Working Abroad in Investment Banking

Hey all just wanted to get some advice from people about working in IBD in Asia/LatAm/Europe.

I've talked to some people who believe that globalization and the rise of emerging markets will make an international perspective more important than ever over the next few years and that people who start their IB stint abroad in a place like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Latin America, or London will be be better off than their counterparts who started off in an American city like NYC.

The other side of the coin is that there are unparalleled networking opportunities in cities like NYC/SF/Chicago, and when someone is abroad, they're completely out of the loop.

What do you all think? Would an opening stint in IBD in Asia/LatAm/Europe right out of college help or hurt your career? Is there value in working abroad?

Comments (53)

Oct 15, 2017 - 8:37pm

I think another factor to consider could be what kind of offer you have on graduation.
If it something that you are excited about, spending a couple of years in US before moving to another country is a better idea.
If it isn't then maybe you can consider working abroad sooner rather than later. You'll make international contacts. Work in somewhat less competitive environment with more chances of moving up. And have international work experience on your resume when it comes time to move back home.

Oct 18, 2017 - 6:26am

I would start in a major hub like NYC (if American), London (if European) or HK (if Asian). I think you will get better deals and training and in the start you have to learn so much, it would be hard to catch on the culture as well.

But I am not sure when or how one would go abroad if you want to go in PE. As I understand it you can go abroad within BBs starting year 3. But this is also the moment one tends to go into PE. Aside from the MF and upper MM funds, most don't seem to have big teams in all parts of the world. I assume that if you work in IBD in London, the fund won't hire/place you in HK, because you don't have any connections or know how the culture works. Would you first have to go to work for the BB abroad and while there recruit for PE?

Just curious if somebody has any insight in working abroad combined with working in PE.

Oct 18, 2017 - 5:16pm

Unrelated to the topic but are you Japanese per chance? Couldn't help but ask seeing your user name. The show wasn't the reason I got into banking which I currently work in, but can't say it didn't have a positive impact for me breaking into banking. Not to mention it makes explaining to my parents what I do for my job much easier (they're both native Japanese).

Always cool to see other Japanese people doing well in the field.

Oct 19, 2017 - 12:33am

Yeah I've heard a lot of career fairs and recruiting events for IB abroad are targeted towards locals. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Boston Career Forum, for example, seems targeted towards native Japanese speakers, not people who've learned the language in HS/college.

Oct 19, 2017 - 5:51am

Exactly. Hong Kong - hiring only local Hong Kongies or Mainland Chinese. Singapore - had been seeing some push back against and now only trying to hire local Singaporeans. China - only Mainland Chinese. Japan - only native Japanese speakers only. South Korea - is the same thing. The only place that you can still get away with a repat hire is perhaps Thailand? But across the board, I am seeing that most Asian countries feel that they had sent enough people to study in foreign countries to have a sufficient repat pool that they can hire from.

Oct 20, 2017 - 12:25am

Adding to what Naoki said, I'm American born Japanese with relatively fluent Japanese (almost business level) and while interviewing at the Boston Career Forum last year, I quickly learned that a lot of banks, even on the markets side (S&T) want almost native fluency.

Edit: Just in case anyone is going there this year or in the future, from my experience interviewing for S&T, Morgan Stanley wants at minimum business level, Barclays wants somewhere between native and business level, Mizuho Securities Asia (HK) wants between business and native Mandarin, Citigroup wants native level (their online test/survey was all in Japanese and time consuming).

Oct 18, 2017 - 2:41pm

I think US is the best place to do banking. Get paid the best (Europe is v. low / Asia has some benefits, but low bonus), hours are all right (Europe probably lighter / Asia is a slaughter house), and clients are ready to do deals (European companies are too intellectual and take too long to do anything / Asian companies are not nearly as sophisticated, require handholding, and the approval process is like pulling teeth because most things are state owned). More importantly however, I think if you plan to come back to the US in banking, international experience often does not translate well. Clients are totally different, industries are different, laws/regulations/markets are all different. Longer term, I've seen very mixed success in bankers trying to move around. Banking is a client services industry, and those relationships don't get built up over night. A lot of guys strike out because they can't make connections with clients who often prefer locals and speak the same language (literally).

From the other side, if you're trying to use banking to see the world, like... you won't leave the office. Go teach English or something if world travel is really the goal.

All that being said, I did two years in Asia before moving back to the US. Happy I did it ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Oct 19, 2017 - 12:48am

One thing to know though is that although it may seem enticing to be one of those front-running locals in a place like HK, a lot of banks will do a lot of work for the bigger deals in NY, even if the deal is originated in HK. I say this because I was staffed on an Asia M&A deal that we essentially did for them; doubt any of the HK juniors saw much of the model or anything juicy.

Oct 19, 2017 - 4:17pm

What do you want to know? All major banks are present in Frankfurt. Although German is suggested, I do think you can make it without as most documents are done in English (atleast if you stick to the BBs) and everybody speaks English. Hours are propably the highest in Europe though.

Oct 19, 2017 - 4:09pm

I am starting a long-term internship (POE) in a top 3 investment banking in China next January (they also have an office in the U.S.) I would say that the investment banking markets in the U.S. and in Europe are still more mature than ours. The Chinese PE market is even more underdeveloped than IB. Another thing about us is we won't allow >49% of ownership from foreign banks. There is one and only one investment bank in China that's owned by a foreign bank, Citi, with a 51% ownership. But it's founded this year. And there are some differences on how Chinese banks do business.

If you are looking for international reputation, brand name, and there's no doubt that Goldman, MS, JPM, BAML, sound more reputable than CITIC, CICC, or Hai Tong in China. Out of the world of finance, however, I honestly don't think Lazard or Jeffries or DNE & Co. mean anything to people...

There is definitely value there, especially if you are in a top bank/top group. You are going to have very good exit opps in that country or maybe abroad, suppose the brand name is big enough.

In terms of compensation, for example, if you apply Chinese Yuan * ~7 = 1 dollar, then for sure you are going to be compensated less. But I think that's more of a macroeconomics problem for economists.

Best Response
Oct 24, 2017 - 8:37pm

As someone who has had experience working abroad right after college, I think I can answer this question pretty well. During my junior year of college I met a recruiter for Mitsubishi Financial Bank. Afterwards, I found out they had a wonderful overseas graduate hiring program and eagerly applied. I worked in Japan for many years. It has truly impacted my career today by not only expanding my cultural knowledge, but also providing me with insight into the global financial markets. I am currently working in Germany, and love the place. Going global is the way to go for both good connections and experience.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:38pm

How do Recruiters view an IB Internship in Another Country vs. One in America? (Originally Posted: 01/23/2016)

Is there a difference in how recruiters view someone who interned at an Investment Bank in another country and someone who interned at an Investment Bank in America? Personally, I have seen a lot of people intern at an Investment Bank outside of America, but very few people who have done so in America. Isn't it harder to get an IB internship in America?


Oct 24, 2017 - 8:39pm

Depends on what country and firm.
Perception (reputation, resume sex appeal) : It matters a lot.
Reality (practical skill set): It probably doesn't matter as much as you might think. (ability to do DCF math doesn't change).

Barriers to entry for American IBD Internship: Visa issues for foreigners, proximity (if you don't live in the city), perception / reputation of experience, credibility / conviction to move.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:41pm

Agree. It's still very helpful, but for my school, there were a lot of foreign kids of "elites" from other countries, so while it's still great to have IB on your resume, there's a little discount factor applied to IB in say, HK or Shanghai or India, relative to an IB internship in the US (although of course those can be relationship hires too).

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:43pm

Jobs Overseas (Originally Posted: 03/02/2017)

As a recent college graduate, of course, the Wall street idea seems like a great way to start my career. But as someone who has no problem traveling, should I look at finding an entry level job in China, or Singapore? I'm not sure if you can find entry level jobs like that overseas, maybe work at a big bank for 2 years then look at going overseas?

When is it a good idea to find a finance job overseas?

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:45pm

If you're looking for entry level IB jobs in places like Singapore or China because you think it'll be less competitive think again, IB is an extremely attractive field around the world and so it attracts the best of the best everywhere. There's no shortage of local kids in IB in Singapore and China who've attended top schools around the world who choose to come back home to work. Chances are if you're not very competitive for MM and boutique banks in the West you're not going to be that competitive for any IBs in Asia.

On top of that you have the language situation. Especially at the junior level it'll be extremely difficult, if not impossible, if you don't know Mandarin fluently in China or one of the local South East Asian languages in Singapore. And then obviously you also have the whole Visa situation...

I'd recommend to work for a few years at a global firm wherever you are and then see if they have any opportunities for internal transfers or secondments in the region that you're interested in, I think it'd be a much better plan instead of blindly sending your CV halfway around the world where it'll most likely garner very little interest.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:48pm

"Best Path" to work in a global IB abroad (not necessarily Wall Street) (Originally Posted: 11/05/2017)

Hey everyone,

So I'm 23 years old from Asia Pacific with 1 yr experience as FX trader and wanna get in IB. I'm figuring out which is the best path to take. The most immediate thing to do is to get in IB here locally, either a local IB or global IB in my country (Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, etc).

If you get in to a global IB here, can you take your shot and move to a global IB abroad? Or should you take an MBA / Finance Master's in a top program abroad THEN take your shot. I might seem like I'm getting ahead but I'm just laying out plans here. What do you guys think.


Oct 24, 2017 - 8:49pm

Biriyo Neru, sorry about the lack of response. Maybe one of these topics will help:

  • Working Abroad in Investment Banking Hey all just wanted to get some advice from people about working in IBD in Asia/LatAm/Europe. ... in IBD in Asia/LatAm/Europe right out of college help or hurt your career? Is there value in working ... I've talked to some people who believe that globalization and the rise of emerging ma
  • Best Path for me from George Mason Hey guys, my dream job like many others here is to work in Investment Banking. I'd really ... love to work for a hedge fund one day, and believe IB is a great gateway to help me get there. I go to ... I'm not as confident i'll find a great company to work with
  • New Case Webinars in WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Pack Government Services Investment Banking: Join Wall Street Mentor Ivan for an overview of the industry and to ... enter a career in investment banking...the internship process at a MM IDB firm. Topics that MM IB ... a large boutique investment bank. 2. IB Deal Walkthrough-Retai
  • Advice from an ex-IB MD on how to make it to Wall Street doing this. Go work in the Career Center if you need to. Step 5 Learn to interview, the trick to this is ... ", and " Advice from an ex-IB MD- on how to make VP " Someone asked me last weekend how do ... of the companies you are interested in working for, call your university career
  • Best path into Banking banking probably a small to mid-tier firm. What do I need to do in my final semester of school and what ... I currently work about 60 hours a week at a Fortune 300 company and what to jump to banking with my degree. ... I will be graduating with my MBA in Finance from Hofstra with a 3.5gpa. I want to break into ...
  • What's the best path I can take out of high school? a career in finance, but I'm poorly positioned to break into the world of i-banking, especially with ... fix them. I go to high school in rural Minnesota, and have no connections with anyone in banking ... University of St. Thomas, or should I just get an investment banking job in the Minneapolis/St. Pau
  • If B-School is the Goal- Best Path? I've been at a boutique business valuation and investment banking firm for just over 3 years ... a long-term interest, and think going to B-school in a couple years would be the best way to transition from ... heard that goal for 2+ years at this point, and execution has lacked in the past. Option 2: Move to ...
  • More suggestions...

If we're lucky, maybe these professional users will respond: Aratabaffour AZMonkey raymond.r.hedberg

I hope those threads give you a bit more insight.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:50pm

Just started I-Banking Internship in Foreign Country-Help Finding Assignments (Originally Posted: 08/04/2009)

Hey everyone. I'm an undergraduate econ major who just finished his second year. Just yesterday I started a four-week unpaid internship at an i-bank. The internship is in Europe in the country my parents are originally from (I was born and raised in the United States my whole life). Although I can speak the language decently, though with an accent, I have trouble reading and even more trouble writing. I-banking internships in my country are more lax than their American counterparts. I want to work in the United States after undergraduate, so I'm not concerned about receiving an offer (I'm pretty sure they don't give out offers anyway). For instance, the group I was assigned to I'm pretty sure hadn't seen my resume and didn't have any tasks for me to do my first two days. They just let me watch people trade and didn't ask anything of me, which was nice because it allowed me to settle in, but I also wanted something to work on. I was hired by the human resources team by the way. I feel like my first couple days were more of an apprenticeship where I watched what the others were doing. I get the impression that because most interns only stay for four weeks, which isn't nearly enough time I hear to really teach someone the ropes (especially with rotation programs where an intern might stay with a group for only a week or two), I understand that the team can't dedicate much time to teaching an intern.

I'm going to be doing a rotation program. For now, I'm working with a group that trades futures and options. Naturally not knowing much about futures/options and adjusting to financial speak in a different language proved difficult my first day. My group of about six people was understanding and extremely nice to me. One of the guys spoke English well and translated a lot of key finance words for me. The group didn't have a computer for me to use, so I sat in between two guys trading by the Bloomberg terminal. My group does mainly retail trading for clients, though one or two guys do prop trading. As trading tends to be, there was a lot of fast talking on the phone and people rushing to make trades. I'm not sure of how much use I can be to the group because I can't execute trades and also because no one asked me to run errands like make copies or get water/coffee. Everyone just did those things themselves (I'm not complaining). One lady spent about an hour with me teaching me things on Bloomberg and the basics of futures trading.

The second day (today) I had access to a computer and learned more about futures trading and margin accounts. When people told me what they did, for instance one lady told me she issued margin calls, I didn't understand what they meant, and not because they were explaining to me in a different language. Now I understand the financial terms better as well as what everyone is doing, so I'm not as lost.

***The reason I created this thread is to ask advice of those who have done trading internships. Simply put, I want to contribute to the team in any way I can. If anything, this will allow me to put on my resume under experience something other than "sat around and watched people trade." I want to learn more about the process of trading and the reasons why the people around me are making the decisions they do, yet I feel like everyone is busy most of the time and I don't want to interrupt them. I know I have to be somewhat selfish and realize this internship is a learning opportunity, but I also don't want to catch someone at a bad time when for instance one of their trades didn't go through. To be honest most of the traders were in good moods all day. What kinds of questions could I be asking?

What are good times to talk to the team? Maybe before and after the market opens and closes? I know lunch time is a good time for example, and my first day I did have lunch with one of the traders. Today, though, they said I could just go eat and to be back in an hour. Also, how can I get more assignments? Especially if my language skills aren't so good? What kind of assignments are typical for an intern working on a trading team?

Also, as far as exploring other parts of the investment bank, I have freedom to choose which areas I want to explore more. Which places would you recommend I go to? I'm interested in learning more about Excel and the different finance models to predict future earnings and cash flows that i-bankers are notorious for. I'd also be interested in spending a week or two with a research team learning about the ways people do research and make recommendations. As far as other trading groups, there's a group that trades treasuries and another group that trades stocks. I'm sure there are other groups too. Any recommendations on which one of these to explore?

Much thanks in advance. This is my second internship. My first was private wealth management, which I did in the United States.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:52pm

You're right, it is a long post.

My whole post basically boils down to two question:

1) I'm doing an unpaid four-week internship that doesn't give out offers to interns. My first two days of work so far have consisted of the futures trading group I'm working with not giving me anything to do and not giving me any errands to run. They are very nice people though. How can I find interesting things to do? I actually like just watching people trade and pulling up a chair next to them, but would this be awkward to the person trading? What kinds of questions are good to ask traders? What can I learn from them?

2) What are generally the most interesting parts of an i-bank? I am doing a rotation program and would like to explore as many different aspects as I can to come away with a broad perspective of i-banking. At the same time I know that in just a month I cannot see too many things.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:53pm

Instead of trying to see so much of the bank, I'd focus on making sure you have an interesting story to tell about your internship. What do you need to learn/understand/do to sell this experience as something that positions you well for interviews for next summer. Once you figure that out, tell that to the people you're working for. I'd say something like this..."My goal is to 1) help you in any way I can; and 2) learn/do/understand the following things while I'm here. If there's any way I can observe you doing these things or ask you questions from time to time about these things, I'd really appreciate it. Please let me know if I'm being too intrusive or approaching you at a bad time"

You will need to take ownership of your internship, or you will come out of this experience with nothing gained.

I posted a bunch of links the other day to some day-in-the-life descriptions from summer interns in trading. Here are two. If you want to see more, just search on the Gotta Mentor website. These will give you an idea of what some of your U.S. counterparts have done.

A day in the life of a sales and trading intern -
A day in the life of a sales & trading, credit default intern -

Gotta Mentor
Connect to the Advice & People
You Need to Achieve Your Career Goals

Gotta Mentor Connect to the Advice & People You Need to Achieve Your Career Goals
Oct 24, 2017 - 8:54pm

Transfering Internationally Through Investment Banks (Originally Posted: 04/03/2007)

Just wanted to know, if you work in a BB firm do they let you transfer to their other global offices in other countries? Is this a difficult process?

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:55pm

1: Sometimes, yes.
2: Sometimes, yes.

I realize this answer is not terribly helpful, but it seems to be the best that anyone has been able to do thus far. This is one of those things that actually does differ by bank.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:56pm

I talked to some people about this as I intend to use the languages I have spent time learning. The general consensus was that if you had a good reason, namely the appropriate language skills and some knowledge of the area, then you can push for it after a few years, particularly in less diverse offices where they are happy to get a mix. This was all to do with emerging markets though, I'm not sure it would apply to the major offices.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:57pm

Mostly to Mis Ind:

Is it easier to transfer in say PWM or trading as opposed to IB or do you not have experience with this?

Also Im guessing the country you are trying to go to will have a large effect on things.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:58pm

i chose to start my career in hk because i want to be in asia for the long haul, and did it this way after talking with a bunch of alums at BB offices all over europe and everywhere else. not one of them made the move within the same bank, and every one i asked about the possibility of moving within the same bank from one place to another said its a crapshoot. bottom line: if you want to be someplace, go there.

Oct 24, 2017 - 8:59pm

I plan on transfering to the London office after my two year stint in NYC. I talked to a bunch of ppl at my bank, and they said it shouldn't be too difficult, as long as you perform well and make the right connections. Anyone have any insight on this?

Oct 24, 2017 - 9:00pm

If you accept an IB post overseas.... (Originally Posted: 05/13/2010)

How difficult would it be to transition into a similar/higher role in the US? It certainly gives you a leg up as an internal hire (to a degree), as opposed to an external applicant, but your Hiring Manager might be wary of the fact that he/she may not know your reference. I've heard both good and bad comments about working overseas (HK or Europe) and would be interested in breaking into IB that way, as it would allow me the opportunity to work abroad.

If its not terribly difficult to come back to the states with the firm, is doing well at a Euro MSF and placing into the Euro arm of an IB the easy way in to the industry? The only downside I could think of is that I've heard European divisons tend to hire more homogeneously (ie citizens vs. students).


Oct 24, 2017 - 9:02pm

IB Study Abroad Programs (Originally Posted: 01/24/2011)

I'm looking to study abroad this upcoming winter, and was interested if there were any outstanding study abroad programs specializing in IB or more generally (not preferred) finance. Ideally I would attempt to acquire an internship in that country so I'm looking for English-speaking countries.


Oct 24, 2017 - 9:03pm

Ok, two things.

1) I wouldn't suggest studying abroad for the sole purpose of landing a job in IB.

2) The LSE probably has a good program. Not only is it a UK target, but it's in a prime location if you are looking to network.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT
Oct 24, 2017 - 9:04pm

IB Associate international mobility (Originally Posted: 12/18/2014)

As someone who intends to recruit into IB post-mba - Is there flexibility to ask the Banks to recruit for a position in London, rather than my home city of NYC? I imagine you can certainly ask but wonder if it is deeply frowned upon.

Thanks in advance

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