I work in the investment banking division (IBD) of the Paris office of a major U.S. bank. Yes, I am French. No, I am not here because of Brexit. And yes, I am here by choice.
If you’re thinking of moving to Paris, there are some things you need to know. I have worked in Paris and London, so I am well placed to tell them to you. I have seen how the two cities work.
Firstly, you need to know that Paris is small. The U.S. bank I work for here has thousands of staff in London, but hardly anyone in Paris. Every year it recruits around three analysts in Paris. Today, we have seven analysts, seven or eight associates and around eight vice presidents. There are around six managing directors. There are two senior advisors. This is all.
Secondly, because of the small size of the office, the people in Paris are all-rounders. We can each do everything. We can originate and execute deals. We work across sectors. Yes, we work with the sector teams in London, but this is usually only at a senior level (we might get the London MD or VP helping with a pitch, for example). Sometimes, we work with the financing (ECM and DCM) teams in London too. We are powerhouses who operate across the spectrum.
This second reason is why I am based in Paris. It is a professional choice to be here: the work is more fulfilling. I also believe that working in Paris is better for my long term career prospects and my exit options. By being in France I am expanding my network at French corporates. This will make it easier for me to move into corporate development when I move out of banking.
I have personal reasons for being here too. I am French and I am a patriot: I want to cover French companies in France. I find it more satisfying to work on a project involving a French company I have known forever than a random Czech company I’ve never heard of. This is why I left London. I also have friends and family here. I am speaking in my first language. I do not have the discontinuity you get when you build a life in London.
If you move to Paris, then, you need to know that this is not a second tier office filled with second tier people. This is a small office, but the people here are exceptional. We are all people who would be in the top tier of analysts in London. We are highly capable and we are proud. We work harder than our colleagues in London and we work better. If you work in a bank, you need to know that Paris is completely different to London: London is second rate.
Matthieu Genou is the pseudonym of an analyst at a U.S. bank in Paris.
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