Why I chose a career in investment banking
I was drawn towards investment banking due to the fast-paced environment and potential to work alongside intelligent and entrepreneurial people. The atmosphere in an investment bank is dynamic and motivated.
I’ve always enjoyed working on longer projects as it gives me the chance to write and to form my own analysis, so the idea of becoming a publishing analyst really attracted me. It also appealed to my interpersonal skills as you have to sell your ideas to the clients, as well as liaise closely across sales, trading and even the investment banking division.
I started with Barclays when I joined its Spring programme a few years ago. This led to an opportunity to join the summer internship in Convertible Bonds Trading and Research. I went on to fill a part-time post in Foreign Exchange (FX) Research during my second year at university.
I also accepted an offer to join the internship scheme the following year. During this, I split my time between Fixed Income Research and FX Hedging Solutions Sales. I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to have a diverse experience early in my career and I have learned a lot from it.
Now I have been working full-time for over two years. In my first year I was on rotation in Emerging Markets, sharing my time between Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Corporate Credit and Economics research.
I looked at Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) banks especially closely and my main project was to write a report on what the Kazakhstani banking sector will look like after four major bank defaults. From this I found I was drawn to fundamental analysis of financial companies. When my rotational programme ended I pursued my interest and secured a position in the Equity Research department, as a Diversified Financials Analyst.
What is a typical day like for you?
Starting at about 07.00, I read the overnight news to keep on top of current events. There is a morning meeting where the research, sales and trading teams share their thoughts on market events and what to look out for in the day ahead.
As equity analysts we have to always be on top of share price movements and news flow and produce independent fundamental research based on operating trends.
Time-constrained tasks, such as client requests for data/financial models and writing intraday comments, will dominate busier days when there is a corporate event. For example, if a company releases results we would analyse the numbers carefully, compare them against our estimates and publish an analysis note and what it means for the stock price, along with our views on whether the stock is good value to buy.
The main work is writing larger reports, such as a sector piece, which delves deeper into the fundamentals and gives a more long-term view.
For the macro strategists, for example, foreign exchange, economics, fixed income – their day will be driven by economic data releases and how this changes the outlook on policy and puts pressure on currencies and interest rates.
Patience and a head for facts and figures are essential for research. To be able to form a view, there is a fair bit of number-crunching, such as looking at financial accounts or economic data.
Our clients are the same as for sales and trading – hedge funds, asset managers, pensions funds, etc. Their knowledge is already sophisticated and our research must add value through interesting interpretations of data and giving reliable forecasts and informed views.
Analysts and the sales team have to promote our publications to achieve a high readership because there are many other competitors writing on the same stocks. The day usually ends about 19.00 but sometimes publication deadlines or a bigger project can keep me at work for longer.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The chance to become an expert in my own niche area and to have other people come to me for my opinion.
Senior analysts spend a lot of time meeting or phoning clients to share their views. A key quality required for research is being able to form your own view and be able to articulate and defend it.
From my project, finding interesting results after a hard day of analysing data is very satisfying. I enjoy the teamwork side of it because a publication usually involves several analysts collaborating, which is a stimulating environment to share knowledge and learn.
There are opportunities to learn everyday and you can pursue further qualifications. Research is an interactive role as we cooperate with sales and trading, so you meet and work with many people. As a result, you gain a broad knowledge that spans both asset classes and countries.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I have recently been promoted to AVP am working towards forming an independent view and gaining my own coverage. This will come only with experience. I will be thrilled when my first stock recommendation goes out to clients.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
- Do your research to see if it is the right career for you. Attend careers fairs and insight days to find out what the business areas are about, network and ask the bankers lots of questions. Don’t be shy about asking for a business card or email if you have follow-up questions.
- Build a rapport with senior people you meet; they have so much experience, are helpful and have great tips to give. I have a couple of informal mentors who I can go to for support and advice.
- An internship is an invaluable opportunity to sample the job. When you get there work hard, be enthusiastic, and don’t be shy to build your own network of contacts.
- Finally, always be yourself – finding a good fit between your personality and the bank’s culture will make a big difference to your job satisfaction. There is a huge diversity within a bank in terms of background and personalities so there is a right desk for everyone and you will make many friends.