Another rejection letter. There was a period when I thought I was never going to break into banking. People told me that in order to get into banking from credit, I would need to go to business school - they said it was impossible. Recruiters told me they never saw anyone make that transition.
Three months later, I was getting ready for my first day in banking. The following are the key steps that helped me get into banking:
1. What did you do prior to working at Jefferies?
I worked at Morgan Stanley's Credit department in their financial institutions and public finance groups. I was interested in investment banking, but was not sure when or whether I should start the recruiting process. Then, a few of my closest friends and colleagues made the transition to banking and I knew there was an opportunity for me as well. Despite the amount of people who told me it was impossible, one quote from a friend always stayed with me - "Jason, if someone else has done it before, then you can do it as well. If no one has, then you can be the first - don't give yourself an excuse not to do something".
2. How was the recruiting process?
For three months, I applied to every investment banking job on Indeed, LinkedIn, and eFinancialCareers. I applied on the site for each one and subsequently reached out to someone working at the bank. I went down the M&A league table and reached out to every single bank from #1 through #60. In addition, I reached out to every recruiter that I could find. Finally, I also applied internally to a public finance opening at Morgan Stanley.
3. How did you land the interview?
I landed the interview through reaching out to an existing associate on the team. Following our conversation, he subsequently passed my resume along to a VP who invited me to a phone interview.
4. How did you prepare for the interview? What resources did you use?
Prior to recruiting, I read Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions by Joshua & Joshua (twice). I also memorized Breaking into Wall Street's 400 Investment Banking Interview Questions & Answers. Both are must-reads for anyone going for investment banking.
For both my interviews with the VP and the Super Day, I used Breaking into Wall Street's Bank and Financial Institution Questions & Answers guide and their Bank and Financial Institution Modeling video module. Both were extremely helpful, as almost every single question that I received was geared towards valuing financial institutions, especially banks.
5. What was the interview process like? How many rounds were there? What were the interview questions asked during each round?
After two phone screens with the Associate and VP, I went to a Super Day. For the VP, I was asked:
1. How do you value a bank?
2. What are the multiples that are typically associated with banks?
3. During the financial crisis, which multiple between P/E and P/TBV was more useful? Which one is more useful now?
During the Super Day, I met with the following (30-minute periods):
1. ED 2. ED and Analyst 3. VP 4. VP 5. VP 6. ED
Some of the questions were:
1. Walk me through each step of a DCF
2. Why Jefferies? Why are you leaving Morgan Stanley? What do we do? Name the major business segments of Jefferies
3. How do you tell if a bank is in a good standing? What are the capital ratios of a bank? How do you calculate each one of them (numerator and denominator)?
4. Walk me through a merger model - what are some of the adjustments that you would make or have to take into consideration? What are the two types of synergies and which one is more often recognized?
6. Did you do anything non-traditional to shine? What was the one thing that made you stand out and get the internship?
Besides being prepared (from both the reading materials and all of the calls/coffee chats), I was also able to leverage an informal offer that I had from Morgan Stanley's public finance team. I think that the informal offer was able to help me expedite the process by putting some pressure onto the firm and make me more desirable.
Besides being prepared, if you are going for a lateral job offer, try to be in similar situations/stages with multiple banks/companies as offers tend to have a short acceptance period and some can be tough to push back. Mentioning other banks' interest in you can be crucial, and you can leverage two banks' interests back and forth like a ping pong game. Also, never give up or write yourself off - I really didn't know whether some of the calls or coffee chats would lead to anything (I went on a coffee chat with an accounting recruiter just hoping that he knew someone who knew someone), and I just did it knowing that I gave myself another 0.001% of a shot - that hopefully they would add up. I might not be the person with five bulge bracket offers and two P/E offers coming out of college, but I am the person who proves that you only need one offer to get yourself on the right track. Look on LinkedIn (or here) - if someone has done it before, then you can as well. If anything, reach out to them and ask them how they did it.
*This article was written without any collaboration or affiliation with third-party corporations.
If you have any specific questions for Jason, feel free to email him at Jason@brainceek.com
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