Picking coverage group as an MBA associate

Need to pick a sector to focus on for recruiting.

Assuming I am equally interested in two sectors, what other decision-making criteria would you consider to choose what coverage groups to focus on?  My thoughts are:

  • where my pre-MBA experience lies (easier sell)

  • where exit opps are more plentiful (Tech vs Power & Utilities for example)

  • easier time for recruiting (target school on West Coast vs East Coast)

Not sure if I am missing anything. How should I be thinking about this?

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Comments (17)

Sep 7, 2021 - 12:10am

Probably depends on your business school. If you go to M7, you can rank exit opps first if that's what you're looking for.

If you go to a mid tier 15-30 school, maybe focus on where your school feeds. If you're in the south, maybe you look at regional offices (Houston Charlotte Dallas Atlanta etc). West coast, then focus on the SF LA offices.

I think generally, past experience is not needed to break into a group. However if you're staying in the same industry you can use that experience to help fill gaps in your resume (low gmat score, gpa, etc).

If you're a good candidate on paper, go to a school that places everywhere, and are prepared, you can likely network your way anywhere. Otherwise if your goal is just to break into banking, it may be easier to focus on who recruits on campus and alumni network.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 7, 2021 - 10:21am

While this is true, I'd say you need to pick a coverage group that you actually want to work in. Odds are that you'll stay in banking or that industry (within PE, Corp Dev, etc. etc.)

Sep 7, 2021 - 10:41am

This is true. Also as another poster stated in the T15-T25 range (besides Johnson maybe since they strongly place across all banks) - there are usually 10-15 banks that are usually recruiting at certain programs. Often times in Southern cities but you can get into some NYC banks (MM,BB. EB isn't as common but doesn't happen as often as it would at most M7/T10s).

  • VP in IB - Gen
Sep 7, 2021 - 10:26am

Pick a sector that interests you.  The worst thing would be to be doing an onerous job in terms of demands in a sector you hate.  

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  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Sep 7, 2021 - 11:21am

Focus on geography and fit…most banks are not letting you just choose a coverage group. EBs and some others are usually generalists, but some of the other banks are going to do placement after they're through recruiting. 

Sep 7, 2021 - 11:50am

Strongly agree with this through my own research at T15-T25 programs. A lot of MM banks tend to be generalists and then after working FT, you get chosen into a coverage group. BB banks are different though. Summers at those banks tend to be in a coverage group for that summer.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Sep 7, 2021 - 3:43pm

I'm an MBA associate...think your assessment is correct.

Most Helpful
Sep 7, 2021 - 1:38pm

It would be more helpful to know what industry you worked at before and whether you're at an east vs west vs south school, but anyways here are my thoughts after going through MBA recruiting.

First, look at where last year's class placed internship wise. Filter by geography, bank and group to get a better sense of where your most likely opportunities lie. 

Second, it's easiest to recruit at banks that have alumni from your school. I can't underscore how helpful it is and how easy it is to shoot a message to an alumni from your school. 

Third, figure out what industry coverage group you want to work in. That will help narrow your focus. It's easier to recruit for one specific industry so you can sell your story for why that industry as you recruit. It's easier to have conversations throughout your coffee chats if you are more focused on one industry. Usually your background experience will help make your story better, but if you do want to switch from say a healthcare background to tech, learn as much about tech as possibly and have a story from your past background for why tech vs HC. You can definitely recruit both tech and HC by bank depending on where the alumni are. 

Fourth, as you start doing coffee chats, you'll get a better idea of where you're gaining more traction. Pound the pavement based on where you're getting the most traction and be a likeable guy/girl. Fit is very important and having a good story for why banking/coverage group is incredibly important too. 

Fifth, for exit ops, focus on what industry you'd like to do lifelong if you didn't want to do banking and work backwards. If you want to do HC corp dev after banking, tech would be a better choice than say energy. Maybe pick a geography that has more HC companies so that pivot can be easier. 

If you have any questions, definitely feel free to PM. 

Sep 7, 2021 - 5:53pm

Having been through the process recently, I especially agree with the point on traction. I was at a T15 with pretty reliable placement at BB/EB's, but even with a respectable and "structured" pipeline of alumni, recruiting was very fluid and felt unpredictable for much of the process.

You don't have to have the most robust story of why you want a certain industry... just enough to have a few talking points and to give yourself an opportunity to be eloquent in casual chats. The difficulty lies in balancing different stories for different groups at multiple banks (I went to school to break into IB so went really hard). As you start to have success and get closer to the "finish line" of the interview stage, you can start to figure out which groups make sense for your career/are considered strong on the street.

Sep 8, 2021 - 8:07am

I originally based my coverage group decision based on my previous industry experience. After networking with people at the bank ahead of interviews, they also suggested networking with coverage groups that had the most deal flow so that I would gain more experience. 

Some banks will also make you an offer as a "Generalist" so that when you start, you'll rotate throughout different groups and then rank your preferences after a certain period of time.

Hope this helps.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 9, 2021 - 2:31am

Echoing other comments to look into school representation in groups at firms that are group specific (especially if coming from non target) but would balance that with what you're actually interested in. Don't target Power & Utilities bc you think it's best odds if your passion is healthcare. You will be miserable. Also stay consistent. Don't recruit FIG at GS and HC at JPM. It's a small industry, people talk, but more importantly creates more work for you to stay on multiple industry trends deals etc.

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Sep 9, 2021 - 9:37pm

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