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War for talent on Wall Street starts early as banks begin recruiting for 2019

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Not long ago, Wall Street banks opened summer intern applications in August. Now they seem to be opening them in February for students at target universities in the U.S.

Last week, the staff at the University of California, Berkeley, career center sent out an email to all students who are interested in a career in investment banking altering them to the accelerated recruitment timeframe for summer 2019 internships. The email said that the intern recruitment process is already underway at William Blair, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo Securities. In some cases, students can already submit online applications for 2019 internships. Superdays are due in April. First offers will go out in May.

“If you’re hoping to have an investment banking internship NEXT summer, we encourage you to start now with recruiting [ie. applying], even if you’re still recruiting for your summer 2018 internship,” the note to UC-Berkeley students says.

“J.P. Morgan started the trend and rest of the Street scrambled to decide if they would follow suit,” says Anish Patel, a former investment banking analyst at BMO Capital Markets and the founder of Valuation University and Tinto Amorio. “Some banks aren’t 100% convinced of this because you can’t really do on-campus recruiting this early so they are still sticking to early August and September with accelerated interviews for those who get offers before the typical fall cycle.”

Patel says banks risk losing out by recruiting 2019 interns so early in the year. Most students aren’t even aware of the accelerated cycle. “It’s only going to be the ‘hardos’ who walk in day one of freshmen year with their ear to the ground and fully focused on being bankers,” he says. “Banks aren’t going to get the well-rounded classes they should.”

Andrew Chittoor, a senior and the president of the M&A Society at Villanova University and an incoming investment banking analyst at Barclays says a lot of sophomores are being caught off guard. Most are still trying to line up internships for summer 2018 and haven’t even considered summer 2019, he says.

Chittoor says students who aren’t totally focused on finance will be disadvantaged: “Finance majors are already having a difficult time with the process moved up so much and I can only imagine how difficult things might be if you are majoring in a subject within the liberal arts,” he says. “My fear is that this latter group of students will be marginalized, and the banks will just end up hiring more finance majors, as they will be the only ones which are prepared to recruit this early.”

Not all banks are recruiting on the advanced timeline, though. The Berkeley career center notes that maller, local investment banks, boutiques and middle-market firms still plan to recruit summer 2019 interns during the fall 2018 recruiting season.

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