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Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A

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Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2012, 21:37
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Hey guys, I'd like to check in after my first semester at Columbia Business School and answer any questions you may have on recruiting for investment banking. I'll be interning as a Summer Associate at a bank this summer, and learned quite a bit about the process. Here are some general items and then I'll open things up for Q&A:

  • Start reading the Wall St. Journal, Dealbook, FT, Dealbreaker, The Economist, The Deal or all of the above now. You'll want to have a good understanding of the deal landscape before recruiting starts
  • Take advantage of any of the Training The Street workshops held on campus. There is a lot discussed in TTS that they don't cover in class that you really have to know
  • Hustle, hustle, hustle!!! You really do have to go to every single event, and then do as many informational interviews as you can possibly set up
  • Stay humble. Don't be a dick in networking circles, don't pester people too much, and remember that its usually easier to stand out for the wrong reasons than the right ones
  • Seriously, stay humble. Cast a wide net for the banks you target! The people who were successful were the ones that recruited at not just top BBs, but all bulges, boutiques, middle-market banks, and others like Wells/BMO/RBC, etc. Its a tough market out there, but if you pull on enough strings, you'll be successful
  • Let your personality come through. You'll be working 100-hour weeks with these people, so they want someone who they can stand to be around
  • Practice, practice, practice. Work on your pitch constantly. Get coaching. Have people look over your resume. Give each other mock informationals. Come prepared to the informationals you get with plenty of questions and interesting things to talk about. Learn the banks inside and out. Practice is what you do before game time to position yourself best for victory -- so practice!
  • Know what the job is. Understand what an investment bank does, what an associate does, what a sell side/buy side process looks like, and what qualities make a good associate.
  • Come interview time, take it to the next level and crush it. Practice your tail off, do mocks all day every day, and prepare for anything and everything.

I'll probably add to this, so ask questions and I'll deliver some responses!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2012, 15:53
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GMATLA wrote:
Great post +1!

You hit on some very good topics, but one in particular always stands out to me as a little ironic:

Now this might seem like a no brainer, but I'm always surprised by how many people want to do investment banking but have absolutely no idea what it is. I would love to hear how an investment banker such as yourself would answer these questions. I think the forum would benefit from your description!

Thanks, and good luck at your new job!


In simple terms an investment bank matches providers of capital with users of capital. Investment bankers in coverage groups maintain relationships with institutional clients (usually large businesses), and provide them with strategic advice. This advice can be around certain products, such as M&A or raising debt/equity. Some bankers focus specifically in these product areas, and usually the debt and equity product functions are called "capital markets" groups.

An associate is the quarterback of this whole process. They need to check the analyst's model, and really understand the key drivers and all assumptions made so they can tell the story of the valuation to the VP/MD. They need to make sure that the process is running along smoothly, so that could mean scheduling meetings, making sure NDAs are collected and distributed, and all of the little details that come up. I'll probably know more after the summer, and can fill you guys in then.

A good associate is someone with quantitative, organizational, detail-focused, teamwork, and leadership skills, and is someone who has a genuine knowledge and interest in business. A lot of the interview questions I got were along the lines of, "tell me about a deal you've been following," "pitch me a stock," "what's a deal you think should get done," "what are your thoughts on the situation in Europe," "what is a company you admire, and why," "tell me about some of the strategic issues surrounding [your last employer]." These questions are no-brainers if you are consistently following the markets and have a huge interest in business and the global economy. If you are following the Wall St Journal every day, you should have no problem commenting on a deal you've been following. If you think like a businessperson, you should have no problems opining on a variety of topics. This, I think, was one of the biggest ways I was able to differentiate myself in the process -- by demonstrating a real love of business and an ability to think strategically about them.

The good thing about that last point is that it can be learned. If you do a lot of homework on banks and read up on deals, you'll gradually form a bench of knowledge that you can draw from to have thoughts and interest on anything. So if you've been accepted to business school, get yourself a subscription to WSJ or start reading Dealbook daily, or go into Barnes & Noble and grab The Economist and get to work!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 23 Jan 2012, 16:07
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InSearch wrote:
Hi Moss,

Thanks so much for this initiative. Will it be possible for you to provide your guidance re: the below questions:

1. Does group selection come up at all during the internship recruiting process? Are you expected to know which group you want to be in right from the beginning, or is it something that you have decide on once you actually get the offer?


Group selection comes up during the recruiting process quite a bit, for various reasons. Most banks will give you a "firm" offer and then engage in a matching process which pairs you with certain groups. Some will place you into these groups full time, while others have rotational programs that will allow you to move through a few groups before finding a final home. I applied to quite a few firms, and only one that I had researched had a system of "group offers," where your offer comes from a specific group versus the firm generally. So in only that case is it absolutely vital to have groups selected prior to interviews.

While in most cases you don't have to have decided on a group prior to applying, banks are not so creative as to imagine you in a variety of roles and guess which one suits you best. You really have to give them some direction. It also helps when networking through informationals -- you probably should target a handful of groups for these efforts and learn the people and deals related to those groups. These groups of course can be different depending on the bank -- I personally didn't have strong industry interests and usually targeted what I felt to be the strongest platforms at the respective banks. Ultimately though, you want to allow the bank to picture you in a group and get feedback from the members of that group that they like you. Showing interest in a few groups and getting that buy-in from the members of those groups is critical to being successful in recruiting.

Quote:
2. Lets say an individual comes from a consumer/retail background, but wants to do healthcare banking (essentially, the person is from background A but wants to go into industry B). Assuming that this individual learns as much as possible about the industry while in business school, how feasible is making such a transition?


I came from a particular industry and really didn't target that group much in recruiting for various reasons. It did draw quite a few questions -- especially from members of the group. I think they almost saw it as a bit insulting on some level that I was "abandoning" their industry, but certainly not a deal-breaker. Like I said, bankers don't have unlimited creativity, and if they see "retail guy" they'll probably think "retail group" just because its easy and doesn't take much if any brainpower to connect the dots.

That said, when you start recruiting and ask people about their backgrounds, you'll notice that on an extremely frequent basis, the experience the banker had pre-MBA is completely different than their industry group post-MBA. They get it. While it can be easy to explain interest, if you can quote a few deals in the Healthcare industry and show that you've been following it closely, you most certainly can make the switch. I would guess that "industry switchers" are probably more the rule than the exception.

Quote:
3. As an associate, would you suggest going into a product group or a coverage group. For analysts, I have heard that getting into a product group presents better exits to PE. But for an associate who wishes to build a career within the banking space, would getting into a coverage group be a better choice?


The M&A product specifically has the reputation of being good prep work for PE because you are doing nothing but execution work, which can involve a lot of modeling.

Generally, I would say that the only time when one really is truly different than the other from a career banker standpoint is when you get to the MD level. For MDs, the coverage bankers in industry groups will have client contacts and industry knowledge that M&A MDs may not have as much as. That said, generally MDs in M&A will have focused their work into a particular industry. There could also be factors at play such as how many MDs already exist in the converage group, leaving you wondering what clients there are to go around (ie, are you getting all the crappy clients nobody else wants?).

Frankly, if you make it to the MD level, you're going to be doing just fine either way. I would worry less about whether its better to be an MD in a product group vs. a coverage group, and worry more about getting an associate gig and then moving to VP. There are just so many factors at play and its so far off into the future that it simply isn't worth thinking about.

Quote:
4. I currently have offers from Fuqua and Darden, and I am going back and forth between the two when it comes to ibanking recruiting. If you had to pick between one, what would be your choice? Both seem to have similar strengths in banking - does it essentially come down to fit, or do you believe that one school has an advantage over the other?

Thanks once again for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions. I am sure several prospective students will benefit from the advice you provide in this thread.


First off, congrats on the offers! I didn't really target those schools for my applications, so I'm not super familiar with recruiting at these schools. A casual glance at the employment reports show basically about the same level of FT banking hires in the 10/11 season. I'd maybe reach out to the heads of the school's respective banking clubs and try to get a better feel for what firms are recruiting on campus, how many were hired at each firm, what % of those recruiting for banking jobs converted, etc. If you have that kind of information, it could really help your decision making process. Best of luck!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2012, 06:19
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I met Moss at an admitted students event for the class of 2014, where he was one of the (I guess you can call it) 2013 ambassadors. The advice he offers on this forum is invaluable, and he's a standup guy - and very nice in person. Thanks Moss.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 07 Mar 2012, 03:31
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jana19 wrote:
Moss, do you have any opinion about ibanking recruiting in NYU vs MIT? Trying to decide which school would be a better fit since I am trying to go into investment banking post-MBA.


Jana: Not a whole lot of insight. My firm is taking the same number from each school this summer, but that's a pretty small sample size. Both are solid schools and you'll probably get your foot in the door to most banks at either place. NYU probably offers more networking opportunities if you feel that your personality excels in face-to-face interactions... but honestly who knows how much of a difference that makes.

If its a close decision you might just want to go to the school with the better overall fit for you. People change their minds with their career goals. If you go "all in" on one path over a small difference, it could end up biting you later if you decide to change your recruiting goals. Either way, congrats on getting in to two great schools and best of luck!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 19 Jun 2012, 03:35
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ppylu wrote:
Hi Moss,

Thanks for the initiating the thread and sharing your insights! I noticed you mentioned taking advantage of TTS workshops on campus; my question is would you recommend getting TTS courses outside of the free(?) campus workshops? I am a student about to begin a top 10 program for class 2014 and would also greatly appreciate any advice on how you think I can use the summer to prep for recruiting.

Thanks a lot


TTS sessions are not free, although our investment Banking Club subsidized the cost by a pretty significant amount. I would hold off on paying for TTS pre-matriculation for a couple reasons:

1) it's not subsidized - wait til school and pay much less
2) you are almost certain to not be asked technical questions until either the interview or very late in the process
3) I'd be surprised if they were even offering any classes w/ a live instructor this time of year, considering that every bank on the street is beginning their full-time hire training, and you can't beat the banks on price or volume.

Chill it out, take a class or two at the lower rate once classes start and then assess if you need to round out your skill set with some additional coursework. GL!

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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2012, 11:12
Good info. I applied to some schools this year in Rd 2 and am interested in banking. I will probably ask some questions in the next couple of weeks.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2012, 13:31
Great post +1!

You hit on some very good topics, but one in particular always stands out to me as a little ironic:

Quote:
• Know what the job is. Understand what an investment bank does, what an associate does, what a sell side/buy side process looks like, and what qualities make a good associate.


Now this might seem like a no brainer, but I'm always surprised by how many people want to do investment banking but have absolutely no idea what it is. I would love to hear how an investment banker such as yourself would answer these questions. I think the forum would benefit from your description!

Thanks, and good luck at your new job!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2012, 22:10
Awesome post!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 23 Jan 2012, 13:34
Hi Moss,

Thanks so much for this initiative. Will it be possible for you to provide your guidance re: the below questions:

1. Does group selection come up at all during the internship recruiting process? Are you expected to know which group you want to be in right from the beginning, or is it something that you have decide on once you actually get the offer?

2. Lets say an individual comes from a consumer/retail background, but wants to do healthcare banking (essentially, the person is from background A but wants to go into industry B). Assuming that this individual learns as much as possible about the industry while in business school, how feasible is making such a transition?

3. As an associate, would you suggest going into a product group or a coverage group. For analysts, I have heard that getting into a product group presents better exits to PE. But for an associate who wishes to build a career within the banking space, would getting into a coverage group be a better choice?

4. I currently have offers from Fuqua and Darden, and I am going back and forth between the two when it comes to ibanking recruiting. If you had to pick between one, what would be your choice? Both seem to have similar strengths in banking - does it essentially come down to fit, or do you believe that one school has an advantage over the other?

Thanks once again for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions. I am sure several prospective students will benefit from the advice you provide in this thread.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 23 Jan 2012, 16:45
This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for! Thanks once again!!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2012, 10:40
Moss,

please don't use the word "quarterback". I think everyone who did recruiting is sick of hearing that word ;).

Get off this forum and dominate something else ;).

- Also interning at a bank and studied with Moss for interviews.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2012, 06:36
SaMoCU wrote:
Moss,

please don't use the word "quarterback". I think everyone who did recruiting is sick of hearing that word ;).

Get off this forum and dominate something else ;).

- Also interning at a bank and studied with Moss for interviews.


hahaha ;)

Yes, perhaps I should have prefaced all of this with the note that anything I may claim to know that is worth anything of any value I only got from working with SaMoCu!
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2012, 07:01
great info Moss
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 16 Feb 2012, 16:21
Thanks Moss!

Couple questions:

If I have a strong location preference (SF), how and when does that become of a part of the process?

Are the recruiting processes for niche areas in banking such as restructuring and public finance completely separate from the normal IBD recruiting process?

Have you seen any shift in sentiment as far as students looking at private boutique investment banks versus public bulge bracket backs as of late?

If you received multiple offers, what were three factors that drove your final decision?
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 16 Feb 2012, 21:58
Wow! I was amazed with the information that you posted. It was really a great help for everyine. Thanks for the post! :)
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 17 Feb 2012, 07:58
sdev84 wrote:
Thanks Moss!

Couple questions:

If I have a strong location preference (SF), how and when does that become of a part of the process?


I know they usually ask you during the firm-wide presentation for what your regional preferences are. I believe most people meet with and attend events put on by the NYC office, and then at some point during the process a bunch of students took a trip out to the WC to meet with the banks out there (LA/MP/SF). It was actually a cool trip b/c everyone doing WC recruiting went out there, not just bankers, so it was a solid group.

At that point, I know for interviews some actually flew out to NYC to interview us, some guys flew out there to meet with the banks for interviews, some did phone for 1st round and in person for 2nd round -- it kinda depends.

That said, even from an East Coast school, there were plenty of guys & gals doing WC recruiting and I'm pretty sure they all did very well.

Quote:
Are the recruiting processes for niche areas in banking such as restructuring and public finance completely separate from the normal IBD recruiting process?

Recruiting for restructuring or public finance are a bit different, but in different ways. Basically most of the main restructuring groups are in the big boutique investment banks like Blackstone, Houlihan Lokey, Lazard, etc, because of the conflicts of interest that bulge bracket banks have in a bankruptcy (ie, they almost always would have the debt on their books unlike the boutiques who don't have big balance sheets). So to the extent its different, it would just be the set of firms you target. Beyond that, it would just be viewed as another industry/product group that you've expressed interest in, which isn't unlike someone saying they want to focus on a specific group such as healthcare, retail, M&A, etc.

Quote:
Have you seen any shift in sentiment as far as students looking at private boutique investment banks versus public bulge bracket backs as of late?

Its difficult for me to see changes over time, because I've just had 1 year of experience looking at the recruiting process from such a close level, but I will say the level of interest in BBs was far greater than that of the big boutiques, and nobody really seemed to change their mind over the process. The boutiques have kind of a unique culture and often attract a particular type of candidate looking for something unique, so I don't think that changes in the industry or a ruling like Del Monte is going to really change that.

Quote:
If you received multiple offers, what were three factors that drove your final decision?

I wanted to work for a bank that a) let me work on big, important, newsmaking, exciting deals, b) had either a group I fit in really well with or the opportunity to rotate through a few groups to find my best fit, and c) a culture that I connected with. I know that I and most others spent a lot of time thinking about which banks I liked more than others, but generally kept my mind open and had mental "tiers" of banks, knowing I very well may not have had the opportunity to choose between banks in a given tier because of how competitive the recruiting process was. That said, if you have a top choice, I would vocalize that to a bank, because they generally want to only give offers to people who are going to accept them. Its like asking someone out on a date -- you want to find out if they'll say "yes" before you ask them, creating this weird song-and-dance routine as each partner tries not to get turned down.

For some, by the time they had their choices narrowed down for second round interviews (ie, maybe some banks you were undecided between cut you), they had a clear first choice and were able to confidently accept on the phone right then and there. Others had a more difficult choice on their hands. Most people accepted within a week of getting their offers, typically after sell days, illustrating to me that generally people knew what they wanted.

Banks talk a lot about "culture" and having a good "fit" with the firm, that initially I thought was a lot of BS. I mean c'mon, like you're going to go work for Joe's Bronx Buyout Shop over Goldman just because you fit in well with their culture? C'mon man! Yeah right. Besides, I thought, everyone on the recruiting team is almost always people from your school, so they naturally have a similar culture to you from the get-go.

That said, I really did find cultures that I just didn't connect with and some that I knew I could really fit in well with and thrive. For the particular firm I joined, I was friends with everyone else they took and even did interview prep with all of them -- a stunning and revealing fact considering that I only did interview prep with a handful of people. This showed me that the reason I was friends with these people and associated with them was the same reason the firm I'll be working at liked these people -- we had a shared culture. So as much as it seems like BS fluff, I think the process of doing lots of informationals and having a ton of touch points really does allow you to get to know the people and see where you fit best with.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 17 Feb 2012, 15:34
Moss, I noticed your CFA affiliation. Did you obtain the CFA charter? Did you join the CFA program hoping to boost your chances in banking? How is the credential viewed in the industry?
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 17 Feb 2012, 15:53
CaliCpa wrote:
Moss, I noticed your CFA affiliation. Did you obtain the CFA charter? Did you join the CFA program hoping to boost your chances in banking? How is the credential viewed in the industry?


I actually started in with the CFA program right out of undergrad as just a way of investing in my human capital. Also because everyone said it was so tough and I like a challenge :-D. I passed all three levels, but went to b-school before I attained the 4 years of work experience, so I'm not yet a charterholder (although I plan to be very soon after I start working full-time, assuming I stay in finance and don't become a farmer or something...).

I think the credential is viewed positively in banking. A decent number of people I spoke with were charterholders so that was a great point of connection. To the extent someone did comment on it, it was always favorable. I also noticed that I was definitely asked fewer technical questions in my interviews, and my past industry experience with my CFA progress probably had something to do with that (communicating that I probably knew my technical stuff and they would get a higher ROI from asking me other types of questions).

That said, I'm not particularly endorsing or decrying the CFA program as a path to banking. I think it absolutely helped me, but I can't comment on whether its worth the investment.
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Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A [#permalink] New post 17 Feb 2012, 21:32
That makes sense. From what you have seen, and people you have talked to in the industry, is there value for those that want to do the banking--->hedge fund/PE route (do these funds value it)? I realize that portfolio managers for mutual funds tend to have it, but wasnt sure about buy side type funds such as hedge funds and PE.
Re: Investment Banking Recruiting - Q&A   [#permalink] 17 Feb 2012, 21:32
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