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Why Investment Banking? 43 Sample Answers

nickleeson's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 131

I have only heard standard cookie cutter answers before, and I am curious how best to answer this investment banking interview question.

The Safe "Why Investment Banking?" Answers

Of course, your desire to stand out and leave a strong impression is justified. Interviewers have more applicants than they know what to do with. And yes, they're looking for people that display intelligence, confidence, and certainty in their future career path. But sometimes it's best to stick to the safe answers and just go with what works.

Here is a collection of the best standard responses to the "Why Investment Banking?" question from WSO users.

kyc133enydc:

Broke it down to these safe and logical responses. "Steep learning curve. Result driven environment. Enjoy working under pressure. Significant responsibility.

ideating:

The best answers would typically be some combination of experience working on big deals,
the caliber of your colleagues, gaining a strong financial foundation, and a strong interest in finance.

CompBanker - Private Equity VP:

Phrased it well when he said, "Stick with cookie cutter -- they are cookie cutter because they work." Don't try to be special or unique; stick to logic and passion.

Detailed Why IB Answers?

While cookie-cutter responses are safe, sometimes a little more substance is appropriate/appreciated.

WallStreetPlayboys:

I want to work in investment banking because I understand it has a steep learning curve and will allow me to establish a strong foundation for valuation, Excel modeling skills, and understanding the XXX sector (or you can use the group, such as M&A transactions). I know the hours will be long, but the time spent understanding and learning about XXX space (again or XXX type of transactions) would give me the opportunity to remain in finance over the longer term.

This answer does a few things:

  1. You left him 'bait.' Now he will ask, "Oh really? So what hours do you expect?" So you simply answer 80 low-end and 100+ if a lot of going on.
  2. By mentioning valuation/Excel, you're showing you know what you'll be doing, and you have pitched why it is valuable 'a strong base of skills for *future* on Wall Street'. Why?
  3. Because you never want the interviewer to think you're interested in anything besides banking."

The Wrong "Why Investment Banking?" Answers

While there are very few "correct" answers, there are plenty answers that are just plain wrong. Here are a few common responses that might sink your interview.

WallStreetPrep:

Poor answers to this question would be answers that somehow indicate you are going into the profession to earn large amounts of money or because you eventually want to go to business school/private equity/hedge funds. While all this may be true, you want the interviewer to think that you are committed to the industry even though he/she knows that, more than likely, you'll be one of the analysts that decides to leave after two years of service. As an interviewer, it is better to hear the 'reassuring' answer rather than the brutally honest one, even though the interviewer knows you are being political.


Marcus_Halberstram - Industry CEO:

Stick with the standard answers. Don't say anything about client interaction. Period. Every candidate I've ever interviewed in the first round that progressed to the second round, and every candidate I've ever interviewed in second and beyond rounds (implying they made it past the first), has given the standard tried-and-tested answers to the 'Why Banking' question. Any interviewer that's said anything about 'CEOs, executives, clients, management teams, and (cringe) the C-suite' are immediate 'this kid doesn't know what we/he will do here' dings.

What If You Are a Non-Business Major?

WallStreetPrep:

Had some solid advice for the non-business majors: "Great answers to this question focus on skill-building, networking, and a love for difficult challenges. You want to emphasize that, being a non-business major, you are excited to learn the complex accounting and finance skills involved on the job and eventually transform into an analyst that has potential to significantly impact the group. You also want to relay that you are excited to work with driven, smart, and motivated colleagues and are looking forward to pushing your limits from a work standpoint. You ultimately want to come off as a positive, 'go-getter' type."

Law to Investment Banking

jbarret34:

A second year corporate associate outlines why the move from big law to investment banking makes sense for him: "I know that I love transactional work, like working in a fast-paced, demanding environment, don't mind long hours, and eventually want to be the one making the deals, rather than a lawyer/banker who only facilitates them. Investment banking makes sense for me because I could develop valuation/pitching/modeling skills."

Consulting to Investment Banking

WallStreetOasis.com:

If you're interviewing for an entry level junior role, then your response to the "Why Investment Banking?" question could sound something like this, "While I have gained some great experience working in consulting that translates well to investment banking, I feel that I could learn a more useful technical skill set at an investment bank working on live transactions at [XYZ Firm].

For those trying to get into more senior roles post-MBA, a more appropriate response would be, "I like long projects and getting to know clients; however, the transactional nature of investment banking is very appealing to me because you see the results of your work much more quickly. Whereas consulting engagements can last for years, especially when implementation is involved, the average investment banking mandate typically lasts for several months, so you are getting exposed to more scenarios and the learning curve is faster.

Commercial Banking to Investment Banking

onemanwolfpack - Investment Banking VP:

Gives those coming from a background in commercial banking some solid advice, "Demonstrate you belong. Given your 'atypical' background, you will have to try that much harder to show you belong compared to your interviewing peers who may already be working at other IBs and looking to lateral. Read up on the latest M&A deals, know your technicals frontwards and back, and show an over-the-top eagerness to break into the industry. In response to the 'Why switch from CB to IB?' question, I recall responding, "Because I look around at 5 pm seeing everyone head for the exit, and I know I have more to offer and want more out of my career than that." May have been cheesy in retrospect, but I believe that's when I won over the interviewer."

Asset Management to Investment Banking

Started your career in AM and want to make a move to IB? Here's some insight on whether or not it's the right choice for you, and if so, how to convince a potential employer you'd be a fit.

MandAisOkay - Investment Banking Analyst:

If you don't feel you have an actual passion for AM, I would make the switch to IB because it gives much broader exit opps. If you actually enjoy your work in AM and can see yourself in this business for a long time, just stay.

WallStreetOasis.com:

With a background in AM, a strong response to the 'why' question could be, "Although Asset Management allowed me to analyze companies and financials and make trades based on that analysis, where I really feel that I would excel long term is working more directly with these companies and in transactional work.

Interested in Investment Banking - Breaking In

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Comments (416)

Feb 11, 2009

This question has a great deal of really bad answers, and a few safe answers. Stick with cookie cutter -- they are cookie cutter because they work.

CompBanker

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Feb 11, 2009

I always went with, "Three reasons: the work - it's the type of stuff I enjoy, the experience - learn more in two years than anywhere else, you can take your experience with you anywhere, and the environment - I excel in fast-paced, competitive, intense environments." It worked pretty well.

Feb 11, 2009

Yea, you really can't blow anybody away with this answer, you just need to not screw up. All you can do is check the box and move on.

Nobody has ever gotten an offer with an answer to this question, but plenty of people have blown offers they already had in the bag...

  • Capt K

- Capt K -
"Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham

Feb 12, 2009

Bottles and Models?

Jack: They're all former investment bankers who were laid off from that economic crisis that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have zero real world skills, but God they work hard.
-30 Rock

Feb 12, 2009

...the only model you will work with is Excel. Control+1 that shit all night.

    • 1
Feb 12, 2009

Stick with the standard answer, but differentiate it through your delivery. Be enthusiastic (but not overly so) and make sure that your answer flows well and is concise.

Feb 12, 2009

tell them its because competition is less fierece now that no body wants to work 100 hours a week for 5k bonus.

Dec 11, 2009

can someone pls explain what would be a cookie cutter answer for someone who has experience in ib/pe? thanks in advance.

Dec 11, 2009
ul8492:

can someone pls explain what would be a cookie cutter answer for someone who has experience in ib/pe? thanks in advance.

A) Do a search
B) If you have interviews coming up or just want to learn more, try getting the WSO behavioral guide. It includes all the cookie cutter answers to the most common questions.

Dec 11, 2009

It might help to tailor your response to the specific group you're interviewing with. For example, I was a CS major and expressed an interest in tech companies for my tech banking interviews. This works well with industry groups.

Dec 11, 2009

thanks. what do you think is a good answer for IBD vs. PE? since i hv pe experience, what do think is a good answer for why i want to do IB instead of PE? i am crafting my answer around the structure with a BB ib internship: training, network, support system etc.

Dec 11, 2009

Curious if Economics is considered a "liberal arts major".

Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn't come over to your property and break your windows.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009
Leonidas:

Curious if Economics is considered a "liberal arts major".

If your just talking about the "useful" liberal arts and the "useless" liberal arts, it definitely falls in the first category.

I mean, when someone is bashing liberal arts they aren't talking about Econ, if that is what you were looking for.

Dec 11, 2009
Connor:
Leonidas:

Curious if Economics is considered a "liberal arts major".

If your just talking about the "useful" liberal arts and the "useless" liberal arts, it definitely falls in the first category.

I mean, when someone is bashing liberal arts they aren't talking about Econ, if that is what you were looking for.

I was a Pure Math major, and switched to Economics. Had 4.0s in both though. Was just wondering if STEM majors thought less of Econ majors.

Calling Ron Paul an isolationist is like calling your neighbor a hermit because he doesn't come over to your property and break your windows.

Dec 11, 2009
Leonidas:
Connor:
Leonidas:

Curious if Economics is considered a "liberal arts major".

If your just talking about the "useful" liberal arts and the "useless" liberal arts, it definitely falls in the first category.

I mean, when someone is bashing liberal arts they aren't talking about Econ, if that is what you were looking for.

I was a Pure Math major, and switched to Economics. Had 4.0s in both though. Was just wondering if STEM majors thought less of Econ majors.

nice humblebrag there you jackass.

    • 3
Dec 11, 2009

I really do love you guys.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

Dec 11, 2009

Liberal arts = critical thinking skills.

Also teaches you how to write well and speak intelligently. I would even stereotype that liberal art's majors have better social skills compared to those that came from more technical backgrounds in engineering or even finance.

Perhaps I'm biased considering my liberal arts background. I studied economics and political science though. If you studied music or art then I highly recommend to double-major in something less ridiculous.

Dec 11, 2009
mb666:

Liberal arts = critical thinking skills.

Also teaches you how to write well and speak intelligently. I would even stereotype that liberal art's majors have better social skills compared to those that came from more technical backgrounds in engineering or even finance.

Perhaps I'm biased considering my liberal arts background. I studied economics and political science though. If you studied music or art then I highly recommend to double-major in something less ridiculous.

I am a Liberal Arts kid as well, but the "write well and speak intelligently" piece, even though I believe it to be correct, is not received well by interviewers. Better to talk about how you 1) have this liberal arts component, and 2) have increasingly become more interested in finance and the deal making process, as demonstrated by XYZ bullshit wealth management/other semi-related internship, and recent coursework, and whatever else you're using to back up your claim of interest.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

Dec 11, 2009

Good tips Matan - I'm a product of a liberal arts education. Go Ephs! (econ major as well)

Dec 11, 2009
WallStreetOasis.com:

Good tips Matan - I'm a product of a liberal arts education. Go Ephs! (econ major as well)

speaking of, if anyone wants to make fun of the eph's purple cow mascot - here it is: http://bit.ly/AyHnId

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Dec 11, 2009
AndyLouis:
WallStreetOasis.com:

Good tips Matan - I'm a product of a liberal arts education. Go Ephs! (econ major as well)

speaking of, if anyone wants to make fun of the eph's purple cow mascot - here it is: http://bit.ly/AyHnId

All I have to say to that is Williams OWNS Div III across a ton of sports (http://www.nescac.com/news/2009-10/NACDA_062410)
Plus, this is pretty funny:

In the summer of 2010 the purple cow was seen along with the mascots from UPenn, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Oregon, and Florida in an ESPN College Football GameDay commercial, marking the first time a Division III mascot appeared in an ESPN College Football GameDay commercial. Fitting, as the Ephs were the first Division III school to host ESPN College Football GameDay on November 10, 2010.

The purple cow was further honored in May of 2011 when Reader's Digest announced that it had been voted "The Most Lovable College Mascot.

Not bad for Div III :-0

Dec 11, 2009

Thanks Patrick - same here; economics major....

Matan Feldman
Founder, Wall Street Prep
Learn Financial Modeling

Dec 11, 2009

Why IBanking as an Art History major?
-I enjoy being able to eat

Reality hits you hard, bro...

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

As a liberal arts kid, depending on the school, you can talk about meaningful interaction with professors and learning how to "see the forest for the trees" so to speak; i.e. you understand what you are doing and why rather than just crunching the numbers. If you were an Econ major like I was, you can talk about having to derive Econometrics formulas, write original research papers, etc. which show a high level of not only intelligence but also innovative thinking (theoretically, at least). From my experience, this goes over very well at boutiques, and can go over well at BB's if you're dealing with people in a tight-knit group.

Dec 11, 2009

liberal arts all the way. I stood out because I didn't study finance/accounting at my school when doing OCR

Dec 11, 2009

I am not in banking but I think it might appeal to people who enjoy the excitment of selling. Those who do not, will drop out soon, because money is not a sufficient motivator alone (for too long).

Dec 11, 2009

Because I want to fit in

Dec 11, 2009

i really dont have interest in banking but it was the thing to do coming out of my college (think one of the ivys that prepares you specifically for selling out: ie: Princeton, Dartmouth) if it wasnt for peer group pressure...

Dec 11, 2009

because it is the most rigorous job anyone can have right out of college, and it offers the best skillset to start off a career in finance. no job in finance comes close to what you learn in ibanking, and none can measure your work ethic the way ibanking does. working on live deals that make headlines and shape the structure of corporate america is something that greatly appeals to me. whether i want to move up within the bank or pursue some other job in high finance, ibanking provides me the experience to do anything i want in finance.

i know many disillusioned, grumpy analysts on 2 hours of sleep will laugh at this and mock me, but its a good cookie-cutter answer that analysts and higher-ups love to hear when they ask me "Why banking?" and there is a degree of truth to it would imagine.

Dec 11, 2009
pedigreed monkey:

because it is the most rigorous job anyone can have right out of college, and it offers the best skillset to start off a career in finance. no job in finance comes close to what you learn in ibanking, and none can measure your work ethic the way ibanking does. working on live deals that make headlines and shape the structure of corporate america is something that greatly appeals to me. whether i want to move up within the bank or pursue some other job in high finance, ibanking provides me the experience to do anything i want in finance.

i know many disillusioned, grumpy analysts on 2 hours of sleep will laugh at this and mock me, but its a good cookie-cutter answer that analysts and higher-ups love to hear when they ask me "Why banking?" and there is a degree of truth to it would imagine.

I am one of those analysts, and let me say the following:

I cannot tell a lie...you arrrreeeeee, a monkey's...anus.

I used to spout all that shit, there is some truth to it, but there is so in the job of an analyst that is truly demeaning and soul crushing. It is impossible to understand until you do it. Really, truly soul crushing.

Dec 11, 2009
TheKing:

I used to spout all that shit, there is some truth to it, but there is so in the job of an analyst that is truly demeaning and soul crushing. It is impossible to understand until you do it. Really, truly soul crushing.

Please stop, you're scaring me!

Dec 11, 2009

...because I don't like the following:

-Free Time
-Free Weekends
-Hobbies
-Working Out
-Having Sustainable Relationships

Dec 11, 2009

Well other than the mind numbing and menial formatting stuff, I do enjoy:

1) crafting strategical rationales for potential transactions, i.e. why would company A be a good target to company B? Does it add market share, scale, broaden the scope of products, or redefine business model for company B?

2) drafting management presentations because you can really learn a lot about a company and the industry trends and where it's headed (assuming you actually like the sector to begin with)

But yeah in the end it's really ALL about money. You say that it's the experience that you're after. Well yeah, but what do you need the experience for? To make MORE money in the future!!

Dec 11, 2009

some guy at a boutique firm said because "we're like the marines"

Dec 11, 2009

I'm not sure what's worse: the fact that people BS their own rationales, or that they are very smart people, so they are completely cognisant of their own BSing.

For me, it's a chance to take what I enjoyed doing in college and put the skills to work directly. Alot of people enjoy what they study in college, and do something completely different with what they studied, which is fine, but wasn't for me. I am in because in two years, I will have skills that in high demand in places where you can actually do something good for others/yourself/your wallet (PE/VC/HF), or whatever your rationale is. People forget finance is just a tool. It's a tool to do whatever the hell you want: good things, bad things, smart things, dumb things. So for me, I'm building a skillset so that whatever I choose to do with it, I'll be able to do so.

/rant

Dec 11, 2009

word to alpha and the king.

pedigreed monkey stop lying to yourself. it's only gonna hurt you in the long run

Dec 11, 2009

Even though I wont be starting for a long time, I do see it as a job that will benefit me in the long run. I know the things I will learn, the work ethic I will build upon, and the networking opportunities can't be found in any other business field.

Dec 11, 2009

hey man, i dont think either alpha or theking explicitly disagreed with me. i know a lot of what i said is fluffy BS and the attitude behind it is very idealistic and naive, but thats the way you have to be in interviews if im not mistaken. analysts and other people in the industry frequently ask me "Why IB?" and in my post i gave the type of answer i would give them. its not like im making the job out to be super glamorous, im just saying that it builds a valuable skillset. even TheKing agreed that he has used these answers when he was a prospective

either way im not really "lying to myself" because among all the fluff, the bottom line of my answer is "IB is the best way to other careers in finance"

pedigreed monkey:

whether i want to move up within the bank or pursue some other job in high finance, ibanking provides me the experience to do anything i want in finance

Alphaholic:

So for me, I'm building a skillset so that whatever I choose to do with it, I'll be able to do so.

that was the last sentence of both of our answers, and its esentially the same thing. i dont mind if you flame or criticize what i have to say, but at least be accurate in your response.

Dec 11, 2009

I'm not criticizing you in particular, plenty of other people think the same way you. My comment was on the last part of your answer, the fact you're fully aware that you don't totally believe what you're saying. "Building a skillset" is included in your response that you admit you don't totally buy into. You say so after. There's no distinction by you in your statement about what you believe and what you just say because you think others like to hear it.

Which really makes me wonder: if that's the answer you give because bankers/interviewers like to hear it, do you have a real reason/s of your own? Maybe it's that you do want to build a skillset, but you're so confused about why you're in banking and why you say you want to be in that you can't tell the difference.

Not trying to flame anyone in particular. It's just a common response. People get so good at BSing that they forget what they actually wanted in the first place.

Dec 11, 2009

without a doubt, i do want to build a transferable skillset, and ibanking provides that more than any other career in finance. i never once denied that. i dont think the actual content of my response is BS, but the way it is worded is quite idealistic, and i knew many analysts on this board would laugh at my phrasing and think "oh just wait til he really experiences it." which is exactly what TheKing did, and its understandable becuase analysts do get disillusioned so quickly.

after re-reading my answer above, there is literally nothing about it that i dont truly believe. i was about to say its a half-lie, but its not even that. i do indeed like the idea of working on live deals, as opposed to the equity research im doing at my current internship that just stays on the internet for individuals to read. i just had to throw in that second paragraph to show that i know its not all bottles and models and that a lot of the novelty wears off fast.

i know what i want, and im not trying to BS my way into a job. but im sure everyone can admit that a little bit of BS by telling the person what they want to hear is sometimes necessary not only for interviews but life in general.

TheKing:

so in the job of an analyst that is truly demeaning and soul crushing. It is impossible to understand until you do it. Really, truly soul crushing.

even though ive heard this a million times, why would i ever focus on that in an interview? if you call avoiding talking about that stuff BSing, then it is what it is i guess

Dec 11, 2009

pedigreed - that's basically what you have to say. I realize everyone in banking feels it is their civil duty to come onto this message board and comment on how the "right" answer is lame as hell and that anyone who uses those pre-recited lines is a major tool. Even still, TheKing mentioned that he did use them himself.

Even the bullshit answers have some truths in them though. I generally said something along the lines of there's no job out of undergrad where you can take on as much responsibility right away or have exposure to senior bankers and/or potentially corporate executives. Well, what do those things have to do with anything? -- They help you to build the skill set you will take with you throughout the rest of your career, and enable you to move into other areas of finance such as hedge funds, pe, etc.

Bottom line though, the bullshit answer is generally the right one.

Dec 11, 2009

Won't the interviewers see through your bs though? I mean they must hear that cookie cutter answer all the time, so how do you tell them what they want to hear without sounding like a robot?

Dec 11, 2009

Underground -- they want to hear the cookie cutter answer.

I think a good answer is this (though not for an interview):

I want a job that is exciting, challenging, stable, and pays well. Unfortunately, these jobs are few and far between coming out of college. Ultimately, i have no interest in working 100 hour weeks. However, I would rather work 100 hour weeks in an exciting environment (eventually leading to a lesser workload) than 40 hours a week in a dull environment for the rest of my life.

So the true response is: I don't like either option, but banking sure beats the common alternative. Yes, I know there are a ton of other non-traditional ways to make a living, but i think stability is a very necessary requirement for all of us.

CompBanker

Dec 11, 2009

For 99% of kids, you have three options:

1) Stay in school (med school/law school)
2) Find a sh!tty paying job that lets you work 40 hours
3) Find a high-paying job that breaks your back

I didn't want to spend more time with my nose in a book, and I don't want to be making $40k and either scraping by in the city or living in some middle of nowhere town. Plus, odds are the back-breaking job will give you a helluva good shot at a better-paying, less-intensive job. It sounds cold but that's just the facts. Plus, I do like the financial concepts used in M&A, but I can't tell you it's my life's calling or something.

Dec 11, 2009

only to leave it for a HF

Dec 11, 2009

I had this conversation with friends a while back when we were interning.

The consensus was:

"What the hell else would I do after graduating?"

Dec 11, 2009

there are other high-paying jobs that are intellectually challenging (consulting, high-tech, trading) but you actually have to be smart for those...haha jk. truth be told, first years out of undergrad are starting at consulting with 85~ all in, google is 75 all in (for biz dev.). Banking is like 130. See the difference. Sacrifice intellectual/personal benefits for 50K a year.

Dec 11, 2009

best answer: i dont want to take the bus anymore

Dec 11, 2009
bmwhype:

best answer: i dont want to take the bus anymore

this answer almost completely sums it up

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

Could people stop giving "i think a good answer is..." and "interviewers like to hear..." responses and just answer the OP's question: why are YOU interested in banking? We've all read the vault guide and what have you, but it is much more interesting to read what people's real reasons are.

Personally, I like the thrill of selling things/closing deals. I've worked on the edge of sales environments before (sales ops, brief periods of specialty sales, etc.) and love the pressure, competition, and the rush of closing a sale. However, I find most "products" to be relatively static and boring. Even in high-tech, you are selling a widget that just gets faster/better every six months. You spend your whole career selling the same thing to the same people against the same competition. What excites me about banking is that every company is different, and every deal has different dynamics of buyers/sellers/financials/strategy/etc. Not to mention the fact that if you are working (essentially) on commission, you want to be selling the most expensive things possible, which are companies. I've also worked 40 hours a week long enough to know that I desperately need more intensity to be happy with my work. The only time I care about/enjoy my work is when there is a fire drill, so I'm seeking out a job that has lots of those.

Dec 11, 2009

Because it will hopefully allow me to get into the field(s) I actually want to be in.

Dec 11, 2009

My personal obsession is owning property debt free. I am and always have been somebody who constantly thinks things are going to go wrong, particularly if they are going well (so I'm constantly convinced that I'm going to be fired in the next year even though rationally I know I most likely won't for various reasons). As a result I've always had it in my head that if I could work in banking for 4-5 years and get enough cash to buy somewhere small without much of a mortgage then at the very least I'd always have a financial safety net in place. So yes at the end of the day it comes down to money. I personally think that on the whole the job is actually pretty interesting and if it was a 9-9 five days a week I'd be happy to do it for the sort of cash consultancies pay. However the extra time requires extra incentive. I know I will reach a point where I'll feel that the extra time is more valuable that the extra money on offer but not there yet.

Dec 11, 2009

Things that you can stress is that there are more variety in Banking compared to Private Equity. Focus on the point that in Banking (M&A and Advisory), there are more variations in term of deal structures and financing options, and you personally find that to be more interesting. Although you like following the sector in both roles, PE is going to limit you to just looking for the exit (and mostly LBO modeling). As a result, you want to be expose to more different type of deals early in your career.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

Dec 11, 2009

Tell them that you really like the transactional aspect of banking and the ability to jump from one deal to the next. In private equity, you have to help operate the company after an acquisition. You are more interested in the intricacies of doing deals than the more mundane operational work with management teams.

    • 2
Dec 11, 2009
TechBanking:

Tell them that you really like the transactional aspect of banking and the ability to jump from one deal to the next. In private equity, you have to help operate the company after an acquisition. You are more interested in the intricacies of doing deals than the more mundane operational work with management teams.

Couldn't have said it much better than this. Thanks for pointing it out.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

Dec 11, 2009

BB still have openings for IBD? Where (location)?

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Dec 11, 2009

If you take into account that MBB will probably pay for Bschool then the money becomes a non-issue.

I really can't see why anyone would pick IB over a job at MBB, from what I've researched the work life is way better in consulting. I'm not sure if anyone knows for sure but I think that getting an offer at MBB is generally harder than GS but some might disagree.

Dec 11, 2009

There is a pretty big difference in terms of what consultants and bankers go on to do after the analyst stint, so it's hard to argue about exit ops being better from one to the other. I wouldn't quantify consulting as a "finance" career by any stretch of the imagination, consulting has a much broader scope and develops a different skillset. I think you are probably a little misguided in terms of what your perspective on consulting is, I doubt that consulting can be considered to offer better quality of life or better prestige.

Bottom line, consulting and banking are pretty different in terms of the type of work you do and the type of career path available. Not to say that consultants don't go to PE or HF and bankers don't go into industry, but it would be a little less likely.

Work-wise, banking is transaction driven, consulting is engagement driven. Very different environments. Sounds like you really need to look into both a little bit more.

Dec 11, 2009

As a first-year at MBB, you'll find no shortage of bitch-work as an Excel monkey. Overall, the hours are better and the work can be more interesting, but make no mistake that as a first-year you will receive more than your fair share of mindless activities at MBB or a BB bank.

ItaEU(tm)s probably also worth noting, as freeloader pointed out, that consulting isn't considered "finance". Granted, you will have chances to interview at the same top PE shops as folks from banking (since these firms are well aware that they are much better off teaching finance to a very smart person as opposed to hiring a mediocre person with lots of experience); however, once you start looking at smaller shops (where the majority of PE associates reside) there is a general bias towards hiring bankers over consultants.

Dec 11, 2009

a) what the fuck do entry-level consultants even DO? i've heard/read more about these jobs than most people my age, and even i am not all that sure what their job description entails. seems to me that if something goes horribly wrong and you lose your job, a former banker can at least point to his resume and say, "these are specific skills that i've developed. i actually DID something at my last job." the consultant only has the ability to say, "i must be smart and prestigious, right?"

b) better exit opps? there's nothing a consultant can do that a former IB analyst cannot do. even if you are in corp fin at McKinsey, it's harder to get into PE than if you had direct investment banking experience.

look at it this way: IB is wall street. consulting is main street. IB is finance; it's fast-paced and exciting. consulting exit opps usually entail being stuck for years between layers of the hierarchy of a monolithic corporation.

Dec 11, 2009
danbush is a XXX:

a) even if you are in corp fin at McKinsey, it's harder to get into PE than if you had direct investment banking experience.

Don't make statements if you don't know what you're talking about. Top consultants at MBB absolutely get placed at large PE funds (and this isn't restricted to Bain Capital). From my class at an MBB, five went to Bain Capital, two went to TPG, one to KKR and at least four others ended up at funds with >$10 bn under management. Perhaps your statement holds true for MBB against GS and one to two other BB's, but aside from that its nonsense.

Dec 11, 2009
smuguy97:
danbush is a XXX:

a) even if you are in corp fin at McKinsey, it's harder to get into PE than if you had direct investment banking experience.

Don't make statements if you don't know what you're talking about. Top consultants at MBB absolutely get placed at large PE funds (and this isn't restricted to Bain Capital). From my class at an MBB, five went to Bain Capital, two went to TPG, one to KKR and at least four others ended up at funds with >$10 bn under management. Perhaps your statement holds true for MBB against GS and one to two other BB's, but aside from that its nonsense.

And why shouldn't the top 3 consulting firms be compared against the top 3 ibanks?

Dec 11, 2009
PoppingMyCollar:
smuguy97:

Don't make statements if you don't know what you're talking about. Top consultants at MBB absolutely get placed at large PE funds (and this isn't restricted to Bain Capital). From my class at an MBB, five went to Bain Capital, two went to TPG, one to KKR and at least four others ended up at funds with >$10 bn under management. Perhaps your statement holds true for MBB against GS and one to two other BB's, but aside from that its nonsense.

And why shouldn't the top 3 consulting firms be compared against the top 3 ibanks?

correct. my point was only that it's still slightly harder for someone coming from consulting. if PE is your goal, it seems silly to go into consulting.

Dec 11, 2009

better chance at becoming a CEO or executive VP of a corporation in Corporate Strategy from Consulting

Dec 11, 2009

I was halfway through a really long in depth post as to the differences in experiences between the two experiences. But then I had an epiphany, it doesn't matter. People end up where they want to, if you want to go PE, you'll go banking then PE, or really really really top consulting then PE, or go hang out for 5 years anywhere you like, goto B-school and go into PE. Go where you want, meet people you like, and go there. Wherever you work, if they pay you a lot you have to work a lot (or a lot concentrated into a short period), so you better like who you're next to.

--There are stupid questions, so think first.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

Models...

Girl Models hahahahaha

Dec 11, 2009

Do some more research on the industry- despite the gripes of many currently working in the industry, there's actually a plethora of reasons why IBD is attractive as an entry-level job (hint: don't say exit ops). Think high level of responsibility, people you're working with, the type of finance you're exposed to etc. It's out there, but its usually specific to each individual, and I'm not sure how many people on this site would give their "exact story". In short, this is a question you should be asking yourself.

Dec 11, 2009

it's different for everybody. But the best part of my internship, and the reason why I want to continue in i-banking, is that I'm doing something different every day. There's a ton of work to do all the time and the people that I work with are all senior guys who spend a lot of time teaching/mentoring me.

Dec 11, 2009

Honestly, the answer I would want to hear is: "I've always loved finance and business and would love to be a part of exciting transactions that make a real impact on the business world. I want to make sure my clients get top dollar for the businesses they have put so much work into....and since their interests are aligned with mine, that means I get paid well for my efforts also...seems like an attractive career given it rewards my hard work and has a real impact"

I think that mentioning that money indirectly is what makes it ring sincere. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to make a lot of money. Why people think this is taboo is beyond me. Money matters.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

me want career in finance

me make models for you, learn how to value M&A and equity placements

bingo bango

don't blow your signing bonus all in one spot junior

Dec 11, 2009

For me I loved the internship, deal making, the fact that you can advance rapidly, that you're surrounded by really bright people, at the firm where I interned there was a great culture, the work is interesting, you learn a lot.

Dec 11, 2009

thank guys, for your piece of advice

I have been doing some research, but all the answers seemed to me cliches...anyways, better to stick old and tested pitch

Dec 11, 2009

this is how much I banking sucks...people have to ask other random people on the internet as to why they want to do it

"Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them." - Bud Fox

Dec 11, 2009
noke2012:

this is how much I banking sucks...people have to ask other random people on the internet as to why they want to do it

correction: Not why they want to do it. It is rather what I have to say in the interview

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

Reading Liars's Poker the first chapter about investment banking said something that is very funny and very true - ib interviews have set questions and set reponses you are supposed to recite. No need to try to "reinvent the wheel here" [awesome banker boilerplate right there]

analyst investment banking is about finding shit people have already done that worked, ctrl c, ctrl v, updating if needed and ta-da! it works again. same approach should be taken to interview.

so why investment banking? Boilerplate answers -

  • Fast paced
  • challenging and intense
  • Smart people
  • excitement of working on deals
  • big picture thinking

BOOM there you go, your interviewers will nod in agreement and think you are the greatest thing since the leveraged buyout

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

This is all great info.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

There are many reasons and if you don't know why beyond money, I have a feeling you will not enjoy the work. Many other jobs pay well with hard work, and so you should love the work you are doing.

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

Dec 11, 2009

Brah this is a 3 yr old thread...

Dec 11, 2009

for the "interview question" thread. There were some recent posts regarding this issue. Here was my advice:

Talk about the steep learning curve, a ton of exposure to both senior level bankers and c-level executives, high levels of responsibility, working in a 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.

Dec 11, 2009

Tell the truth. You were never smart enough to be a scientist and never fast enough to be an athlete. Also, how if you really know anything about finance you would be helping a F500 and working through the ranks to being a CEO or investing money and then starting your own HF.

Dec 11, 2009

I'm kind of pissed that there was a truthful response to this thread. If you don't know why you want to be in i-banking or you are just doing it for the money and exit opportunities - you will not make it 2 years. This is a brutal environment and if you don't enjoy what you are doing, you will want to kill yourself. My prediction, 6 months 1 day.

Dec 11, 2009

Slightly agree with slickmac -- you really ought to have your own reason, that isn't cheap, corny, or about the money/exit ops. Though it was funny, the bank I ended up accepting an offer from kept selling ME exit ops ("We have great out placement!"), which I hadn't even thought of at the time. Anyways, there are a ton of great answers to this question, you just need to find them yourself. If you can't, then your probably missing out on the best parts of this job, and I'm not talking about $$$ or exits.

CompBanker

Dec 11, 2009

I interviewed with a top BB. As an non-business major from a non-target, I thought the education, optionality (mobility within the group, mobility within the team. was emphasized), and just pure interest* was compelling.

*I love the micro economics of the industry group I was offered. Each industry group is different in terms of business models, revenue streams, cost structures, and consequently offer different opportunities. For example, industrial firms might have higher leverage associated with relatively larger amounts of physical capital. LevFin transaction makes sense here, as compared to say the technology industry with very little leverage through its capital structures. The transaction opportunities associated with the peculiar microeconomics of the industry seem interesting. At this point in my career, I am interested in working with as many different types of transactions as possible.

Dec 11, 2009

when they ask why banking just answer with a "why not?", shrug our shoulders and wait for the offers to roll in...

Dec 11, 2009

great answer buyside

"Perfection breeds Perfection"

Dec 11, 2009

Don't bring up the real reasons you want to do banking. ($$ and exits). Tell them that you enjoy the competition and can't stand losing. In the end, they don't think money will keep you there but they think that uber-competitive people will thrive. That's why JPM told Business Week that they liked recruiting college athletes.

Dec 11, 2009

How's Duke gonna do this year? Now that's a question.

the first response you got nailed it, by the way.

Dec 11, 2009

.

Dec 11, 2009

no real answer to this - but its an opportunity to shine cause 99% of kids come in with, I love finance and working hard

lol

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

"God's work, plumbing of the global economy"- Blankfein

Dec 11, 2009

"I am interested in banking because it will enable me to see different businesses accross a wide array on industries and sectors. Although I have started my own company in the past, it tied me down to only seeing one ________ of industry/business. In banking, I will see different types of companies while learning that financial skillset that I have decided I would like to obtain. I am also really into a team environment as I have played sports/member of a club in the past, and there is no better team environment in banking where you are working alongside bright and motivated people".

Dec 11, 2009

scale - your company is pretty small by any standards, and you believe that you need something else (knowledge) in order to have a bigger 2nd venture. banking is a good way to acquire that knowledge as you work on deals that involve complex and large companies, thereby giving you insights on how to build better enterprises. you believe that 10 years down the road that the knowledge from banking will make you a better professional whether at that point you decide to stay in finance or try your hand at another start up.

  • b
  •  Dec 11, 2009

Edit: Sorry, that answer was actually way too detailed. I PMed you.

Dec 11, 2009

why mm "get more responsibility and experience in the deal team. tighter deal teams. more snr level exposure"

why bb "get to work on newspaper headline deals, get the great training program, get the resources of a full service (cap mkts and M&A) bank, and corporate/commerical banking capabilities for financing alternatives (if at a Citi, JPM, BofA)"

....or so the proper interview answer goes

Dec 11, 2009

because you didn't get a BB offer.

Dec 11, 2009

MM have more advantages than BB ? Do you feel they are more deals done in MM than BB? If so .. why and where can I read about MM ? thanks

Dec 11, 2009

Yeah, he's right.

One of the primary reasons to ding a candidate is if he/she has a distorted sense of what banking is... and one of the most common examples of that is the kids who think they'll be rubbing elbows with CEOs etc.

You're a monkey being hired to crank models and turn power point presentations. If you're lucky you'll get taken to a few meetings where the client may glance at your pimply face as you hand out the pitch books which your MD didn't feel like carrying into the meeting (that is honestly the only reason he brought you along, to carry shit).

I suggest you do more research to understand what the job of an analyst consists of so you can give a more intelligent answer. Because if that was your answer to such a simple question, I would surmise that you have a lot of additional prep to do.

    • 4
Dec 11, 2009
Marcus_Halberstram:

Yeah, he's right.

One of the primary reasons to ding a candidate is if he/she has a distorted sense of what banking is... and one of the most common examples of that is the kids who think they'll be rubbing elbows with CEOs etc.

You're a monkey being hired to crank models and turn power point presentations. If you're lucky you'll get taken to a few meetings where the client may glance at your pimply face as you hand out the pitch books which your MD didn't feel like carrying into the meeting (that is honestly the only reason he brought you along, to carry shit).

I suggest you do more research to understand what the job of an analyst consists of so you can give a more intelligent answer. Because if that was your answer to such a simple question, I would surmise that you have a lot of additional prep to do.

Sounds fair. How about the opportunity to participate in transactions that would have an impact on an industry and the diverse learning experience?

Dec 11, 2009

Steep learning curve
Result driven environment
Enjoy working under pressure
Significant responsibility

Probably gonna stick with these.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2009

If you want to stick with the client facing side of it you'll have to quantify it. Instead of just saying "I like the client facing part of IB" when interviewing for a SA position, you'd say something along the lines of "I want to do IB because after I have put my time in and have moved up the ranks, I'll be doing the client facing stuff". That would be a more long term reason why you like IB, not why you want to get this SA position so you can get a FT position, so you can go to B-School, so you can go to PE.

Going with the other answers would be better though.

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

Dec 11, 2009

Disagree. Stick with the standard answers. Don't say anything about client interaction. Period.

Every candidate I've ever interviewed in the first round that progressed to the second round, and every candidate I've ever interviewed in 2nd and beyond rounds (implying they made it past the first) has given the standard tried and tested answers to the Why Banking question. Any interviewer that's said anything about "CEOs, executives, clients, management teams and (cringe) the C-suite" are immediate "this kid doesn't know what we/he will do here" dings.

Maybe there's another one out there, feel free to try a bunch out and let us know if you've discovered what thousands before you haven't. You can be the Christopher Columbus of the Why investment banking interview question. They'll name cornerless city squares after you. Your statue will crown a solitary column across international cities. They'll dedicate a Monday in October to your incredible feat. Either that or you'll just get dinged in favor of the army of other candidates lined up behind you with enough common sense to play the interview game as its meant to be played.

What your contact told you is the only 'right' answer, IMO. Do your homework and you'd know this for yourself. The fact that you don't means you need to do more leg work before networking, otherwise you're wasting that contact by exposing them to an unripened 'you'.

    • 3
Dec 11, 2009

Does the cookie cutter answers still apply if you're applying for a position further up? I'm going to be going for a summer associate position for next summer. I'm assuming because an associate is pretty much just a "better" analyst it should be the same.

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

Dec 11, 2009

Pretty much. But it has to be a more mature, thoughtful and deliberate answer. The analyst program isn't a career track in banking whereas an associate position is a career track. So it still includes all those other aspects, but it should also speak to why its the right career for you. Steep learning curve, responsibility, work ethic, etc. is broadly applicable but is more specific to an analyst who is trying to do as much as possible.

As an associate candidate you're a seasoned professional so getting responsibility is par for the course, learning a lot is something a college student looks for in his first job. Yours needs to be more thoughtful and deliberate. Leading the deal execution process/quarterbacking a deal. Managing up and down. Learning an industry/product really well. Mastering a coverage universe. Providing leverage to senior bankers in the coverage/execution efforts etc. As well as all the analyst stuff like financial analysis etc.