You already know that you need to be excellent to get into banking: that you need exemplary exam results and more internships than previously thought humanly possible. But what if you also need to be networked - not just with bankers but with the right students?
This seems to be the premise of the Freshminds 'Ones to Watch' award. Now in its 16th year, the accolade was traditionally about identifying which second year UK-based university students are most likely to succeed in future. More recently, it seems to have evolved into, 'Who's most likely to succeed in banking?.'
"We choose 100 people from the UK's top ten universities," says Bryony Cullen, marketing manager at Freshminds. "They're all in the penultimate year and 90% of them want to go into investment banking or finance careers."
How do you get to become a 'One to Watch'? It's all about who you know. "The previous year's Ones to Watch nominate the following year's Ones to Watch," Cullen says. "- They're all extremely well-networked and are members of all the key societies on campus."
In practice, this seems to mean that the Ones to Watch programme is pretty cliquey. - Many of those just named on the 2017 list appear to have been privately educated before attending their top university.
Either way, plenty of them will be turning up as interns at investment banks in London this summer. In theory, they should be the very best of the very best. Here's a small sample of the 2017 list so that you know what to aspire to when next year's 'Ones to Watch' nominations open... Gauntlet, thrown.
1. Vladislav Stanev, economics student at Warwick University, incoming summer analyst at BNP Paribas
Vladislav has five As at A Level (three of which are A*s). He has 9 A*s and 3 As at GCSE. He's been a spring intern at Morgan Stanley. He's been a spring intern at BNP Paribas. He's been a summer intern on the LIBOR desk at Litasco (part of Lukoil). He's been part of the Warwick Economics Summit. And...he speaks fluent Russian and English.
2. Vivian Lee, economics student at Bristol University, incoming IBD summer analyst at Lazard
Vivian is a musician: she has grade eight piano (with merit) and grade eight violin. She's been president of the Bristol University Consulting Society. She co-founded the Bristol Women in Leadership Society. She's been a spring intern at Lazard, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan and a 'scholarship intern' at EY. She's also spent a summer working in customer services for Google in Dublin.
3. Arshia Hashemi, economics student at UCL, incoming IBD summer analyst at Morgan Stanley
Arshia is on track for a first in his degree and achieved four A*s at A level. He was 'intern of the year' for the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2014 and was named 'Future CFO of the Year' this April. Nonetheless, investment banking rather than finance directorships seem to be Arshia's bent - he's been a spring intern at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse and has attended a summer insight programme at hedge fund Man Group. Arshia's also written a lot for 'the Market Mogul' and has been a sports and life coach volunteer...
4. Cindy Sim Xin Yong, engineering student at Imperial College London, incoming summer analyst at Rothschild
Cindy is also on track for a first class degree. She also has impeccable A Level results (4*s and one A). She's already been on short internships with J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. She's vice president of Imperial Finance Society's 'New Financial World Conference', and has been an analyst at the Market Mogul. She's also spent some time selling chocolates and speaks fluent English and Chinese.
5. Martin Li, economics student at Warwick university, incoming summer analyst at Goldman Sachs
Like his counterparts in our sample, Li is academically outstanding:he's on track for a first class degree and achieved two A*s and two As in his A levels. He's attended more insight days than we can enumerate (including some at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co, the Bank of England and EY). He's been a maths tutor and created entrepreneurial projects for school children. He once received a prize titled 'school's Brighest Brain' and in 2013 got an award for UBS for being an outstanding student. Oh, and he too writes for the Market Mogul.