S&T or M&A; how'd you choose?

nabran's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 99

I'm a British first-year student. I had a 4-week internship in the spring and a summer internship in M&A.

Hoping for a summer internship next year and graduate role after that. How did you choose between these two? If they were your two choices, at the start which would you choose?

Choosing Between Sales and Trading and Mergers and Acquisitions (investment banking)

Choosing between sales and trading and mergers and acquisitions is a personal choice. You should consider your own skills and preferences and choose accordingly. What are you good at? What do you want to do long term?

If you have an interest in M&A consider exit options and skills. Banking is largely a game of exit opportunities. It was one of the few fields that people enter to exit. That means that most junior bankers long term goals are NOT M&A.

Common Exits:

Staying in M&A long term is an option though. Do you have the personality and or skill set to exceed at a high level later in your career (VP and above)? Do you have the ability to synthesize, sell, and connect?

Sales and trading will require similar skills to succeed. Indeed, succeeding (trading) impacts your pay directly. You are operating in a meritocracy and stack up enough losses you may be shown the door. A lot of people who do trading stay in trading (less attrition). The ability to be competitive, take risks, be reasonably good with numbers (if great than quant), synthesize market information.

Common exits:

from certified user @CaptK

For M&A/PE/VC, your better bet is M&A.
For S&T/HF, you should go for S&T

Recommended Reading

Comments (52)

Mar 19, 2011

S&T u guaranteed trading? if not, then easy choice.

M&A is awesome but for exit ops. if u are in it for "moving up x years" i think ur crazy. if u wanna move to a HF/PE in 2 years, IB destroys the normal S&Ter who gets fired or laid off due to stricter regulations at a BB.

If this is at a BB which I think it is, go for IBD since S&T is being choked to death by regulations.

Mar 19, 2011

S&T all the way. Wayyy more interesting and potentially way more lucrative.

Mar 19, 2011

I don't know a lot about private equity at the moment but I've read a lot about people attempting to move there after two/three years of IBD (I assume when they finish their analyst programme).

It would be at BB, I really need to learn more about PE/HF to see how possible this move could be and why it's so appealing to many.

No MD chances after 5-8 years with M&A at BB? I've hope that because I'm genuinely good with people I may move up faster...but I'm sure many are so not sure about a lot at the moment.

manbearpig, except for the potentially higher bonuses, I'm trading off between my gut-instinct fast-thinking risk side for my safe-execution repetition side!

Mar 19, 2011

why its appealing?

PE/HF pays waaay more than any sell side, even S&T since S&T is just flow trading and market making, ur not making risky positions or doing crazy screaming at prop trading which is what u see in movies.

Plus, PE/HF have low hours relatively. Low hours + more money are why PE/HF rule all on wall street.

Not to mention first 2 years at S&T u are a biatch getting lunch and coffee and getting a piss poor standard bonus. After the 2 years at IBD u will be in buyside and making way more than the S&T guy 2 years later.

Mar 19, 2011

one job is exciting and intellectually stimulating. the other requires you spending 80 hours a week doing menial tasks on MS EXCEL.

tough call.

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Mar 19, 2011
LLcoolJ:

one job is exciting and intellectually stimulating. the other requires you spending 80 hours a week doing menial tasks on MS EXCEL.

tough call.

Is that why you chose S&T? When going into S&T how can you find out (or is it just luck/ placement based on the interviewers opinion) as to whether you become a trader or a salesman?

S&T does appeal to me for many reasons but I really fear getting to grips with it will be difficult. As I said, when so many things affect one stock, how can I be looking at stock in future contracts, a couple big FTSE firms that I blaced bets on, a few commodities here and there? Or by analyst scheme am I assigned an industry or specific equity department?

I really don't know how so many people made this decision so early on.

Mar 19, 2011

Thanks again ^ for your input! So, considering my M&A summer internship is aimed at penultimate year students and I've gained it as a first year and other BB spring week stuff, I'm optimistic I should be on the right track for BB internship again next year and then graduate programme.

If I stuck with my M&A side at the moment, completed my 3 year (the usual in London) analyst scheme and then, say in the winter of my third year applied to HF/PE (KKR,BX etc) would that be typically how people try and transfer? Or is more a networking, get your MD to get you an interview and like you enough to not be pissed that your pissing off elsewhere?

Mar 19, 2011

getting coffee, lunch, and running useless delta/gamma calcs for your desk is exciting? maybe it'll be even more exciting when u get fired since ur desk had a bad year and obama decides to pass more regulations.

or at best i guess u can trade and make money later on but by then (2 years out) ur IBD peers are rocking models and bottles at funds like Soros, Citadel, SAC, KKR, Blackstone, etc.

nabran u need more research.

i am a 2nd year and secured a megafund PE offer.

IBD is way better than S&T unless u really need hours, then u should just go teach public school 3rd grade. at least there u don't have to get lunch/coffee for your entire desk everyday.

u start recruiting as a 1st year after 5 months on the job for IBD. U have an offer before your 2nd year. Then you cruise 2nd year with your offer until you start at the megafund. 3rd year is for losers who can't make it the 1st year.

Mar 19, 2011
boutiquebank4life:

getting coffee, lunch, and running useless delta/gamma calcs for your desk is exciting? maybe it'll be even more exciting when u get fired since ur desk had a bad year and obama decides to pass more regulations.

or at best i guess u can trade and make money later on but by then (2 years out) ur IBD peers are rocking models and bottles at funds like Soros, Citadel, SAC, KKR, Blackstone, etc.

nabran u need more research.

i am a 2nd year and secured a megafund PE offer.

IBD is way better than S&T unless u really need hours, then u should just go teach public school 3rd grade. at least there u don't have to get lunch/coffee for your entire desk everyday.

u start recruiting as a 1st year after 5 months on the job for IBD. U have an offer before your 2nd year. Then you cruise 2nd year with your offer until you start at the megafund. 3rd year is for losers who can't make it the 1st year.

I know you are just trolling, but I am glad that you are in the .5% of people who think IBD is a better career path all things considered.

Mar 19, 2011

@boutiquebank...

Oh please. I would much rather get coffee and get some occasional fresh air and natural light than change font sizes and colors for 18 hours a day, 6 days a week. Also, it's way more likely to get into a top HF from S&T than it is from IBD (not true for equity L/S, but still). And getting into a top HF is way better than getting into a PE firm of equal caliber (assuming roles of similar responsibility). Also, I personally know people in their late 20s in S&T who make almost 7 figures.

Mar 19, 2011

execution trading is what u can look forward to. the real stuff is given to the PHD quants and the bankers.

Don't be mad i'm cruising in my 2nd year with a megafund 250k all in offer while ur getting lunch.

go fetch me a bagel boy.

PS: i'm 21 years old (graduated early), so f late 20s. thats for losers.

Best Response
Mar 19, 2011
boutiquebank4life:

execution trading is what u can look forward to. the real stuff is given to the PHD quants and the bankers.

Don't be mad i'm cruising in my 2nd year with a megafund 250k all in offer while ur getting lunch.

go fetch me a bagel boy.

PS: i'm 21 years old (graduated early), so f late 20s. thats for losers.

lol, you're a huge tool. talking shit on WSO won't grow your 2 inch cock.

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Mar 19, 2011
manbearpig:
boutiquebank4life:

execution trading is what u can look forward to. the real stuff is given to the PHD quants and the bankers.

Don't be mad i'm cruising in my 2nd year with a megafund 250k all in offer while ur getting lunch.

go fetch me a bagel boy.

PS: i'm 21 years old (graduated early), so f late 20s. thats for losers.

lol, you're a huge tool. talking shit on WSO won't grow your 2 inch cock.

No, it definitely does. My baller 19 banana points is making me feel more secure than I've ever been in my whole life.

Mar 19, 2011
boutiquebank4life:

PS: i'm 21 years old (graduated early), so f late 20s. thats for losers.

V.nice, I'll graduate at 20 also (moved up a year in primary school). Really need to research the recruiting cycles of HF/PE's though.

Mar 19, 2011
boutiquebank4life:

execution trading is what u can look forward to. the real stuff is given to the PHD quants and the bankers.

Don't be mad i'm cruising in my 2nd year with a megafund 250k all in offer while ur getting lunch.

go fetch me a bagel boy.

PS: i'm 21 years old (graduated early), so f late 20s. thats for losers.

this guy again. u need to stfu

"I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people"

Mar 19, 2011

Ok boutiquebank, so if I aimed to go for that route I should still apply on the sly as a first year analyst? Using the BB name, my own past experience and future hopes and knowledge (on whatever they ask technically, from LBO to....well whatever other end of the spectrum)? I guess applying can't hurt. But there must be something I'm missing out or everyone would be jumping on this bandwagon as a first year. I'm up for the challenge, not so sure about their recruiting systems though; to google I go.

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Mar 19, 2011

Ask anyone. PE recruiting happens around January of your FIRST YEAR.

Thats like 5 months into your job. Megafund is all about LBO from scratch and case studies.

S&T is all about risk at all levels, hoping ur desk does well, hoping you get lucky, hoping regulations dont kill you, hoping you dont' get fired, hoping you get a good desk, etc.

Mar 19, 2011

Ok thank you very much for answering that question. That has genuinely led me to think again on my approach to what I want to do in the long run.

So it seems I won't be thrown into the deep end without a life jacket. The competitive side of me wants me to go into trading, wants me to be able to identify that key piece of information which subsequently makes me make good profit for my firm on a trade.

I guess both key areas apply to completely different characteristics in personality and character and at the moment I'm not quite sure which side I'd actually enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis and the long run career developments.

The information you provided gave me more of an insight into how learning the ropes of a trading position is conducted than I've gained by looking for days on end through on the internet in trying to find out what's for me, I guess my summer internship this year will provide a little insight to M&A although I doubt I'll work on live projects. My hearts telling me trading but my heads telling me M&A.

Mar 19, 2011
nabran:

Ok thank you very much for answering that question. That has genuinely led me to think again on my approach to what I want to do in the long run.

So it seems I won't be thrown into the deep end without a life jacket. The competitive side of me wants me to go into trading, wants me to be able to identify that key piece of information which subsequently makes me make good profit for my firm on a trade.

I guess both key areas apply to completely different characteristics in personality and character and at the moment I'm not quite sure which side I'd actually enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis and the long run career developments.

The information you provided gave me more of an insight into how learning the ropes of a trading position is conducted than I've gained by looking for days on end through on the internet in trying to find out what's for me, I guess my summer internship this year will provide a little insight to M&A although I doubt I'll work on live projects. My hearts telling me trading but my heads telling me M&A.

Put it this way, everyone I know in IBD hates it and almost everyone I know in S&T likes it. The kids in IBD are waiting to go to b-school, where the cost and loss wages will total about 300 grand. They then hope they can re-enter as an associate or get into a PE fund. There is no guarantee, take your pic.

Mar 19, 2011
awm55:
nabran:

Ok thank you very much for answering that question. That has genuinely led me to think again on my approach to what I want to do in the long run.

So it seems I won't be thrown into the deep end without a life jacket. The competitive side of me wants me to go into trading, wants me to be able to identify that key piece of information which subsequently makes me make good profit for my firm on a trade.

I guess both key areas apply to completely different characteristics in personality and character and at the moment I'm not quite sure which side I'd actually enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis and the long run career developments.

The information you provided gave me more of an insight into how learning the ropes of a trading position is conducted than I've gained by looking for days on end through on the internet in trying to find out what's for me, I guess my summer internship this year will provide a little insight to M&A although I doubt I'll work on live projects. My hearts telling me trading but my heads telling me M&A.

Put it this way, everyone I know in IBD hates it and almost everyone I know in S&T likes it. The kids in IBD are waiting to go to b-school, where the cost and loss wages will total about 300 grand. They then hope they can re-enter as an associate or get into a PE fund. There is no guarantee, take your pic.

Makes no sense. Bschool and direct promote are for losers, if you went to Bschool to be an associate u are probably at Piper Jaffray or Jefferies or UBS. i'm 21 and going to a megafund u jelly?? Got a peer who is going to Soros.

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Mar 19, 2011

awm: most of the time is in the data room, u obviously never did banking if u think the exit op is business school and then back to banking. that doesn't even make sense. my bank would beg us to stay, why the hell would we go to bschool and back when we have guaranteed direct associate promote offers (AND THATS A BACKUP).

u idiot.

Mar 20, 2011

boutiquebank4life is an absolute tool/troll

Dorsia Reservations hit the nail on the head.

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Mar 20, 2011

What do you want to do? Do you want to be a trader or a banker?

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Mar 20, 2011

I want to be a banker, but also see the value of the S&T internship as far as brand name goes etc.

Mar 20, 2011

If you want to be a banker, take the banking internship. If you do well over the summer and get an offer, you want it to be in a division in which you actually want to work, as both will require some legwork for you to successfull "trade up."

To be more concrete, imagine that you get a return offer from the MM IB group. If you're unsuccessful in trading up to a BB IBD, you still have a banking job. If you get an offer from the S&T group and are unsuccessful in getting into a BB IB group, you're "stuck" in S&T, which isn't what you want to do.

Mar 20, 2011

I understand what you mean, but I also have a feeling that I could somehow leverage my S&T experience to get into IB?

Mar 20, 2011
Matrick:

I understand what you mean, but I also have a feeling that I could somehow leverage my S&T experience to get into IB?

I don't mean to be a dick, but if you want to do IB, do IB. Having the 'Big Name' on your resume in a largely unrelated capacity won't help as much, in my opinion, as having actual, tangible experience the job you will actually be doing/want to end up in.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Mar 20, 2011

how would doing an S&T internship make you more qualified for IBD than doing an MM IBD internship? this is really fucking stupid and I hate myself for posting on this topic

Mar 20, 2011

This is pretty straightforward.

Your goal is to do IB.

You have an offer for IB.

Accept the offer for IB.

Mar 20, 2011

If you are a sophomore, you can leverage that S&T internship to IBD at the BB next Summer. Banks send out emails requsting resumes of top performing candidates who want to switch divisions. If you are a junior, take banking because it will be much harder/impossible to transfer and get a FT offer in IBD at the BB if you are doing S&T.

Mar 20, 2011

Gekko, good call! Thanks

Mar 20, 2011

For M&A/PE/VC, your better bet is M&A.
For S&T/HF, you should go for S&T.

  • Capt K
Mar 20, 2011

It seems M&A to trading is easier, as most trading rotational programs just want people with solid resumes. Bankers are a bit more picky, and already want a kid who can handle 80+ hour weeks.

Mar 20, 2011
adehbone:

It seems M&A to trading is easier, as most trading rotational programs just want people with solid resumes. Bankers are a bit more picky, and already want a kid who can handle 80+ hour weeks.

A career in S&T might be for me (along with HF/PE/VC), but I'm completely unsure of a career in M&A. However, I do want the opportunities a M&A internship would afford me. If M&A internship -> S&T full-time is easier like you say, then would an M&A internship be undoubtedly the best way to keep my options open?

Mar 20, 2011

You should probably figure what you're into:M&A can lead to PE/VC and fundamental HFs. S&T can lead to more S&T or more 'trading' focused HFs. The two have a pretty different focus and entail different work styles and ways of thinking. There will be interviewers who can tell you just want to do 'front-office finance.' Knowing what you really want should be a priority at this point.

Mar 20, 2011

OP: what's your major? if you're math and science/engineering oriented, you would probably find the work on a derivatives trading desk/quant HF more interesting... if you're more into finance and accounting, IBD would be a better bet. Not to dissuade you from your goals but getting into either M&A or S&T is ridiculously tough, even graduating from a target, so it's good to keep other professional options open (F500 corpfin for example). You can look into doing an MBA a few years down the road to break into Wall Street as well.

Mar 20, 2011
MichaelHutchens:

OP: what's your major? if you're math and science/engineering oriented, you would probably find the work on a derivatives trading desk/quant HF more interesting... if you're more into finance and accounting, IBD would be a better bet. Not to dissuade you from your goals but getting into either M&A or S&T is ridiculously tough, even graduating from a target, so it's good to keep other professional options open (F500 corpfin for example). You can look into doing an MBA a few years down the road to break into Wall Street as well.

I'm a math major. Quantitative trading sounds interesting but I'm complete SHIT at brain teasers - and I've heard brain teasers are a big part of quant interviews.

Mar 20, 2011

What do internships really look for besides a high GPA? I'll be shooting for an internship next summer, between my sophomore and junior year. I don't have anything to put on a resume besides my GPA and a couple academic honors I have (dean's list, president's list, etc.) I work part time but I'd be laughed at if I put it on my resume. My extra-curricular are volunteering at a hospital and maybe joining the finance club. Are my experiences inadequate or am I in line with other prospective interns?

Mar 20, 2011

You just have to start early. By the time I was a sophmore in college I had already done a finance internship my freshmen year and working as a research assistant for the finance faculty at my school. You have to set yourself ahead of the pack. Your story has to reflect hard work, diligence,academic excellence and a steady progression upward. Don't be picky, cast your net very wide. Get an internship over the school year and try to get an internship sophmore summer at a brand name. It can be BIG 4, recognizable F500, or boutique bank. It's ok fantasizing about exit opps, we all do it but focus on the step by step progression rather then the finish line. Most people make that mistake and most never make it to the interview.

Mar 20, 2011

I don't think your experiences are sufficient.

I just finished my sophomore year and I've had two summer internships (one at a BB in PWM and another at a very recognizable F100 firm in corporate finance). Additionally, during school, I worked as a research assistant for two different finance professors and worked at a small PE firm. I've founded a student club, been the captain of a sports team, and held an executive position in my school's finance club. I've also kept a fairly solid GPA (3.7/4.0).

With all of this, I feel I'm quite competitive however I do not feel that I am anywhere near being a "superstar". There are so many kids coming from ivy league schools / with connections that just blow past me for experience (I was at a non target with no connections for my first 2 years of school before I transferred out). It sucks but it's life - you need to start focusing on everything you can do to bridge the gap between what you currently have and what you believe IB recruiters want to see from you. You're lucky - while you might not have enough right now, you're only a rising sophomore, so you have 1.5 years to get yourself up to par. Start today.

Mar 20, 2011

I can't do an internship during the school year because I live a good 3 hours from any large city (Philly and NYC.) What can I do between now and next summer to set myself up for an internship? I've found zero alumni contacts so far and on-campus finance research is non-existent. I'm sorry it sounds like I'm asking to be spoon-fed everything, but I'm really clueless here.

Mar 20, 2011
magnificentloser:

I can't do an internship during the school year because I live a good 3 hours from any large city (Philly and NYC.) What can I do between now and next summer to set myself up for an internship? I've found zero alumni contacts so far and on-campus finance research is non-existent. I'm sorry it sounds like I'm asking to be spoon-fed everything, but I'm really clueless here.

You can:

-Read up on the industry
-Study finance
-Network
-Try to find a local accounting firm or PWM shop to work with
-Try to find something with a recognizable name you can intern at over winter break
-Volunteer
-Start a club or non-profit
-Work at school as a TA
-Work for your school's endowment
-Practice for interviews
-Get a high GPA
-Pick up some academic honors to fluff your resume
-Compete in various contests for national honors
-Try to get your local congressman to offer you an internship, as that is at least prestigious

There are literally hundreds of things you can, and should, do. Sitting in your room posting on WSO might be a good way to find out about them, but it is not something you can put on your resume.

Mar 20, 2011
magnificentloser:

I can't do an internship during the school year because I live a good 3 hours from any large city (Philly and NYC.) What can I do between now and next summer to set myself up for an internship? I've found zero alumni contacts so far and on-campus finance research is non-existent. I'm sorry it sounds like I'm asking to be spoon-fed everything, but I'm really clueless here.

Consider taking a semester off to do an off-cycle internship. Best decision I ever made. Competition is lower and if you need to get your foot in the door, it's a great option. You can always postpone a semester(at least at my college).

Mar 20, 2011

Apply for

S&T at MS
ER at JPM
HR at Citi
Quant at HSBC
M&A at CS
and CEO at GS

"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"

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Mar 20, 2011
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