Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jobs in Investment Banks - Some Information

Jobs in Investment Banks

March 2006
Investment banking is a unique career opportunity. It is extremely difficult to become an investment banker, and therefore the rewards and responsibilities are incredibly high.

Investment banking is a unique career opportunity. It is extremely difficult to become an investment banker, and therefore the rewards and responsibilities are incredibly high. In return for grueling hours and a demanding pace, an investment banker can expect a compensation package that typically includes a base salary and a discretionary bonus.

Job Description

Nick Zarcone, managing director, COO of investment banking, out of the Chicago office Robert W. Braid, says, "Simply stated, institutional bankers only work with for-profit corporate entities in two main ways: We help them finance their business by raising capital to grow. And, we act as a financial adviser to the toplevel corporate executives to evaluate and structure corporate mergers and acquisitions."
Connie Thanasoulis COO, Merrill Lynch campus recruiter, says, "The goal of investment bankers is to work ahead of the curve and structure business deals.
"We want to be the firm that pitches the idea and then brings it to the investment market." Thanasoulis adds, "The people we hire have job security, as our intellectual capital could not be done by a computer and it can't be outsourced."
Qualities Needed To Succeed
Bill Sharpe, COO of Minneapolis-based investment banking firm Goldsmith Agio Helms, says, "We're looking for that rare combination of intellectual curiosity, drive, passion and presence."
Scott R. Richardson, managing director of Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, says, "As a young investment banker moves up the organizational ladder, judgment and the ability to manage complex people and situations become the two biggest traits of a successful senior investment banker."
Fierce Competition
"We send our A-list investment bankers to colleges as recruiters to attract the best of the best. Not only are these bankers bright and professional - they can hold an audience in the palm of their hand. These are the same qualities we want to hire," says Thanasoulis.
Sharpe says, "When I started in this business in 1986, there were very few hires that did not come from Ivy League schools." (Sharpe graduated from the Univeristy of Minnesota.) Today that seems to have abated somewhat. Sharpe says, "Our firm receives hundreds of rŽsumŽs each year, so we can be very selective."
Morgan Kinross-Wright, director, undergraduate business career center at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, says, "All of the Carlson students, hired as investment bankers had directly related internships, good grades and were overachievers."
Wall Street Opportunities
Steve Tobkin is a senior at the Carlson School of Management with a double major in finance and entrepreneurial management. This spring he starts his career in investment banking in New York with Citigroup. Tobkin has a 3.993 G.P.A. and completed four related internships, but said it was his involvement with a professional business fraternity that tipped the scales in his favor.
Tobin says, "Involvement with organizations on campus is critical to becoming a business professional. Networking effectively will open doors for you, even if you have not attended an Ivy League college."

Recruiters’ Top 10 Complaints
Caitlin McLaughlin, global head of campus recruiting for Citigroup Markets and Banking (C), will sometimes surprise MBA students by starting off an interview with a question that has little to do with their experience in the business world or as a student at their particular school.
She’ll glance at the interests and activities section of their résumés and ask questions on subjects students expect recruiters to gloss over.
“I’ll say, ‘I noticed on your résumé that you are a Jimmy Buffet fanatic,’ and it will be clear that the person forgot it was on there,” she said. “You can see the look of panic spread across their face because they forgot.”
Little Mistakes, Big Impact
Little slipups like this are the types of things that recruiters say can make the difference between making the right impression or the wrong one during a job interview (see, 9/6/06, “The ‘Do Nots’ of Networking”).
One thing most recruiters agree on is that MBA students are coming to job interviews more prepared and polished than candidates in years past. They are coached by their career services offices, have studied meticulously the employers, and have boiled their work and academic career experiences down to a carefully crafted script.
Even with all this preparation, there are a number of missteps students can make that can quickly shift the tone of the interview in the wrong direction, recruiters from top companies say.
We asked recruiters for specific advice about navigating interviews and sidestepping common mistakes. Here’s what they told us:
1. Follow Interview Etiquette
Some of the most embarrassing moments are caused by blunders a student didn’t anticipate. A cell phone ringing in the middle of an interview can be an unwelcome interruption. Whatever you do, don’t stop to answer it or check the number, says Connie Thanasoulis, director of campus recruiting at Merrill Lynch (MER). Her advice: “Apologize, and immediately move on.”
Etiquette requires students to shake the recruiter’s hand before the interview starts and again at its conclusion. These are moments that could prove embarrassing if you have sweaty palms, a common byproduct of nerves and adrenaline. A simple way to solve the problem is to first brush your hand against your leg to dry it off, suggests Thanasoulis.
2. Keep Your Answers Short and to the Point
Recruiters will sometimes ask a question about a candidate’s résumé and the candidate will ramble on—and on—for several minutes before getting to the main point. This can be trying for the interviewer, who is trying to learn as much as possible about the student in a short time. It can put the interviewer in an uncomfortable position, says Peter Sullivan, director of North American People Services for Booz Allen Hamilton.
“It is very difficult when someone starts diving into detail. It can be perceived as impolite to cut someone off,” says Sullivan.
Try to keep your answers under a minute if possible. This gives the interviewer a chance to consider whether they want to ask the candidate to elaborate on the answer. “If the interviewer wants more details, they will ask for it,” Sullivan says.
3. It’s Okay to Be Clueless
Steve Canale, manager of recruiting and staffing services at General Electric (GE) likes to throw in questions that students might not have anticipated. For example, most students will talk at length with him about the company and why they want to work there, but will be thrown off when he asks them to name GE’s current slogan.
Most students don’t know this and will frequently stumble their way through the question. “Some people will look at the ceiling like God is going to come down and tell them, and other people will try to fake through it or get terribly embarrassed,” he said.
The question can be an interesting test for Canale, who evaluates candidates by the manner in which they answer the question. He says that being honest about not knowing the answer is sometimes the best tactic. “Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know,” says Canale. “I think that would be an area where everybody could improve.”
Sometimes a student does know the answer to a particular question, but may have trouble answering it on the spot, says Thanasoulis, of Merrill Lynch. Her suggestion for dealing with nerves: Take a sip of water and ask for a minute to think about the question. “Regroup and say, ‘I’m sorry about that,’” Thanasoulis says. “It’s okay to say, ‘Sometimes I get a little nervous, but I’m very excited to be here.’”
(By the way, GE’s slogan used to be “We Bring Good Things to Life,” but four years ago the company changed it to “Imagination at Work.”)
4. Avoid Clichés.
It can irk a recruiter when students spend their allotted time talking about themselves in broad generalizations or clichés. Avoid common phrases such as “I’m a people person” or “I’m a creative person.”
Instead, Booz Allen’s Sullivan recommends that you come up with pertinent examples or stories that clearly illustrate your point. One young woman he interviewed convinced him of her leadership skills by telling him about her volunteer efforts at a church in an inner-city neighborhood. She helped several teenagers at the church learn about financial aid and college preparatory exams, and two of the teens she coached went on to become students at Duke University. The story stuck in his mind and helped her stand out among the other students he had interviewed.
“I now have a story I can then attach directly to her. It was compelling and it was going to get her remembered,” Sullivan says.

5. Keep Negativity Out of the Conversation
Many MBA students are career switchers and are excited about transitioning to a job in a new field. Often students in this position will talk at length to a recruiter about why they disliked their old career. This can be a slippery slope, especially if you are talking to a recruiter who might be involved with that field. For example, a student who worked in consulting and is now switching to investment banking should be careful not to say anything negative about their old career, said Citigroup’s McLaughlin.
“The problem is you don’t know if the person sitting across from you may be a consultant,” McLaughlin said. “You could be rubbing the person the wrong way. I always tell students stay away from anything that could be perceived as a negative comment.”
6. Always Have Questions Prepared
Recruiters expect that students will use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about their company. Most end an interview by giving candidates an opportunity to ask a few questions. Don’t take the easy way out, warns Sullivan, of Booz Allen. “When I ask a student, ‘What questions can I answer for you?’ and they say, ‘I’m all set,’ they’ve just failed.”
Students should walk into the interview with a list of thoughtful questions that take advantage of the recruiter’s knowledge of the company, Sullivan says. He recommends avoiding questions that can easily be answered by looking at the company’s Web site, such as whether the company has a Boston office. “You should have three or four really good and insightful questions that show self-awareness that you are in front of someone who is pretty senior,” Sullivan says.
It helps if the student uses the question as an opportunity to have a genuine conversation with the recruiter, says Jeff Vijungco, Adobe’s recruiting director (ADBE): “At some point, it feels like the conversation evolves organically…. The best interviews I’ve found are the ones that don’t even feel like an interview.”
7. Keep Your Ego in Check
The temptation to impress a recruiter can sometimes get the best of students—and come back to haunt them later in the interview. If quantitative math is not your strong suit, don’t pretend that it’s your best subject. You could be sitting across from a derivatives trader who might want to put you on the spot, says Citigroup’s McLaughlin. “Instead of making broad characterizations about your skill set, be more humble about your abilities,” she says.
8. Don’t Walk in Unprepared
Learn as much as you can about the person who is interviewing you and the company before the interview. Recruiters say they are sometimes surprised when they see a student has done little to no research on the company before the interview. “We’ve seen students that may not know the company or firm. Some may not have visited the Web site or attended a briefing on campus,” said Angela Marchesi, MBA recruiting program manager at Deloitte.
In most cases, students know the name of the recruiter interviewing them in advance. Make every attempt to find out as much as you can about the person before you meet them, says Thanasoulis. Students should conduct Internet searches on the recruiter and try to find out anything they can about them from contacts they have at the recruiter’s company. People who work at the company or spent a summer internship there can also prove to be valuable resources, notes Thanasoulis.
“They should exhaust every information source they can get to so they can know who they are interviewing with,” Thanasoulis says.
9. Don’t Talk in Absolutes
Students should avoid the temptation to tell a recruiter that their firm is the candidate’s No.1 choice.
“A recruiter will hear that as ‘I will accept your offer,’ and it is understood that the company is your No.1 choice,’ McLaughlin says. If the company later extends a job offer that the student rejects, the candidate may have damaged his credibility, she said. A safer approach might be to tell the recruiter that the firm is one of their top choices. This allows the student to express interest, but also leaves a little wiggle room, she says. “Saying something like that is a hundred times better than saying you are my No.1 choice and not being prepared to act on that.”
10. Never Bring Up Salary
One mistake that can immediately take you out of the running is bringing up salary during an initial meeting with a recruiter. Adobe’s Vijungco has seen several students this year who have used this year’s strong job market as an excuse to ask him what they can make at the company.
“Sometimes there is a tendency for candidates to overemphasize the compensation piece,” he says. “They talk less about ‘how can I contribute to the company?’ and more about “what can I make here?’” Students should equate an initial meeting with a recruiter with a first date, Vijungco says: “On a first date, you don’t want to talk about marriage.”
A recruiter can be drained at the end of a long day interviewing MBA students on campus. In most cases, they have been meeting with people from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seeing 13 or more candidates over a nine-hour period.
Citigroup’s McLaughlin says that performing at the top of your game is essential in such an intense interviewing environment. “There is guaranteed to be somebody else, maybe several people, who did more than you did to get ready and shine during the interview,” she says.
With those odds stacked against you, you’ll want to do everything you can to come out on top. Avoiding these mistakes will help you keep in the running.

Tech Jobs
Tapping the Pipeline
On Wall Street, the demand for the best and brightest graduates has not waned. In fact, a number of Wall Street firms, many of which have large and active recruitment departments, consider their recruiting programs to be so closely linked to their competitive advantages that they declined to be interviewed for this article.
At Merrill Lynch, the firm's in-house training program - similar to Vanguard's technology leadership program - is the biggest source of talent for its workforce, according to Connie Thanasoulis, COO of U.S. campus recruiting for the firm.
Merrill's primary "feeder" - the means by which most recruits are ushered into the firm - is its summer analysts program, she explains. The program entails 10 weeks of mostly hands-on training. "You really could not successfully recruit any college graduate this day and age without a very robust summer program," says Thanasoulis, who adds that 75 percent to 85 percent of Merrill Lynch's new hires come from the program.
The program starts with two months of classes, according to Kristin Freas, a tech recruiter with Merrill Lynch. Last year, she says, the firm specifically taught both .NET and Java, and touched upon database issues as well. "Then [participants] are placed out into the business, they get hands-on learning, hands-on mentoring from their managers and other analysts from their group," Freas explains.
After initial training through the first two years of employment, analysts can get additional training, if necessary. For training, Merrill works with a number of different vendors - and offers classes at its Merrill Lynch University - covering different technologies and skills.
Merrill Lynch also invests heavily in recruitment and reports no slowdown in the number of positions it needs to fill. One of the largest firms on Wall Street, with 50,600 employees (2004 data), Merrill Lynch hires about 500 analysts and technologists every year, "and that number keeps going up," says Thanasoulis. With that kind of pipeline to fill, it is crucial the right talent is brought through the door.
Given the fact that entry-level tech salaries are high and increasing, finding the proper talent is even more important. In 2005, the average computer science grad started at $50,664 a year, a 3.3 percent increase from last year, according to the fall quarterly survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Information sciences and systems grads posted a 3.6 percent increase, to an average offer of $43,902. Graduates in management information systems saw a bigger jump, rising 5 percent to an average starting salary of $43,653.
At Merrill, while recruiting for a specific position entails looking for its corresponding technology skill set, the firm's Metviner says there are some broad-based tech skills that most recruits need. Among those skills are knowledge of J2EE framework, Java, C++, .NET, UNIX and C#. "One of the great things about Merrill is that we have such a broad platform of technology," Metviner says.
But Metviner - who runs the firm's global equity financing technology group - says he has noticed a few areas where recruits are lacking. One of those areas is database technology. Many new students, he says, have very rudimentary SQL (Structured Query Language - the standard language for relational database-management systems) skills. "Your ability as a new grad to hit the ground running when you are working on database-specific things is somewhat limited because you really have no depth," he says.
To do a significant amount of database work, Metviner notes, new hires need to understand more than the fundamentals. "Really designing a database - writing the stored procedures that have the business logic in there in a way that is efficient and doesn't draw the database into inefficient run time - really takes a good amount of understanding of what happens under the hood."
New arrivals also seem to lack an understanding of application integration, Metviner continues. Most schools, he explains, focus on teaching students how to build a new application from scratch, "which is actually a fairly different skill set from building something where there was nothing before." Merrill works to correct some of these deficiencies through its analyst-training program, Metviner notes.
In order to find the ideal new hire, IT and business leaders work together, zeroing in on the schools with the top IT programs. One of the ways Merrill makes sure its recruiters are pursuing students with the appropriate skills is through the use of an advisory council comprised of members from each business unit within the firm. "So they very much tell us what they are looking for in terms of, 'Did the class last year come in with the skill sets that we needed?'" relates Thanasoulis.


Top Math Grads Can Choose Between the "Street" and the "Valley"
July 16, 2007
In the battle between Wall Street and Silicon Valley for top graduates, students with the highest grades in mathematics, computer science, and finance — especially the few who are bilingual — find themselves in the enviable position of being the objects of extreme attention.
"Technology is the hardest to hire for," Janet Raiffa, head of U.S. campus recruiting for Goldman Sachs, told "We really have to compete." The most ferocious competition for talent involves math-intensive jobs, especially developing algorithms and software used in search engines or computer-based trading.
In spite of the high demand, however, enrollment in college and university computer science programs declined about 40% between 2001 and 2006, according to the Computing Research Association. So, Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch have to compete with Silicon Valley companies such as Google to fill slots.
"It's ferocious," said Connie Thanasoulis, Merrill Lynch's director of campus recruiting. "You have to get the technology part right because that's become the guts of the organization."
On Wall Street, the high demand for math-related skills has been driven by recent increases in the number of mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and hedge fund investments. At the same time, according to marketing consultant William Strauss, many graduates are unwilling to sign up for Wall Street's reputed 80-hour work weeks. They're well aware that financial institutions usually can't match the attractions offered by such organizations as Google, which encompass flexible hours, pool tables, scooters to navigate to the office, free meals, laundry and gym services, and massages — the latter, however, for employees only on their birthdays!
Source:, June 27, 2007

Summer Internships

A number of employers, such as investment banks and accounting firms, say they have beefed up their internship hiring for this summer -- although competition for the slots still remains fierce. At Goldman Sachs, for one, applications have increased by 26% this year. The firms anticipate continued growth and seek to generate a bigger labor pool for full-time hires once the students graduate. Last year employers said that about 36% of their interns, on average, became full-time employees, according to a survey of more than 200 companies by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
"It's a 10-week interview, an opportunity to see a person in action," says Janet Raiffa, co-head of U.S. campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs.
Many professional internship programs hire mainly juniors, but a number of big companies, such as financial-services giant Merrill Lynch & Co., are now reaching down lower into the college ranks this summer to hire more sophomores -- and even some freshmen. "It's so competitive out there, you have to build those relationships early to get in the game," says Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, Merrill's chief operating officer of U.S. campus recruiting.
At the same time, a growing number of hedge funds and other nontraditional summer employers are showing up at campuses with internship programs for the first time this year. Gabriel Lepine, a 20-year-old junior at Brown University, applied for about 14 summer internships at investment banks, hedge funds and consulting firms. He received two offers from hedge funds, and an investment bank put him on its internship wait list.
"All in all, it resembled the college-application process," says Mr. Lepine, who had to go through multiple interviews, follow-up letters and intense networking to land his job offers. Yet most of his classmates who sought internships were able to find them, he says.

Lack of summer internship in finance hurts Students in getting jons in Finance Companies


Investment banks, hoping to secure the most talented recruits early, have begun to depend heavily on summer internships to fill their full-time positions, which means fewer available spots for persons who didn't spend their summer on Wall Street.

The use of summer interns to fill post-graduation full-time opportunities has grown so widespread that several banks this year are not hiring others for positions in capital markets, meaning that some students have been left to search for other opportunities.

"The majority of our marketing on campus now in the fall is directed towards internship programs," said Kristina Peters, director and global head of graduate recruiting for Deutsche Bank. "At the top schools, it's becoming increasingly more competitive. It's a bit of a circle. In order for us to compete for top students, we feel it is necessary to go after them in their junior year."

Connie Thanasoulis, director of campus recruiting for Merrill Lynch, said her firm was pursuing a similar strategy. "It's a trend that everyone's been following," she said.

Matt Margolin, a student of 2005, devoted the summer to his thesis. Not having spent the summer in a finance-related internship made it much more difficult when he began applying for full-time positions with investment banks. "It did not occur to me that not doing an internship would affect my chances after graduation," said Margolin, who now works as an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Margolin said that most seniors without internship experience will have to do a great job in their interview of explaining "why they have not done finance before, and why they want to do it now."
'Increasingly more competitive'

Charles Vu '07, who interned at Deutsche Bank this summer, said that exploring internships early benefits both banks and students. "The summer interns the banks hire full-time have essentially passed a 10-week interview," Vu said. At the same time, he added, interns "can get a sense of the culture and the jargon of finance" while learning whether the job would suit them after graduation.

Early internships also allow banks to get an edge in competing for the most talented candidates.

"We have to find the sharpest talent," Thanasoulis of Merrill Lynch said. "I think it's a trend that's growing because students are getting more and more sophisticated at earlier stages of their life."

Though difficult to pinpoint when banks started depending on internships to fill their ranks, interviews with a number of investment bank recruiters and alumni involved in financial services point to the mid-90s as the time when banks began focusing on securing highly talented summer interns.

But Peters said Deutsche Bank is redirecting its efforts away from hiring seniors for full-time positions and toward hiring summer interns, a trend evident in many of the larger banks. "Our first priority is to the students who were with us for the summer," she said. "We target our summer program to be a primary feeder pool for full-time positions."

'Incredible odds'

The increased focus on summer internships mean today's seniors — at least those lacking a summer experience in finance — face a greater challenge in landing a coveted finance job.

The number of slots available for persons without summer internship seniors has absolutely decreased, according to Juan Sabater '87, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs who was active in on-campus recruiting at the University from 1998 to 2006. Deutsche Bank said 75 percent of its hires from the Class of 2006 were former summer analysts. While Thanasoulis of Merrill Lynch pointed out that opportunities still remain for them, though applications need to pass a high bar. She said seniors without summber internship are "up against incredible odds." She added "You have to have a very high GPA — 3.6 and above — and you have to tell why you want investment banking job, You have to have that quality that really sells us in the blink of an eye."

Despite the growing emphasis on recruiting through internships, however, Sabater said investments banks will always recruit others. The recruiting process should never foreclose the possibility of bringing in a star, he added.

No comments: