Investment Banking Careers Chat – original transcript (11 May 2005)
Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi All! I am Prakriti Sofat - one o...
should apply to them.
John@Bath : invester I agree with Prakriti. Banks will hire you in a quant role if you have a
Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Lolla! Well I know lots of people who have shifted to management
consultancy after spending few year...
managers while investment banking comprise the whole plethora of corporate finance, trading,
merchant banking, sales etc
John@Bath : Not sure. I very much doubt it though.
invester : Thank you for your comments. During my Phd I have gained a l...
better understanding of what the bank in question is looking for - that would increase your
Melissa White - BGI :...
jasonuk916 : Hi Prakriti, this is the job requirement below:

Fast growing, entrepreneurial financial markets trading
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Investment Banking Careers Chat … original transcript (11 May ...

  1. 1. Investment Banking Careers Chat – original transcript (11 May 2005) Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi All! I am Prakriti Sofat - one of the PhD researchers who attended UK Grads Investment Banking Open Day. Currently I am in the final stage of my PhD in Macroeconomics at Cardiff University. I am here today to answer any questions that you might have on careers/opportunities in I Banking. John@Bath : Hi everyone. I'm John and I am a final year PhD student in Probability Theory at the University of Bath. I attended the UK GRAD open day on investment banking, and will try to answer any questions about careers in finance and banking. Egis_ : Hi! I'm Anya Serdyuk, I'm a first year PhD in Finance student at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and do research in the area of investment portfolio diversification in emerging capital markets. I didn't attend the event, so will ask questions :) Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Anya! Feel free to ask questions. I must suggest that next year you must definitely go for the open day. HelenL : Hi, I am just about to embark on a PhD this september and I was just wondering what Grad Uk is and how you have benefited from pasrticipating on the open day? thanks John@Bath : Grad UK is a body that organises events to help PhD students develop skills outside of their research specialisms and enhance their employability when they graduate. These range from 4-day residential courses for general useful skills (team working, making presentations etc.) to one-day events that focus on a particular industry. I recently attended one on Investment Banking. These are really useful because you get to talk to industry experts - I learned a lot about banking and finance on the day, and got CV/Interview hints too. yannis_gr : Hello, I am Ioannis, 2nd Year PhD student from Bath, I also attended the UK Grads Investment Banking Open Day, and I would be interested to exchange views and experiences with other participants. Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Ioannis! For the benefit of other participants would you tell us what you gained from attending the opne day. Julia Z : hi Prakriti and John -thanks for your offering your help. I'm currently writing a PhD in old age dementia, having done an undergrad course in Neuroscience and a Masters in Public Health. I haven't done any proper math or economics courses -do I have any chance of being employed in Investment Banking? John@Bath : One of the points I took from the IB day is that there are roles for ANYONE with a PhD - with your background you could not go into a technical role, but banks value the problem solving/research/independent thinking skills that you get from doing a PhD in any subject. BKIR : Hi John and Prakriti, What insight did you get from the UK Grads Investment Banking Open Day? What do I-banks look for from a PhD researcher? John@Bath : It depends what roles you are interested in. What is your PhD subject? nerdres : Hi!! I am Sachin, a final year PhD from Loughborough University. I attended the GRAD UK event on 31st ... John@Bath : Sorry Sachin your question does not fit into my screen - could you ask it again please? invester : I am currently studying a PhD (Final year) in Engineering (mathematical modelling of differential equation for automotive components). Previously I have obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering (2:1) and Msc in Automotive Engineering. However since I have started my PhD, I would like to work with an Investment bank. I am thinking of doing ACCA or CFA (an investment banking course) which I believe will enhance my chances to get into the industry. Do you think it is worth of doing ACCA or even CFA at this stage? Could you please advice me to how to enter in this highly competitive market. What are my chances to get job into the investment bank? And lastly which field should I choose in investment banking (maybe research analyst). Thank you in advance. Prakriti@Cardiff : You definitely have the mathematical/modelling skills that I Banks are after. At this stage I dont think it is essential to do a CFA/ACCA. You already have strong qualifications in support of your application. Your best bet would be in the quantitative analytics team - as they need people with your skills. Some IBanks have specific programs for PhDs, you
  2. 2. should apply to them. John@Bath : invester I agree with Prakriti. Banks will hire you in a quant role if you have a strong numerate background and good programming skills. It's probably more worth your while to read an introductory book on mathematical finance (e.g. Hull) rather than worry about taking a formal qualification. 4 PhD ex-colleagues of mine have found this kind of job, and none of them had ACCA or equivalent. Egis_ : Could you guys please write about the event on the whole, what kind of activities did you have there? Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Egis! It was a one day event - with lots of opportunitites to network. (1) There were presentations on opportunities in Fixed Income and Equity Research desks with representatives from the participating I Banks. (2) We got a tour of a trading floor at Lehman Brothers. (3) Session on the selection process - what the Banks are really looking for in applicants. (4) Detailed feedback on CVs - which was very helpful! Also discussions about interviews. (5) Fun group activities to test team working skills. Galliard : Did you get any useful tips about specific things that Investment Banking employers were looking for in their new recruits? Did these differ from company to company? This is the sort of thing it's so hard to find out before you apply and possibly get it wrong! John@Bath : It depends totally on the role within banking that you are interested in. jasonuk916 : Hi, I am Jason, final year of PhD in Applied Science from Cardiff University. I am now looking for job in Investment bank and Hedge fund. Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Jason! Have you thought which area within I Banking? Leo@Bath : Hi everyone, it is Xiaopeng WANG from Bath Univ. Nice to meet you guys again. I also attended the UK Grads Investment Banking Open Day in London, and would like to exchange views with you and share experiences with those who haven't attended the event John@Bath : Hi Xiaopeng. What did you think of the event? yannis_gr : Hello, just to add, I am studing Management Information Systems and Bath Uni. I found the open day very useful, in terms of talking to industry experts, understanding the work they are involved in, and where a PhD student might fit in within their environment. Prakriti@Cardiff : Yannis thanks for your input. ucheduru21 : Hello, I am uche a second year Phd engineering Cambridge, I didnt attend the the open day but would like to know more about career opportunities in investment banking John@Bath : If you have a quantitative backgound and are good at computer programming then banks will certainly be interested in you. Technical roles (e.g. quantitative analyst) involve developing mathematically complicated pricing models and then implementing these in C/C++. jasonuk916 : Dear All, I am going to attend an interview in a Hedge fund company next week. This will be my first interview since I started to hunt for job. The job is about doing statsitical research and mathmatical modelling. The intreview will include two parts: 1) IQ test and questions, etc. 2) C++ and Math tests. Does anybody have any good advice for me? I will appreciate your any advice very much. Prakriti@Cardiff : Congrats on the interview jasonuk916! My suggestion would be to prepare really well for the IQ test by going through similar/practice tests. That would allow you to identify your weak areas and really work on them. Plus you would feel more confident when you actually go for the test. Your career centre should have books/Cds to help you practice. BKIR : Or perhaps my question should be, is there a particular role in I-banking that will value my expertise in International Relations / Politics - knowing that they are not exactly quantitative subjects... John@Bath : Sorry! I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that one. You'd probably have to talk to someone in the HR department of a bank. esryau : Hi John! I am Ying, a 3rd year PhD student from Warwick. What CV/interview hints did you obtain from the Investment Banking Open Day? Thanks John@Bath : It depends on the role you're interested in - are you interested in technical or non- technical roles? Alien Lola : Hi everyone! I'm Ilona, currently finishing up my law PhD at Cambridge and considering to switch to either I Banking or management consultancy. I didn't attend the event. Would it be easy to switch to management consultancy from I Banking later on or is I Banking pretty much a set course for a career?
  3. 3. Prakriti@Cardiff : Hi Lolla! Well I know lots of people who have shifted to management consultancy after spending few years in investment banking. Clearly, you would lose out in terms of your starting position when compared to individuals who were in consultancy right from the start. However, once you break in then your growth will not be affected. Egis_ : Did IBankers tell what level of positions can they suggest for applicants with PhD but without experience in the field? Is it something as Assistant Analyst or Analyst or thms else? John@Bath : It probably depends on the division of the bank you're applying to. It would certainly be at a significantly higher level than someone with just a first degree. Leo@Bath : Hi, John. I think it is quite useful. The fair were thorough in explaining the summer internship opportunities in IB as well as the long term opportunities . The tour in the trading floor of Lehman Brothers was great and you could have a very close experience of what the staffs in IB are doing. John@Bath : Yes, I thought the tour of the trading floor was very interesting too. investmentbanker : Hi everyone! I am currently doing a Phd in Finance at Durham University . i wold like to know how important are programming (C++) skills necessary to get a position in a IB? Prakriti@Cardiff : It depends on the area that you want to work in. If you want to join the modelling/analytics team then programming skills are vital! However, if you were to go for sales/trading then they are not essential. Julia Z : do you have any specific hints about getting into Equity Research? as I understand it, it is the one area in banking where you don't need too much prior math/economics knowledge John@Bath : There are plenty of jobs that do not require high-level mathematics skills. If I seem to be concentrating on these then it's only because they are the jobs I know most about! Sales/Mergers and Acquisitions/non-quantitative research are all areas where PhD graduates are valued, but a numerate background is not required. tawar : Hi, My name is rajiv and i am in my 3rd year of 4 year integrated PhD programme in the subject of medical microbiology. sound quite diverse? Have a years experience in a pharma R&D centre and quite into the happenings in the field of pharmaceutical. I wish to work with an investment bank, not sure what area i will fit in well. Could you please guide me in this matter, as to what skills are required and do i need to do anything more. Prakriti@Cardiff : Rajiv - Do you have strong mathematical skills? Given your specialisation in the Pharma sector it makes sense to try and work in that area. I Banks are looking for individuals with a diverse set of skills - strond mathematical background, if you want to work in analytics/quantitative roles, ability to work in teams, strong communication, leadership and motivation. jasonuk916 : Hi Prakriti, I am looking for a position like quantitative analyst or statistical research using Matlab and other modelling language. But I dont have finance background Prakriti@Cardiff : jasonuk916 - a background in finance is not always essential - as long as you have an open mind and willing to learn. If you have the prgramming skills, which is required in the position that you are after, you will be given training on the job to expand your financial knowledge. It of course would be taken as a positive in an interview if you take the initiative to do some reading before hand! manz3 : hii john...i am a graduate in I.T and want to pursue a career in IB.I wanted to know your view on Investment Management and Investment Banking...whats the major difference as you guys see it? John@Bath : An "Investment bank" actually has many business areas, of which Investment Management is just one. As far as I am aware (someone out there correct me if I'm wrong please!) then investment management is managing large portfolios , sometimes for very rich individuals, or sometime for other companies. ucheduru21 : Hi John@Bath, please how does one get to communicate these skills to recruiters in the I-bank sector. How do they assess people with PhDs John@Bath : Your application/CV/covering letter should be specific to the role you are applying for, highlighting the relevant skills. Prakriti@Cardiff : investment managements is a department which manages investments like asset
  4. 4. managers while investment banking comprise the whole plethora of corporate finance, trading, merchant banking, sales etc investmentbanker : Do you believe the IBs consider age limit in their recruitment processes for PhD students, let's say 30 years old ? Prakriti@Cardiff : I dont believe so. invester : As my previous qualification is Engineering based and I have little knowledge in investment banking. Do you think the banks will raise question on my career change or is it disadvantage comparing to other candidates. Prakriti@Cardiff : You will be surprised at the number of engineers working in I Banks! As long as you have a solid application and the reasons to support your change they will not take the career move negatively. texaspitt : what are the career progression prospects when one joins barclays as a personal banker? Prakriti@Cardiff : I am sorry, I do not know the answer to that. However, I am sure that if you contact Barclays HR department they will be able to help you. invester : My PhD subject is mathematical modelling of automotive components especially partial differential equations. How do you think it is relevant to financial mathematics? Should I learn some basic financial mathematics techniques or is it not relevant? Thank you very much for your valuable time and have a nice day John@Bath : The most relevant areas of mathematics for quant roles are probability/stochastics and PDEs. Obviously if you were applying these to financial problems then this would be advantageous, but it's not essential. For quant jobs, programming is very inportant too, and knowing some basic financial maths is definitely a good idea. jasonuk916 : Thx, Prakriti! Yes, I made an appointment in Cardiff Univ career centre for a mock interview. I am now also reading some hedge fund-related book/paper, cos i have no finance background. The job requirements ask for strong math and matlab which i think I have. Prakriti@Cardiff : jasonuk916 - I think you have a good chance with sufficient practice! There is a very good book on interviews 'Brilliant answers to tough interview questions' have a look at that as well. Good luck!! Alien Lola : Is there a lot of strategic consulting going on in IB or does that depend on a particular bank and whether it has a specific department for this? Prakriti@Cardiff : Lola - Banks have their strategy desks such as equity strategy etc. Of course it depends on each bank. texaspitt : I recently attended an interview for a position with barclays and was advised i was successful. How long does it take before I get my offer letter? Prakriti@Cardiff : congrats texaspitt! I think your best bet would be to call HR to check. Each bank could have a different processing time. Kostas29 : Hi all I am Kostas 1st year PhD student from Essex. Considering the prograsmming skill it is different to program in VB from C++. So the real question in may opinion is what level of programming do you need. Can anyone answer on that? John@Bath : For quant roles I would say some programming experience (not necessarily a lot though) is essential. Some of the recruiters I spoke to on the GRAD day said they had employed people with very limited programming experience because their mathematical or financial background was very strong. Leo@Bath : Hi, Lolla. Yes, I quite agree with Prakriti. However, as far as I know, there is still some difference between the consulting and IB. Take interview for example, unlike a consulting interview, which lends itself to cool, cerebral case studies and brain games, the investment banking interrogation probably won"t involve many airy, academic questions. Instead, you might expect nuts and bolts: "Which would have a higher P/E ratio, a food company or a pharmaceutical company?" "Where are interest rates going, and why?", something like that. Prakriti@Cardiff : Thats true Leo. I banking interviews tend to be more technical while Consultancy interview want to see that you can think out of the box! investmentbanker : Do you believe IB consider students from abroad less interesting than british students in their recruitment processes, as they have to sponsor a work permit for them ?
  5. 5. John@Bath : Not sure. I very much doubt it though. invester : Thank you for your comments. During my Phd I have gained a lot of experience in Matalb, Excel and word but no experience with C++ programming. Do you think I should gain some more knowlege in C++ or it is not relevant. At the meantime could you please explain me the difference between other reserach analyst such as fixed income and equity reaserach as well as quant reserach. thank you Prakriti@Cardiff : It depends on the role that you are going to apply. if you have the inclination then increasing your knowledge of C++ will only add to your CV. In a quantitative researchers role, programming will definitely be involved. I dont think that applies to Fixed Income/Equitites. However, I am not entirely sure at this point. A more detailed answer will be available on the chat archive. Galliard : What were the main points from the session at the Careers in Focus event on the selection process for a job in Inv Banking? To what extent did the potential employers support the notion that employers should value a PhD student as much for their independent thinking/research skills as for their specific career-related expertise? Is the message getting through to employers that PhDs can turn their hand to just about anything? John@Bath : The message of the day was that banks value ANY PhD, and if you want a career in banking after your PhD then there is a role to suit you somewhere. David_Peter : Rajiv, yes I would agree with Prakriti, but also advise that IB seem to be looking for generalist as well that are able to tackle a multitude of problems and add value to each project. If you have been doing this in your degree then it is logical to assume that you might be able to bring these skills to IB - which ever role you decide to take on. However, maths are key as well :-) Prakriti@Cardiff : Thanks David. Did you attend the open day? tawar : Hi prakriti, thanks for the reply. I have cleared MBA entrances in India and also scored well in the mathematical skills for GRE (750/800 for analytical and 650/800 for quantitative), not sure if this is the kind of mathematical skills you need. Apart from this not done anything specific. I am certainly good at communication, qualities to work in team (thats what i was doing in my job - which was a junior managerial level, with supervision of ongoing experiments). Prakriti@Cardiff : Your GRE scores are clearly quite good. I am sure you will have no problem in cracking the online numeracy tests that I Banks have. So have you applied to them? Sky Walker : hi, everyone. i have already finished my PhD in international business and am currently teaching as lecturer at Leeds University. i am looking for positions in I-banking with particular interests in M&As in China. i did not attend the open day event. could anyone tell me if I-banks are interested in looking for people specialising in China? Prakriti@Cardiff : Sky Walker - I am sure there will be opportunitites for people like you. It of course depends on the I Bank you are interested in and what kind of operations they have in China. David_Peter : Hi Leo, I would agree that the discussions regarding long term opportunites for postgrads was very helpful. I got a feeling of team and a lasting contribution. These discussions took place during the informal drinks at the end of the day - one of the best times to catch the real day to day information Prakriti@Cardiff : I agree with David. I think the best part of the opne day was the opportunity to interact with the representatives and also other researchers. John@Bath : Hi Sky Walker. In fact one of the recruiter I spoke to specifically mentioned China as an area in which most banks are looking to expand their operations. esryau : Hi Prakriti! I wonder if there would be any position within modelling/analytics team that doesn't involve so much programming. I've got strong mathematical background, but not very keen on programming Prakriti@Cardiff : esryau from my coversations with the representatives it seemed that analytics teams require programming skills. However, that does not mean that you cant work in other areas. There are ample opportunities within Fixed income/equity research which would require your mathematical skills but not programming. Julia Z : is it very much who you know to get into the banking sector? Prakriti@Cardiff : Julia I wouldnt agree with that. The industry is very competitive and welcomes new graduates and postgrads. Of course if you know someone then you could have a
  6. 6. better understanding of what the bank in question is looking for - that would increase your chances! Melissa White - BGI : Hi investmentbanker, just to let you know that age is never a consideration for us, experience and attitude are the important factors. Prakriti@Cardiff : Thx Malissa! I am sure that would put lots of reearchers at ease. Galliard : It sounds like you actually got opportunities to speak to the recruiters in person on this GRAD day. Is this type of event a good starting-point for people like me who are interested in Inv Banking but a bit unsure of where to start? Or should we contact the companies directly? Prakriti@Cardiff : Galliard you should do both. The open day is definitely a very good opportunity to meet people - to figure out what area you would like to work in. The contacts that you make there are of course very important. It is advisable to go there right from the second year of your PhD. Julia Z : thanks Prakriti for your advice! Prakriti@Cardiff : Welcome Julia and all the very best! John@Bath : Melissa - further to the discussion about age, would BGI treat someone with 2-3 years post-doc research experience in the same way as someone who had just finished a PhD, or woul you prefer to recruit people straight from a PhD? David_Peter : Hi BKIR, I think that the banks would be interested in all areas of study esp. if you are able to demonstrate analytical thinking and an appreciation for the financial services Prakriti@Cardiff : I agree with David - its not really the specific area of study but they want to see the skills that you have learnt over the course of your PhD. Having a PhD is a signal to the employer that you are capable of working independently in an unstructured environment, you have the dedication, you are a motivated individual and you know how to solve problems. All essential for a career in I banking! Sky Walker : hi, everyone. i have already finished my PhD in international business and am currently teaching as lecturer at Leeds University. i am looking for positions in I-banking with particular interests in M&As in China. i did not attend the open day event. could anyone tell me if I-banks are interested in looking for people specialising in China? Prakriti@Cardiff : Sky Walker - all IBanks are rapidly expanding their presence in China. I am sure there would be immense opportunitites for you. Melissa White - BGI : Hi invester, Many roles do not require relevant financial experience as this will be taught as part of an induction programme, however a strong interest is required and if you are competing against candidates who have this skill they are more likely to be successful. Prakriti@Cardiff : Thx Malissa. Just a query which someone asked earlier - what is the difference between a fixed income/equity researcher and a quantitative researcher? LynnM : Don't forget that there's lots of info for PhDs on the UK GRAD website ( Career planning info is in the Just for Postgrads section ( If you are still doing a doctorate you may be interested in attending a GRADschool. GRADschools can help you to develop greater awareness of your skills and competencies and help you to think about the next steps in terms of career options ( Prakriti@Cardiff : I agree with Lynn. I would definitely like to advice all the second years that they should definitely go for the opne day events organisd by Uk grad. John@Bath : I have to leave now I'm afraid.Thank you everyone for your questions and comments. If you think that something like the investment banking day would be useful for you then have a look at the GRAD website for upcoming events. David_Peter : Melissa, I greatly enjoyed Chris Suttons talk regarding iShares and I was wondering how his expansion in the UK and Americas is going. Furthermore, do you know if iShares will be hiring at any point in the near future? Thanks for your help! Prakriti@Cardiff : Malissa over to you.
  7. 7. jasonuk916 : Hi Prakriti, this is the job requirement below: Fast growing, entrepreneurial financial markets trading company seeks top quality Scientific Researchers to join its research team. Candidates should have a good knoweledge of Matlab and obtained a Phd in an Applied Science and have gained some post graduate experience. It is important that you have a demonstrable record of employing practical data analysis to explore real world data. This is an opportunity to join a unique and innovative company and to carry out challenging and interesting work of direct and practical relevance to the company s commercial activities. It would be ideal for candidates of strong intellect who wish to pursue a research career in statistics but achieve the rewards of success in a dynamic commercial environment. Knowledge or experience of financial markets would be useful but not essential. Do you have any suggestions which I should bear on mind for the interview? Prakriti@Cardiff : I think you should have ready examples where you have applied your knowledge to solve problems, where you have exploited an opportunity for commercial benefit. I think it would be taken positively if you can read something about financial markets to demonstrate your initiative. Prakriti@Cardiff : Thats it for today, thanks for all your questions and input! Prakriti@Cardiff : For help with deciding on future career options, go to the UK GRAD websirw: jill : Don't forget that you have access to your own university Careers Service and staff there will be happy to advise on your application, finding vacancies and researching further information about career opportunities in this area. You can also access detailed information about careers in finance on in the sections on Explore Types of Jobs and Explore Job Sectors. This chat has now ended.