Investment banking may have lost some of its lustre for students, but it’s still an incredibly attractive industry for many. Any graduate hoping to secure a place needs to be switched on even before they start university.
After a period of training, analysts recruited into front office roles at Barclays investment bank formally started their new roles in February, and this week were given approved person status by the UK’s Financial Services Authority.
These newly anointed-Barclays staff include Ian Clancy, an analyst in the leveraged loan, high yield and distressed debt team; Marco Micieli, an analyst in commodities origination, Abhishek Reddy, who works in fixed income sales; James Simmonds, an analyst in credit strategy; Henry Capper, M&A analyst; Bastian Greiner, an analyst in the investment banking division; Paulina Sokolova, an equity research analyst; Matthew Terret, an analyst in institutional securitised product sales; Jordan Barnes, a money market trader; William Benjamin, IBD real estate; Mark Vaillant, an analyst in FICC emerging market sales and Martha Pachatouridi, analyst in rates sales.
Competition for investment banks’ graduate positions is intense, but it’s the front office positions which remain the most coveted. What does the 2013 analyst class at Barclays tell us about what you need to do to secure a position?
Internship conversions are the most direct route into a front office investment banking position, with 60-70% of summer interns securing a full-time position. With the exception of Clancy, all of Barclays’ 2013 analysts interned at the bank within the division they eventually secured a full-time position in the summer before.
Jane Clark, head of investment bank campus recruitment, Europe and Asia, at Barclays, said: "Participating in a summer internship or off-cycle internship is the best way for students to decide whether this is the right career and organisation for them and for organisations to recruit the very best talent a year early. Testing each other out in this way has proved so effective that this is now the primary route to a graduate role within the banking sector."
All of the Barclays class have multiple internships on their CVs, both summer and spring insight weeks, at firms as diverse as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Scotland, Keefe Bruyette & Woods, PwC and Aon. The message is pretty clear – if you want to work in a front office investment banking role, start trying to secure work experience either from the moment you start university, or before.
Ask any investment banking graduate recruiter, and they’ll tell you that they hire students from a broad range of universities across a diverse set of subject areas. However, the new Barclays recruits suggest that a mathematical subject is your key into an investment banking position.
The majority studied economics, with both mathematics or engineering also featuring prominently. Only James Simmonds studied an arts subject – History at the University of Edinburgh.
Masters in Finance courses are expensive, coming in at £30k at the top end, and it’s debatable whether they will do much to increase your chances of securing a full-time position upon graduation. However, the experience of Barclays’ new recruits suggests that investment banks do indeed value them.
Greiner has an MSc in finance and investments from Erasmus University Rotterdam, Sokolova has an MSc in Finance from London School of Economics and Micieli an MSc in Finance from Bocconi.
Graduate resumes can be quite sparse, and investment banks are obsessed with attracting people with a range of extra-curricular activities that demonstrate how any new recruits would be the perfect ‘cultural fit’ into the organisation.
Barclays’ recruits demonstrate this. Matthew Terret was corporate liaison officer Imperial College Finance Society, which would have helped him schmooze with various investment banks, as well as being active in football and rugby teams at university. Abhishek Reddy was a football coach in Ghana with Projects Abroad and William Benjamin was University Challenge captain for Cambridge.
"Through participation in sports, university societies and volunteering in the local community, students learn skills such as teamwork, time management, problem solving and communication," said Clark.