Q&A: Australian IB (+ life, etc.)

All, I have some free time over the next couple of days and I've seen a few posts asking about Australian IB, getting a job in Australia, life in Australia etc. over the last few weeks so thought I'd do a Q&A for anyone interested. Happy to answer questions about Australian IB, life here etc. - basically anything anyone may be curious about. I'll answer what I can and will pull in some other Australians on here if they can answer things I can't. For background, I went to a top target university in Australia, am an incoming analyst at a so called top-tier BB and interned at a smaller bank for my SA. Also did a large portion of my degree in the US so can comfortably chat about the difference between the places in terms of IB etc. IB salaries are significantly higher in Australia than in the US - I don't know much about bonus levels here (only a couple of anecdotal points) but in most cases I'd say they're lower than in the US; comp is probably somewhat comparable after accounting for the exchange rate. Go nuts!



investment banking in Australia

The following are questions and answers provided by Aussie banker @notthehospitalER"

What are the Top IB Schools in Australia?

Targets are what are known as the group of 8 universities - biggest targets are:

  • University of Sydney
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New South Wales
  • Monash university - Melbourne

Semi Targets

  • University of Queensland
  • University of Western Australia

What are some top Australian investment banks?

This may shock some of the "GS or bust" WSOers, but UBS is one of the top banks in Australia by far - alongside GS and Macquarie. GS is dominating league tables this year by a large margin. UBS: Have been number one across most products for the last ~15 years and probably still are. Their undoubted sweet spot is ECM. M&A easily top 2/3 yearly and DCM, research & trading the same. As the OP mentioned their rainmakers are protected by the compensation ring fencing, so this is unlikely to change any time soon. GS: Since they bought out of their JV, GS has been growing their market share pretty substantially year on year and have had a VERY good year in ECM and M&A but still lack any material presence in DCM. They've got a substantial amount of deals in the pipeline which will probably see them at the top of M&A next year. GS are definitely the preeminent takeover defence / sell side guys. Mac: Historically the darlings of Aus IB however their star is fading. Their advisory business is shrinking fast as a percentage of revenue and this is seeing them basically transition into a huge fund manager. Mac has one of, if not the biggest IBD team although their deal flow of late has been on the wane which should suppress bonuses. Big questions as to their relevance going forward given their inability to land deals sourced from overseas.

What is the Size of the Investment Banking Industry in Australia?

IB in Australia is SMALL compared to in the US - a SA class of 10 would be huge at the biggest banks, and most banks have 1-5 interns per office (with main offices in Sydney and Melbourne). A couple of the banks have closer to 10 interns than 1, and some banks (mostly EBs) literally have 1-2 interns across all offices in IB.

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Comments (127)

Nov 19, 2014 - 11:10am

Mostly A2A promotions although I have seen some associates come from overseas - but they have been straight from banking overseas rather than from MBA programs. IB is much more of a long-term career in Australia than it is in the US and MBAs aren't all that common/a traditional pathway to IB here.

Something that doesn't seem to be too common in the US but is quite common and a beaten track in Australia is big 4 corporate finance (or TAS, or whatever else it is called ---> IB analyst. Those guys usually enter IB with a view to stay as well.

Obviously the junior ranks have been somewhat culled by the time you get to the senior bankers and I don't know all the places junior bankers go, but PE and corporate development are relatively common exits here too - but a much larger proportion of A2A occurs here than in the US.

Nov 19, 2014 - 10:45am

Establishment, Ivy or other?

And does the crazy guy wearing sandwich board still wander around out the front of GPT in Farrer Place accusing the state government of conspiracies against him?

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Nov 19, 2014 - 11:17am

I'm partial to Ivy myself. Also Ryan's (in world square - restaurant/outdoor bar if you're unfamiliar with it) is hugely popular on nice summer nights and is packed with bankers, lawyers etc on a Friday night after work. Can you recommend some good 'others?'

Didn't see that guy in the area but this past summer there were daily protests regarding some child molestation inquiries going on in the area which were initially fascinating, then annoying, then ignored to be honest.

Didn't have any exposure to ECM so can't really comment there but I've come across freehills, mallesons and minter ellison (?) in an m&a context. Also heard of a boutique law firm - Sidley Austin - that does solely ECM type work if I'm not mistaken - a friend of a friend interned there and they are balls to the wall (wrong use of the phrase?) busy at the moment.

Nov 19, 2014 - 11:21am

Can you recommend some good 'others?'

I've been out of Sydney for >10 years and also missed the era of small bars after they sensibly changed licensing laws, so my Sydney bar knowledge is terribly out of date.

I'll send you a PM next time I'm on my next annual pilgrimage to Sydney and we can catch up for coffee, work mutually permitting. If I'm lucky, I'll coincide with a Sydney WSO meet up.

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Nov 19, 2014 - 10:49am

Also, my time in Sydney was spent as an M&A and ECM lawyer. I did a lot of ECM work for the BBs.

In my day, the top law firms for ECM work were Freehills (largely via the partner you'd remember if you've ever worked with her) and Mallesons, with AAR trailing. We'd occasionally see BDW or Minters.

If you're near the ECM business, what are the top law firms for ECM work these days?

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Nov 19, 2014 - 11:29am

1) targets are what are known as the group of 8 universities - biggest targets are university of Sydney, university of melbourne, university of New South Wales, monash university (in melbourne). Seen a couple from university of Queensland and university of Western Australia, and none/very few from other schools.

2) base is 6 figures at most places (hovers at/a little over 100). Baml has highest base at nearer 120 but I believe they have smaller step ups than other banks between analyst years. Signing bonuses aren't a thing in Australia, but you do get relocation bonuses - now that I think about it, if you factor in a 10k signing bonus on the new 85 base in the us it's not really different anymore. Maybe we are getting a bad deal haha.

3) I do not believe BX and Evercore even have an Australian presence (although Blackstone pe is here and just completed one of its first deals in the country - bought orica chemicals unit for a$750m). Greenhill bought out an Australian boutique known as caliburn (nicknamed caliburn-out) a few years ago and was known as Greenhill caliburn for a while - only recently became fully integrated/known as Greenhill. They have been extremely successful here in all their iterations, but the senior leadership has recently moved on - they imported and American banker to run the Sydney office and hired an md from UBS to head the melbourne team, and while I think they will remain busy it remains to be see whether the leadership change will negatively impact them. Lazard is also extremely strong in Australia, and have an extremely small team - 25 - 35 bankers across all levels and all Australia if I recall correctly. Greenhill is also quite small but a bit bigger I think. Moelis is here but nowhere near the level of the other guys and they seem to do equity raising more than anything based on what I've seen.

Nov 19, 2014 - 11:39am

Greenhill bought out an Australian boutique known as caliburn (nicknamed caliburn-out) a few years ago and was known as Greenhill caliburn for a while - only recently became fully integrated/known as Greenhill. They have been extremely successful here in all their iterations, but the senior leadership has recently moved on - they imported and American banker to run the Sydney office and hired an md from UBS to head the melbourne team, and while I think they will remain busy it remains to be see whether the leadership change will negatively impact them.

I remember (possibly incorrectly) when Caliburn started up in Sydney sometime around 2000 - 2002 under Simon Mordant. Or maybe he was with Lazard - I'm getting old and I get confused easily. Either way, interesting would be the best way to describe him. Is he still in the Sydney boutique scene?

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Nov 19, 2014 - 11:39am

Should add, Rothschild is also pretty embedded here but I don't know too much about them. Most banks don't do rx but Lazard does a bit, Greenhill has a restructuring md but I don't know how much they do and I'm not too sure about Rothschild's rx capabilities here in terms of deal flow either. GS had a restructuring head but he went to Lazard in the somewhat recent past.

Nov 19, 2014 - 12:38pm

I've only heard good things about hours and lifestyles for finance jobs in Australia. Care to shed some light on this as much as you can? I love Australia.

Nov 19, 2014 - 6:43pm

May be true for non ib jobs, but ib job hours for the most part are similar to the us - 80-100 hours a week and even more when busy. While hours are similar, lifestyle is significantly better because of location and the Australian fitness culture - I have met maybe two overweight analysts only, and plenty of bankers I know compete in triathlons etc regularly as well as working 80-100 hours a week. I have even met bankers who love near a beach and surf every day before work - pretty sweet deal vs taking the 1/2/3 subway on a crowded train downtown to work for example.

If you have any more specific questions happy to answer but I think a fair assessment is similar hours at the bigger banks but better lifestyle due to location and culture/attitude towards lie outside work here.

Nov 19, 2014 - 1:22pm

A little off topic, but I just picked up and started reading Bill Bryson's, "In A Sunburned Country". It's all about his travels through Australia, the culture, and the history. Very interesting read. Furthers my interest in Australia.

"Decide what to be and go be it." - The Avett Brothers
Nov 19, 2014 - 6:48pm

Haven't read it, I may check it out. I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in some of the backpacker/party hotspots in Australia and it is a fun place to be to say the least. Haven't been to Western Australia, which is supposed to be beautiful (if the area isn't being mined haha). Incidentally have been to a few mining towns in then middle of nowhere for a period of time and they were cool but not long-term places for me - but good, well paying jobs if you can get them. Although if the pessimistic media is to be believed, looks like the mining equivalent of the 2006/7 years in finance are well and truly done for and mining may be in a more depressing new normal. The Australian economy is overwhelmingly (maybe wrong word?) supported by the big banks and mining, so there is a bit of drama and discomfort in trying to adjust to a lower contribution from mining going on at the moment - for example, graduate recruitment (college graduates) is at basically its lowest levels since they have recorded it.

Nov 19, 2014 - 3:23pm

Some guy in the gym told me it's like 100k base at UBS in Australia and 100% bonus for an analyst. Gym BS? Dude was a bit of a bro wanna be too, could barely squat 170 pounds.

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Nov 19, 2014 - 3:44pm


Some guy in the gym told me it's like 100k base at UBS in Australia and 100% bonus for an analyst. Gym BS? Dude was a bit of a bro wanna be too, could barely squat 170 pounds.

What a wuss. I could easily squat 200 even on my worst day.
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Nov 19, 2014 - 6:57pm

Some people prioritise other things over leg day and that's ok. Impressive though - the other day I saw a guy who didn't look like he should be able to do it squat ~350 for a full set. Probably did more but I didn't stick around to watch, very impressive.

Nov 19, 2014 - 6:54pm

I would believe him, assuming he was a top analyst and was worked pretty hard (if he was talking about himself) - maybe that's why he could only bench 170? However, that's off topic. Anecdotally I heard that last year 2nd year associates who were highly ranked (not sure if top bucket or right under) made ~a$400k all in - which makes the number you heard not so far fetched to me.

May interest you to know that the head of ib at UBS in Australia (Matthew grounds - I believe, Matthew something but can't recall last name exactly) is such a rainmaker that UBS Australia has their own separate bonus pool from the rest of UBS that remained untouched during the gfc (so I heard).

Like I said, might surprise some of you but in Australia UBS is one of the pretty girls you Americans hope to deflower after a prom - you really want it.

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Nov 19, 2014 - 8:41pm

FYI: (From AFR)

Nothing like a quick flick through the UBS annual report to get the lay of the land. Or not as the case may be.

The 2013 edition contains all sorts of exciting information about "our Swiss SRB leverage ratio" and an "implemented firm-wide programs to enhance operational excellence and efficiency".

But Street Talk's eye was caught by a few paragraphs towards the back concerning the special deal given to the investment bank's Australian operatives.

The annual report describes a "Long-Term Deferred Retention Senior Incentive Scheme" (LTDRSIS) granted to certain Australian employees. This, of course, is the profit share system put in place to stop Aussie bankers defecting.

The problem for UBS's head office is the Australian investment banking unit led by Matthew Grounds has done much better than the banks' operations in other parts of the world.

The special deal for UBS Australia is the subject of the endless speculation in banking circles, partly helped by UBS's unwillingness to talk about it. To be fair the LTDRSIS features in previous annual reports.

But it was interesting to see the annual report once again acknowledges its existence given the (incorrect) scuttlebutt that UBS HQ had pulled the deal.

The report also notes the share scheme "allows for unpaid installments to be reduced if the business has a loss during the calendar year preceding vesting".

Not surprisingly the shares are "generally forfeitable" if you leave UBS. The report says the shares vest after three years.

And that's it. Not a huge amount in terms of disclosure. But more than some people were expecting.

Nov 19, 2014 - 8:55pm

UBS killed it last year, head of IB in aus is a superstar. There were instances of 100% bonuses. They work hard though, and I mean hard relative to IB. It isn't the norm, they had a stellar year.

Nov 19, 2014 - 4:20pm

Thanks for doing this! I wouldnt mind spending some time working in Australia - sounds unreal

I've heard that the banking scene in Australia is predominately Natural Resources, FIG and Consumer. What's the general % split in headcount at the BBs covering each of these sectors?

How has the current downturn in mining affected banking teams down there? Re-allocation of resources? lay-offs?

Nov 19, 2014 - 7:09pm

Have asked another Aussie on here to take a stab at this because he will likely know more than I do but I'll chime in with my $0.02.

FIG and nat res are big here for sure, and logically - see me comment saying banks and miners dominate the economy. Consumer is also significant and there have been a few large consumer deals this/last year (including at least one blocked by the government which was unfortunate for the bankers who spent months on it). At my bank head count was actually split roughly equally among all three, not sure about the bank I will be joining for ft - but I know fig is a strength there so assume lots of resources in that team.

My experience is probably too limited to answer the downturn question properly so hopefully atticus Watson will have more for you here. In my personal experience, while I haven't seen or heard about large layoffs in ib, I have noticed something of a hiring slowdown in new analysts, with very few ft spots overall being offered to incoming analysts for next year based on what I've heard through the grapevine.

Nov 19, 2014 - 9:00pm

3 years ago that was roughly on the money.

resources and metals & mining over the last 2 years have lost people to both attrition (analysts/associates/VPs see the outlook isn't great, move on to other opportunities, and are not replaced) and some minor head count reduction.

Generalist industrials and ECM are big pieces with PE guys exiting. FIG and TMT/tech are about the same size, and in some banks are just rolled in to the generalist role. I would say infrastructure has a bigger footprint than FIG/TMT, and they're hiring like crazy across the board to deal with all the privatisations that are slated. I have seen this save some resources analysts as they transition across to work on the heating up infra market.

Nov 19, 2014 - 9:21pm

I should have mentioned infrastructure. It's huge here at the moment, with something like A$100b of assets expected to come to market in the next few years. A number of Canadian pension funds etc have opened small offices in Australia to have people on the ground so they can look at everything coming their way.

I have also heard UBS works extremely hard - not sure if true but I heard analysts are expected to be in by 8.30am every day, and at least in some groups the culture is get in, do your work, get out rather than collegial/friendly - can you shed any light on whether that's true at all?

Nov 19, 2014 - 4:21pm

I hear the easiest way into Australia is to be Gina Rinehart's baby daddy... a little reverse Anna Nicole Smith situation.

"Decide what to be and go be it." - The Avett Brothers
Nov 19, 2014 - 7:12pm

Haha give it a go, could work out very well for you. I've never interacted with her on any level but for what it's worth I know two people who have met or worked with her, and both said she's very nice and wa sentinels interested in talking to them. Nice of a person who at one point made something like $70m per day.

Nov 19, 2014 - 6:24pm

been a lurker for a while, thought I'd sign up and contribute.
am an IB analyst in one of the three leading guys in aus (sitting in sydney), also happy to answer any questions. will have to keep it pretty general, because as mentioned the industry is relatively small.
for what it is worth, i can confirm everything above is pretty spot on.

Nov 19, 2014 - 7:00pm

Nice! Was hoping some other Aussies might jump in - do you want to take a better stab than mine at the question from @valk ? Probably can answer it better than me as assuming your bank is larger than mine in terms of head count etc

Nov 19, 2014 - 9:05pm


2nd years are varying in base from between 100k (EBs) to 130k (higher paying BB) and the "feel" of bonuses look to be coming in at 30% (EBs having a bad time) to 50 - 60% (this feels like it will be market).

There will be outliers, but 50% in a BB is a sensible guess. If you fell between 160k - 180k, you'd be market.

Nov 21, 2014 - 7:40am

Mate, what does it look like for 1st year analysts at the moment at a BB in terms of all-in comp? Where is the market? I really have very little knowledge of bonuses and am curious about ballpark numbers - are the bonus %s the same for 1st and 2nd year analysts?

Nov 19, 2014 - 8:36pm

What's your status? In college, working etc? My best guess is easiest way if you aren't legally entitled to work here would be to get a couple of years of work experience in the US and ask for a transfer within the bank - I know of a few people at other banks who worked in US offices before transferring to Australia. I also know of people who worked in IB overseas and just moved to another bank in Australia, so that's also possible when you have some experience. Because of how small the industry is (relatively), the way the school years conflict etc, if you need Visa sponsorship I think it'd be extremely difficult to start out working in Australia if still in school in the US. Just my personal opinion though.

Nov 19, 2014 - 9:19pm

I agree with that. Only made easier if you're going to a bank with a strong international mobility policy (a few have great ones). Probably 2 years or so in your home office before you can move, but assuming that home office is NYC that will hold you in great stead for when you move to Australia if you make that move.

Nov 19, 2014 - 10:31pm

1.Can you network your way into IB in Australia, or is it all done online?

2.I've heard that it is almost impossible to get in if you have not done an internship. Is this true?

3. Do you frequent Whirlpool?

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Nov 19, 2014 - 10:39pm

1. All online applications are actually considered unlike in the us, but you can network your way in also - but in line with your second question, will only be effective if you have experience. I personally got all my sa offers without any networking and at least one full time offer was partly through networking. If done well I think networking can be really effective here, more than in the us, as it's more uncommon.

2. I find it hard to believe anyone could get a ft offer without a somewhat relevant internship, but it doesn't have to be banking - I've seen people do big 4 internships (even non-tas) and get full time banking offers. Since the law/commerce undergrad degree is common in the banking world in Australia, a good law clerkship is also a pathway to an ib offer, more likely sa than ft of course - but those students have plenty of summers to do a range of internships. Don't know any personally but I'm sure people go from consulting to banking here as well.

3. I went on whirlpool once because a friend showed me a thread where people were talking about which banks had extended ft interviews and which hadn't, which were hiring and which weren't etc., but haven't been on before or after that. I prefer wso even though it's clearly not Australian focused.

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Nov 19, 2014 - 11:13pm

Been a long time lurker and thought I'd weigh in on this thread being a Sydney local.

In terms of individual firms, OP has pretty much nailed it but here's an alternate, slightly more expanded view:

- Top 3 (UBS, GS, Mac):
UBS: Have been number one across most products for the last ~15 years and probably still are. Their undoubted sweet spot is ECM. M&A easily top 2/3 yearly and DCM, research & trading the same. As the OP mentioned their rainmakers are protected by the compensation ring fencing, so this is unlikely to change any time soon.
GS: Since they bought out of their JV, GS has been growing their market share pretty substantially year on year and have had a VERY good year in ECM and M&A but still lack any material presence in DCM. They've got a substantial amount of deals in the pipeline which will probably see them at the top of M&A next year. GS are definitely the preeminent takeover defence / sell side guys.
Mac: Historically the darlings of Aus IB however their star is fading. Their advisory business is shrinking fast as a percentage of revenue and this is seeing them basically transition into a huge fund manager. Mac has one of, if not the biggest IBD team although their deal flow of late has been on the wane which should suppress bonuses. Big questions as to their relevance going forward given their inability to land deals sourced from overseas.

- Other BB's (MS, CS, DB, Citi, JPM, BAML, Barc):
CS: One of the better shops and pays a very high base if the rumours are true. Their team is almost exclusively male which could be good or bad depending on your view. Comfortably in the 3-6 range in M&A and their ECM team is a bit weaker.
MS: MS has a pretty small team although constantly is at the top of the pile in terms of revenue per banker. They continually rank around 7-8th in M&A and ~5th in ECM, however continually provide the best exit opps (in terms of PE) in line with UBS. Their infra team is undoubtedly number 1 and a lot of their deal flow comes from that space.
DB/Citi: Historically have been two of the poorer performing BB's, and if the rumours are true Citi was very close to closing it's doors here shortly after the GFC. This year however it's a different story with both banks performing very well and nabbing a number of large mandates, although there's speculation as to why that's the case but I won't mention that here.
JPM/BAML: Both these are two of the worst BB's locally. JPM has the best DCM team here although that is still behind the big 4 banks which command most of the market. JPM always manages to land a few sizeable mandates that fly in from Asia or elsewhere overseas each year which generally makes up the majority of their fees.
Barc: Pretty horrendous outfit TBH. Non-existent in the league tables across any product.

- EB's
GHL: Has been experiencing a significant decline in deal flow and relevance recently. After acquiring Caliburn, GHL worked on some of the most iconic deals in Australia and performed very well. Next year (I believe?) their top 2 M&A guys are spinning out to do their own thing so this will have huge effects on their operations here.
LAZ: Very small team here (hires 1-2 analysts per year) although has very strong deal flow for their numbers. Widely known as having some of the worst hours along with GHL and their interviews would be the toughest of all banks.
HLHZ: Have announced that they are entering the Aus market as of 2015. Poached basically all of the senior guys from CIMB.
Moelis: Services the lower end of the MM space here and hasn't really managed to work on any deals of note as yet. Poached the local CEO of JPM and a few from UBS to build their firm however this hasn't yet translated into success. As far as I'm aware they only have 2-3 analysts in total.

In 2012 MS, DB, Citi, BAML and a few others (memory fails me at the minute - I believe the only profitable banks were GS/UBS/CS/JPM) made pretty large losses which just gives an indication of how different the Australian IB market is versus NYC/London in terms of volume, magnitude and market share. 2013 was similar and I believe DB/Citi also lost money that year. Nomura has made a loss every year of it's operations in Australia. The consensus is that for the size of the market and volume of deals, Australia is incredibly over-banked.

Recruitment / Exits

As OP mentioned the number of SA/full time analyst positions are relatively low compared to the US. Generally the top 3 will hire around 8-10 SA's depending on deal flow (this year GS hired 13 SA's however).
Other BB's aim for 5-10 as a rule of thumb. Lazard 1-2 and GHL similar.
Some banks are more focused than others with respect to conversion rates. CS and DB place significant emphasis on not having to enter the graduate market and prefer to lock up all of their SA's, whereas UBS/GS/Mac seem to prefer to shop around (for instance, UBS converted 3 of 8 SA's this year). ***note these are Sydney numbers only***

As for the process, all banks are relatively similar and will have some combination of psychometric testing, first/second round interviews followed by an assessment centre. First round interviews are almost exclusively non-technical, the exceptions being GHL and LAZ which are very technical from the outset. Assessment centres can vary in terms of structure and length - MS has multiple rounds of interviews on the final day; UBS does on-site testing, 2 case studies (individual and group) as well as further interviews for a cool 7 hours in total; JPM has interviews and 2 case studies also); LAZ has an epic 3 hour modelling test where you have to build a DCF and present your findings. If you do well at the final day you will generally get a call with an offer with a few hours.

Exits: As mentioned in another thread, in Australia you generally become a career banker rather than seek out exits, go to business school or transition to corp dev. The PE market here is incredibly small however is growing (for example, Blackstone had a team of 7 here a few years ago). UBS and MS have the highest representation amongst the PE firms followed by GS. There is a decent local PE scene happening at the minute with firms like Archer Capital, Pacific Equity Partners harvesting their investments very successfully and building their war chests. There's also talk of a few other big MF PE firms that are contemplating setting up a local shop, which should see a few more avenues open up for PE exits.

Nov 19, 2014 - 11:59pm

Nice to see other Sydney locals coming out of the woodwork - perhaps @SSits was right in suggesting a Sydney WSO meet-up at some point.

Awesome, awesome post - would SB more than once if I could. Thanks for the expansion on my 1-2 generic points.

Nov 20, 2014 - 3:44pm

BAML has picked it up this year - I recall that last year they couldn't even land themselves on the league tables. But my understanding is that they need to flex their balance sheet to get onto deals.

DB with the leadership change has done quite well this year, but quite a few rumours of *cough* fee-cutting *cough*.

MS is also known to be a sweatshop (small team, too many deals) - they've basically got an EB structure since they aren't put into teams and are just generalists. The only split they have is from IBD and capital markets.

We also have CIMB (ex-RBS) and Nomura (ex-Lehmans).
CIMB has basically lost all their experienced bankers, I'm not sure what their strategy is? Most likely just to keep a satellite office in Sydney. They are still getting quite a few smaller ECM deals though, perhaps due to their strong retail network with Morgans?

Nomura as you mention is just struggling along, I believe they are limiting themselves to FIG, NR, FS and DCM. Lots of ex-Big-4 there if I am not mistaken.

I think as OP mentioned, one weird thing about Australia is the higher proportion of ex-Big 4 people we have in banking (not talking about the oldies from the 80s, even recently).

Nov 20, 2014 - 12:12am

Also a Sydney Banker (Although currently on secondment in HK). Very much agree with what the above guys have said on the market. I work more closely with PE firms, so know a little more about PE than ECM/DCM.

We should definitely tee up a WSO meeting in Sydney over Summer!

Nov 20, 2014 - 1:10am


Also a Sydney Banker (Although currently on secondment in HK). Very much agree with what the above guys have said on the market. I work more closely with PE firms, so know a little more about PE than ECM/DCM.

We should definitely tee up a WSO meeting in Sydney over Summer!

Whose active in PE in Australia? My sense (from very, very afar) is that there's few targest and few players. When I was around the market, it was CVC (the two Adrians), Castle Harlan (Nat, who had great stories) and not much else.

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Nov 22, 2014 - 7:01am

Thanks for doing this, really awesome seeing an aussie AMA. ( f.y.i I do have to add I'm an Aussie, 2nd year UNSW bcomm (economics/finance)

Do have some very specific questions for you aussies, haha.
1) Your 0.02c on the Finance/accounting major is it really needed?!, honestly I did intro accounting this semester and I nearly blew my head off due to how boring it was, would rather do something more engaging like economics.
2) 2c on the Bcomm/LLB to a single Bcomm? Most IBer's i've seen on linkedin have a bcomm/llb
3) What did you guy/s do to separate yourself from other SA's/ applications?

Thanks again for doing this, so awesome finally seeing aussie AMA's after lurking this site for months!

Nov 22, 2014 - 8:06am

Others may have differing opinions but here are mine:

1) Not needed - I did a finance major and picked up a management major in my final semester because I had exhausted the interesting finance electives and didn't feel like taking any more economics/accounting etc. However, you definitely need the accounting knowledge (at least a good base, you'll build on it more in IB if you end up there) to get the job - and doing an accounting major is both an easy way of getting that knowledge and showing you have it. I am a strong believer in university being a lot about expanding your knowledge and intellectual stimulation and all that idealistic stuff and dislike the nearly vocational approach some people take, where they act like the sole end goal is a job - so I would tell you to do a related major and then as many African rain dance classes as you could fit in if that were your thing, and definitely don't think you need to do a finance/accounting double major - but again, you do need the knowledge (at the minimum, a solid grasp of basic accounting).

2) I am in the minority here as I don't have a BCom/LLB - you're right in saying most do (or at least seem to). May help but unnecessary in getting the job - I wasn't at a disadvantage during my SA stint and do not believe I will be disadvantaged when working FT next year. That being said, it can't hurt and I'm sure it has plenty of other benefits - to the degree that I'm very seriously considering a JD/MBA in the future.

3) Personally, I made sure to get relevant experience and did extracurricular activities that showed a high level of interest (e.g. IB financial modelling courses on weekends for a while). That (combined with high grades etc) got me in the door. I also networked (not necessary in Australia, so can be a differentiator) and had really good (ie believable) and sincere answers for both why IB and why xyz bank - I will always believe a really good answer for why a certain company can be the difference between you and someone else getting the job (ceteris paribus).

I may be a slightly non-traditional applicant in Australia, in that I studied overseas for a large portion of my degree and took as many liberal arts classes as I could, did not do a BCom/LLB, did not have a finance/accounting major, and was never involved in anything like FMAA - and have still ended up at a so-called top BB. Shows you definitely don't need to be a cookie-cutter applicant to get the job.

Nov 22, 2014 - 9:00am

Thanks for the quick reply, Really insightful stuff. Defs going to stick with the single major so I can focus more on building my investing knowledge. Oh and I'm in the same boat as you in regards to FMAA, UNIT and all those other groups. Not like I'm an introverted guy or anything it honestly doesn't interest me.

A management major? that's interesting.. honestly most if not all IB resumes I've seen in Australia have been fin/accounting/eco the occasional engineering, never have I seen a management major.

So just on a side note do recruiters care about your major? I really wanted to do an economics/ philosophy major (philo is a much more respected major in the US to AU) to broaden my reasoning skills and to challenge my thinking but in the end I perceived it to be a non-sensical in the eyes of a recruiter.

Refreshing to see a "non-traditional" applicant. It seems like the IB culture in Australia is extremely, extremely selective/elitist in regards to recruitment.

(Have any exp on the buy-side over here? I've been cold-calling/cold-emailing some hedge funds/ss research really have had no luck)

Nov 22, 2014 - 10:06pm

Finance and economics is a good double major, I think the accounting knowledge needed for starting out in IB can be picked up well enough in your own time with modelling guides and courses.

My take on why a lot of people with full time IB roles have a BComm/LLB is because; (a) law is considered prestigious and difficult, thus signalling to the banks that this candidate can stick it out in a longer, difficult degree and do well; (b) due to having a longer degree these candidates are generally able to rack up a lot more internships which obviously helps when applying for a FT role.

Take my advice with a grain of salt as I haven't landed a FT IB role as of yet but I believe to be a good candidate you need;
-Good grades (70%+ average)
-Leadership in a related club and/or volunteer experience for a good cause
-International study experience

Nov 23, 2014 - 4:51am

I'd say you need good grades and that's about it from the list. Definitely don't need international experience, and decent extracurriculars certainly help but not having really strong ECs wont be a dealbraker. Relevant work experience - which is probably the most important thing by far - is missing from your list.

Nov 22, 2014 - 10:34pm

I began my career as a BB Analyst/Associate in Australia before moving to Wall Street. Can confirm that at the Analyst/Associate level both base salary and total comp is significantly higher in Aus. My view is that it catches up somewhere around senior Assoc / VP1 level.

Glad to see some Aus content on here. Everything written above looks pretty accurate to me so far.

Regarding the question above on degrees, my view is that not having a Com/Law or Com (Hons) degree really limits your options in terms of banking recruiting in Aus.

Dec 8, 2014 - 1:29am

Here's my take on @sky611's questions.

1) Accounting major: In my opinion completely useless as a major and doing well in it will in no way separate you from others as it isn't viewed that highly. The only time that it comes in use is at a place like Greenhill where you get bombarded with accounting questions in first round interviews. At just about every other bank you'd have to be incredibly unlucky to get thrown an accounting question, and you'll be taught everything you need to know in training without having to learn the bullshit that is added into the courses to make them last the whole 13 weeks. Finance major: Whilst not a pre-requisite, it pays off in spades when it comes time to talk finance concepts to interviewers. Every bank I have interviewed with bar 1 has in some way asked either directly to walk through a DCF or indirectly (i.e., how would you value a tech startup that will make a loss in the first 2 years

2) Comm/Law is still very much the dominant degree in the eye of the banks because it shows a track record of success, implies a high work ethic and pending strong results, shows that you can compete with the cream of the crop (i.e., Law @ Usyd/UNSW pretty much). Additionally, and I think this fact is very much glossed over, is that by doing a 5 year degree versus 3, Comm/Law kids have the opportunity to get a few internships under their belt prior to SA applications, the majority have completed their commerce component meaning on average they are better at liberty to discuss field technical questions, and they also have added maturity. Some banks still wet themselves over the Comm/Law ideology and it is definitely viewed as significantly superior and is essentially a pre-requisite. That being said, on average the 'CommLaw or bust' mentality is fading, and your UBS/GS types just want the smartest candidates from any discipline. There is a tradeoff however - You generally need better grades to compete/stand out coming from a single degree whereas Comm/Law affords some leeway.

3) Preparation - It pays big time to do your diligence prior to interviews - things like knowing a DCF cold, knowing what analysts do, having a top answer to "why investment banking", being able to talk through your resume succinctly and provide an attractive highlights reel about yourself. The next one might only seem inconsequential but I believe if underdone will almost guarantee that you won't be memorable: The answer to the "why our bank" question. Research each banks deals, rockstars, culture and dominant sector or product because the guys sitting on the other side of the table will recognise an inept answer or when you're generally just talking high-level shit that fast.

Nov 23, 2014 - 6:14pm

Hey man, thanks for your advice earlier.

I am wondering, if I was to attend Usyd or UNSW what degree should I shoot for? something that takes minimal time but holds strong credibility to help me get into IB?

Even more so, how easy is it to break into IB in Australia?

Nov 23, 2014 - 6:57pm

1) If you don't want to put in a lot of time a BCom is fine. BCom/LLB is probably the most common degree in banking in Australia

2) Breaking into IB in Australia is extremely difficult/very competitive - not all banks are this bad, but as an example a friend told me that Citi in Melbourne had ~1500 applications for 4 intern spots last summer

Nov 24, 2014 - 4:21pm


1) If you don't want to put in a lot of time a BCom is fine. BCom/LLB is probably the most common degree in banking in Australia

2) Breaking into IB in Australia is extremely difficult/very competitive - not all banks are this bad, but as an example a friend told me that Citi in Melbourne had ~1500 applications for 4 intern spots last summer

SB'ed, so how do you think I should overcome this? or do you think that IB is becoming oversaturated?
Nov 23, 2014 - 8:46pm

I feel like the Eng/Comm background isn't getting any love here.

Eng/Comm, if you can graduate with an 80 - 85+ average, will make you extremely marketable. You will get ib interviews (HR give you a tonne of love for being "great with numbers!" and you will stand out from straight Comm and the hundreds of Comm/Law), and if you have half decent finance knowledge you they will let you slide if you miss some arcane accounting nonsense because you'll be given credit for being very strong with numbers and generally "clever".

Plus, it means if you don't like IB, you can go get paid 6 figures in the mines/on an oil rig/working for NASA.

Nov 23, 2014 - 9:47pm

I just saw Interstellar and am even more convinced that working for NASA would be badass.

That being said, in response to the question from MikeWL, Eng/Comm is definitely not the path of least resistance to IB.

Nov 24, 2014 - 1:40am

Eng/Comm is definitely a very valuable degree and sets you up well for whatever you want to do in life. However for IB, I feel that Law/Comm is a more relevant degree. For example, some of the senior bankers I worked with that did comm/law degrees worked with the lawyers drafting legal documents, however I found that my engineering skills were not very useful for IB. In saying that, if you did something like mining engineering and worked for the resources team, then your engineering skills could be highly relevant. Some of the guys I worked with who did purely a commerce degree and worked in the resources team actually elected to do a professional masters degree in mining engineering through distance learning to up skill themselves.

Nov 26, 2014 - 12:16am

@any of those in aussie funds management scene

1)How did you gain experience in funds management during your undergraduate years? I'm finding it difficult to gain exp as a newly finished 1st year
2) Lifestyle in the aussie funds management scene? (hours, weekend work etc)
3)Typical comp range for an analyst, etc?

Nov 26, 2014 - 2:09am

1) I got in by applying for a job that was advertised online, however that seems to be exception rather than the norm as junior analyst roles are usually reserved for those who had previous full time banking experience
2) Hours are alot better than Investment Banking, on a usual day I get into work around 7:30 and leave around 6. However I still do abit of extra work when I get home. The PM's I work with typically start leaving after 5. Although sometimes we stay abit later/start earlier if we have a conference meeting with people that work in different time zones than us.
3) Comp is alot more variable than IB and depends on factors often outside your control, such as the alpha the fund generated and AUM. My base salary is in line with what recent graduates get at a big 4 or consulting firm, however I am expecting my overall compensation for this year to be in line with the base salary you get working at an IB.

Nov 26, 2014 - 7:43am

1. PM'd you with an answer. In short, investing PA and part time research work. That was during uni. After that I got lucky with a recruiter who liked me.

2. I get in at 7.45-8 and leave at 6, which is when pretty much everyone clocks off (the office would be empty by 7). Not all hours are intense though - mix it up with the occasional lunch or afternoon drinks with sell-side people I like or want to build a relationship with, and others go to the gym, run, etc. I get home and do some leisure reading or work if it's a tight deadline.

Horrendous hours are rare. There might be the odd late nights (in my book 9pm is late) during reporting season. But staying back is actually discouraged: one analyst was told that cab fares for working late would not be approved in the future because they were so regular. As for weekends I think I've come into the office once this year - for a few hours at most - and that was to prevent work piling up.

3. No typical range for comp, and no one really talks about pay unless it's completely out of whack. Comp is a black box and for me, it mostly depends on performance. Bit of a nothing answer, I'll admit, but that's the nature of what people get paid.

Feb 10, 2015 - 1:27am

How is the market looking for analysts/grads in 2015.
What are some tips for applying that held you stand out in your application and then in your interview?
How hard did they grill you on the technical aspect of IB?

Feb 10, 2015 - 2:33am

Although I was fortunate to get the exact offer I wanted, recruiting was tough (for) this year - a number of banks gave out relatively few return offers to interns (~30% conversion for at least a few, speaking anecdotally from personal experience and what friends told me) and some banks were hardly hiring (eg to my knowledge Lazard hired 1 grad for the Melbourne office and that was it, at least for Syd/Mel combined).

Networking helps here because it's quite uncommon relative to in the US etc. An insightful, personalised and genuine answer for why xyz bank is always going to help one stand out.

Depends on the bank. I got grilled relatively hard on the technical aspects, but not as hard as someone without prior IB experience would have been grilled (I imagine). Most of my interviews revolved around my transactional experience from my internship.

Feel free to PM if you have more qs.

Feb 16, 2015 - 4:56am

Hi all,

First post on here, great thread as info on IB in Aus is a little hard to find. I was hoping I could put a scenario to those that work in IB/PE/Hf in Sydney and get some advice.

I am a Mechanical Engineer in my mid 20's (3+ yrs exp) with a degree from Sydney Uni (~72 average). In the last 6 months I have started to develop a keen interest in finance, mainly due to starting my own portfolio. I am currently doing level 1 CFA to broaden my personal knowledge but am realistic about my prospects of breaking into the industry in my current situation. I have no relevant financial experience, my previous and current roles being project management/operations based.

In your opinion, what are my options? My ultimate end game would be to become a PM at a hedge fund, but would value a few years on the sell side (and I think that would be a good stepping stone to break into the HF/PE scene...). I see the following scenarios;

1. Network and try to get an analyst role. From a couple of people I have spoken to in the industry this is unlikely given my age and current role/skills.

2. MBA full time at AGSM. Cost is high and I am unsure of exit opportunities MBA grads in IB. I believe it is not as defined as the US with MBA grads going into associate roles. Would this path make me attractive to IB's/Hf's with no relevant work experience?

3. Masters of Quant finance at UTS or Sydney Uni.

4. Give up the ghost, finish my CFA level 1 and enjoy playing with my own portfolio and continue with my engineering career.

Thanks in advance. Any advice, no matter how critical, is appreciated.

Feb 19, 2015 - 3:34am

Not easy, but certainly not impossible.

1) I would exhaust networking opportunities first, you seem on the ball here already. I would hesitate to get an MBA in Australia because it's viewed differently in the US - what about some independent finance courses? I know someone who was an actuary who went this route and moved to banking, it shows interest and basic necessary knowledge.

2) you could also do a master of commerce/finance, I know someone who broke in this way

3) you could even do an MBA in the US, work there for a couple of years (should be able to get an associate role) and move back to Australia. I have heard of someone who did their internship in the us and moved to an Australian office upon graduation so it seems like that may be possible too, although probably unlikely.

Feb 21, 2015 - 6:24pm

If you're keen on staying in Australia, you should realise that the HF scene is small. But if it's any guide, a reasonably well-known HF recruited from sell-side research. Another one: a friend of mine was in IBD, tried for a long-only fund and was passed for someone who came from equities research; my friend now works in an infrastructure fund. I think domestic managers tend to be sceptical about bankers (there are exceptions, of course), and put more value on having a network as well as being able to hit the ground running. Also getting into sell/buy-side research is getting way more competitive because analysts are getting chopped (e.g. CIMB's decision to shut local operations). Not trying to discourage you - this is the state of the current market.

As for schools, Macquarie's Applied Finance degree seems to have a decent reputation. Though it may be geared towards people already in the industry. You should do your own research on it.

All that said, you have some endpoints in mind. That's fine. You should definitely do some legwork on breaking in such as whether IB or ER is more suited to you. That may sound daft but those initial years are going to have a big impact on your career.

Feb 21, 2015 - 8:12am

Hey mate,

Thanks for the reply. Yeap I am unsure on the MBA path and committing that much money to something that, while still beneficial for other roles such as management consulting, may not help me get to where I want makes me uneasy. Do you know from your experience if BB banks in Sydney recruit any associates from MBA programs? I have found MBA associate programs in Asia Pacific for UBS but no reference to Australia. Previous posts said it's mainly an analyst to associate transition in Aus.

What do you mean by independent finance courses? CFA?

On the master of finance/commerce, are there certain schools or degrees that have a better reputation in the industry?

I'm glad it doesn't seem like a completely outrageous prospect for me to break in. Just wish I had done a Eng/comm degree for my undergrad! Gotta network a little harder as well I think.

Feb 21, 2015 - 7:39pm

Post above has solid advice.

To your qs:

1) No, structured post-MBA associate recruiting isn't a thing in Australia.

2) I didn't mean CFA, I literally meant finance courses offered independent of degrees by other institutions - don't know which are best but I know places (maybe even universities) offer non degree finance courses which you could do to show interest/commitment etc. Maybe even free courses online on coursera and a financial modelling course ( Wall Street Prep) or similar would be enough to tick that box.

3) I'm sure there are, but I'm not sure which they are exactly as I don't know much about those degrees - just know a friend went that way to break into BB IB in Sydney. Logically, UNSW or USyd would seen like solid choices.

Feb 22, 2015 - 8:24am

With regards to masters courses, I have done a fair bit of research myself. The MappFin at Maq Uni would be ideal but you need 2 years financial work exp. plus an undergrad finance related degree. I'm leaning towards Sydney Uni if I do go that way. Was just seeing if any uni or course has a particularly good rep. in the industry.

Thanks for the info on the HF scene alman, and I think I need to do more research on which entry path is best for my goal (as you said). No point putting everything into getting into IB if the jump to buy-side isn't likely. I'll hopefully be able to network with people currently in the industry for advice on this. From my current work experience I totally understand how the first job you get basically puts you on a certain path and it gets harder and harder by the day to change that.

Thanks again to both of you. Answered a bunch of my questions and then some.

Feb 8, 2016 - 7:20pm

Hey guys,

Is it poor form to dredge up ancient threads?

As someone mentioned Whirlpool is an okay resource for info, however I've found WSO to be much more enlightening.

My background is Sci/Eng, from scouring Linkedin and forum posts I've not seen anyone say they have successfully got into IB as an analyst with that background. Sci/Comm, Eng/Comm yes, but not Sci/Eng.

I would LOVE to have a conversation with any people currently in IB in Aus who could give me some suggestions for apps/ general info into prospects of the best business units that align with that background.

TBH in terms of preferences for business units I'm going in with basic accounting knowledge, actuarial internship and two engineering internships - so I don't really know too much about HOW stuff gets done, only what I've read on the net and forums.

DCM/ECM, M&A etc all seem equally appealling - but that is because I don't have the confidence in available information to make an informed decision.

Mar 7, 2016 - 11:52am

Civil Engineer here after 5 years, I have become super-interested in investing and finance. My interest mainly started with managing my own portfolio of shares.
As a result I was accepted into and about to start the Masters of Applied Finance with the Macquarie Applied Finance Centre.

I would like to ask how difficult it is as a career changer from engineering (5 years exp + Mappfin) to get into IB in Australia? Sydney or Melbourne are fine by me. Im more looking towards the middle market at this point (is it more realistic to get in at the middle market/boutique/Big 4 TAS)?
Im thinking with my strong infra development background that it may help with alot of infra assets being sold by the governent.

My ideal end game is in an infra fund, however through research it seems that they go for people with m&a experience, as with pretty much every other single buy-side role. M&A however still interests me greatly, so I would definitely enjoy the experience.
My engineering job already requires me to work approx. 70 hours per week for about 95k all in, and its no longer challenging of an industry (most projects are rinse and repeat) so Im looking to get out.

Dec 19, 2016 - 5:04pm

*Reaching out to everyone in this thread

I'm 25 with a double degree in commerce and IT and have been in big 4 accounting (working in transactions (Finance and IT business operations consulting i.e. typically Separations/Integrations stream on any deal) for approximately 4 years. I started my career at EY and was recently poached by another big 4 for a Manager which makes me a very young and successful Manager for my age however I attribute this to my ability to learn, exposure to unique circumstances on specific deals e.g. I was managing a whole sell-side before I left, and my clients vouching for me and the work I did; in this regard I am blessed.

During my time at EY I also completed by CA and am considering doing my MBA here (Usyd/UNSW/MGSM) as a potential tool to move into the upper echelons of management or potentially a career in finance.

Now, to back track, this year during my travels to the U.S I was fortunate enough to have been made an offer from a private company to do M&A (corporate development). This role is based in Los Angeles and was made through my brothers closest friend there. This offer stands whether I take it now or a year from now so I decided not to take it and go into get experience as a Manager in Big4.

Going forward...
I've decided that transactions, M&A integration and IT is definitely the right career for me. I genuinely like the type of work, skills development and knowledge I am acquiring by doing what I'm doing. I want to take my career to the next level though and was considering whether a career in either IB or Tier 1 consulting would be the right thing for me.

The LA offer will still stand simply because of the nature of my relationship with the CEO.

I specifically want people to advise on the following:
- Where I could take my career
- Whether an MBA is beneficial at this point
- Anything else...

Dec 29, 2017 - 1:16pm

I heard that Australia/NZ has unique timeline for SA/FT recruiting, right? Like you guys interning from Dec to Feb or something like that.

“If you're afraid - don't do it, if you're doing it - don't be afraid!” ― Genghis Khan
Jun 27, 2018 - 4:38am

guess a reply is better lat than never.

New Zealand recruits in late Feb/early March.
Australia recruits in June/July, though I believe Macquarie opens up in May.

Consulting in Australia opens up really early, like Jan/Feb, which is annoying if you want to save yourself for IB but have a fallback to consulting.

Jun 27, 2018 - 4:39am

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