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Ideas to consider when writing your résumé - Featured Article. - Final warning: do NOT mention fluent English in your application. Interesting personal activities will give you an edge at building a relationship with the interviewer If a person lists as interests "jogging, travelling, and fishing", it will be hard for the interviewer to What is an investment bank modelling test? A modelling test is similar to a case study; you are given assumptions, sometimes a brief description of the business, and then asked to perform some analysis. The most common test given is to a Discounted Cash Flow analysis (DCF) and Operational Modelling (i.e. Sometimes you may be asked to build Merger models but this is less common. The models given are usually very complex with a very short time allowed for completion. The most common type of test will happen like this: - You will be seated in a room alone with a laptop, with only Excel on it. - You will be given some assumptions, either on a separate page, or in an Excel file saved on the laptop. Except for the assumptions and maybe some basic headings, the file will be totally blank. - You will then be asked to build a model based on the assumptions within a specific time frame (two to four hours) Why do banks give modelling tests? While many people can be good at interviews through extensive practice, you can't fake a modelling test. The investment banking modelling test is the ultimate test of your ability to be a good analyst or associate. Investment Banking interviews typically start with a battery of questions about yourself. All those questions you will get in the investment banking interview have a single purpose and are trying to assess Adaptability, Analysis and Problem Solving, Commercial Awareness, Communication, Decision-Making and Judgment, Influencing and Persuasiveness, Leadership, Motivation, Relationship-Building and finally Teamwork. About Yourself 1) Why did you choose to study economics/chemistry/history, etc.? 2) If you are from overseas, prepare to answer why you chose London? Just mention classes, location, extra-curricular clubs, etc.) 12) What do you do in your spare time? (Mention all the positives about London and how it is a financial center, multicultural, etc.) 3) What are your strengths and weaknesses? 13) What would you most like me to know that is not in your resume? Good strengths include being a hard worker, analytical, curious, being a good communicator, a good team player, resistant to stress, don't give up easily. (Answer can be that you grew up in an interesting place or an interesting experience you had.) 14) How competitive are you? Just add examples saying that you enjoy participating competitive activities such as sports, events, etc.) 15) Tell me about the time you worked the hardest in your life. "Good" weaknesses can be being impatient, taking a lot of time to make decisions, because you always need a lot of information, being inexperienced in finance (of course, that could describe all of the students), being a bad loser. (Answer must be “Yes.”) 5) What is the achievement you feel proud of or least proud of? Motivation 1) Why investment banking Basic Technical Interview Questions - Why would two companies with identical earnings in the same industry have different P/E multiples? Characteristics not to mention: your intelligence, introversion, shyness, or individualism. The best examples are where you had to make a lot of effort, either hard work or team achievement. (Again, mention what you learned from this and how you improved.) 9) Give me an example of instances in which you made mistakes and what you learned from them. - Would you use Enterprise Value/Net Income as a multiple? You can use sports, major study projects, or personal travel. - In a perfect (tax-free) world, if you have a company with an enterprise value of billion and you take out billion in debt, what is the new enterprise value? The least proud achievements can be any kind of failure, but you need to show that you have learnt from that failure. (Mention what your learned from this and how you improved.) 8) Tell me about a goal that you set that you did not reach. What is the enterprise value if you subsequently use the billion to pay out a dividend? 6) What would your teachers or other students describe about you? What is the enterprise value if instead of paying out the dividend, you invest the billion in a new project with an NPV of billion? (See strengths and weaknesses.) 7) Give me an example of an important goal, which you have set and tell me how you reached it. - In a world with taxes, if you issue debt for 1000 and pay it out as a dividend, how does it affect your enterprise value? M&A questions - What are the pros/cons on a stock vs. - Who would pay more to acquire a company - a financial buyer or a strategic buyer? - Why do accretive mergers still sometimes see a falling stock price? - Why might a company be trading at a lower EV/EBITDA multiple than its competitors of the same size in the same industry? - Talk to me about some hostile deals that have been initiated lately. What percent of hostile deals are completed by the buyers who started the process? Valuation Questions - Give me an overview of at least five valuation methodologies for a company. - What percent of total DCF value is usually in the Terminal Value? Capital Structure and Financing - If you were pitching to be an underwriter for an IPO, what would the table of contents of the pitch book look like? - Which of the valuation methods will tend to lead to the highest valuation? What proportion did the Terminal Value contribute to the Enterprise Value? - What implications are there for cash dividend versus stock repurchase? - How can a company reduce its Debt/EBITDA ratio without increasing EBITDA or paying down debt? LBO questions - What is the IRR with an equity investment of £100m and exit equity value of £300m after three years? - Give an example of Circular Reference in an LBO model. Accounting questions - Walk me through the impact of an asset write-down on the financial statements. - If a company changes from a LIFO to FIFO, how would that impact its financial statements? - Where would you put a convertible bond on the balance sheet? - Suppose you reviewed the financial statements of a firm for two consecutive years. Every line item on the income statement showed the same value for both years, but the numbers on the lines in the cash flow statement are different for the two years. Speculate on a few things that may have happened to cause this outcome. - If convertible debt gets converted, what is the impact on the balance sheet? Note - answers to those questions are included in our Ask Ivy Investment Banking Technical Guide, which contains 100 other investment banking technical interview questions. Aptitude tests are online or written tests given by investment banks that consists of a combination of numerical, verbal and logic questions. You will almost always be asked to do those tests online first once your CV has been shortlisted by banks. Once you pass those tests and are invited to come to the assessment centre, you will be usually asked to take them again on a piece of paper (which is sometimes more difficult or longer). This process is to ensure that you didn't ask a friend to take the test online for you. Each year, tens of thousands of students apply to investment banks. Those tests are a way for investment banks to make a first selection in their large applicant pool. They usually have a cut-off or minimum pass grade that students need to meet or exceed in order to go to the next stage of the interview process. Do not underestimate those tests, even if you are doing extremely well at school. Those tests can be notoriously difficult, especially under stress, and will demand a great deal of preparation. Indeed, it would be a shame to fail an interview because of something that is in your control! In fact, the main reason why so many students fail investment banking interviews is due to the lack of preparation or overconfidence with regard to those tests. Can you give me an overview of those tests in more detail? The tests are generally provided by SHL, an organisation that creates those tests; usually, there are three kinds of tests. Numerical In a numerical reasoning test, the examinee is required to answer questions by using information presented in statistical tables and graphs. Questions are given in a multiple choice format Verbal In SHL verbal reasoning tests, you are usually presented with a passage and required to evaluate a set of statements by selecting one of the following possible responses Logical These logical tests evaluate cognitive abilities that rely on pure logic, without the use of written texts or numerical data. In the course of these tests you will be asked to recognize patterns that are presented by series of shapes and thus induce and predict which shape should come next in line I want to practice, can you recommend me a good website? Job Test Prep, a UK website, does a good job of helping students prepare for those tests. Below is a detailed list of headhunting and recruitment firms that operate in the field of investment banking in London. -Argyll Scott & Redgrave Partners ( & Sister firms, one catering for junior and middle management (Argyll Scott), and the other focused on executive search (Redgrave Partners) in Private Equity, Corporate Finance and Corporate Development disciplines. Clients include large cap LBO funds, mid cap, growth equity and distressed turnaround funds. Contact Name: Matt Steeds email: [email protected] contact phone: 44 (0) 2 -Alan Mitchell ( Alan Mitchell is a financial markets city recruitment and search firm specialising in the areas of investment banking, private equity, equities and fixed income from analyst to MD/Partner level. Corporate finance coverage includes Mergers and Acquisitions, Private Equity, Corporate Broking, Equity Capital Markets and Debt Capital Markets in Investment Banks, Funds, Advisory Boutiques, Brokerage Houses and Accountancy Firms. Equities clients include investment banks, regional specialists, mid-cap security houses, boutique brokers, specialist brokers, agency brokers and execution only houses with the team focussed on equity research,equity sales. Fixed Income coverage includes Credit, Bonds, Interest Rates and Derivatives. email: [email protected] contact phone: 020 34407655 - Arkesden Partners ( Dedicated stand alone Investment Banking team with a track record and experience of the sector for over twelve years. Typical mandates at the Analyst to Director levels. M&A, Leveraged Finance, Restructuring, ECM, Corporate Broking, Country and Sector Coverage. Mandates are focussed on the UK and wider EMEA space. Partnering with clients on trends in the Investment Banking market including compensation trends (2013 Analyst report), analysis of strategic and cultural differences between Banks and up to date knowledge of hiring patterns. Contact: Adam Cairns Email: [email protected]: 44 (0) 203 762 202 - Austin Andrew ( Started with the vision to fill a perceived gap in the market for a mid level contingency firm with the service ethos of an executive search firm. Our experienced Consultants joined Austin Andrew to establish lasting and mutually beneficial business relationships with our clients. We strive to develop a long term understanding of our clients built upon trust and integrity, and we always aim to exceed expectations. We believe that this provides both stability for us and value for our clients, who benefit from our in-depth understanding of their business’ unique selling points. Areas covered include M&A / Corporate Finance, Private Equity (Growth Equity, Leveraged Buyout, Venture Capital) and Corporate Development Clients include large cap LBO funds, Mid cap, Growth Equity, Debt Funds, Venture Capital Trusts, Corporates, Advisory Boutiques, Investment Banks, Private Banks and Hedge Funds. contact name: Zoe Manners email: [email protected] contact phone: 44 (0) 2 -The Bloomsbury Group ( Focuses on debt, equity and derivative sales, trading and research; wealth management; financial management, operations and middle office; credit and market risk and private equity -Circle Square ( Finance and Banking focus, with good coverage of boutiques -Cobalt Recruitment ( Specialist recruitment provider to the Real Estate, Finance, Infrastructure and Energy sectors -Dartmouth Partners ( Dartmouth Partners recruits individuals with an outstanding academic or professional background into firms who recognise that a competitive edge is gained by finding and hiring the best human capital available. They work with candidates broadly from 0-10 years experience. Graduates: they run outsourced Graduate recruitment for Investment banks, Consultancies and “High Flier” Schemes for small businesses up to FTSE 250 companies. Experienced professionals: they help 2nd and 3rd jobbers in M&A, PE, Consulting, Asset management, Hedge Funds, and Corporates Contact Name: Logan Naidu email: [email protected] phone: 44 (0) 2 -Finance Professionals ( General corporate finance recruiting firm that also covers capital markets -Greenwich Partners ( Greenwich Partners are a search and selection firm focused on Buy and sell side equity research, Private Equity, credit and debt investment funds, asset management, alternative investments such as fund of funds and secondaries and corporate development and strategy. The firm focuses on targeting candidates from strategy consulting firms, research houses, investment banks and other private equity or investment firms. Most of their work is at the Analyst to Director level. Contact Name: James Heath or Sue Carter email: [email protected] contact phone: 44 (0) 2 -Grainger West ( Small independent recruitment boutique covering financial services broadly, including corporate finance and sales & trading. -KEA Consultants ( Focuses on placing junior candidates in investment banking, private equity and hedge funds -Kinsey Allen ( Broad-finance recruitment firms with strong relationships with most investment banks and boutiques -Marks Sattin ( Specialises in advisory and investment space for experienced corporate financiers -Michael Page Financial Services ( Large recruiting firms that has a division that focuses on financial services -Mirage Recruitment ( Specialist recruiter focusing on hedge funds and corporate finance -Morgan Mc Kinley ( Active recruiting firms that focuses on finance, banking and accounting sectors -One Search ( Purely specialised finance-focused search firm with broad coverage across both buy and sell side, with strong relationships with many investment banks and PE funds -Options Group ( General corporate finance firm with offices in NY, London, HK and Tokyo -Selby Jennings ( Global Financial recruiter (covers US, Europe, Asia and Middle East) that focuses on any function in financial institutions. -Shepherd Little ( Small recruiting firm specialising in investment banking, corporate banking and asset management -Stevenson James ( Independent financial services recruiter that focuses on the more senior end of the market -Walker Hamill ( Walker Hamill is a leading recruiter in corporate finance/M&A, working with both investment banks and boutiques. We recruit from Senior Analyst through to Managing Director level and have been selected on numerous occasions as the Managing Agent for multi-vacancy assignments. Contact : Tim Smith [email protected] having gone through all the online tests, case studies, presentations and the whole investment banking application process, the last five or ten minutes of your interview will always end with "do you have any questions for me? While this part of the interview is not the most critical one, many applicants still manage to destroy their chances by asking the wrong questions, or not knowing what to ask. Be involved in a variety of activities beyond academics. Our base advice is to keep the questions fairly simple. When you get that interview with Goldman, they will want to see that you are a fascinating, engaging person. While asking a very smart question will probably not be the key factor that will get you the job, asking an overly complex or inappropriate question will definitely hurt your chances of getting hired. You should be someone who has interesting stories to tell, maybe has something to teach them; someone they will want to hang out with. Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times, and read at least the front page every day. Therefore, do not try to be the most original or smartest applicant by asking overly engineered questions. The boss wants to know that if he takes you to lunch with a wealthy client, you’ll be able to participate in the conversation and speak intelligently on a wide variety of topics. Understand how companies market, sell, and produce goods; understand finance and accounting. Within your extended network, there is someone who has been successful in business: a family member, a professor, a former employer, etc. Here is a selection of the most appropriate questions to ask: One of the most common questions that gets asked here is this: "How do Imake it into Goldman Sachs? S., it takes a REALLY top-tier Ivy League school in the UK, a "red brick / Oxbrige" school, a Grande Ecole in France, etc. Find out how companies buy raw materials, find employees, borrow money, go public, manage their cash, etc. Maybe they even worked in one of the big firms like Goldman. Tell them what you are trying to achieve and ask for their guidance. " Goldman Sachs is consistently ranked atthe top of the investment banking league tables, attracts top talent, andpays the highest bonuses, so no wonder students and bankers all want toget a job at the prestigious investment banking firm. This is because thousands of super-smart, aggressive, very hardworking young folks from around the world are constantly banging on the doors of firms like Goldman Sachs trying to get jobs. If you want to work for an investment banking firm like Goldman, you must understand exactly what those companies do for their clients. If they are well-connected, they might even provide the most valuable help of all: an introduction to someone at a big firm. These are the tips we gathered from a "Goldmanite", who spent 16 years at the firm: No magic list of courses, study, deals, or anything else will guarantee you to get hired by Goldman Sachs. If your education doesn’t compare favourably, you won’t be considered. Firms like Goldman can afford to be very picky, and they hire only the best and brightest. This is the absolute best way to get your foot in the door. Each of the steps above will lead you to money, even if it’s not at Goldman. If you are not already enrolled at Harvard or Cambridge though, don’t worry, you can overcome that; just read the remaining things on this list and be sure that you blow them away. Your transcript had better prove you are one of them, or you won’t even get an interview. For example, if you work hard and get into a top school, many of your fellow students will have rich parents, CEO fathers, Senator uncles, etc. I personally followed all of the steps above; I worked for the big firms, and I am financially secure. You don’t have to be Einstein; you can get top grades by simply working your tail off. By the time you graduate, you will be “connected”, and you will personally know influential people who can do favours for you and help you on the way to greatness. But I’m also 40, unmarried, burnt out on work, and probably a little boring because I spent all those years focusing on dry work stuff. I decided that I wanted money, so I set a course to get it. The same thing will happen if you choose a career you don’t love. The recommended Goldman Sachs reading list that we have compiled below (this is the list they hand out to incoming investment banking employees) is one of the most comprehensive finance reading list that probably exists. But if I could do it over again, first I’d figure out what I love most; then I’d go do it with a vengeance regardless of the money. This is an extensive library covering a lot of aspects of investment banking - from the history and culture to specific areas in trading or corporate finance. If you sincerely have a passion for investment banking, go for it. Its is definitely a good starting point to educate yourself on topics of interest, occupy yourself during a quiet winter / summer and get up to speed with some of the finance jargon! Industry Background and Flavour Investment Banking assessment centers will always include individualand group case studies, which will require some preparation before you can handle those confidently. A case study will consist of a question or several questions that are asked based on a client’s business. You will be given some information about the clients; your task will be to answer those questions, and justify the advice you would give to the client. Most case study exercises happen during the assessment centre day, i.e. you will be given the materials and prepare on the spot. Occasionally, some banks give candidates the case study materials beforehand and you will have some time (usually one night) to prepare. Interviewers want to put candidates into a "real" business environment to test their capability of handling real work. The case study exercise is a great way to test candidates’ analytical skills, creativity, presentation, communication, and people skills! That is why a case study usually weights much more than any other interview or test during the investment banking recruitment process. What are typical Investment Banking Case Study questions? Client A wants to get your opinion on which company they should acquire from four companies and why Company B needs to raise capital. They come to you and ask if they should raise debt or equity, and the best way to do it. Company C approaches and asks you whether they should expand through acquisitions, or organically? There are only few ways to practice case studies: (i) make sure you read the business news often and (ii) practice as many as possible. Will banks look at my application if I have a 2.2 or a third? The harsh reality is that most big banks will discount anyone without a 2.1 degree, even if you have graduated from the best universities in the country. Banks receive so many applications that they have to find methods to make a selection, and the first selection is based on academic performance. The worst part of this is that even if you get a post-graduate degree, banks will still look at your undergraduate degree and this will be weighted against you, even though the first degree’s record can be mitigated by outstanding performance in your second degree. How can I get a job in investment banking if I have a 2.2 or a 3rd? There are a few ways that will allow you to get into big investment banks, even though this can be difficult initially. Here are a few commonly suggested routes: Finish another degree with top grades This is the ideal scenario if you studied something other than finance or business for your first degree. If you got poor grades for the first non-finance degree, you could enroll in a Masters in finance/accounting at a prestigious school, and study extremely hard to reach top grades. Often, this will be sufficient to mitigate your poor performance. When applying to banks, make sure you highlight some mitigating factors for your poor undergraduate performance. Valid excuses include your need to help the family business, your great involvement in some club activities, or any other personal reasons. Focus on lower-tier institutions Many students who don’t earn top grades try to apply to non-investment banking positions (such as back office, operations, etc.) in the hope of transferring to investment banking. In our view, this is a mistake, because such transfers will be highly unlikely. It is much easier to transfer from a lower-tier bank to a top-tier bank, than moving across very different departments in a top-tier bank, especially into the M&A department, which rarely accepts "outsiders". Therefore, we encourage you to apply for lower-tier institutions that may overlook a weak academic performance. That includes banks such as HSBC, RBS, Commerzbank, or Santander. These banks do not receive many applications compared to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and also London investment banking boutiques, for which we have compiled an extensive list. Those smaller banks tend to focus on some niche areas such as technology, retail, or natural resources sectors. Sometimes they focus on smaller deals or specialised transactions, and include HCA Saavian, Piper Jaffray, Evercore, Moelis, Oppenheimer, Thomas Weisel, Brown Brothers Harriman, William Blair, etc. When the economy picks up and M&A volumes are increasing, the top bulge brackets will often hire from boutiques, given the shortage of applicants. This will be your chance to move into top investment banks. Go work for a corporation and enter banking later Many bankers did not start as an analyst from the graduate scheme. Banks typically specialise in Industry groups (technology, retail, healthcare), and therefore industry experience is highly sought after. A good solution would be to work for a blue-chip corporate outfit (such as Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, BT, Vodafone, etc.) for two to three years, and use this experience to apply to investment banks later on. The ideal position for a placement into investment banking would be to work in the internal strategy department or corporate M&A department of the firm. At the same time, to make yourself more attractive, you could get an ACCA qualification or a CFA qualification to show your strong finance skills. Do an MBA in two to three years Life as an investment banking analyst is very hard, so it may not be in your best interest to directly enter into investment banking. Therefore, one solution to poor academic performance would be to do something that you truly enjoy for two or three years (work for a corporation, a non-profit organisation, start a business), excel at it, and prepare yourself for a top MBA. The recipe to get into a top MBA is to work hard, do your research, participate in many activities outside work (volunteer, start a business, do something out of the ordinary, learn new languages), and study very hard for your GMAT. A top MBA on your CV will essentially give you a shot at all the best investment banks, without the pain of a three-year stint as an investment banking analyst! Many students believe that having a degree unrelated to financewill hurt their chances of getting an interview with London investmentbanks. Truthfully, many investment bankers never studied accounting or finance when they were undergraduate students. Nevertheless, there are a few traps that you will need to avoid, and some good tips to best position yourself. Here is what you should bear in mind when applying and interviewing: #1 If you were a science student, play on the analytical angle In your early days as a junior banker, your job will be all about the numbers. Therefore, a background in hard sciences (physics, engineering, chemistry, etc.) is very well-regarded by investment bankers. In your application and during your interview, do highlight that you like to deal with numbers and highly analytical subjects. Bankers will always be impressed if you can show that you are mastering topics that sound complicated: abstract mathematics, theoretical physics, nuclear engineering, or organic chemistry. #2 If you studied a "soft" subject (Politics, Psychology, etc.), then you will need to demonstrate analytical ability elsewhere in your CV The first thing that enters the mind of a banker when seeing a degree in a soft subject is "can this person handle the numbers? During the application process, you need to show analytical ability in your extracurricular activities or hobbies. These can be very simple things such as managing a budget for a club as its treasurer, having built spreadsheets, or worked on anything quantitative during a past internship. Also, highlight sections in newspapers such as the Financial Times to familiarise yourself with some of the finance jargon. Good way would be to read a few banking and finance books and try to familiarise yourself with some valuation concepts. #3 Use your non-finance degree to differentiate and indicate your preference for a specific sector Are you a Computing Science major? Mention your interest in working with technology clients in the Technology M&A Group, or work in equity research covering technology stocks. -Chemistry major: Good for Industrials clients and covering chemical companies (i.e. Solvay, Dupont), know a couple of chemical companies' names. -Biology/Medicine: Healthcare clients -Physics: Industrials -Engineering: Industrials, technology or telecommunication clients -Marketing major: Retail and consumer clients, media clients -Law: UK M&A group or UK companies, since you understand the legal environment -Maths: Try complicated industries that like maths backgrounds such as telecommunications -History/Geography/Psychology, etc.: It will be more difficult to find an angle but if you show interest in finance and numerical ability, you will be perfectly fine. #4 Have a good story on why you want to do investment banking Be prepared to answer the question: “Why did you choose to study History/Engineering/Biology, and why are you interested in investment banking? ” If you are a non-finance student, try to get involved in finance-related activities as soon as you can. #5 UK banks are very open to candidates’ non-finance backgrounds with good grades While this is not generally the case in Continental Europe, where banks will typically want to see a finance-related degree (the exception being engineers and lawyers), the UK system is very open. Primarily, Investment Banks want to see evidence of analytical ability through your activities and through passing numerical tests and brainteasers, and well-rounded personalities with maturity and good communication skills, who will be able to handle pressure and interact with senior people. In most cases, a non-finance degree can come as a blessing to differentiate yourself in an industry that is still mostly populated by economics and finance majors. Following the above advice will help you present it as a strength. For example, "I love Barcelona" is better than "I don't like Real Madrid". If you don't understand, ask for clarification. Seeking a clarification on a question is much better than providing an answer that does not match - Make sure your nails are clean and cut short. - It if fine to bring a briefcase or portfolio with you to the interview - much better than a backpack. Investment Banking Dress Code for Women - Either a skirt suit or a pantsuit is completely fine for interviews. Traditionally, a skirt suit is What are the pros and cons of studying an MBA to do investment banking? Pros: - There is a very structured process for MBA hires, which makes things much easier - This is the only degree that gives a chance to people from ANY background, even non-finance or Again, it depends on what kind of person you are. If you are more analytical and good at maths, you can start to practice a few hours every day for a month before the exam. Personally, I took two weeks off, practiced 4 to 6 hours per day, and took the exam. If you are from a non-analytical profession or not comfortable with maths, most people take courses for up to 6 months before their exam date. Overall, it is good to get your GMAT done quite some time before you apply to business schools. If you get a long break, or even before you start work, you can just get it done. The results are valid for several years (it was 3 years when I applied in 2008, check the latest), so you if you plan to do an MBA, you should try to take the GMAT early so you don't have work pressures when you are ready to apply. As you grow older and get busier and start to have personal or friends commitments, it is hard to motivate oneself to spend every night of the week studying. Continuing on the pay survey theme, here is another quite good survey conducted by Business Week on MBA graduate pay after 5, 10, 15 and 20 plus years in their careers. The usual suspects Wharton and Harvard are on top, but take with a pinch of salt, as the top schools have a large proportion of students going into finance (banking, Private Equity, Hedge Funds), pushing salaries up. You are often allowed to use a calculator - make sure you know how to use it! Bring your own, and learn how to use it to save valuable time during the interviews. Questions are designed to confuse you Some questions can be tricky. As it's a multiple-choice test, some questions may have solutions that To help you with survive your early days as an investment banking analyst, we have put together 5 typical days or scenarios you will likely have to face, with some useful tactics and tips to overcome those situations. Scenario 1: the "live deal" day Working on live transactions / working on several projects at once. Tasks are mainly organisational, such as liaising with clients, accountants, lawyers, other advisors, collating and distributing materials and working hard to tight deadlines. Tips: (i) Always remain cheerful however busy you get (ii) write every task down on a notepad to make sure you don't miss anything (iii) let you assistant know where you are at all times (iv) keep team members informed of progress (v) triple check documents before sending out any confidential information or to client Scenario 2: the "Hermit" day Valuation and profiles for a presentation. Tasks involve financial modelling, compiling comps, or making profiles, which are "solitary" tasks. Tips: (i) Prioritise tasks (ii) Stay focused to avoid important/time consuming mistakes (iii) Plagiarise - use templates, similar work, and ask other analysts if its been done before (iv) Always double check and understand where every number comes from Scenario 3: the "Hell breaks loose" day: the pre-presentation day (and night) Preparing marketing documents for a pitch or management presentations. Tasks involve processing comments, circulating drafts, waiting and chasing for feedback, managing the printing and checking for typos and mistakes. Tips: (i) Book the printing in advance (ii) check, check and re-check (iii) Chase people (nicely), make them aware of dealines (ie. printing times) Scenario 4: the "Wear a suit" day Client meeting, roadshow or working with a client on-site. Tasks involve taking notes, and helping the client, often with menial tasks Tips: (i) Be professional and confident (ii) Be ready to answer any question (iii) Logistics: bring business cards and always carry the essentials (calculator, laptop, notepads, important documents) (iv) don't check your bags in (v) menial tasks earn you brownie points (vi) expect the unexpected... Scenario 5: the "Beach" day A day when you have nothing to do in the office i.e. Tips: (i) Catch up on personal admin (ii) Spend time focusing on your development (i.e. networking, private equity interview preparation, MBA essay preparation, catching up with headhunters) (iii) No face time - go home early Linked In - common pitfalls A few fatal flaws we have seen in investment banking candidates Linked In profiles: - Being part of the group "Occupy Wall Street" - Mentioning "passionate about strategy consulting" in the profile summary. Not helpful if you want to There is more to investment banking than just bulge bracket banks. While most of the bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are well-known to most students interested in finance, there are hundreds if not thousands of small institutions focused on corporate finance activities. Those smaller institutions are called "boutique investment banks". They tend to be much smaller (a couple to a few dozen people), and have a narrower focus. Arma Partners and the TMT sector), be regionally focused, customer type focused (i.e. Altium and mid-market companies) and try to focus on giving either cheaper, higher quality, or very specific advice. Below are some advantages and drawbacks of working for a boutique investment bank. Culture Many bulge bracket bankers that move to boutique investment banks mention culture and lifestyle as a reason for their move. While it is true that many boutiques can be more entrepreneurial and collegial given their smaller size, not all boutiques are created equal. Some boutiques may not get the deal flow that big banks have, and the hours or intensity can be more appealing compared to larger banks. However, smaller institutions also mean a lower level of support. Therefore, you'll probably be asked to do more administrative work or some of the more tedious research on your The main advantage of boutiques over some of the larger banks is that the compensation will be all cash. This can make a substantial difference for VP level and above. However, many boutiques tend to pay less compared to big banks, but again this is on a case-by-case basis, as some elite boutiques may be very competitive on pay. While bulge brackets have to follow market trends and your bonus will be fairly predictable (depending on your ranking), boutiques pay may vary much more depending on the number of successful deals they have closed during the year. Given the smaller size, the process may be more political, as well as depend on the quality of your relationships within the firm. Deal exposure Most boutiques tend to do fewer deals, simply because it’s more difficult to get business or because they may lack the capacity. Big banks are pitching machines, and boutiques need to be more picky given their smaller resources. This is something to take into account, as the deal flow is very important for a banker, especially in junior years. However, you may get more exposure on single deals compared to large banks. Hierarchy in boutiques is usually flatter, which means that you might get more exposure to clients, and be responsible for running a deal even at junior levels. The The network that bankers build at top investment banks is often overlooked. However, this will be of critical importance in your mid to late career. Working in a large institution will give you exposure to a lot of bright colleagues that will end up in top jobs in the finance and corporate world. The network will definitely be more restricted at boutiques. In addition, bulge brackets tend to carry more prestige on the CV, because the selection process is usually tighter. People in the industry will always look up at somebody who spent a couple of years at Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. Its very similar to your education - Ivy League is always more impressive, although it is not what will define your career success ultimately. Exit opportunities Exit opportunities ultimately depend on the quality of your deal flow in investment banking, although brand names matter. Exit opportunities will be plenty at good banks and boutiques, but the quality and diversity of the offers will be much better at big banks. Most buy-side firms or even corporations feel more comfortable hiring from well-known banks, and headhunters also tend to favour big banks because it’s easier for them to find talent in those big M&A pools. Below is a selection of the must watch movies for anybody considering a career in finance. Our selection is either based on the accuracy of the movie (educational value) or simply pure entertainment! Wall Street A 1987 classic; a young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing. The Wolf of Wall Street Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. Too Big to Fail Chronicles the financial meltdown of 2008 and centers on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Barbarians at the Gate Not as good as the book; the president of a major tobacco company decides to buy the company himself, but a bidding war ensues as other companies make their own offers. Margin Call Follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis. The Inside Job Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown. The story of Nick Leeson, an ambitious investment broker who singlehandedly bankrupted one of the oldest and most important banks in Britain. Boiler Room A college dropout gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success, but the job might not be as legitimate as it sounds. Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall. The heads of Wall Street's biggest investment banks were summoned to an evening meeting by the US Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, to discuss the plight of another - Lehman Brothers American Psycho American Psycho A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he escalates deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies. Securing an investment banking internship is very competitive. However securing a full time offer after your internship represents the holy grail: it validates your skills to other potential employers (you got the job after 3 months of hard work against other talented peers – must mean you are very good). Below are some investment banking summer internship for fresh analysts and/or associates tips based on our observations. Do not bother people with non-essential questions If your associate/VP is about to leave the office early on a Friday or over a weekend, please do not start to ask them questions about modelling or anything that is non-urgent. What you can figure out by doing your own research, or asking other analyst, should not be something you are asking to more senior people. Of course, asking for tips over lunch or coffee or during the day when there is a quiet time is perfectly fine Arrogance with anybody If you get the chance to work on a major deal – do not boast about it. Bankers are easily jealous when it comes to deal prestige. Similarly, do not be mean with the admin staff (secretaries, IT, etc.). Dress well, but not too well This probably sounds like stating the obvious, but do make sure your suit/shirts are clean and well ironed. Body spray also highly recommended if you are having a few late nights. A junior banker wearing a gold watch and very expensive suits and shoes will only attract resentment. Do not argue over the best way to present something or build a financial model If you have no investment banking experience, do not argue with your associate, VP or boss about what should be in a slide or a model. Secretaries in investment banking are more powerful than your standard corporate as they work with MDs and have access to a lot of information! Having a friendly relationship with the IT department will also prove invaluable when your excel model crashes down at 3am. After a few all-nighters or busy weeks, many junior bankers tend to get sloppy or forget to change shirts. While you may be “theoretically” correct, finance in the real work is much more of an art than a science. Don’t underestimate the social aspect Make as many friends as you can. That means asking people for coffee, advice (politely and if they have time), inviting your team to the bank’s social events (i.e. Most seasoned associates and above will have a huge amount of experience at managing a presentation or a deal, and will know what makes sense. It is perfectly fine to point out mistakes, but keep your opinion to yourself while you get more experience. You’re here to secure a full time job, not to impress clients (for now). Don’t ever complain You may end up working on mind-numbing tasks, or work on a deal that has no chance to go through, or even work with the worst associate/VP/MD but your internship is only a few weeks long. Therefore, do not complain - if you can’t handle a couple of months without any complaints, then chances are that you won’t be a good fit for investment banking. It’s perfectly fine to go venting when its late at night or you are having coffee with friends, but do be careful about the amount of criticism or complaints you may have. In the end, all of the summer analysts are competing for the same job. Partying and office dating It’s a very bad idea to get romantically involved with somebody else during your internship (particularly secretaries, but also with other interns and bankers in your department). Don’t forget that there are no secrets – people will find out and they will talk. If you find somebody you like – best advice is to wait towards the end of the internship. Getting drunk or overly friendly with colleagues WILL leave the team with a bad impression. Do not forget that there is a race to get the full time job. If you have emergency travel, make sure you need your team and boss about it and ask for their approval. Don’t leave early If you don’t have anything to do – do not leave early. You will need to be fully dedicated to the job for the duration of the internship. My personal advice is that even if a banker tells you to go home and go early, the best is to stay and either do some modelling practice, catching up with other bankers, or reading up on financial news / finance theory. Get some feedback on why you were not given an offer. It’s not the end of the world but you need to understand what your weaknesses are and if the decision was based on your performance vs. the hiring needs of the team (maybe they do not have enough headcount, or they need a specific language, for example). In the end, feedback is what will help you to grow as a future finance professional. For many bankers, reaching the Managing Director title represents the holy grail for finance. By the time to make it to MD, you should be earning close to 7 figures, managing a team, and handle many close clients. However, very few analysts make it all the way to the top. Many choose to change lifestyle or pursue alternative careers, however, for many others, the jump from associate to VP, and then VP to Director seems problematic. Below is some advice we have gathered from MDs at the large investment banks. Make learning a lifelong pursuit Many MDs spend up to 15-20% reading, talking to people or travelling. You can learn more by talking to people than spending hours reading about a topic. Very knowledgeable about a specif sector, tax/legal/other aspects? Many MDs have taken the habit to constantly learn, and watch good people operate under difficult circumstances and learn from their experiences. If I talk to your friends, significant other, teachers or colleagues, I will know for sure whether you are a hardworking person, trustworthy or ethical even without meeting you. Your brand will be created with or without you, therefore you need to take a proactive approach in advertising yourself and be true to the image you want to project. Learning by reading, talking or watching is the best way to ensure you won't make large mistakes and is one of the best habit your can develop over your career - so get close to the top Associates, VPS and MDs. A personal brand will help you differentiate and thus move up fast. Being memorable is the best way to get those promotions and getting noticed fast within your company and your industry. Learn to deal with failures Many of you have already dealt with difficult times. Eventually, we all have to get over it and move on. Business is about facing constant setbacks and failures. In fact, if you are not failing, you probably are not learning. For example, if you have never worked on an IPO model, try to get exposure as fast as you can so you do not face difficulties later in your career. Practice and take every opportunity you can to speak up. Not getting along well with your boss or colleagues? It is very difficult to remain objective when you feel you have been wronged. Learn how to work with all kinds of personalities, even if this is difficult at first - it will all pay off in a few years. Also, most friends or family members will seek to comfort you. However you must resist the temptation to blame others for your difficulties and look at what you can improve in yourself first, and how to avoid such situations in the future. The boss gave you bad comments in front of the client or the whole team? The best way to avoid such situations in to get to know your boss and understand what is important for him/her. At the same time, focus on triple checking your work and have friendly colleagues to look over areas you are not confident about. IQ is not EQ Most candidates' IQs are high enough to be very succesful in investment banking or finance in general. High EQ people tend to be the ones you notice: you never question their work, they brighten up a room when they come in, etc. Building a strong EQ is a work in process and requires hard work, passion, work ethic, character, and strong observational skill. At the same time, make sure you take care of your friends, family and your own body. People have their own objectives, they get stressed, they have personal problems, and their own passion. If you are not in the right state of mind for the job and don't have the necessary support - you will fail. It is personal You often hear the sentence: its not personal, its just business. Spend time finding out what drives people around you - is it money, the challenge, being appreciated? This will help you adjust your style with different people and make your work much more effective. In addition, do not forget that long term relationships are critical - when working on teams or projects, you should be trying to build connections for the next 10 years of your career, so even when amongst tough colleagues and angry bosses, stay likeable. Discipline and patience Discipline and having a routine is key to not only ensure your survival but also the growth of your career. Set time aside for learning everyday, follow up with friends, colleagues, headhunters, ex-classmates; make sure you exercise properly and, if possible, make sure you get some proper rest when you have some downtime. Sticking to those routines is a lot of work but huge amounts can be achieved by having some discpline for small matters everyday. Finally, investment banking is a long term game and survival is the keyword. Luckily investment banks have very clear promotion patterns, so if you follow the advice and remain passionate about the industry, making it to MD is simply a waiting game. Know where the money is Keep your eyes open to what is happening around you and in the economy. There are always new growth areas, and opportunities come and go all the time. However, you have to be aware of them and seize them at the right time. Another team is expanding rapidly and needs somebody like you? The top-star MD needs a replacement associate on a project? You could be the best analyst or associate in the bank, however if your team is working on a declining industry or doesn't get enough dealflow (and you can't do anything about it), its time for a change. Below is a list of investment banking boutiques in Hong Kong - Asian Capital Holding ( Asian Capital Group is a corporate advisory group headquartered in Hong Kong. Asian Capital Group was established in 1998 and specialises in the provision of a variety of corporate advisory services with a primary focus on companies listed in Hong Kong - Somerley Limited ( Founded in Hong Kong in 1984, Somerley is a leading independent corporate finance advisory house in Greater China, having consistently ranked as a top financial adviser on public and private transactions in the region. We are committed to provide a wide variety of corporate finance services, including but not limited to mergers and acquisitions, financial advisory/ independent financial advisory, corporate restructuring and primary / secondary market offerings advisory. - Octal Capital ( - Established in 2012, OCL is a licensed corporation registered under the SFC to carry out the regulated activities of dealing in securities (Type 1) and advising on corporate finance (Type 6) - Kingston Corporate Finance ( Corporate Finance is a licensed corporation under the SFO to engage in Type 6 (advising on corporate finance) regulated activities. The scope of services provided by Kingston Corporate Finance includes sponsoring IPO, advising on corporate finance transactions such as financing strategies in the context of mergers and acquisitions, equity fund raising exercises, takeovers and other notifiable transactions. - Optima Capital ( Founded in 1989, he Company is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong for Type 1 (dealing in securities), Type 4 (advising on securities) and Type 6 (advising on corporate finance) regulated activities under Schedule 5 of the Securities and Futures Ordinance. - Yu Ming Investment Management (com.hk/eng) Wholly owned by Allied Group Limited (listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange), Yu Ming Investment Management Limited (“Yu Ming”) is a licensed corporation under the Securities and Futures Ordinance. It is a merchant bank that provides corporate finance advisory services and investment management services to listed companies, professional and institutional clients. Ivory Capital is an independent boutique investment banking firm that provides advisory services and solutions in Asian markets. Our clients include business owners, private investors, and private and public companies in Asia, Europe and the USA. - Grand Vinco Capital ( Vinco Capital is one of the most active local corporate finance advisory firms in Hong Kong which provide its clients with IPO, corporate finance advisory, M&A, restructuring, bond issues, loan syndication. - The Anglo Chinese Group ( Independent corporate finance advisers and investors - Sun Hung Kai Financial (com) Sun Hung Kai Financial offers a wide range of corporate finance and financial advisory services in Hong Kong and China. It is very exciting, especially as I am working in a geographical location aligned to my long-term professional goals. The line between work and life is quite blurry colleagues rapidly become your intimate friends. Despite the long working hours, Hong Kong has a very diverse life with so many exciting things to explore. However be prepared, you will need to travel to mainland China very frequently. I got in through as a lateral hire therefore the process might not be applicable for graduate hire. Two sources for job hunting: Company Website (yes, that works! The interview process is quite standard, but they will be very keen to understand why you are moving to HK from London (or anywhere else). The interview can be a combination of Mandarin and English. Lastly, given that Hong Kong is not the headquarter of Goldman Sachs, the process took very long. Once an offer is extended to you, the waiting time can easily exceed 1 month. Ask Ivy: What are the key challenges you faced when you moved from London to Hong Kong? 1) cultural shock of living in a different part of the world 2) Longer working hours: working non-stop is expected. Dedication and resilience are very important characters in banking in HK Normally, I get in the office around 9-10am. First things are usually some conference calls or revising the deck or model sent out last night based on the latest comments. In the afternoon, we normally need to do more client facing work, like requesting information from clients for a live deal or some due diligence related questions. Time after dinner are more discretionary period for us, when we can focus on some long-term work like modelling or working on presentations. Ask Ivy: What are the main difference in working in NYC, London and HK? Compared to peers in the UK or the US, since HK has relatively smaller junior resources, it is very common for juniors in HK to be involved in a lot of modelling stuff in their first year and join important client meetings. In addition, in a lot of teams, juniors also need to learn how to work without supervision very quickly since associates here need to take more client coverage work than UK or US. However, the bad thing is that juniors here don’t really have time to go deeply into each piece of work. Our comps set or financial models are usually simplified version compared to those used in the UK or US. Based on my experience, hours in general are worse in London and HK than NYC in the US since NYC has much more juniors to support the heavy lifting. In addition, the culture in London and NYC values working-life balance more compared to Hong Kong. Ask Ivy: What you have enjoyed most and least so far? Teammates are willing to take time to teach you how to do things properly and quickly. It is very quick to accumulate industry knowledge and technical skills in banking. What I enjoy the least is that sometimes, you don’t have time to deepen your knowledge of certain areas of finance because the team is always fully occupied by chasing different opportunities at the same time. Ask Ivy: What are the key differences in recruitment process in HK compared to NYC and London? I think the biggest difference is that you don’t need to network for jobs in HK. It is a pretty standard online application process. Ask Ivy: are the opportunities being dominated by native Chinese speakers? Mandarin is a must to know in M&A or Corporate Finance divisions in HK. Non-Chinese employees usually work in sales and trading or product team like ECM/leveraged finance. I was in a PE coverage team at my previous consulting firm. This period gave me the opportunity to understand more about this industry and get to know the people in this industry. Since I was determined to move to PE, I spent a lot of time preparing for interviews. I learned corporate finance basics / financial modeling skills. Unlike most other candidates, I don’t have experience in banking and don’t have these basic technical skills. However, some business sense I accumulated by being as an consultant helped the interview process since the process is not only about technical skills but also case studies testing how you think about investment opportunities. The major similarity is corporate strategy – part of the PE job is managing existing portfolio or investments. As an owner of a business, you have to think what you want to do with the business and what you can do. And from a shareholder perspective, we are focused on important strategic decisions rather than daily operations, which require consulting/strategic skills. he type of tasks you perform is much wider and diverse. For example, as a consultant, I normally covered commercial DD during a transaction. However, this has been widened to legal, financial, tax, etc. (ii) In addition to that, I now need to screen companies to identify potential investment opportunities. Before, I would spent some time pitching ideas to the client but not actually looking for deals. A PE job definitely requires more business judgement since we represent the owners of the business. Consultants typically analyse a business based on market, competitive advantage, etc. and then draw a conclusion on whether it could be attractive or not. Within an investment fund, we often discuss what the business could achieve, where we should focus and who could be a good management team – a very practical approach. In all, I think all the differences are because the perspective is changed. PE professionals are taking a real ownership of their portfolio businesses, while consultants are selling their advising services. (1) Challenge is how to deeply understand key drivers in a sector and any business under a short-period of time – since the DD process is intense during a buyout transaction. In addition, the business strategy has to be executable or realistic – it will not be just a simple analysis on paper. It is an actual strategy which you can start and make things happen and work! (2) Development area is to catch up on finance technical skills, continuing to build business sense and managing people. I gradually realised that I need to be a very good project manager to be able to manage accountants, consultants, etc. Also, I now need to be able to work with management teams closely to monitor our investments! Ask Ivy: thank you so much for answering a few questions for us about your career path. Can you please provide a brief overview of your career to date? I commenced after my bachelor’s degree by travelling to London, where I managed to gain a low level IB position at Goldman Sachs International, where I worked for two years. I then moved to Deutsche Bank International, on Bishopsgate, again in IB research, for two and a half years. I then returned to Australia, studied a Master’s Degree in Finance fulltime for one year, after which I was employed by KPMG Corporate Finance, specifically in their M&A division. After 4 years I was poached by Gresham Partners in Australia, a boutique advisory house, which has advised on some of Australia’s largest transactions. After three years there, I was rehired by KPMG in their CF department for 4 more years. We are also branching out and growing through strategic partnerships with other competing firms, which may sound strange but the environment here is more collegiate and relationships are important. Askivy: How is working in M&A in South East Asia different compared to working in Europe/USA/Australia? However, through the right connections and firm, there is enough work to go around. After the tragic passing of my boss there, I took a few months off and was hired by Ord Minnett, a subsidiary of JP Morgan, in their Corporate Finance department. Thailand is run by a few very wealthy people, so you need to understand that and work with it. Finally after my wife moved here (she is half Thai), I followed shortly thereafter and secured this partnership position with equity at PKF Thailand, where I am the Partner in charge of Corporate Finance. The relationships at the top are hard to break into, so teaming up and co-advising with other smaller firms who have existing relationships but may lack requisite execution skills can work. Generally speaking, the level of experience and expertise of professional staff is below that of Europe/US/Aus so an opportunity resides there. Most of the large IB’s have rep offices here only, and send teams from Sing/HK to service larger transactions when they transpire. As a smaller practice here, we only need two or three good CF deals a year. Do you have any career tips for those wanting to get into this industry? For those wanting to get into the industry, I would stress the importance of a solid accounting base to your knowledge. Sound technical skills are very important, such as valuation and financial modelling skills. I would suggest that the financial modelling test should be something any aspiring applicant should purchase and undertake. It is a very useful test for what is required at the top level. I rarely have a problem with the format of the résumés that I read. It is the content of a résumé that can leave me with questions about its author.


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