Monday, November 16, 2009

CFN On Campus: Recruiting, A Sixth Course

Keeping up with recruiting demands, networking, attending corporate events, setting up information interviews, slipping out of class to fly to Chicago or New York and strategizing to get on closed interview lists. It's like a sixth course in business school, Consortium finance students say.

But they are a necessary demon, if you aspire to get an offer from a top bank, fund, or financial institution. Some would contend in these times, where there continue to be segments of uncertainty, recruiting chores are necessary if you aspire to get any offer of significance.

A few Michigan Consortium students accompanied the Ross finance club to New York two weeks ago as part of its annual Week on Wall Street. Just two weeks later, some are returning or have returned to follow up with contacts, meet with other banks and firms, and merely to let it be known they are serious in their bids to gain offers from top firms.

Yale and Dartmouth students, too, have come back to New York for follow-up meetings and informational interviews after formal sessions with big banks a few weeks ago.

UBS, Barclays, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, BoA-Merrill and Goldman Sachs continue to be notable for courting Consortium finance students methodically and seriously this fall--especially first-year students interested in investment- or private banking. These banks are executing on well-defined recruiting strategies. They also tend to be the ones that accommodate Consortium students who want to meet bankers for informal meetings or for off-the-record coffee.

Sales & trading positions, as usual and as expected, are elusive--not because top firms are not hiring, but because they tend to hire on a one-off, as-needed basis. While corporate finance and private banking recruit MBA's into formal training or development programs. Sales & trading desks tend to recruit MBA's, only when desks plan to explain, when trading in certain markets is "hot," and when they want "apprentices," those willing to come aboard, watch and learn before they are allowed to take risk or manage portfolios.

Barclays, in private and investment banking, has made a substantial name for itself in recruiting circles this fall. The British bank, already with a large U.S. presence, hopes to attract the talent that once gravitated to Lehman Brothers. Barclays has an advantage, since it purchased most of Lehman's U.S. net assets and hired many of its experienced people. It recently approached CFN to announce that it still has open positions for second-year students.

Citigroup's head of investment banking in the U.S., Ray McGuire, visited NYU-Stern recently. Consortium students had a chance to meet with him and get honest advice on how to succeed in banking. He advised them to make sure they master technical skills, the basics of finance, capital markets and accounting.

McGuire is one of highest-ranking of African American investment bankers. He has been at Citi four years. His career path is not unusual for many top bankers in the industry. He worked at four other firms before landing at Citi. That doesn't include a stint at a New York law firm. McGuire has MBA and JD degrees from Harvard.

While some bankers stay put at one firm for much of their career (characteristic of managing directors at Goldman Sachs), others will follow mentors, clients, deal flow, and, yes, compensation packages from firm to firm, big and small. McGuire was at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley before Citi. McGuire tended to follow mentors and promises of more responsibility. The industry doesn't frown on such movement, because many of the best bankers have done it and most know people and talent will go where opportunities abound.

Tracy Williams

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