The Interview Answer: "Why do you want to be an IB?

ZiggyMon's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 247

I asked this question previously and most answerd (hopefully telling the truth) saying that money was the main driver?

For all those, how did you answer this question during your interviews?

"why do you want to be an investment banker?"

This question is a a slight twist on the classic " Why investment banking?" Here's a great response from one of our vertaran community members.
from certified user @CompBanker

I think the best way to go about this question is to look at your resume and your experiences and build a story about yourself. Personally, I tried to get an i-banking internship after my freshman year and got dinged everywhere (obviously). I pursued an area that interested me (technology) while still gaining accounting / finance knowledge through classes and independent studying. Later I came back and got an internship at one of the same firms that dinged me. When being interviewed, I more or less told my story and gave the interviewer a very clear picture of the progression path towards banking. I think that is the most important thing: Helping them understand who you are so that they know you aren't just after the money or using them as a stepping stone. Of course, getting this across may be difficult if those are your actual objectives.

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Comments (86)

Sep 24, 2006

from what i hear, its not hte best idea. Gotta come up with something else besides $$

Sep 24, 2006

Also, you definately cannot say that you don't care about money since thats what they want you there for, i.e. to "Make Money for them".

Dan Bush, what did you say in your interview?

Sep 24, 2006

its not that you don't want money, its just that it can't be your sole reason for it

Sep 24, 2006

gottabe interested in the industry. honesty is key

Sep 24, 2006

If you read "Ugly Americans" (I hope you guys do read, even such literature, even from time to time), there's a very nice passage regarding this issue.

Sep 24, 2006
IBAspirant:

If you read "Ugly Americans" (I hope you guys do read, even such literature, even from time to time), there's a very nice passage regarding this issue.

What did Malcolm have to say about it? I read the book a long time ago and can't remember!

Sep 25, 2006
alvar:
IBAspirant:

If you read "Ugly Americans" (I hope you guys do read, even such literature, even from time to time), there's a very nice passage regarding this issue.

What did Malcolm have to say about it? I read the book a long time ago and can't remember!

Alvar, it's what he didn't say actually :-)

In my edition, it's on pages 27-37. Some stuff that I like:

"Malcolm wondered what it was going to be like to be one of the suits that bustled past. Part of him was excited by the prospect. The money, the prestige, living a life like those he had seen in the movies: a nice apartment, expensive clothes, an even more expensive girlfriend, and eventually a truly expensive wife. Another part of him looked at the carbon-copy worker bees buzzing around this lower Manhattan hive, and he was filled with a sense of dread."

"Carefully considered bullshit. No mention of money. Even though the whole point of Wall Street was money, you were never supposed to bring it up in the interview. Invariably, the interviewer would throw numbers at you to try to impress you, but for some bizarre reason, if you told them that you wanted the job because you wanted to make money, you had no shot."

From personal experience: don't try to come with what's expected or what you think the guy wants to hear because that's crap and you will be told so. Don't go into the "strategic advice" mode, that's also crap and you won't be doing it. Think what makes you want to do the job and just say it, without pretence or unnecessary histrionics. That will be appreciated.

Sep 24, 2006

I said:
" I wanted to provide strategic advise that adds value to clients through the use of financial analysis and financial instruments/deals, IB is an area where we can do this, I feel this will be challenging and fun"

    • 1
Sep 24, 2006

Thats a very good answer.

Sep 24, 2006

I would say a combo of the following:
1) fast paced industry
2) exit opportunities (opens doors)
3) lots of responsibility
4) steep learning curve

I wouldn't recommend saying something like what boz wrote (my bosses told me they hate hearing the phrase "strategic advise" only because as an analyst that's not what you will be doing--it isn't you that comes up with M&A ideas, etc and by saying that you are showing you don't full understand the role of the analyst).

Sep 24, 2006
mikesdaboss:

I would say a combo of the following:
1) fast paced industry
2) exit opportunities (opens doors)
3) lots of responsibility
4) steep learning curve

I wouldn't recommend saying something like what boz wrote (my bosses told me they hate hearing the phrase "strategic advise" only because as an analyst that's not what you will be doing--it isn't you that comes up with M&A ideas, etc and by saying that you are showing you don't full understand the role of the analyst).

yeah mike, I might put in some more things around the fast pace and the steep learning curve, bcos at analyst level thats what we do. However I do want to be in IB for a long time, so the exit opportunity is not what i'm looking for, instead being able to advise on M&A and come up with ideas is infact what I want to do in another 5 years time. So i will keep your feedback in mind for my next interview.....happpening in about 3 hours.

Sep 24, 2006

yeah, your original point is valid if you preface it by saying you want to do banking for the long-term.

just make sure they know you aren't under the impression that as an analyst you will be whispering M&A ideas into ballamer's ears

Sep 25, 2006

Well in that case,

Lets face it, The truth that most guiys want to go fo rit is because of

1) Money
2) Good Entry/Exit pportunities,
3) Strategic advise kind of work is something that a lot of young graduates do want to do <------ At least I would like to and I know that If I stick to it, eventually I'll make it there.

If I can't mention all these three things in an interview, then what can one say?

Sep 26, 2006

so IBAspirant, what do you think is a better answer.

I think the truth of why i want to join is:
- exciting work!
- busy work!
- love number crunching
- and numbers that works around strategy
- and enjoy M&A activities.

Sep 26, 2006

Boz, you can call me crazy but I don't know what's a good answer to that would be.

When I interviewed for my first M&A internship, I said I enjoyed number crunching, modeling and valuation and that I found M&A extremely exciting, my knowledge coming basically from valuation books and some other not-so-technical books dealing with the issue. Now that I think about it, the guy had a wry smile when I was giving the line about number crunching and modeling.

I believe that what got me the position was ... sincerity. I made it clear I was genuinly interested and willing to learn.

Sep 27, 2006

Just say you like the industry, want to utilize your quant skills, steep learning curve = challenging environment, filled with smart, impressive individuals. Dont go into things such as money, exit opps, strategic advice, etc.

Sep 27, 2006

um... it seems that 2 thoughts exist amongst us.

1) is to talk about strategic advice

2) not to talk about it and focus on just the number crunching side

if the firm actually advertises and prides themselves in giving strategic advice, then maybe it is appropriate to say that??

I agree that sincerity is number 1

Sep 27, 2006

I would just say I want to be an Investment Banker because their lifestyle and type of work is challenging, while at such top companies as XY I know I would work with bright, down to earth, and enthusiastic employees.

Sep 27, 2006

down to earth? should I point you in dan's direction so he can talk to you about how his cuff links make him better than you?

Sep 28, 2006

Why I want to be an IB?

-Insomniac
-Greedy
-Cufflink Envy

Sep 29, 2006

even better

i want banking because i thought without it my mansion, porsche and hot chick girl friend looks slightly out of place. besides where else can i show off my expensive italian suits and LV cuff links.

Sep 29, 2006

exit opps. duh.

Sep 29, 2006

I was honestly attracted to the "strategy" side of things. i liked the fact that i'd be working closely with CEOs and CFOs etc on a long term basis (and i was lucky that at my shop they're good about getting people involved in meetings etc from a fairly junior level) and being paid nicely at the same time. I guess there was also an element of prestige attached to the industry that appealed to my ego.

I'm in general IB, mostly M&A and equity offerings - have spent some time in natural resources industry group and flit between the two

Sep 29, 2006

BFL banker for life. i like the money. and now that i think about it, what else would i do?

Sep 29, 2006

quickest way to make the most money at such a young age allowing myself greater options as I get older...and i guess its more interesting work than any other entry level job

Sep 29, 2006

What do you mean by Startegy side of things?

Also, what kind of exit opps are there for IBankers?

Sep 29, 2006

um pe,hf,vc,other ib, industry, anything

Sep 29, 2006

To have a job that takes up a lot of time, I get bored out of my mind when there is nothing to do

Sep 29, 2006

I wonder how common is it that someone in IB focusing on a specific industry (say minning and metals) actually leaving the IB job and going to the industry.

I've heard of a few cases where IB's actually go on to be VC but even thats rare since its hard to get into VC just like that with finance experience only.

Anyone already in the industry, fill us in here please.

Sep 29, 2006

I know people who've left industry groups to go to industry, happens all the time...prob more associate and up though. Most are super successful too.

"strategy side of things" meant that i was more interestd in IB than trading as I liked mixing finance with more of the softer stuff i guess. Once you figure out what those pitches are all about - ie, helping a company redefine/ execute its strategy then that's where it gets interesting for me. And being able to chew the fat with heads of industry is pretty cool. (Sadly, I still remember all those moons ago phoning my dad after receiving my first call from Mr CEO of big company who was shooting the breeze and asking for my opinion on stuff)

Sep 29, 2006

Um...exit opps (esp. PE) and the money. And I'm interested in the securities industry.

I'd love to be in M&A.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Sep 29, 2006

I'm a ladies man.

Sep 29, 2006

ur a douche

Sep 29, 2006

Douche? Who the fuck uses douche? Listen snowflake, it's obvious you're not on my level so you need to step up, and when you do, you do it cool, fonzie cool.

Sep 29, 2006
Wasting Time:

Listen snowflake, it's obvious you're not on my level so you need to step up, and when you do, you do it cool, fonzie cool.

Hahaha, that was good.

Sep 29, 2006

I honestly wasn't thinking about exit opps - I really had no idea what i was getting in to, but then again, i am a veteran by your standards!!

Sep 29, 2006

work at UBS or CS or GS west coast

Sep 29, 2006

Thanks livingthedream.

From my research of IB, I think that it is the best way to understand a business (any specific industry).

For instance, if you want to know how firms in healthcare make money and how they run the business, be an IB focusing on the healthcare industry rather than an accountant at one specific firm.

Sep 29, 2006

I can't find challenge anywhere else. want to work with people thats smart for once. Also likes to think finance, valuation......

real passion for transactions, by the way, being paid well makes me feel very succesful (and thats a good feeling)

I just love it, look around this forum, people are constantly challenging each other, sometimes pointless yet its fun! I guess thats banking and these are the people we all love to work with. admit it!

Sep 29, 2006
boz928:

I can't find challenge anywhere else.

The rest of your post has some good points, but you need to admit that this is utter bullshit.

Sep 29, 2006

There is a certain challenge that exists in banking which is hard to find in other places. Most corporate cultures are M-F 8-5, at worst and things get done when they get done. That can be a bit disappointing.

Account Inactive

Sep 29, 2006

when i talk to my friends who've made the move to "industry", that's their biggest gripe...they ge given a project, deliver the next day and then nothing...

Sep 29, 2006

plus the take a pay haircut, no the take a pay scalping

Sep 29, 2006

being able to go to bars and not worry about how much i spend

Sep 29, 2006

until the next morning when you look at your receipts...

Sep 29, 2006

Ideally I want to work for Blackstone or Lazard or Houlihan Lokey, but we all know that's not going to happen, since I don't even have the grades to get into Wharton.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Sep 29, 2006

interesting that you put HL in the same breath as Blackstone

Sep 29, 2006

Blackstone, Lazard...HLHZ? HLHZ is a top mid market shop but that was just an odd pairing.

Sep 29, 2006

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I'll let you interpret that as you wish.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Sep 29, 2006

holymonkey, i work at at what most would consider a boutique, but i know that i get more $$$$ and more responsibility than my BB friends. go figure.

Sep 29, 2006

Maybe, but your friends will move on to KKR, TPG, Carlyle and the like while you will be trading energy at Amaranth.

Sep 29, 2006

if i had traded energy there last year then i'd be ok with that

Sep 29, 2006

Not necessarily....more responsibility->you like your job better->you do better->better recs/more interesting b-school essay (maybe the bank will sponsor you)->HBS(for free)->Blackstone.

Besides, you don't hear about HBS people going to Amaranth or whatever do you?

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Sep 29, 2006

no, because until he blew up he was living the dream. MBA grads WISH they could have the smarts to get into a gig like that! wise up

Sep 29, 2006

The people are smarter than in corporate (by far), it's real-time, you actually learn something each day and it's not cookie-cutter.

Sep 29, 2006

Amaranth was a pretty respected fund, after the year they had last year I think people across the board were pretty impressed. But that's the nature of the game, big risk, big return, lots of downside.

Sep 29, 2006

If you already have an answer, the foundation thing, just expand on that. In the end, that's a question you have to answer for yourself. Search the forums too, I believe this question has been asked before.

Sep 29, 2006

the best foundation for a future in VC is prolly corporate strategy at Google....the bigshots in VC are not former i-bankers

Sep 29, 2006

Why are you asking us, you already have an answer

Sep 29, 2006

Yeah, stop bothering us you POS.

(Do I get the $5?)

Sep 29, 2006

Do a search on IBO for something like "interview article", I think those words are in the title. Has some good answers to many of the basic fit questions in there.

Sep 29, 2006

The Marines weren't tough enough (I got too much sleep). I want to be the best of the best, and to do that, I have to be in the most physically, mentally and analytically challenging role I can find. I worked in M&A divisions in industry, and I realised that I'm damn good at what an investment banker does.

Just suggestions.......it all depends on how you say it. I'm sure you could say absolutely anything if the interviewer likes you. After all, when you attempt to jump to VC, he/she'll be far away anyway.

(and no, I didn't quite say the above in my interview)

Sep 29, 2006

I think the best way to go about this question is to look at your resume and your experiences and build a story about yourself. Personally, I tried to get an i-banking internship after my freshman year and got dinged everywhere (obviously). I pursued an area that interested me (technology) while still gaining accounting / finance knowledge through classes and independent studying. Later I came back and got an internship at one of the same firms that dinged me. When being interviewed, I more or less told my story and gave the interviewer a very clear picture of the progression path towards banking. I think that is the most important thing: Helping them understand who you are so that they know you aren't just after the money or using them as a stepping stone. Of course, getting this across may be difficult if those are your actual objectives.

Sep 29, 2006

So why do you?

Sep 29, 2006

I was also wondering what the "right" answer to this question is.

Some of the good reasons I came up with:
1. Working in a high-octane competitive work environment
2. IBanking is an excellent financial learning experience
3. Working with a group of very intelligent and hardworking coworkers
4. Assisting in important deals and transactions

I'm not sure if the above answers are what interviewers want to hear, but it is what I came up with.

More questionable reasons:
1. Exit Opportunities
2. Money (I have read people's accounts of interviews where the job candidate didn't mention money as a reason to be an investment banker and the interviewer called them out for not listing money as a reason, so I am not sure about mentioning or not mentioning money.)

Sep 29, 2006

If you say at the end, "And of course being well compensated for helping produce revenue for my firm"

Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot

Sep 29, 2006

Talking about money is tacky. Let THEM bring up money (which is doubtful that they would) rather than YOU.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Sep 29, 2006

Talking about money is tacky. Let THEM bring up money (which is doubtful that they would) rather than YOU.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Sep 29, 2006

Talking about money is tacky. Let THEM bring up money (which is doubtful that they would) rather than YOU.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Sep 29, 2006

Learning curve, a ton of exposure to both senior level bankers and c-level executives, high levels of responsibility, deal / transaction environment, etc.

Sep 29, 2006

Learning curve, a ton of exposure to both senior level bankers and c-level executives, high levels of responsibility, deal / transaction environment, exposure to how businesses are run in a variety of industries, exposure to all the different financial products, etc. Don't talk about exit opportunities or money.

Sep 29, 2006

1) intense financial exposure
2) working on transactions that require attention from top management
3) contribution is quantifiable
4) Great exit opps
5) obtain transaction experience, learn how to structure a deal
6) Take on significant amount of responsibility as a junior
7) Working with smart and hardworking people; intelligent people have higher expectations

Here are a few key ones....

Sep 29, 2006

If you seriously can't think of an answer to that question you have no business being in this industry.

Sep 29, 2006
wilder01:

If you seriously can't think of an answer to that question you have no business being in this industry.

thats a bit harsh, however, I fully agree.
A huge part of your internship will consist of research - so why didn't you start now and use the search function? there are c. 1K threads on WSO regarding how to answer this question.

Answers I used:
- I talked to people, to a lot of people. I used that information they told me...e.g. Since IB is inseparable linked to working long hours and working in teams, for me its important that I fit in the culture. Having spoken to XYZ in ABC department confirmed my research, as they told me reason 1, reason 2, reason 3 I should work here.
- Not only the people, but also the outstanding expertise is appealing to me. State 1 or 2 deals that have impressed you recently.... and make sure you know some details!
Round it up by saying: combining the personal fit with outstanding expertise of your BB, I am sure this is the best place for me .... bla bla bla.
Feel free to make any amendments...

A side note:
Good Summer Analysts come up with solutions (even though they are wrong) before asking the analyst / associate how to solve the problem.

Sep 29, 2006

Because of preftige.

Sep 29, 2006

Gotta love WSO. "Why didn't you search for it, what do you think this is, a forum to discuss Wall Street related Topics with people in the industry?!!!" I understand some things are easily searchable, but there is still value in discussing them here.

With that said, this is still something you should answer yourself, so you answer it honestly. If you are just trying gauge what responses would be appropriate, give us some examples of what you think you want to say.

In an on-campus interview a few weeks back I asked an internship candidate what her greatest technical strength was, and she responded "You mean, like uh, Excel". I had to stop myself from saying something like "Yeahhh the thing about this question is, it is YOUR strength, I probably can't answer that for you"

    • 1
Sep 29, 2006

Thanks for wasting your time by posting a garbage response. Basically most of my positives for working at a MM bank are negatives for working at a bulge bracket bank. Such as: small deal teams, get to work on a deal from start to finish, get to sit in on client meetings, are given a ton of responsibility, and easy access to senior bankers. I know most BB's you work on a bigger deal team so you don't have as much responsibility, only get to work on a piece of the deal, and a lot of bankers are not accessible. Some responses I would give to this answer would be the culture of the office, it would allow me to get really good at a certain part of the deal, everyone knows the name of the bank, you get to work with large companies that many people have heard of .. Etc. I am just trying to think of some more realistic answers to this question that I can actually believe when I am talking about them. Thanks all who took time to post a positive reply to my post.

Sep 29, 2006
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Sep 29, 2006
Sep 29, 2006
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