Q&A: EMEA Senior Investment Banker

Happy to address any questions that come to mind.

Have been a banker for the last 14+ years. 

All questions welcome. No limitations. Don't feel bad if your question might be simplistic. 

Background

  • 14+ years Bulge Bracket experience in London covering Northern European clients

  • Switching firms and moving to elite Boutique

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Comments (42)

Jul 22, 2021 - 10:00am

Hi there, 

I am just changing jobs so don't know yet. I am expecting: 

# Smaller, leaner teams

# Less resources and therefore targeted use of teams (i.e. more business selection) 

# Origination excellence - the original relationship based on advice wins the deal

# Less internal conflicts between lending / advisory / banking side

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jul 22, 2021 - 10:14am

- What was your role in transactions when working for the BB? If I read your introduction correctly, you cover Northern Europe, and thus not any specific product or industry.

- From a more senior perspective, is the 'prestige ranking' and 'attractiveness ranking' of BB's similar to that presented on this site, or do you guys place more value on things that juniors do not care as much about that changes this ranking?

Jul 22, 2021 - 12:26pm

Hey there! 

I covered Northern Europe and am an ECM Banker. As a product specialist and in EMEA, I focus on regions (given jurisdictions and environments can be very different across EMEA and even Europe) - all of us in the London teams have the country / regional specializations, or are Strategic Equity / Derivs / Equity-linked structurers. Some of us do get additional sector "champions" specializations, i.e. FIG or TMT. This is the rule across all bulge brackets in EMEA. US colleagues, given a reduced complexity of various markets, are more sector focussed. 

On your 2nd question - the reality is that the depth of the relationship your bank has with a client as well as the bank's reputation in the market will determine which deals come your way. The BBs are all similar with regards to reputation, and both the boutiques and 2nd tiers will have interesting transactions. GS doesn't automatically get every deal; given they cannot finance or offer day to day banking services, certain clients might not work with them. Also, 2nd tier banks might have a senior banker working there who has tonnes of experience and a reputation, but might not want to work at a BB given the pace and high pressure. 

Smaller banks, e.g. KBW or Jeffries in Europe, have great reputation in certain fields and some clients believe that a smaller bank means more attention for their deal. 

So don't worry too much about "this bank is better than this one" - get into the industry, make up your own mind and find the opportunities to get a broad skillset and range of experiences. 

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Jul 22, 2021 - 11:25am

Hey! Couple questions.

1. Top recommendations for gaining a summer internship? Who's the best prospective candidate that's reached out to you via LinkedIn/Email, and what was their opener or story?

2. How do you maintain relationships with people you don't see often in person, eg. clients you don't visit frequently?

3. Once you had landed a graduate role (if that's how you started at the BB, I'm assuming), what separated you from others who did not perform as successfully or dropped out?

Jul 22, 2021 - 12:39pm

Hi there! 

1. I really don't like the e-mail / Linkedin reachouts. They sometimes feel copy / paste, and the questions asked can all be Googled / found here. If you do try a reach-out, don't send a CV asking for a review. We have day jobs, and we don't review CVs in that. Don't ask the questions that are focussed only on your career (e.g. "can I move in 2 years to PE") because we don't hire to see you leave. Ask for 10-15min of your counterparties time, be specific to their career run / current job, avoid scheduling calls 9-5 and definately don't turn down offered alternatives (i.e. because you want to go drinking, watch a game or so). 

2. Very good question and not straighforward, especially in today's world. I think sometimes juniors have the feeling that you only need to be a good modeller in Excel to progress. That's true for the first years, as N or A, but once you hit the VP level it's all about people skills. And networking is one of the most important elements. I had, for example, started during the lockdown a weekly update with some personal musings that many of my clients really liked. Pre-lockdown, I would make a point of adding coffee catchups with clients whenever I was in a certain town - which is typical for Europe. So when in e.g. Stockholm, I would try to sit down, even for only 30min, with lawyer X or PE principal Y, and if they didn't have time, that was fine as well as you put yourself in front of their mind. Travelling is not about flying in with the plane that gets just to your client meetings, its about getting to a destination and maximising client time. 

3. Hmmm... it's as much luck as it is skills, and your team's fortunes can make a big difference. You need strong mentors that have a good standing at the firm, and consistently good delivery of work. You can make mistakes, and don't be afraid of them, but get ready to put in the long hours and hard work to get there. Understand what you are doing, i.e. spend a few additional hours to build a fresh model instead of stuffing numbers in an old one - so next time when you run calcs you know where the links are. Don't worry about showboating - people will know who are performers and who aren't. Don't worry about rankings and pay - at the start it's very similar. Manage your expectations - if you join with the expectation that Blackstone is just waiting to hire you after 2min, then sorry, that's the wrong motivation. Be a bit fatalistic in that manner - I have seen some of my analysts leave after 2 years to PE just so they could join a PE house. Don't forget, at a PE house, you still then will be an analyst... 

Jul 22, 2021 - 2:36pm

Thanks! Really appreciate you taking the time to respond to us!

I thought that LinkedIn/Email reachouts give that vibe, so I've been hesitant to use those for cold contacting in the past. Will definitely keep that in mind and customise responses.

As an analyst, is there travelling involved or does that generally increase once you get to higher levels? What would you say the vast majority of intern/analyst work entails - is there client-focused work involved, or mainly modelling and decks? When does the client side of things ramp up?

Jul 22, 2021 - 2:00pm

Hello, hope you're well and thanks for taking out time!

I am an Indian and want to get into IB FO. I'm currently working in a BB IBD mid-office (India branch). In order to get into IB FO, I'm planning to do a master's from London (target uni for 2022 intake). By the time I join (if I join), I'll have a total work ex. of 3 years in IBD mid-office and another one year prior to that in an IT MNC (so total 4 years of exp.). I'm also a CFA Level 3 candidate. I have a couple of questions -

a) is it too late to get into IB after 4 years of work ex as an IB Analyst? I'm currently 27 years old. What I mean to say is, do banks recruit people with 4 years of exp. as an analyst (even if the candidate is ready to start from scratch) or I'm too experienced or old?

b) do banks sponsor visas to international students? Post-Brexit, all EU students are also considered as international, so will it be the same for all non-UK candidates?

Many thanks :)

Jul 22, 2021 - 3:07pm

Hey there. 

Good look with all endeavours. 

on a) - in EMEA, grads typically tend to be a bit older so don't worry. Question is more, are you ready to have a 25-year old Associate berate you on a job poorly done? have a 27-year old VP call you at midnight? No one cares about age and it becomes quickly a small topic so it's all about you. 

But don't expect to get credit for work history if it's not directly related to the job. If you haven't modelled / prepared a pitchbook before, you don't want to be a N3 that screws up that important pitch just because you were worried at which level you enter

What few people discuss here - IBD is an apprenticeship more than anything else. You will always learn something and you learn it from anyone senior to yourself. 

b) that's an HR question. Really don't know. 

Jul 22, 2021 - 3:59pm

Thank you so much for this. 
 

I've just started at a top BB in London, but am American. Lots has been said about American MD compensation ($2.25M median at BB, higher avg.) but haven't seen anything towards UK/EMEA MD compensation. 
 

Is there any chance you could give me a rough ballpark of figures to BB and/or EB MD compensation? Understand there is a lot of variability, but looking for some rough estimate to compare to US. 
 

thank you again. 

  • Analyst 1 in ER
Jul 22, 2021 - 4:00pm

Thanks for responding! I currently work in a MM bank in London but am originally from western Europe. While I've been to a target (SSE/HSG/Bocconi) I only graduated with a bachelor's due to getting a return offer in LDN. 

Will that be a big issue when looking to raise in the ranks (I understand it's not common to get a msc/MBA in the UK but the continent is different). Or do you only care about performance in the job when it comes to lateral hired and VP+ positions?

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 23, 2021 - 2:38am

do you still keep in touch with your highschool/college friends? would you say your main friends are those from your analyst class?

Jul 24, 2021 - 1:47pm

Of course you stay in touch with friends. You never know where they turn up and in a less utilitarian way, friends are a balance to the work contacts you make. When you have a night out with your colleagues, work is mainly the topic of discussion - which can get boring. Having good friends outside the sector keeps you going. 

But make sure you make real contacts with your analyst and associate classes. That's 100 people each that will within c. 10 years will all have moved on into different positions.  

  • Associate 2 in IB - Gen
Jul 23, 2021 - 10:11am

Thanks for this, really appreciated -

Do you have any advice in terms of how to become better at answering Q&As from clients in meetings? I generally am okay when it comes to presenting pages, but the tough part is when I start getting grilled with follow-up questions: my gut is that even when sometimes I know the content, I am not always the best at communicating those vs. more seasoned operators. 

Similarly, are there any common pitfalls/gaffes you see Associates make in front of clients that we should be wary about?  

Thanks again!

Jul 24, 2021 - 4:41pm

There is absolute truth in your statement, the job is as much as being good but also about managing politics. But thats in every job.

My tip for the first years - do not worry about politics. Do your job well, and you will grow into the politics at some point. 
Worry about your firm wide branding. Become a house-hold name. But don't focus on that by „gathering favours" or „brown nosing". Too obvious. Deliver and be professional.

Jul 24, 2021 - 2:22pm

What common qualities have you seen in top Analysts and Associates that you have worked with? What makes people stand out at each level and allows them to start taking the responsibilities of the "next" step in their career ladder?

Jul 24, 2021 - 5:25pm

Good question. 

As analyst, associate it's all about self-motivation, humility and a certain amount of fatalism. You've selected a career path that gives great opportunities to learn and establish a network. What its not about is „consuming" - yes, you passed uni but now you need to deliver in the real world.

Do:

# use every chance to listen and learn

# Put clients' needs first - this is a service industry. You are not hired to get you into PE

# Be humble - everyone around you is smart and has a degree. If you are just starting you are back in 1st grade

Don't

# Fuss about appearances - honestly cant care about your suit / shirt / tie. Dress conservatively to be safe

# Start day one with the Porsche catalogue in your hand. Yes - I've had my share of boy toys but your are giving the wrong impression.

# Do the „I could have gone to Google…" talk. Then why didnt you.

# Talk about exit options. Yes, they exist. But if this is your only and apparent focus, you wouldn't even get hired

# Try the easiest way / shortcut. We all have been analysts and will find out about it

# Moan all the time about the job / workload. We all hate it at some point. The great bankers push through.

# Assume anyone in the business / bank owes you anything. 

Sorry for some blunt words, but this is not a recruitment event! ;)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 24, 2021 - 5:12pm

Thanks a lot for your time. 

I am interested in RX and I was wondering what are the best firms in your opinion (in Europe)? 

I know WSO says PJT/HL are the best but I was wondering: 1. is this true? 2. what are other top firms?

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:54pm

Thanks for doing this. I'm curious as to what happened to your initial analyst / associate (and even beyond, all the way to those that didn't make MD) who went on to do other things down the line.

Did those that moved to the buyside stay there or leave within a few years? Which types of people do you think were happiest in the long run? Which did you think were most successful (can be defined as you wish, whether monetary or impact etc)?

Why did you decide to stick with banking? If you hadn't stocked around where do you think you'd have ended up and why?

What do you think of the opportunities available today? 

Aug 1, 2021 - 6:51am

Hi there, from the 100 (that was the exact number that was in my analyst class) I think the stats are:

6 left within the 1st year - some didn't cope with the work, 1 during training decided to go into academia, 1 went into the family business (think MASSIVE Global conglomerate), the rest took either new jobs or left after comp. 

2nd year was a bit special with the GFC taking place - so I think about 10-15 were let go. 

3rd year saw the most moves - some left just after comp, most others stuck around to get to the Associate promotion and off to traning in NY

I think we were roughly 70 or so promotes, with 1 or 2 not getting the promotion (messing up with seniors so no support) and about a dozen MBA hires joined us. that's 84 in the Associate class. 

Today, 10 years later, about 5 remain in the Bank with only a few in the same role / team they started. 10-15 moved to corporate jobs (currently Head of M&A or similar positions), maybe 5 left the industry completely (i.e. mothers), about 15 are on the buy-side (hedge-fund partners to principals at VC or PE), about 15-20 are in other banks today, and there is an assortment of various different other job moves as well (e.g. into Consulting, Biotech investing, Chief of Staff roles, start-ups) 

What I am trying to say with this post is that: 

a) Buy-side is not the only way (and they are not waiting for anyone…). There were 1 or 2 that left to PE after the 1st 2 years and none were mega-funds. So the „i've left to the buy-side" brag didn't really pull too much. 

b) You find what you like and move into that

c) Banking sets you you with a great network and skillset that can be used in many jobs 

d) Luck is always a part of this

Aug 1, 2021 - 6:54am

On your further questions, a tip - don't ask interviewers if they „like where they are" or „why didn't they leave". 

I am a type of guy who doesn't believe that you can set yourself up for a specific job. You will sometimes get lucky (I interviewed with KKR too at some point) but sometimes you just go with the flow. Work on your personal branding and delivery more than on trying to set yourself up for an „exit opportunity". If you are good, stuff will come your way - be it a corporate that wants to hire you, a fund that likes you or a start-up idea that comes your way. 

You don't do a banking job „because you have to" - you either like it or hate it. And you will have many moments, stuck in airport lounges at midnight, in a taxi to a client at 4 AM in the morning, in the printroom / at the printers that you will say - „why am I doing this". If you don't find your reason(s), you won't self-motivate and be the self-starter we are looking for in the industry. For me, it was a combination of many factors: an all-ways on job, being challenged, learning new things on industries and companies every day, working in an interdisciplinary world, getting my ego stroked, the travel, the change of scenery. and yes, the money - it's a good salary you take home - no matter what you hear. Find another discipline / industry that pays like this at this age - be realistic. If you ahve a startup idea - go for it, 

And lastly here the real important stuff. It's a people's buisness. You will have great times on the desk (and also off the desk) with your class, teams and clients. The camaraderie when stuck trying to get a prospectus out at 2 AM in the morning - that is truly unique. A sense of purpose within a team - I've only otherwise had that in my military service. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 1, 2021 - 8:20am

What is your outlook for each of the BB's over the next 5-10 years within IB?

Aug 1, 2021 - 8:25am

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