Underrated banks and the ambitious bastard

Across the boards, you see hundreds of questions regarding exit opps; how to get to KKR? How does someone get into Paulson & Co.? Questions like these veil the poster's true motivation: Ambition. "How do you get in KKR?" really means "How can I be the next Henry Kravis?" and "how to get into Soros?" means "how can I get to break the Bank of England?" These are the people we aspire to be, want to work with, learn from, and maybe, compete with in the future.

          So how do we get there?

          The traditional path to Wall Street awesomeness has always been the <span><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is-the-bulge-bracket-BB">bulge bracket</a></span> banks. Kravis was a partner at Bear, Paulson a VP, and if I had to list the ex-<span><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/goldman-sachs"><abbr title="Goldman Sachs">GS</abbr></a></span> people I'd fill the whole page. Thing is, not all of us can get our dream starter jobs. Entry to the <span><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is-the-bulge-bracket-BB"><abbr title="bulge bracket">BB</abbr></a></span>'s is getting harder and the competition is getting better.

          So, are you screwed that you didn't get in?

          Paul Tudor Jones didn't go to a <span><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/finance-dictionary/what-is-the-bulge-bracket-BB"><abbr title="bulge bracket">BB</abbr></a></span>, nor did Steven Cohen, or Stanley Druckenmiller-he was from a commercial bank in Pittsburgh. So stop crying if you didn't get to <span><a href="//www.wallstreetoasis.com/company/goldman-sachs"><abbr title="Goldman Sachs">GS</abbr></a></span>, all you need are firms with credibility, connections, and the platform for you to show your skills. Assuming you actually have some.

         That said, what are the underrated firms to look into? 

Here are a few of mine.

Jefferies & Co. – This is going to get a lot of flak but, with more than a few good hires along with its expansion, Jefferies has become less MM/ boutique and more of a competitor to the BB's. IBD may be a little lagging but their S&T looks pretty solid.

Nomura - This is more for the London crowd but some points may apply in the U.S. They haven't really capitalized on their Lehman acquisitions like BarCap has, but they're getting there. Being a Japanese bank, they may also get away from some regulations but to what extent is still unclear. Nonetheless, a few traders have already jumped ship to them.

Rothschild – The lesser in the upper MM group according to the forum's "rankings" but, they do a ton of deals, they're good at it, and arguably have similar exit opps.

Wells Fargo/Wachovia – I'm not even sure about this, but you can't escape the fact that Wells has the makings of a BB. Some might argue that it already is, but until they fix the kinks of their merger, their IB presence won't be as big as they really are. When they do that's another story.

        Will these firms make you the next Soros or Kravis? Probably not, but they'd probably get you where you could.

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