Breaking into IB: Your University matters less than you think! Watch

PriceMechanism
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This is a highly controversial post, however, for people looking to break into banking who go to the so-called "semi-targets" and "non-targets", your prospects are likely better than you think!

For Reference:
Targets: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL, Warwick, Durham
Semi-Targets (High): Cass, Bristol, St Andrews, Leeds, Loughborough, Nottingham, Edinburgh
Semi-Targets (Medium): York, Aston, KCL, Southampton, Exeter, Glasgow
Semi Targets (Low): Cardiff, QMUL, Sheffield,
Non-Targets: Basically everything else... (think York St Johns, Solent Uni etc.)

Obviously not every single uni matters, but as a general rule of thumb, I would say if you are Russell, you are at least Semi-Target (Low) - I hope this gets across the general idea of where your uni stands.

Now, on to the real meat of this post. I see regularly that if you go 'x' university you are not worth a banks time and will never make it. I fundamentally disagree with this statement. As someone who is about to finish at a Semi-Target (Medium), I can say that things are changing with regards to recruitment. Citi is sponsoring/targeting societies in Leeds, BNPP and HSBC are exploring York as a target. Barclays and Lloyds have been seen at several northern universities that would be classified lower down. Bring in the addition of recruitment agencies like SEO, and Bright Network and things are becoming significantly more easy for Semi/Non-Targets to break into finance and IB. Recommendations are flying around and alumni networking is at an all-time high - so you have options now!

Banks are looking to open up their talent pool... You may think, why? Surely there are enough students at the target and strong semi-targets to fill their limited roles, and you would be correct. However, many banks understand that if they want to improve their business, they need to improve their thinking which can only come from diversity. Diversity of thought is the new gold that all firms are seeking. If you hire from 1 particular place, you will lose out to competitors who didn't so semi-targets in particular and non-targets are becoming more desirable.

However, the game is only now changing so don't count on the banks "liking your university" - they are now tolerating it...

What to do if you are not at a Target? DO EVERYTHING!
With many students going to university, your first year is the time to get stuck into every single opportunity.

If you aren't going for literally every opportunity that you can your hands-on, then you are wasting your time. I have personally spoken to recruiters at insight evenings/days and have realised that the idea that recruiters are only looking at the elite or top 5 universities is a myth.

List of things to do:
1. Committee positions for several societies - finance-related and others (have some variety) - try to start your own society too after some time if you want to be extra keen. Go for VP in your first year, and then President in your penultimate year.
2. Join the Student Investment Fund (if it exists). Not being a part of this is shooting yourself in the foot. If you out of luck then try trading yourself on virtual platforms (get a taste of markets and understand how things work - Trading212 is amazing as a virtual platform (although I would never put my own money in CFDs!)).
3. Expanding on "2.", you should be playing around with markets anyway. Create a spreadsheet and list all your trades and keep a copy of this - AC interviews will love this!
4. Do sports and stick with it. Doesn't have to be the classic football - there are so many sports out there like Tennis/Badminton to Polo and Swimming! Also good for your fitness.
5. Becoming an academic representative (you will have a chance to be a course representative/department representative for students) - do it! Do a good job at it and show the Department you are a part of that you give a damn. This will put you in a positive light with the Department and can lead to positive references and relationships with lecturers.
6. Keep aware of markets and the economy. Commercial awareness is not something you can learn overnight. Some business schools/economics departments give out free FT/Economist subscriptions, all libraries will have a paper copy you can read, and explore other sources like the Bright Network weekly commercial update, and Finimize. 30min a day is not a lot (3 clickbait youtube videos )

7. MOST IMPORTANTLY DO WELL IN YOUR DEGREE! None of the 1-6 matters, if you can't get you 2:1, or 1st. So, revise and study hard. If you are in the top 5% of your class then you just improving your odds even more. (70+ is the expectation in first year, not 40!)

8. LinkedIn is amazing for reaching out to alumni - you never know, there may be one or two people from you uni who broke into the industry before - reach out to them and ask for help, set up a call, and try to get some name-drops on your cover letter. However, DO NOT be an a$$h**e, and do not be that guy who posts vapid posts on LinkedIn... "Incoming that", and "Humbled to be.." etc. Humbleness is determined by your peers, not yourself.

Overall, you should be busy and productive - doing all 7 will prepare you for IB - long hours (70 hrs a week is 9am-9pm with light weekend work), this demonstrated your resilience, and you want to break into the industry. Use google calendar to keep yourself organised and schedule your life appropriately.

Applications: So as a non-target you are already at a disadvantage... Yes & No. While it is true that boutiques like Lazard, Moelis, and Evercore may give you the insta-reject which is heart-breaking, Big 4, AM, and places like BP IST, and Shell (yes, commodity trading - who do you think trades oil future?) will be more receptive to your applications. So this is dependent on the firm. The target vs non-target rule may apply sometimes, but a good application is more important than the university.

The truth is that the tests that you will be made to do are where applicants are sifted through. So practice them and make sure you don't do well but are prepared for quick mental maths. Keep your brain stimulated - play sudoku on the bus, or download a few brain training/memory games.

Interviews are easier in my opinion because you can then talk about your story.

Technicals: Are you religious? You now have a 2nd religious book - Investopedia.com learn what a DCF is, and get your technicals right. Define, EV, EBITDA, and be able to explain why a yield curve inverting is a bad thing... This is only scratching the surface.

I honestly believe that there is enough time to do it all! Life life on a 7,8,9 rule. 7 hours of sleep, 8 hours of university work, 9 hours of points 1-6 + technicals.

Other Points: You as a non-target student may think wow... that is a lot of stuff to complete to break into IB. But life isn't fair - and while it is true that banks are starting to/have already moved away from targeting specific unis to opening up applications, understand that everything that you do at university should bring value to your CV.

Your aim in first year is to get a spring week so take a week off uni and apply, apply, apply. With enough preparation, you may just get a place! Convert it to an internship and convert that to a full-time position.

Finally, try to be a good person of high character - be humble and don't brag about your accomplishments on LinkedIn "Incoming Spring Intern" - YUCK!. Humbleness is determined by others, not yourself...
Be kind, and learn to empathise with others.

At the end of all of this, once you have your foot in the door your university doesn't matter at all, but NEVER GIVE UP & PERSEVERE

Good luck - Non-Targets rise!
Last edited by PriceMechanism; 1 month ago
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Princepieman
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#2
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Targets: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL, Warwick, Durham
Semi-Targets (High): Cass, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Loughborough, Nottingham, Edinburgh
Semi-Targets (Medium): York, Aston, KCL, Southampton, Exeter, Glasgow
Semi Targets (Low): Cardiff, QMUL, Sheffield,
Non-Targets: Basically everything else... (think York St Johns, Solent Uni etc.)

what on earth...

this subforum has gone very downhill very quickly lol
Last edited by Princepieman; 1 month ago
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PriceMechanism
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I disagree heavily... Durham is likely on the cusp on the Semi-Target (High)/Target but is well respected regardless.
Leeds and Loughborough I stand by with - Glasgow literally has Morgan Stanley around the corner, is Russell and is one of the best in Scotland, although I meant to put St Andrews there so that was an oversight.
York was non-target but it rising steadily, the tech and legal sphere it is a target for, more and more alumni are breaking into the industry from York + they have something called Griff Investment Fund which is amazing.
Aston is better for Big4 but a business school still has a lot of value.
QMUL is in London and has the London network.
Sheffield and Cardiff is like York a few years ago - rising but not quite there yet.
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Princepieman
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(Original post by PriceMechanism)
I disagree heavily... Durham is likely on the cusp on the Semi-Target (High)/Target but is well respected regardless.
Leeds and Loughborough I stand by with - Glasgow literally has Morgan Stanley around the corner, is Russell and is one of the best in Scotland, although I meant to put St Andrews there so that was an oversight.
York was non-target but it rising steadily, the tech and legal sphere it is a target for, more and more alumni are breaking into the industry from York + they have something called Griff Investment Fund which is amazing.
Aston is better for Big4 but a business school still has a lot of value.
QMUL is in London and has the London network.
Sheffield and Cardiff is like York a few years ago - rising but not quite there yet.
none of this means anything for high finance..

Morgan Stanley being "right round the corner" for operations and IT roles means bugger all.

Aston is not on the map in any way shape or form.

QMUL, Cardiff etc are non-targets.

it would be beyond hilarious to imply that Leeds supplies the same number of people to high finance careers as Durham or Bristol or Notts. to even talk of Glasgow (non-target) or Loughborough.

York, Loughborough, Leeds, Manchester are rated too highly.

And literally anyone can get a big4 interview they hire 4k+ grads a year collectively lol.

this target stuff is strictly for hyper competitive high finance career paths, not for "any thing vaguely financially related including back office and big4 accounting". that's completely meaningless to the audience of this sub.
Last edited by Princepieman; 1 month ago
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PriceMechanism
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(Original post by Princepieman)
none of this means anything for high finance..

Morgan Stanley being "right round the corner" for operations and IT roles means bugger all.

Aston is not on the map in any way shape or form.

QMUL, Cardiff etc are non-targets.

it would be beyond hilarious to imply that Leeds supplies the same number of people to high finance careers as Durham or Bristol or Notts. to even talk of Glasgow (non-target) or Loughborough.

York, Loughborough, Leeds, Manchester are rated too highly.

And literally anyone can get a big4 interview they hire 4k+ grads a year collectively lol.

this target stuff is strictly for hyper competitive high finance career paths, not for "any thing vaguely financially related including back office and big4 accounting". that's completely meaningless to the audience of this sub.
Im not really talking about Big 4, honestly, we can argue all we want about where a specific university may be, I would say that KCL and Exeter are overrated imo, but that is just my opinion.

The fact is that universities are mattering less and less each application season for the top FO jobs. This is shown clearly by evaluating who is getting what jobs via LinkedIn YoY. In your own post 3 years ago, you mention that York, Leeds and Loughborough are semi-targets, I have just decoded it slightly further, that is all.
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Princepieman
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(Original post by PriceMechanism)
Im not really talking about Big 4, honestly, we can argue all we want about where a specific university may be, I would say that KCL and Exeter are overrated imo, but that is just my opinion.

The fact is that universities are mattering less and less each application season for the top FO jobs. This is shown clearly by evaluating who is getting what jobs via LinkedIn YoY. In your own post 3 years ago, you mention that York, Leeds and Loughborough are semi-targets, I have just decoded it slightly further, that is all.
i mean sure but your entire tiering system is so off that you may as well remove it from the post (the post itself is fine I just don't want some 18 year old on here choosing Glasgow over KCL or Exeter because they think it's a "top semi-target".
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PriceMechanism
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All rankings of universities are subjective, this is just my opinion of where things currently stand. If a single 18 year old is going to base the next 3 years off one post, then they don't deserve to be in IB. I'll change Glasgow to St Andrews, because that was a genuine oversight on my part, but I stand by the rest.
Last edited by PriceMechanism; 1 month ago
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King Arthur 284
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(Original post by PriceMechanism)
This is a highly controversial post, however, for people looking to break into banking who go to the so-called "semi-targets" and "non-targets", your prospects are likely better than you think!

For Reference:
Targets: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL, Warwick, Durham
Semi-Targets (High): Cass, Bristol, St Andrews, Leeds, Loughborough, Nottingham, Edinburgh
Semi-Targets (Medium): York, Aston, KCL, Southampton, Exeter, Glasgow
Semi Targets (Low): Cardiff, QMUL, Sheffield,
Non-Targets: Basically everything else... (think York St Johns, Solent Uni etc.)

Obviously not every single uni matters, but as a general rule of thumb, I would say if you are Russell, you are at least Semi-Target (Low) - I hope this gets across the general idea of where your uni stands.

Now, on to the real meat of this post. I see regularly that if you go 'x' university you are not worth a banks time and will never make it. I fundamentally disagree with this statement. As someone who is about to finish at a Semi-Target (Medium), I can say that things are changing with regards to recruitment. Citi is sponsoring/targeting societies in Leeds, BNPP and HSBC are exploring York as a target. Barclays and Lloyds have been seen at several northern universities that would be classified lower down. Bring in the addition of recruitment agencies like SEO, and Bright Network and things are becoming significantly more easy for Semi/Non-Targets to break into finance and IB. Recommendations are flying around and alumni networking is at an all-time high - so you have options now!

Banks are looking to open up their talent pool... You may think, why? Surely there are enough students at the target and strong semi-targets to fill their limited roles, and you would be correct. However, many banks understand that if they want to improve their business, they need to improve their thinking which can only come from diversity. Diversity of thought is the new gold that all firms are seeking. If you hire from 1 particular place, you will lose out to competitors who didn't so semi-targets in particular and non-targets are becoming more desirable.

However, the game is only now changing so don't count on the banks "liking your university" - they are now tolerating it...

What to do if you are not at a Target? DO EVERYTHING!
With many students going to university, your first year is the time to get stuck into every single opportunity.

If you aren't going for literally every opportunity that you can your hands-on, then you are wasting your time. I have personally spoken to recruiters at insight evenings/days and have realised that the idea that recruiters are only looking at the elite or top 5 universities is a myth.

List of things to do:
1. Committee positions for several societies - finance-related and others (have some variety) - try to start your own society too after some time if you want to be extra keen. Go for VP in your first year, and then President in your penultimate year.
2. Join the Student Investment Fund (if it exists). Not being a part of this is shooting yourself in the foot. If you out of luck then try trading yourself on virtual platforms (get a taste of markets and understand how things work - Trading212 is amazing as a virtual platform (although I would never put my own money in CFDs!)).
3. Expanding on "2.", you should be playing around with markets anyway. Create a spreadsheet and list all your trades and keep a copy of this - AC interviews will love this!
4. Do sports and stick with it. Doesn't have to be the classic football - there are so many sports out there like Tennis/Badminton to Polo and Swimming! Also good for your fitness.
5. Becoming an academic representative (you will have a chance to be a course representative/department representative for students) - do it! Do a good job at it and show the Department you are a part of that you give a damn. This will put you in a positive light with the Department and can lead to positive references and relationships with lecturers.
6. Keep aware of markets and the economy. Commercial awareness is not something you can learn overnight. Some business schools/economics departments give out free FT/Economist subscriptions, all libraries will have a paper copy you can read, and explore other sources like the Bright Network weekly commercial update, and Finimize. 30min a day is not a lot (3 clickbait youtube videos )

7. MOST IMPORTANTLY DO WELL IN YOUR DEGREE! None of the 1-6 matters, if you can't get you 2:1, or 1st. So, revise and study hard. If you are in the top 5% of your class then you just improving your odds even more. (70+ is the expectation in first year, not 40!)

8. LinkedIn is amazing for reaching out to alumni - you never know, there may be one or two people from you uni who broke into the industry before - reach out to them and ask for help, set up a call, and try to get some name-drops on your cover letter. However, DO NOT be an a$$h**e, and do not be that guy who posts vapid posts on LinkedIn... "Incoming that", and "Humbled to be.." etc. Humbleness is determined by your peers, not yourself.

Overall, you should be busy and productive - doing all 7 will prepare you for IB - long hours (70 hrs a week is 9am-9pm with light weekend work), this demonstrated your resilience, and you want to break into the industry. Use google calendar to keep yourself organised and schedule your life appropriately.

Applications: So as a non-target you are already at a disadvantage... Yes & No. While it is true that boutiques like Lazard, Moelis, and Evercore may give you the insta-reject which is heart-breaking, Big 4, AM, and places like BP IST, and Shell (yes, commodity trading - who do you think trades oil future?) will be more receptive to your applications. So this is dependent on the firm. The target vs non-target rule may apply sometimes, but a good application is more important than the university.

The truth is that the tests that you will be made to do are where applicants are sifted through. So practice them and make sure you don't do well but are prepared for quick mental maths. Keep your brain stimulated - play sudoku on the bus, or download a few brain training/memory games.

Interviews are easier in my opinion because you can then talk about your story.

Technicals: Are you religious? You now have a 2nd religious book - Investopedia.com learn what a DCF is, and get your technicals right. Define, EV, EBITDA, and be able to explain why a yield curve inverting is a bad thing... This is only scratching the surface.

I honestly believe that there is enough time to do it all! Life life on a 7,8,9 rule. 7 hours of sleep, 8 hours of university work, 9 hours of points 1-6 + technicals.

Other Points: You as a non-target student may think wow... that is a lot of stuff to complete to break into IB. But life isn't fair - and while it is true that banks are starting to/have already moved away from targeting specific unis to opening up applications, understand that everything that you do at university should bring value to your CV.

Your aim in first year is to get a spring week so take a week off uni and apply, apply, apply. With enough preparation, you may just get a place! Convert it to an internship and convert that to a full-time position.

Finally, try to be a good person of high character - be humble and don't brag about your accomplishments on LinkedIn "Incoming Spring Intern" - YUCK!. Humbleness is determined by others, not yourself...
Be kind, and learn to empathise with others.

At the end of all of this, once you have your foot in the door your university doesn't matter at all, but NEVER GIVE UP & PERSEVERE

Good luck - Non-Targets rise!
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