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    • Thread Starter

    Closed thread. Feel free to visit WSO for continued advice.

    Another old schooler who has dropped in. Crazy.
    • Thread Starter

    Is my University / Course “good enough for banking”?

    I can see that there is a very long thread already dedicated to answering this question but I thought I would have a stab at it all the same after a PM from an A2 student.

    In banks and finance generally you find people from Universities all over the world and sometimes (although diminishing) you find people without degrees. Half of the people I have worked with had degrees from places I’d never even heard of. Banks are very international places. I think that after you get in the door and start working no one gives a monkey about where you got your degree or what grades you got in your exams. You got the job, therefore you must have been the best candidate available. There is a degree of respect given for that.

    When you progress in your career again, your university name, it’s irrelevant. What’s important is having that piece of paper to fill in on a form when they ask for your degree, grade and year. In places like Hong Kong or Singapore where I have worked not having a degree can often (especially in Singapore) prevent you from qualifying for a work visa.

    But we aren’t here to discuss the merits of University. Instead let’s discuss getting in the door.

    When hiring and I was discussing this with a friend of mine last night who spent the last 20 years as a prop trader in various banks (that’s all disappearing with Volker) and then started his own hedge fund, what we looked for the most in any candidate was a “commitment to career”. He said he favoured the candidates that really had a desire to be a trader, understood the work that was involved and had a desire “to prove themselves”. He also would ask where else was the candidate was looking and if any of the roles were not to do with trading he would dismiss the candidate. In fairness, most roles in a bank are highly specialized and therefore if you are looking at trading in one bank and IBD in another, the manager who has chosen to specialise – can’t take you seriously.

    So if you are looking at different fields, don’t mention it, at least not in an interview.

    He like me didn’t really care about what University you went to, unless you are doing a highly specialised degree e.g. engineering or medical. But for the most part the multitude of business degrees teach you things that are interesting but it’s more to build your soft skills. Which I think you should already have for the most part if banking is a field you plan to enter.

    They say it only accepts the cream of the crop – well the stars always rise to the top no matter where you go. In banking you can’t rely on intelligence, which gets you into the best university – it’s all the other skills added in which allow you to succeed.

    Now I’m not / nor have I ever worked in HR but I decided to call a friend who is an executive level headhunter for finance here in Hong Kong. He said that generally banks HR teams favour the red bricks / Russell group of universities, more for the establishment itself then any particular course (although again it’s about showing commitment to career e.g. explain why you did medicine and then applied to a trading job – aint gonna fly). He described it as the “networks you would develop in such establishments are the things that the banks are looking for as continuous networking is needed in your career” – the more people you know especially in the same field the better.

    Makes sense. He said these days though things are changing, the London Universities generally have a stronger chance just because they are closer to the buzz – in essence you need ties to the City. So look for universities that amongst their graduates have sent a lot to the City. Look for courses that may exempt you from professional qualifications. Look for courses that will teach you skills applicable to your chosen profession.

    Pick the highest rank university you can, don’t worry to much about the ranking of the course, as again unless you are going for a highly specialised career which Is irrelevant in this context it’s more the name of the University that matters.

    If you don’t get into a top Uni, well – network, work for free, do data entry or open the mail. Apply outside bulge brackets and send emails to the team you want to be in.

    I was rejected before verbals/numericals by all the bulge brackets and it hasn’t stopped me. It didn’t stop most people in finance. So if you really want it. Go get it.
    • Thread Starter

    Is it possible to enter banking after 30?

    Well first off it's interesting to see someone on here that's older than me. In terms of answering the question:

    "It would be very tough, almost impossible".

    I generally rather not shut people down, but after getting the advice from a couple of headhunters they also deemed it to be very difficult.

    Fundamentally it goes back to the concept of showing a commitment to career. Everyone will ask why the sudden change in direction.

    Now, if you had relevant experience e.g. sales and marketing, finance, deal advisory which were the three that the headhunter quoted, you stand a better chance but again you would really need to stand out. Perhaps having done an MBA would also allow you to re-start.

    A sales and marketing background e.g. in FMCG for example as a buyer/seller may be deemed suitable for coverage roles or asset raising/marketing jobs (in the buy side). I know a Group Head of Marketing who came from an FMCG background and now works for a $150m Hedge Fund. Although he did join when it was less than $5m.

    A CFO level candidate with the accounting qualifications could look at Product Control in a bank as again it's relatively straight forwarding accounting.

    Someone that has been involved in negotiating deals/IPOs etc from the FTSE side again might be considered for M&A in a specific "corporate" M&A team as a sector specialist.

    But generally, again, I will restate, it will be very difficult. Given the above it's almost easier to join after 40 where a wealth of specialist experience has already been gained.

    Opportunities will undoubtedly have to be garnered through networks and your cover letter better be fantastic & convincing.

    It's all about adding value at the end of the day and showing that you can "learn new tricks".
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