most people are looking towards private banking, consulting etc. In addition, deal flow for M&A in Asia is very low and most banks in Singapore have to compete for MM deals.

    • 1
Jan 3, 2015

What language do you have? Mandarin, bahasa, tagalog?

Jan 3, 2015

Somebody wrote a long ass reply here yesterday and before I had a chance to reply, its been deleted! Would appreciate if you could re-post.

Woozy:

Not many people are looking to get back into banking after their MBA in Singapore, most people are looking towards private banking, consulting etc. In addition, deal flow for M&A in Asia is very low and most banks in Singapore have to compete for MM deals.

I would like to think I am somewhat familiar with the ASEAN dealflow and I take it as it is. Of course there is a lot of competition for MM deals but that's just how it is in a relatively smaller market (vs the US/Europe). Does this mean though that BB's don't recruit MBA's from Singapore?

SSits:

What language do you have? Mandarin, bahasa, tagalog?

Can't speak Mandarin and Tagalog unfortunately. But Bahasa pretty well.

Jan 4, 2015

I think the correct answer to your question is that they do recruit MBAs from Singapore but it is rare. The reason being that the investment banking teams are very lean in Singapore (about 20~30 bankers per BB based on what people told me) and associates are not quite required around given the deal flow in Singapore. Based on the people I had spoken with, most people do NOT even get the chance to get promoted to Associate even though I had mentioned that most people stay in banking in the long term for Singapore (You can think it as a 2~3 years and out program for IBD but out refers to out of job). There are sufficient analysts to go be promoted to Associates and I don't quite see a need for them to hire from the MBA schools in Singapore. In addition, to make things worse, there is a high demand for internal transfers to Singapore as Singapore is a top location for people who want to settle down. There are definitely associate jobs around but not so much for BBs. If you don't believe me, you can always check the LinkedIn of investment bankers in Singapore. Most of them are in a local boutique and MM firms with a balance sheet such as Standard Chartered based on my understanding.

Honestly I am more concerned that you are too fixated about BBs in Singapore. I have been reading WSO for quite a while as well and definitely would like to go into BB IBD like you. However, after preparing for so long, things didn't quite work out in my favour and I ended up with 0 offers. On the bright side, I can honestly tell myself that I gave my very very best in recruiting. I am not going to give up on finance and I will definitely keep a look out for opportunities in other areas of finance such as private equity as well. I firmly believe that if you can put the same number of hours in other areas of finance as IBD, you would be at least above average relative to your peers.

Best Response
Jan 4, 2015

Yeah I posted it but I thought it wasn't concise enough in addressing the question so I removed it. The following is what I had posted.

I would just share my thoughts based on your questions above. I am currently a student who just went through the BB IBD recruitment process and got 0 offers so the information below may not be correct and take it with a pinch of salt.

1) I feel that the closest experience you have is your corporate banking experience in the local IB. The experience in sales and marketing is not as relevant. My first impression of you with both experience is that you seemed to be a business development person and that is different from what is required in M&A. On the other hand, if you can get any of your previous clients from both roles to put in a good word for you, it may make your life easier in terms of landing a M&A role.

2) Not quite sure what you mean by MBA at a top school in Singapore. Are you referring to places like INSEAD or the 3 local universities?

3) I assume that you are looking to work in BB IBD in Singapore based on your post. Based on my own experience, there are very few people who are trying to get into investment banking after their MBA. Most people took MBA because they want to rebrand themselves instead of being required by their own companies (like the 2 year and out program which you can read on this forum). The popular choices seem to be consulting, private banking, wealth management, Asset Management and private equity.

4) I feel that you are better off in Europe or U.S if the sole purpose of getting into IBD is the exposure to M&A. The various BB's Singapore office covers the Southeast Asia region and the deal flow is very low. Most of their time spent is in raising capital for their clients and pitching. In addition, deal sizes are small and most banks (regardless of boutique/MM/BB) will compete in the mid market segment. Based on my understanding, unlike the US, Macquarie was rank 1 in terms of M&A fees in Singapore in 2013. In addition, there are boutiques such as Prime Partners which handles most of the IPOs in Singapore and Rippledot Capital Advisory which is better than a few banks in my opinion. Furthermore, most banks in Singapore offer a generalist role and the exposure you get is really dependent on luck or the deals your bank bring in. I believe that the only 3 non-boutique banks in Singapore that offers sector specific roles are Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and Macquarie. The only benefit I can think of for bulge brackets is the higher internal mobility rate where full-time staff transfers to a region with better deal flow e.g. Hong Kong.

5) BB do recruit people from the local universities but most hires are from their summer analyst pool. Recruitment in Singapore is very similar to Hong Kong where western graduates (target schools in the U.S and U.K schools such as LSE) are preferred over the local people. You can't really change much at the moment as most of the full time staff are from the above schools and it is natural for them to select people from their own school. In addition, BBs in Singapore take in 1~2 interns per bank from the local universities. The rest are given to western graduates. (On a side note, HSBC takes in a lot of interns from the local universities as they mentioned that they prefer locals. However, for their 2014 IBD SA intake/global banking advisory, they have only converted the girls in the program due to "equal opportunity". For their 2015 SA intake, they actually rescinded some of the SA offers they had given out.)

6) Honestly, staying in asset management maybe a better choice than IBD in Singapore for you. Based on a few coffee chats I had with the full-time staff, most people in IBD tend to stay in it for the long term. Unlike what you see on this forum, the pay on average is better than buy-side roles like private equity (due to the small AUM for most firms in Singapore) and buy-side roles are preferred for its lower working hours. In addition, I was told that for those that stay in banking in the long term, most do not make it past the VP level/get fired. This is due to the difference in skill set required and most people are not able to originate/bring in deals. I believe that the reason is due to a lack of network and this can be observed in the networking/firm wide presentations for the various banks in Singapore versus other countries. The difference is that most local students in Singapore do not believe in attending such events as eventually you will still need to submit your resume online and it will still get filtered by the fucking HR people. Recruiting in Asia is basically more structured (unless your dad is the MD or a huge client of the bank) and most people depend heavily on their GPA to land interviews.

7) Singapore had a policy to protect its local people in terms of employment. Employers are required to post their openings in a "job bank" with the government or the universities in Singapore before they are allowed to openly hire non-Singaporeans. While I believe that there are loopholes with the policy, it is sufficient to make it difficult for a foreigner who is looking to find a job in Singapore since the qualities between candidates are usually marginal.

8) Lastly, I believe that you had mentioned BB IBD as you are looking for the "exit opportunities" which most people mention on this site. Buyside is definitely an option if you are willing to take a pay cut. On the other hand, some of the people move on to work on a start-up/have their own start-up.

I definitely hope that you will find the above information useful and all the best for your recruitment.
(On a side note, I cant believe that I actually wrote 1000+ words on a forum in 50+ minutes)

    • 7
Jan 4, 2015

Good post. +1 SB.

Jan 4, 2015

Lol didn't expect to get a SB+ from you. There isn't a lot of information about Asia specifically on this forum and I feel strongly about letting people know more about the recruitment process here. I just hope that people who read my post are able to calibrate their expectations instead of learning things the hard way like I did.

Jan 5, 2015
Woozy:

1) I feel that the closest experience you have is your corporate banking experience in the local IB. The experience in sales and marketing is not as relevant. My first impression of you with both experience is that you seemed to be a business development person and that is different from what is required in M&A. On the other hand, if you can get any of your previous clients from both roles to put in a good word for you, it may make your life easier in terms of landing a M&A role.

If anything, I would think that Sales & Marketing would be very useful for M&A, especially considering how you actually need to sell something (a company!) in M&A. True enough, I did a lot of credit analysis while at Corporate Banking, and might be useful considering part of the M&A process also involves financing.

Woozy:

2) Not quite sure what you mean by MBA at a top school in Singapore. Are you referring to places like INSEAD or the 3 local universities?

Yes.

Woozy:

3) I assume that you are looking to work in BB IBD in Singapore based on your post. Based on my own experience, there are very few people who are trying to get into investment banking after their MBA. Most people took MBA because they want to rebrand themselves instead of being required by their own companies (like the 2 year and out program which you can read on this forum). The popular choices seem to be consulting, private banking, wealth management, Asset Management and private equity.

I do not necessarily aim to work in Singapore. If you can see from my previous replies above, I think you can make out that actually I am from Malaysia where some (not all) BB's have a presence.

Woozy:

4) I feel that you are better off in Europe or U.S if the sole purpose of getting into IBD is the exposure to M&A. The various BB's Singapore office covers the Southeast Asia region and the deal flow is very low. Most of their time spent is in raising capital for their clients and pitching. In addition, deal sizes are small and most banks (regardless of boutique/MM/BB) will compete in the mid market segment. Based on my understanding, unlike the US, Macquarie was rank 1 in terms of M&A fees in Singapore in 2013. In addition, there are boutiques such as Prime Partners which handles most of the IPOs in Singapore and Rippledot Capital Advisory which is better than a few banks in my opinion. Furthermore, most banks in Singapore offer a generalist role and the exposure you get is really dependent on luck or the deals your bank bring in. I believe that the only 3 non-boutique banks in Singapore that offers sector specific roles are Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and Macquarie. The only benefit I can think of for bulge brackets is the higher internal mobility rate where full-time staff transfers to a region with better deal flow e.g. Hong Kong.

As said earlier, I do not necessarily aim to work in Singapore. However, I totally get what you are saying regarding deal flow, deal size and competition vs MM's. That said, I think you are underrating the potential of ASEAN and what goes on in the market. For example, just a few months ago CS and Deutche were hired to advise on the CIMB/RHB/MBSB merger.

Woozy:

5) BB do recruit people from the local universities but most hires are from their summer analyst pool. Recruitment in Singapore is very similar to Hong Kong where western graduates (target schools in the U.S and U.K schools such as LSE) are preferred over the local people. You can't really change much at the moment as most of the full time staff are from the above schools and it is natural for them to select people from their own school. In addition, BBs in Singapore take in 1~2 interns per bank from the local universities. The rest are given to western graduates. (On a side note, HSBC takes in a lot of interns from the local universities as they mentioned that they prefer locals. However, for their 2014 IBD SA intake/global banking advisory, they have only converted the girls in the program due to "equal opportunity". For their 2015 SA intake, they actually rescinded some of the SA offers they had given out.)

Noted. I guess this probably just means that to increase the chances to join, need to go to target. Where did you graduate from, if I may ask?

Woozy:

6) Honestly, staying in asset management maybe a better choice than IBD in Singapore for you. Based on a few coffee chats I had with the full-time staff, most people in IBD tend to stay in it for the long term. Unlike what you see on this forum, the pay on average is better than buy-side roles like private equity (due to the small AUM for most firms in Singapore) and buy-side roles are preferred for its lower working hours. In addition, I was told that for those that stay in banking in the long term, most do not make it past the VP level/get fired. This is due to the difference in skill set required and most people are not able to originate/bring in deals. I believe that the reason is due to a lack of network and this can be observed in the networking/firm wide presentations for the various banks in Singapore versus other countries. The difference is that most local students in Singapore do not believe in attending such events as eventually you will still need to submit your resume online and it will still get filtered by the fucking HR people. Recruiting in Asia is basically more structured (unless your dad is the MD or a huge client of the bank) and most people depend heavily on their GPA to land interviews.

I am already in AM and already earning decent enough money, so that is not the MAIN motivation.

Woozy:

7) Singapore had a policy to protect its local people in terms of employment. Employers are required to post their openings in a "job bank" with the government or the universities in Singapore before they are allowed to openly hire non-Singaporeans. While I believe that there are loopholes with the policy, it is sufficient to make it difficult for a foreigner who is looking to find a job in Singapore since the qualities between candidates are usually marginal.

Noted on this.

Woozy:

8) Lastly, I believe that you had mentioned BB IBD as you are looking for the "exit opportunities" which most people mention on this site. Buyside is definitely an option if you are willing to take a pay cut. On the other hand, some of the people move on to work on a start-up/have their own start-up.

Yes, I would be looking for "exit opportunities" but not to PE/buyside. I would be much more inclined to start something on my own, probably 3-4 years after a stint in IBD.

Woozy:

I think the correct answer to your question is that they do recruit MBAs from Singapore but it is rare. The reason being that the investment banking teams are very lean in Singapore (about 20~30 bankers per BB based on what people told me) and associates are not quite required around given the deal flow in Singapore. Based on the people I had spoken with, most people do NOT even get the chance to get promoted to Associate even though I had mentioned that most people stay in banking in the long term for Singapore (You can think it as a 2~3 years and out program for IBD but out refers to out of job). There are sufficient analysts to go be promoted to Associates and I don't quite see a need for them to hire from the MBA schools in Singapore. In addition, to make things worse, there is a high demand for internal transfers to Singapore as Singapore is a top location for people who want to settle down. There are definitely associate jobs around but not so much for BBs. If you don't believe me, you can always check the LinkedIn of investment bankers in Singapore. Most of them are in a local boutique and MM firms with a balance sheet such as Standard Chartered based on my understanding.

Honestly I am more concerned that you are too fixated about BBs in Singapore. I have been reading WSO for quite a while as well and definitely would like to go into BB IBD like you. However, after preparing for so long, things didn't quite work out in my favour and I ended up with 0 offers. On the bright side, I can honestly tell myself that I gave my very very best in recruiting. I am not going to give up on finance and I will definitely keep a look out for opportunities in other areas of finance such as private equity as well. I firmly believe that if you can put the same number of hours in other areas of finance as IBD, you would be at least above average relative to your peers.

Forgive me if I wasn't clear, but my main question was that how would my experience in Sales & Marketing translate to a role in IBD (M&A), and whether or not an MBA would be needed. I appreciate that you seem very knowledgable with this topic, but I also think you are a tad pessimistic. I am confident that transitioning from Sales & Marketing in AM to IBD is not as difficult as you make out to be, but of course I could be wrong.

The only reason I am "fixated" with joining a BB is that I feel that is the next level I should aim for. Otherwise, why should I leave? I have a pretty broad timeline for me to achieve my life goals, and one of them is to experience working at a BB :)

Whatever it is, thank you so much for your insight. I however do also need some comments or thoughts from someone more senior to be able to form a better view to further strategize going forward.

Jan 5, 2015

Anyway, thanks for the feedback on my post. I am still currently studying in one of the 3 local universities and I do understand some of my points may come off as being pessimistic. If you are really keen on working in a BB, I would highly encourage you to go to a stronger target school like what you had mentioned, especially those schools which the current full-time staffs attend e.g. LSE, NYU, Ivy league schools. In addition, I would definitely pick other countries such as Hong Kong over Singapore.

I appreciate that you are very passionate about your current and previous jobs. However, I would like to ask you the following question. How many people from boutique IB firms, which does work that is more relevant to BB IBD, actually gets to work there? I am sure that people who are working in boutique IB firms do see an opportunity to work in BB IBD as a form of career advancement and would not pass up the opportunity to go there. However, based on my understanding, while it is doable, usually the new hire will stay from the analyst role again rather than as an associate. While it meets your goal of working in a BB, you may want to take this into consideration.

Lastly, I just would like to say that I am neither qualified nor senior to provide advice and some of my points maybe wrong. However, I definitely hope that you can get what you want and all the best for your recruiting.

Jul 20, 2015
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