If you want a big name bank on your C.V., Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are still your best bet. The most recent league table from finance data company Coalition shows J.P. Morgan ranking first for every business except cash equities (where it ranks third), and Goldman Sachs ranking second for everything except fixed income (where it ranks outside of the top three).
As research from the Wharton School showed three years ago, spending the formative years of your career at a big name brand will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Bankers who spend the first five years of their careers at a top name firm earn an average of 15% more than those who don't by the time they reach VP level.
However, getting into a top bank has never been harder. As Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein pointed out last week, when today's senior bankers were entering the industry in the late 1970s, 1980s and even mid '90s, banking was not a 'sexy' career. Today it is: irrespective of the financial crisis, the lure of technology firms and the urge to save the world, Goldman Sachs regularly receives 33 applicants per job. It can therefore afford to be incredibly choosy.
On this basis, we've looked at CVs belonging to junior front office bankers in IBD and markets roles at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and built up the following statistical profile/checklist reflecting the kinds of people they're hiring now. The figures below are based on CVs that are publicly available for analysts and associates and on the profiles of candidates with one to three years' experience uploaded to the eFinancialCareers CV database in the past year.
The most obvious conclusion to draw is that J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs are chasing very, very similar people...
U.S. students joining Goldman Sachs and JPM, may not be the very, very brightest, but they're still incredibly bright. The average GPA at each firm was at least 3.72 (93%).
If your pre-university education took place in the UK, you'll have achieved UCAS points after completing your A Level exams.
Based on publicly available information on the A Level results of analysts and associates in London, today's banking juniors are abnormally good. Most of them have more than 500 UCAS points and some have more than 600 UCAS points. The implication is therefore that you'll need A or A* grades in at least four subjects.
If you don't have this, you can console yourself with the thought that these figures might contain some statistical bias - it's possible that only students with exceptional A Level results draw attention to them.
The CVs in the eFinancialCareers CV database suggest there are two universities that will get you a job in a top bank. Both are London-based. The first is the London School of Economics. The second is Imperial College. At both J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, 12% of front office juniors come from these two schools.
However, it's worth noting that 72% and 77% of juniors at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan don't come from 'elite schools' as defined. In Europe, Goldman Sachs also hires plenty of people from Warwick University in the UK, and from elite universities in Continental Europe, including the Stockholm School of Economics, HEC Paris and Erasmus University at Rotterdam.
Among European juniors at Goldman Sachs in particular, there's also a trend for studying a bachelors degree internationally and then embellishing your CV with a qualification from a top target school (the LSE in particular) at Masters Level. There's also a tendency to study at an elite UK university and at an Ivy League College in the US.
In the past, it was standard to spend a summer interning at a bank and then to join full time the following year if successful. This still happens sometimes, but most of today's junior bankers interned over and over and over again before they became analysts or associates.
At both Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, today's juniors underwent an average of four internships (including spring weeks) before they joined.
Lastly, while it helps to have a top class undergraduate degree, especially if you're not from a target school (around 30% of front office hires at both banks have first class degrees in the UK), it can also help to have a CFA qualification or a Masters qualification. Interestingly, the CFA qualification is by far the most prevalent of the two.
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