username738914
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What grades do I need to become “An Investment Banker”?!?!?!

First of all, you need to realise as you’re getting older that grades do not by any means define who you are or what you can become in the future. Don’t stress yourself out to the point of becoming nearly depressed - it serves no good and is most likely detrimental to your health at the end of the day. Focus on working hard and trying your best - in subjects that you find really interesting. If things go south the first time, taking a year out to re-do some exams is completely fine and there are several other routes to get into finance.

The way grad job recruiting works at most banks, asset management and consulting firms is there’s oftentimes a “minimum” level of grades (or more common UCAS points) required to get through the electronic (or in some cases human) screening mechanisms. These minimums are set at between 300 UCAS points (BBB or an alternate combo) to 360 UCAS points (AAA or an alternate combo) - most banks fall in the 300-340 range; i.e. AAB - BBB. So as long as you can get that, you’ll be in contention. As you can see, A-level grades are important but GCSEs are nowhere near as important. Caveat: due to the exceptional levels of competition, you’ll find yourself up against those with multiple As and A*s at A-level and at GCSE so do bear that in mind but hitting the minimum accompanied by a strong CV and a networking pull will suffice.

Another note for those worried about their grades: firms nowadays are progressively becoming more and more open to people from non-”cookie-cutter” backgrounds. Many firms (Goldman being the prime example but also Barclays and JPMorgan) have now done away with minimum grade requirements in an effort to further diversify their entry level cohorts



Which uni should I choose??!?!?

Woah boy, this one is THE most asked question in this forum. Here’s how you structure your decision making with a career in finance in mind:

1. Is this university a target, semi-target or non-target?

2. Would I enjoy the location of this university? Are there any local networking opportunities?

3. How active is the finance society and careers service within the university? Which firms sponsor them? Which firms come to visit?

4. What’s the cost of living like?

5. What are the extra curricular offerings like?

6. Are the course offerings unique or specifically of interest to me?

7. Would I benefit from a particular study abroad or work placement scheme offered by this university?


Let’s break it down:

1: Within front office finance, firms recruit in specific ways; both to optimise efficiency of the recruiting process and to capture as much talent as possible. One of the ways firms optimise the process is by having “target schools” - a target school is where a firm dedicates its resources in order to a) raise awareness and encourage applications, b) pinpoint priority applications and c) appease the successful graduates (hahahaha) of that university within the firm - joking, it’s in order to maintain alumni networks. So that’s the formal definition. There is another definition used informally to represent the largest UK ‘feeder’ schools into various front office roles across the city (or even further afield). The target school in this sense is where ALL firms encourage and look out for applications from, after that you have “semi-targets” where a couple to quite a fair amount of firms encourage applications from and look out for and lastly, non-targets where very few if any firms actively seek out applications from. Framed in this way, you can understand now that there is a substantial benefit in attending a target or semi-target school but, a strong candidate from a non-target will be able to make it through at least somewhere.

> Note for strategy consulting at a top 3-10 firm, you’d want to find yourself at Oxbridge or LSE/Imperial to get the same target experience - again people from other good unis break in all the time too


THE TARGETS

(These universities together represent anywhere from 70-80% of front office UK grad intakes)

University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
London School of Economics and Political Science
University College London
Imperial College London
University of Warwick


THE SEMI-TARGETS

(These universities represent the next 15-30% of most intakes)

Durham University
University of Nottingham
University of Bristol
University of Bath
Cass Business School
University of Edinburgh
University of St Andrews
King’s College London
University of Exeter


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Loughborough University (an emerging semi-target)
University of York (also somewhat of a semi-target)
University of Leeds (very strong alumni network in the city, but not quite semi-target status)
University of Manchester (was a semi-target but has recently slipped out in terms of rep, broadly comparable to Leeds)

Apart from these, if grades don’t permit getting into a university listed above try a Russell Group or a good non-Russell Group university with lower entry requirements

2: London universities have the advantage of being central to the action, this means lots of potential networking opportunities or informal work experience. It’ll also save you transportation costs for assessment centres and interviews. Caveat: London is expensive, like super expensive so you might net-net be better off in another location. There are still more than enough opportunities to network outside of London as firms constantly visit their target schools.

3: Check the websites of societies and universities, also look out for exhibition lists

4: Students are generally poor, if at all possible try to avoid excessively high cost of living areas if you can’t afford it. In the case of London v non-London, just remember as an aspiring financier you’ll be working in London after uni anyway

5 and 6: See 3

7: Year abroads and work placements are both very interesting offerings that come bundled (when undertaken) with huge amount of benefits. For study abroad, that would be life experience and for work placements, that would be work experience and contacts. If you’re following "The Path” outlined in the How to Get Into Finance thread, then you’d most likely be doing summer internships instead of a work placement - but they are still extremely valuable


What should I study at uni?!?!



Right, this question is also asked A LOT. The answer is to decide whether you are a “maths geek” or not. If you enjoy churning through all the 18 modules available at A-level for maths and you eat maths textbooks for breakfast, then suffice it to say, you’d be a great contender for one of the more “Quant” roles available in finance. If this is you, studying one of these subjects: Maths, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Natural Sciences or any combo of them, will keep that option open alongside all the other roles.

For everyone else, it doesn’t really matter. I find that most wannabe bankers are the same type of person that would want to study economics at a top school - but that has very little to do with economics itself being “amazing” but rather it drawing a certain type of (usually uber competitive) student. So, if your interest is in Zoology, History of the Boondocks, Etymology of Beyonce - or what have you - go for it. Caveat: If you’re not at a target or semi-target, it would probably make more sense to do a quantitative subject. Another thing, sure you can study what you want but you still need to have a good feel for numbers (i.e. you know the basic operations, basic algebra - like year 9-10 stuff (S2-3 for you scots)).


Oh if you’re choosing A-level subjects make sure to choose a combo that aligns with whatever the entry requirements state for your course of interest


What do I put on my CV?! Where do I find work experience??!?!



Alright, alright chill out! Your CV at this stage isn’t the be all and end all of life. You should be actively pursuing activities you find interesting not merely to bulk up your CV. If you like helping out at a zoo because pandas are cute or whatever - great. Do that. The emphasis on extra curriculars in this industry is to make sure you’re a human being with outside interests and are capable of taking on responsibility. Did you see that second part? Yeah. Get some. That means when prefect applications open up, go out and pursue it. If there’s a head boy or girl position, raise your hand up to say you’ll be interested in applying. You know those schemes where you show the new secondary kids around - yeah, that requires taking on responsibility - moral is, whatever opportunity you can find to step up and take initiative to be a leader pursue it. Do try to develop team working and collaboration skills along the way too.

Ahh, work experience. I’m not going to lie to you: the only work experience you’ll get at this stage is a) via family or school contacts, b) via you hassling as many people in the industry for informal shadowing or c) usually a social mobility scheme ala Social Mobility Foundation, SEO Scholars etc. You’ll be hard pressed to find other programmes but they do exist. A-level insight days are an example of this - they’re specifically intended for year 13s (S6) (sometimes year 12s (S5)) interested in the industry to attend. They are competitive however so do make sure your CV is up to scratch.


Resources:

Unofficial Guide to Banking
How to get a spring week guide - Canary Wharfian
Wall Street Oasis - FAQ
How to get a job in High Finance - TSR thread
Student Ladder - Work experience suggestions
SEO London - Scholars (London only/Social Mobility)
Social Mobility Foundation (Social Mobility - work experience schemes)
AllAboutFinanceCareers
Last edited by username738914; 1 year ago
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gr8wizard10
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brilliant guide
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Trapz99
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Very detailed and informative. Would also add that doing a quanty degree would help for exotic trading desks but that's probably too complicated for most sixth formers to know about.
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gr8wizard10
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(Original post by Trapz99)
Very detailed and informative. Would also add that doing a quanty degree would help for exotic trading desks but that's probably too complicated for most sixth formers to know about.
what does an exotic trading desk consist of?
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username738914
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(Original post by gr8wizard10)
what does an exotic trading desk consist of?
FX
Cross-Currency Swaps
Flow Exotic Options (Digitals, Correlation Swaps, RKOs, KOs, DNT, OT, etc)
Exotic Options (2nd Generation... Option Baskets, etc)

Rates:
Swaptions
Structured Rates

Equities:
Structured/Exotic Options

etc

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gr8wizard10
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(Original post by Princepieman)
x
was asking trapz lol
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Trapz99
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(Original post by gr8wizard10)
what does an exotic trading desk consist of?
Lol I'm a sixth former. But I probably only would have been able to say "exotic options" and "structured rates". I just know that those desks are more complicated and quantitative than vanilla desks. I'm not an expert haha
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KingBach12
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I've been to a fair few insight weeks/days, for both consultancy and investment banking, and have to disagree with you on your list of semi target unis. I'm curious to hear your methodology?
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username738914
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(Original post by KingBach12)
I've been to a fair few insight weeks/days, for both consultancy and investment banking, and have to disagree with you on your list of semi target unis. I'm curious to hear your methodology?
Rounded up data for spring weeks, summers and grad from the past 5 ish years (recent 2-3 years from friends and some scraped data from prior summer/SW threads on here). Also reflects the linkedin list that I don't think is published anymore.

What do you disagree on and why?

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datboii
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Wow you must have spent some time on this so thanks for that. Your selfless nature is admirable.
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username738914
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(Original post by datboii)
Wow you must have spent some time on this so thanks for that. Your selfless nature is admirable.
(It's actually more selfish because I don't want to answer the same questions in the same way repeatedly ahaha) But thanks

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datboii
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(Original post by Princepieman)
(It's actually more selfish because I don't want to answer the same questions in the same way repeatedly ahaha) But thanks

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lol well thats a little anti climatic but still its great that you made this for everyone interested.

btw, the bit about london unis and informal work experience, do you still need work experience at uni too?
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username738914
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(Original post by datboii)
lol well thats a little anti climatic but still its great that you made this for everyone interested.

btw, the bit about london unis and informal work experience, do you still need work experience at uni too?
Yes, anything helps for the CV.

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MnWhCntBMvd
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Hmm I bet you don't even know how to price a option properly
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gr8wizard10
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(Original post by MnWhCntBMvd)
Hmm I bet you don't even know how to price a option properly
what's an option? why would anyone need to price an option?
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Trapz99
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(Original post by MnWhCntBMvd)
Hmm I bet you don't even know how to price a option properly
Ooh burn

#rekt
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Trapz99
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(Original post by gr8wizard10)
what's an option? why would anyone need to price an option?
An option is a contract which allows you to buy or sell a security at an agreed price (strike price) at a specific time. Am I right?
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Exceptional
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Notty <3
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gr8wizard10
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(Original post by Trapz99)
An option is a contract which allows you to buy or sell a security at an agreed price (strike price) at a specific time. Am I right?
but why would anyone want to buy these things? why can't i just buy the security at the specific time without paying for this option, what's the difference?

so i'm buying a piece of paper (contract)? i'm rather confused
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Trapz99
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(Original post by gr8wizard10)
but why would anyone want to buy these things? why can't i just buy the security at the specific time without paying for this option, what's the difference?

so i'm buying a piece of paper (contract)? i'm rather confused
Lol I swear you study this stuff at university. You're an expert on this lol. Enjoy your internship
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