You might not think that an investment banking analyst has much to offer as a mentor, but to those struggling to make it into the industry, their advice on how to navigate the graduate recruitment process could be invaluable. The problem is that few banks are likely to put their juniors forward as mentors for wannabe bankers and most students have to rely on resources outside of the industry for guidance.
Rajdeep Dosanjh, head of global market listed derivatives client services IT at Deutsche Bank, and Sandip Sekhon, who has a background in asset management, believe they have the answer – get mentors to offer their help to anyone who asks online. They’ve launched Wiseround, an online service that matches willing mentors to people looking for advice on their financial services careers – this can be students looking to break in, mid-rankers struggling to advance their career or those hoping to switch out of the industry and do something new.
This is a kind of social media – or online dating – method for meeting people who could give you a helping hand with your career. Mentors range from analysts who have just landed their first job to seasoned directors, across a wide range of financial services roles. Most people volunteering their services are not doing it out of the goodness of their heart – they usually charge a fee, but Dosanjh says that while some use it to supplement their income, many mentors donate this to charity.
“This is a cost-effective method of training,” he says. “A few of hours with a specialist career mentor would incur a cost, but compared to courses costing thousands of pounds, the benefits protégés gain are substantial: an actual mentor from the banking or finance industry has a real insight into what it takes to be successful, providing years of experience and hard to come by knowledge.”
Most investment banks and financial services organisations already have in-house mentoring schemes, matching senior staff to juniors to help them tackle tough career questions. In theory, there’s little need for an external provider, but Dosanjh insists there’s a gap in the market.
“Occasionally protégés are not comfortable in expressing sensitive concerns in-house, and there are there are some firms and universities where mentoring is not available,” he says. “Furthermore, if you’re not in the industry already, it can be difficult to get a suitable mentor to help your career.”
Getting tips from seasoned investment bankers – who appear only too willing to dole out advice to students – is great for retrospective guidance, but can often be out of date for those at an entry level. Fresh analysts, who have just overcome the hurdles themselves to get their first job, can offer more practical tips.
“We have mentors who have just landed their first job after graduating,” says Dosanjh. “Although far less experienced, they provide a valuable insight to protégés on how to get on the banking and finance career ladder, having just experienced it themselves.”
WiseRound is still in its relative infancy and currently has around 100 mentors and proteges, although Dosanjh insists that “more are joining every day”.