Investment Banks have the most extraordinary number of jobs within them, it can be completely mind-boggling. Every time we went near one we found a whole new department or group of people that do something we’d never heard of. This seems to be due to the immense specialisation within banks where it can be quite possible to sit next to someone but have no idea about what they do. There are a couple of major distinctions worth highlighting. Investment Banking or ‘IBD’ tends to be the department which most people imagine when thinking about an investment bank. They are the one’s doing huge M&A deals, putting in incredibly long hours (14 hours+ each day including weekends for months at a time is not uncommon) and schmoozing with business leaders. Work/life balance is not easily found but on the flip side the work you do will likely be high profile and give you an enormous breadth of business and finance experience. This means that if you want to leave London or Investment Banking at some point you shouldn’t have a problem as the skills gained are very transferable. We met ex bankers in companies ranging from renewable energy start-ups to large pharmaceuticals. Capital Markets is where you’ll find the traders, salespeople and research analysts. They’re market based and are the one’s you see on TV shouting down phones, sat in front of 5 of computer screens. They’re monitoring market activity and reacting immediately to any changes. It’s noisier and a bit more adrenalin fuelled than IBD. One of the big perks of Capital Markets (other than the actual job), is that the hours tend to reflect those of the market. That means early starts with most people in the office by 6.30 but it also means you tend to be out by 6.00 in the evening. And there is almost never weekend work. So if you’re an early riser the work/life balance is pretty good especially compared to IBD. One limiting factor though is that you’re in a highly specialized role usually in a very specific market area, so there’s not much in the way of transferable skills. If you’re an FX institutional salesperson it’s not that easy to move into another product area and you’re going to be tied to working in London (or another major financial centre).Beyond these two areas you have a massive range of middle and back office functions. There’s technology, operations, legal, finance, marketing and HR for a start. So if finance interests you then it’s definitely worth looking at the breadth of what’s on offer. The other thing that struck us about banks was just how diverse they were. Without doubt they had the most mixed workforces we saw, with every member of a team often from a different country. What that means is when you’re applying for a job you’re not just up against your peers in this country but across the world.
Key Skills for Graduate Jobs in Banking video.
There are different personality traits and skill traits for every single job in a bank. The quantitative people who write mathematical models and do everything in numbers. They are predominantly numerate people they don’t necessarily need to have people skills, they probably won’t get on the phone to many clients. But they love that, I don’t speak on the phone to as many people as the sales people and I am quite happy not doing that.
The key skills for my role are clearly someone that doesn’t need that much sleep.
I think you need to have patience and the perseverance to work the long hours.
Someone who can think on their feet quite quickly.
I think sales people do have an ability to assimilate information quite quickly and to think about the arguments think about the information, take it all in and then really structure it, because it is a little like being at college and we have all done those essay questions when it says 'please do the following' in 45 minute and what we actually do instead of answering the question is we write everything we ever knew about economic stabilisation in Eastern Europe or whatever the question is about. But the question didn’t ask that, it asked something very specific, and so if stopped yourself from going off on one, thought it through and delivered A – B – C – D of what is really important to the case, then you have cracked it. That is actually harder than writing everything you know about it because you have really got to pick the bits that matter. If you can do that and then present it and not sound like a muppet then you are going to be in good shape.
The other think is probably multitasking because you could spend all day reading a Tesco report and then call someone to talk about it and they say 'Well I don’t really care about Tesco, I want to talk about Carlsberg' and suddenly you have got to switch from that and at the same time you will have messages flashing on your computer and somebody else on the phone right next to you, shouting out at you, its all about being able to multi task.
To be a good analyst, obviously there are a few things you really need. You need to understand your industry. Ideally you need to understand your industry better than anyone else. You need to understand your companies better than anyone else and then you need to come up with interesting ideas that no one else has thought of that might cause the stock to move in a way that is different to everyones’ expectations. But just coming up with good ideas isn’t quite enough you need to market those ideas and so you need to be able to communicate clearly, you need to be a good marketeer, you need to speak clearly, have a good idea, be punchy with your delivery and have that thick skin because the best call is when everyone else disagrees with you and you end up being right and that makes the perfect call. When everyone disagrees with you initially you need to have the determination to push thorough that and the thick skin to cope with any criticism or comments that come your way when you first launch the idea.
One of the keys is you have got to have concentration.
I think the job requires a high level of discipline. There is no room for error so you have to be very precise. You need to be a good communicator to communicate exactly what it is you will do and exactly what it is you will not do. So you need to be very straightforward you need to be numerical because what you are dealing with is numbers and you need to be able to think independently.
It is very much a forward looking job so, you have got a number of stocks you look after, and you are continually going through different thoughts in your mind, for example, if this was to be announced how would this stock react, so you are continually going through your mind, if that announcement was to come out and there was a merger, and they wanted to get together with so and so, yes that would be good news and this is the sort of multiple that they would trade on, hence this is roughly the price, because as soon as deals get announced, people want to know straightaway if it is good news or bad news, so you spend a lot of your time mapping out stuff in your head, how things would trade, so that if they happen you want to be very distinctive.
If you want to go into wealth management I think it is important to have a general understanding of the financial markets. To understand what client relationships is about a little bit and to have interpersonal skills. One has to be very confident to be able to sit in front of someone and to build their trust, I think that it is important to be able to have somebody trust you. That is probably the fundamental requirement in client relationship management. It is all about trust and if you can win somebody’s trust, that is a starting point of any relationship.
It’s about understanding what your client wants, because rather than follow our own agenda all of the time, understanding the clients agenda and making sure you fulfil that is the easiest way to build a successful relationship, business or otherwise. Listen to what is wanted, listen to what is of interest rather than just ploughing on your own path thinking you must be fascinating because you practised before you went out.
In structuring you have a lot of skills unfortunately, and that makes it very difficult to get it. Not everybody has them but definitely when they enter the team, they have to have, they need to be quantitative they have to have commercial skills so they have to understand where the value is, if you like what trade to do, what is trading now, what is not trading now. They have to be able to communicate very well at different levels and with different ideas because you speak to traders who have some views and you speak to sales people who have other views and clients who have different views. You speak to compliance and they think of something else. So you have to align everybody and you have to speak in their own language which is very difficult to do. To summarise in three skills it would be communication skills, commercial skills and be quantitative.
Everybody comes in with a certain set of skills which are general and then when you actually do your job you tend to pick up more skills. For example traders pick up skills which make them able to trade better or to be able to come up with bid/offer prices, or do calculations in their mind pretty quick. Looking at all the systems out there or be able to react really quickly to market conditions. Whereas we have to be able to take in what other people are saying analyse that data and really filter it out and come up with options to see where the business is going to go.
You have to be analytical, that would be the skill you need to work in anything in an investment bank, because you have got to be questioning things, you have got to be thinking 'Everyone else is saying buy this stock, should I do that, or should I not?' So you have to be like a detective sometimes and perhaps not trust everything you hear, you have to be quite questioning and curious.
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