Only 4% of applicants make it into a full-time graduate training role in large investment banks. Those that do often have multiple internships combined with a technical degree from top university and evidence of both team-playing and leadership abilities.
But do boutique investment banks – which are taking an ever-larger share of investment banking advisory work globally – fish from the same pool? What sets the recruits of smaller firms apart from those securing jobs at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan et al?
We’ve looked through the profiles of the classes of 2015 at Centerview Partners, Greenhill & Co, Moelis & Co, Houlihan Lokey and Perella Weinberg Partners to ascertain common attributes of those securing the jobs. This is what it takes to get a graduate job at a boutique investment bank.
1. You will have interned at a bulge bracket bank
While large investment banks tend to staff their analyst pools with internship conversions, boutiques take on those who've spent some time at larger competitors. Most have at least two internships and in the majority of cases the last placement was at a big bank.
Take Gregor Vlasak, an M&A analyst at Perella Weinberg in New York, who says he had an offer to join J.P. Morgan. Or take Willy Dietzel, who interned with Barclays' FIG team before joining Centerview Partners in London.
2. But not if you’re joining Moelis & Co
The exception to this rule is Moelis & Co. Every new analyst we came across in New York had interned with Moelis itself in the summer of 2014.
3. Your experience will not be limited to finance
A common theme among graduates hired into boutique investment banks was summer work experience outside of investment banking, or financial services altogether. Take Richard Antwi-Boasiako, an M&A analyst at Centerview, who spent the summer as a business associate intern at Google and a BOS Plant Engineer intern at Tata Steel. Or Zack Bartee, an IBD analyst at Houlihan Lokey in New York, who spent a summer as a news intern at Comcast SportsNet. Or Mats Pujols, an investment banking analyst at Greenhill, who worked as a marketing project manager at Schneider Electric.
4. You will almost certainly have studied finance
There’s no shortage of top universities among the boutique analyst classes of 2015, but this doesn’t appear to be a central requirement. Instead, boutiques make no pretence about hiring people with arts degrees. Almost everyone had studied finance. And if they hadn't studied finance, they'd studied engineering.
Meanwhile, our analysis of 150 analysts who secured an IBD job at bulge bracket banks in 2015 suggests that 36% have a Masters in Finance degree. This figure was 49% of the 35 boutique analysts we looked at.
5. You will have had experience of teaching
Unexpectedly, a proportion of boutique analysts had spent time teaching while at university. Take Daniel Gelfarb, an analyst at Moelis in New York, who taught finance 101 at Wharton, or Zack Bartee, who was an undergraduate teaching fellow at University of Virginia. Or Jeff Chudakoff, an analyst at Jefferies who was also a teaching assistant for finance 101 at Wharton. We surmise that teaching indicates that you're an elite student who can handle the extra work.
6. You will almost certainly been part of an impressive student finance society
If you want to work as an analyst in a boutique, it will help to get involved with your college finance society as early as possible. Matt Fargie, an M&A analyst at Centerview, was vice president of the Warwick University Finance Society and co-head of its investment banking society. Sai Parepally, an investment banking analyst at Moelis in New York was a member of the Investments and General Ledger Committee at Wharton. Kevin Hashman, another Moelis analyst, was a ‘senior analyst’ at the University of Michigan’s Maze & Blue student-run investment fund.
7. You will have an interesting hobby
Daniel Gelfarb, a Moelis analyst, says one of his interests is ‘jokes’ and was a writer for Wharton’s humour magazine The Pennsylvania Punchbowl. Zack Bartee, the Houlihan Lokey analyst, was involved in various after-school development programmes for children in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nishant Tare, an analyst at Centerview Partners, spent time volunteering in Madagascar. Will Dietzel from Centerview also spent a year working on environmental protection projects at a shrimp farm in Ecuador.
Make it interesting, make it worthwhile.