What’s Stopping You From Breaking Into Finance?
Maybe the market is terrible and banks have slashed their hiring.
Or maybe the market is better and hiring is up – but so is the competition and it’s harder than ever to stand out.
But no matter what the market is like, what’s stopping you from breaking in?
Context – knowing what it’s really like breaking into the industry and working there – separates those who get in and advance from those who struggle and never get anywhere.
Existing resources miss the mark because they’re not written by industry insiders and because they don’t give candid advice on what to do and what not to do.
Mergers & Inquisitions is all about helping you:
- Learn what people in finance actually do – from insiders who have worked in the industry.
- Network your way in without embarrassing yourself or wasting time on ineffective strategies.
- Craft a winning resume and land interviews wherever you want.
- Develop your “story,” ace your interviews and land offers.
- Maintain your sanity once you get into the industry.
- Avoid layoffs - and how to find work again if you get the axe.
- Land exit opportunities – whether in private equity, hedge funds, or something else altogether.
All you need to do is take action based on what you learn here.
What Finance is Really About… and How You Can Break In
Finance is all about numbers, Excel, and rocket science math, right?
There’s some truth to that, but ultimately it is a social industry where your success depends on convincing people that you can do the work… and that you’re likable at the same time.
In other words, breaking into investment banking is about persuading people to know, like, and trust you – whether that’s in your conversations with them, in your applications, in your interviews, or on the job itself.
Mergers & Inquisitions teaches you how to do that – through detailed how-to articles, case studies, interviews, and questions & answers from readers.
About The Team
Mergers & Inquisitions was created in 2007 by a team of bankers, traders, and consultants. The site is run by Brian as well as his team of Associate Editors, BIWS Contributors, and Advisers.
Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions. In the late 90′s, he had the brilliant idea to start his own Internet company in the midst of the dot-com bust. When that didn’t go so well, he decided that retreating to Stanford would be his best option.
Realizing that he didn’t want to be an engineer – after having already finished half the major – he hopped between nonprofits, tech consulting, and other business roles before fleeing the country and moving to Japan for half a year.
The next logical move seemed to be investment banking, where he managed to stay put for a few years before leaving to start this site and Breaking Into Wall Street. Currently, he’s working full-time on expanding both sites.
He has spoken about business, finance, and recruiting at leading universities and business schools around the world, including:
- Harvard University
- Peking University
- Stanford University
- University of Maryland
- University of Virginia
- University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School
- Yale University
You can follow him on Twitter right here.
Associate Editors on Mergers & Inquisitions conduct interviews, write, edit, and publish articles, and respond to comments on the site. They come from all different backgrounds, ranging from hedge funds in China to corporate finance in Europe to stock brokering in Singapore.
We’re still working on finding the Equities in Dallas editor, but just give it a few hours…
Anthony – MSFHQ moved from the back office to the front office, and lived to tell the tale despite all our warnings against such a bold and dangerous move.
Right out of undergraduate he accepted a back office job at a custody bank, not fully aware of the surgeon general’s warning against the back office.
Then he networked like a ninja into a front-office rotational program at at European bank, attended Villanova University’s MSF program, and then broke into private equity.
Now he runs MSFHQ to teach you all about Master’s in Finance programs and how to use them to break into the finance industry.
Thomas Ausart headed to engineering school to become a big-time trader. But one year before graduation he realized he enjoyed wining (and dining, sometimes) too much to accept the idea of eating in front of a computer screen for the rest of his life without ever seeing a client. So he changed his plans and decided that Corporate Finance was the way to go.
Thomas founded finance-resume.com with Mike a former Investment Banking VP, to assist you with your resume editing, interview preparation so that you land the Finance job you really want. Check out the new From Zero to Hired Coaching Plan here.
Jerry Chi originally had aspirations of becoming an NBA star. When he was passed over in the draft, he decided that going to college strictly for educational purposes would be a better idea. He later enrolled at Stanford University, where he studied business and finance and fell in love with Japan after studying abroad there twice.
Following graduation, he returned to Japan and worked on the equities and fixed income trading desks of major US and European investment banks in Tokyo, specializing in credit derivatives trading (back before they became toxic).
When the credit crunch hit, he fled to China and founded his own prop trading firm in Beijing, successfully growing the company and selling it in early 2009.
The Financial Globe-Trotter became interested in finance at the age of 7 while watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, featuring the 1929 Black Friday. She didn’t quite understand it at the time, but did some more research and started investing at the ripe age of 11, using her newfound knowledge and savings from her weekly allowances!
She is a Canadian female who studied Finance, completed a few internships and then left to backpack the world for a while, just before she began work as a private equity analyst.
Her top two dream jobs are (1) traveling around the world full-time and (2) working in private equity. After deciding that the latter would be more reasonable, she’s currently enrolled in a Master’s Program at a top European school with the goal of breaking into private equity in London.
Exeter Jones is a philosopher trapped inside the body of a writer, trapped inside the body of an alternative investment analyst. He graduated from Morehouse College pre-Lehman, and took his talents to a middle market bank in Upstate New York only to immediately regret that decision once he blew his signing bonus.
His desire to be a professor has been impaired by his desire not to be poverty-stricken, which in turn led him to work in the alternative investments field for the last few years. In his spare time, he still finds time to work out as if he were training for the NFL Combine – and his favorite breakfast food is ESPN.
He is intent on helping young professionals navigate the labyrinth that is the financial services field while maintaining their integrity, sanity, and financial stability.
Nicole Lee grew up in Hong Kong. After she went against her typical Chinese dad’s demand to become a doctor or lawyer, she left for the United States and studied at Georgetown University. Aspiring to be the next Maria Bartiromo on Wall Street, Nicole interned at a leading bank’s investment research division. Realizing that she didn’t enjoy being an Excel monkey 24/7, Nicole joined another bulge bracket’s institutional sales division and had a mini-stint in private banking.
She then decided that having the stamp of “IPO” on her resume justified her full transformation into an Excel monkey, so she joined the equity syndicate team at another bulge bracket. When the financial crisis hit, Nicole fled for greener pastures and went kiteboarding, jumping off planes and bridges, and shark-diving in over 11 countries.
Getting a bit bored of chasing the wind, Nicole then worked as one of the initial employees for an ECM startup advisory firm.
When Nicole isn’t on a call or busy being an Excel monkey, you can find her at the yoga studio and kiteboarding at exotic beaches.
Shen Han Lee lives in Singapore, where his innate talent for drinking copious amounts of coffee goes largely unnoticed.
His knack for saying things with a straight face during interviews led to his first career as a stock broker, where he stuck around for 4 years before realizing that life is too short to dispense the same financial platitudes over and over again on a daily basis.
He is currently on a whirlwind tour around the world. You can read more about his exploits at www.knackpacker.com. His weaknesses are that he’s a perfectionist and that he works too hard.
Don Levett studied at UCL in London, where despite graduating with a degree in anthropology, he managed to land a role in the finance department of a London-based private equity firm, which he followed with a stint working on-site in Montreal for a Bain-spinout strategy consultancy based in NYC.
Anticipating that a diet of club sandwiches, canteen muffins and butter-soaked spinach might end in angina, he returned to the UK where he began brokering relationships between entrepreneurs and early-stage investors, just in time to get comprehensively credit-crunched.
He is the author of How to Find a Graduate Job, as well as a guide to raising venture capital, and has produced events that brought together some of the world’s top financiers.
Hetty MacIntyre grew up in Western Europe and the Deep South before attending a liberal arts college in the Northeast. She decided to stick around for the snow, surly attitude, and bad roads.
After college, she worked at a large pension and endowment investment manager before realizing she had a stockpickers’ heart and started her own value-oriented private investment fund.
Mike Moran, CFA is the Founder of Life on the Buy Side and a portfolio manager at a long-only asset management firm.
Growing up in the 1980s, he was lured into finance by visions of Gordon Gekko, Michael Milken, and Liar’s Poker and his desire to amass a net worth high enough to buy out all of them.
Making his triumphant entrance into finance in the 90′s, he surfed the tech boom wave but then wiped out when the bubble burst at exactly the wrong time.
He found himself bored to tears working in insurance after that, then went into real estate but realized he didn’t want to launch a reality TV show or run for President like Donald Trump, and then earned his MBA and moved up the ladder from equity analyst to portfolio manager.
Luis Miguel Ochoa has worked in investment banking for several years covering the industrial sector. In addition to being an avid mentor for his alma mater, he volunteers for the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. In his spare time, he is fencing, and attends networking events in New York. He has graduated from Stanford with a BA in Economics.
Leni S. grew up in Bulgaria. After finishing high school she pursued higher education in London, where she attended an American University, majoring in Business Administration, Finance, and Economics. During this period she developed her passion for finance and led various social clubs. She also interned at a leading venture capital firm in the City.
Leni then relocated to Paris and pursued her studies at a postgraduate level, specializing in Portfolio Management and Corporate Finance; she also had the opportunity to work at one of the biggest European asset management firms while in Paris. She’s interested in venture capital, equity research, and corporate finance.
When Leni is not studying foreign languages or working on exciting new clubs or projects, she enjoys catching up with the latest movies and singing Bulgarian folklore songs.
Andy Sondag graduated from California State University, Chico, with big dreams of breaking into the financial world. After interning at a small investment bank, he decided to modify his path and ended up as an analyst at a commercial real estate brokerage. In his free time he boxes, rock climbs, and occasionally pretends he is Mark Zuckerberg (he founded TextbookSpyder.com, a website that helps students find discount textbooks).
Contributors to Breaking Into Wall Street assist with the modeling work and content-related questions and support on the site.
Occasionally, they also receive free bottle service in recognition of their achievements (ok, this hasn’t happened yet… one day).
BJ Hansen grew up in the Midwestern US and still hasn’t made it out of there. He studied finance at the University of Nebraska and then worked at a boutique investment bank doing Mergers & Acquisitions.
After two years of too many models and not enough bottles, he found his golden exit opportunity and leapt into private equity.
BJ is currently getting his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and intends to return to private equity when finished.
James Wallace grew up in New Zealand and had aspirations of becoming a professional sailor. Once he realized that he would rather own a yacht than be paid to crew one, he attended Auckland University and studied finance and accounting there.
He managed to avoid a real job straight out of university by helping to found a peer-to-peer lending company – just as the GFC was approaching.
Poor timing and burdensome securities law resulted in his company being put on hold; after this training in the school of hard knocks, James joined the corporate finance team at a big four accounting firm.
He now specializes in valuations, M&A and capital raising, but he dreams of returning to the start-up if lobbying can successfully change the law.
Peter Yu aspired to be the first electric violinist rock star the world had ever seen – Bono meets Yo-Yo Ma (yeah, the instruments are different). But the world at large wasn’t quite ready for his cutting-edge style, so he decided to head to Stanford instead and bust out his moves there.
Management consulting was his destination of choice after graduating, but after flying to Nebraska one too many times and realizing that you still can’t buy bottles with Starwood points, he moved into M&A instead.
In addition to contributing to Breaking Into Wall Street and assisting with technical questions there, Peter is a co-founder of The GMAT Pill, an innovative GMAT Prep course focused on teaching you how to ace the GMAT via online video tutorials.
Advisers to Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street provide input on strategy and the big picture.
They’re also interested in the free bottle service deal mentioned above, though it still has yet to happen for them.
Ed Fu grew up in Taiwan, where he discovered the Internet and built his first website on GeoCities using Microsoft Notepad.
Lured by the riches of the dot-com IPOs, he moved to the US to study computer science at Cornell University, only to realize that tech companies were going bust left and right. After a few painful years in musty computer labs, he decided he really didn’t want to be an engineer.
Thinking quickly, he re-positioned himself and headed to Stanford University to complete a Master’s degree there and enter the world of business.
He worked as an Associate in technology investment banking, went to Harvard Business School, and is now a venture capitalist.
Kevin Gao is the Founder of Management Consulted, the web’s leading resource on management consulting. Before graduating from Stanford, he had dreams of becoming the next Hong Kong action movie star.
But when he lost the lead role in Rush Hour 2 to Jackie Chan, he went back to school and used the experience to work in technology, sales & trading, and management consulting across North America, Asia, and South America.
He has spoken about management consulting and recruiting at leading universities and business schools, including:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School
- Yale University
Eric Hu grew up on basketball and online video games. That made for a great childhood, but a not-so-great college application – so he ended up attending the University of California, San Diego, a “non-target” school that doesn’t exist in the eyes of Wall Street.
Despite his handicap, he outwitted Ivy Leaguers in the recruiting process and broke into investment banking – where he worked with a range of eccentric Internet CEOs while indulging in $30 daily dinner gluttony.
Once he got tired of the food and wanted to go to sleep before 4 AM on a regular basis, he moved into the corporate development department of a large Internet company, where he has focused on M&A, business development, and expansion into China.
Currently he’s working in private equity and once again indulging in those eccentric CEOs and generous meal allowances.
Mergers & Inquisitions has over 50,000 subscribers and over 200,000 unique visitors per month, and has been featured on sites and in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Private Equity Hub, eFinancialCareers, and Dealbreaker.
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