What’s Stopping You From Breaking Into Finance and Advancing Within the Industry?

Maybe the market is terrible and banks have slashed their hiring.

Or maybe the market is better and hiring is up – but there’s also more competition, and it’s harder than ever to stand out.

But no matter what the market is like, what’s stopping you from getting in and advancing on the job once you’re there?


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.

Or, even worse, they “seem” authoritative at first… until you realize they’re mostly written by high school or college students who haven’t had any full-time experience in the industry.

Mergers & Inquisitions will help you to:

  • Learn what people in finance actually do from insiders who have worked in the industry – whether you’re interested in investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, equity research, corporate finance, private banking, sales & trading, or something else altogether.
  • Network your way in, craft a winning resume, and interview like a pro to land 6-figure+ job offers – without killing yourself or making embarrassing mistakes along the way.
  • Maintain your sanity once you get into the industry, avoid layoffs, and get promoted more quickly than everyone else.
  • Learn financial modeling via our comprehensive online courses (quizzes and certifications included), plus our free modeling tutorials and YouTube videos.
  • Get 1-on-1 help with your resume/CV, networking/interview prep, and other career questions via our resume editing and coaching services.
  • Entertain yourself with our exclusive web series, Cost of Capital.

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?

To some extent, it is – especially in fields like quant hedge funds, trading, and many buy-side roles where in-depth analysis is essential…

But it is also 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.

Sign up for free updates right here.

About The Team

Mergers & Inquisitions was created in 2007 by a team of bankers, traders, and consultants.

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. 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
  • NYU Stern School of Business
  • Peking University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School
  • Yale University

If you’re really bored and you enjoy reading self-indulgent stories that have nothing to do with breaking into finance, you can also read his life story right here (start from Part 1):

You can follow him on Twitter right here, or on Facebook right here.

Associate Editors

Associate Editors on Mergers & Inquisitions conduct interviews, write, edit, and publish articles, and respond to comments on the site.

They all come from 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

Luis Miguel Ochoa covers strategic planning topics, where he is responsible for surveying the competitive landscape and evaluating avenues for inorganic growth. Previously, Luis covered the industrial sector from both a financing and advisory perspective. His past clients include Alcoa, Ford, and Stanley Works. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Stanford University, where he was a member of the varsity fencing team.

Nicole Lee  is the career advisor for many of the finance industries’ top candidates. Nicole has had experience in institutional sales, equity research, capital markets, and private banking at the world’s leading bulge bracket firms.

Nicole has advised 500+ professionals, from Analysts to Directors, from companies including, but not limited to, investment banks such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, UBS, BAML, Barclays, RBS, hedge funds, and accounting firms such as KPMG and Deloitte.

Nicole has also successfully helped candidates break/lateral into bulge brackets, top private equity, hedge funds and asset management firms.

Nicole has also interviewed senior professionals in private equity, venture capital, asset management, hedge funds and investment banks for featured articles on the site.

In addition to everything above, she leads our resume editing and coaching services here.

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 was too short to dispense the same financial platitudes over and over again on a daily basis.

After taking a trip or two around the world, he now writes for M&I and also creates quite a few of his own books and other products, which you can check out right here.

Thomas Ausart started Finance-Resume.com in 2011 and he offers a broad range of coaching services including interview preparation, resume and cover letter editing. He has worked with 150+ Investment Banking, Corporate Finance and Private Equity professionals over the last three years.

Thomas focuses on long-term relationships with a small number of clients to deliver optimal results. If you are interested in seeing how he could help you go to Finance-Resume.com or write him an email.

Nicolas Doumenc is the Founder of 300 Finance Gurus a website where he grills 300 Managing Directors, CFOs, Vice-Presidents, Associates and Headhunters on their best networking and interviewing techniques.

Nicolas has also helped more than 100 clients land offers at top Investment Banks and Fortune 500 Finance Departments. From Analyst to Directors, he coaches his clients on five continents on their networking technique, LinkedIn profiles; he edits their resumes and cover letters, and grills them during intensive interview preparation sessions.

He’s been writing for M&I for three years now on corporate finance and related industries topic and also gives speeches on career performance to large audiences that include Fortune 1000 CEOs, executives and…ambassadors! Forthcoming in 2014, look for Nicolas’ book on Corporate Finance interviews.

If you want to know more about his coaching and resume editing services, please visit 300 Finance Gurus or send him an email.

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.

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.

After 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).

He then founded his own prop trading firm in Beijing, sold the company, and studied at both Yonsei University in Seoul and The Lauder Institute at Wharton for his MBA. He is currently working as a Financial Analyst at Google in Tokyo.

You can read an interview with him here. You can also listen to podcasts Jerry recorded on Sales & Trading Recruiting and Sales & Trading: On The Job right here.

Looking for Other Contributors?

We’ve had many guest authors and site contributors over the years – you can find a list of former contributors and guest writers right here.

BIWS Contributors

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 (Excel) models and not enough bottles, he found his golden exit opportunity and leaped into private equity.

BJ earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and has now returned to work in private equity.

In addition to assisting with customer support and content creation, he also leads our Institutional Sales efforts.

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 financial crisis 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 4 accounting firm, where he worked for several years.

He now runs his own consulting firm, where he specializes in valuations, financial modeling, M&A, and capital raising.

In addition to all that, he also assists with support and content creation on BIWS.

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 the Yukon Territory 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 (this is a nice way of saying they reap the benefits without having to do all the hard work).

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, graduated from Harvard Business School, and is now a venture capitalist.

Kevin Gao founded Management Consulted, the web’s leading resource on management consulting, and later sold the site after a successful run.

He graduated from Stanford, worked at McKinsey, Shopkick (a Kleiner Perkins-backed mobile startup) and then founded Hyperink to change the world of e-book publishing.

One day, he dreams of displacing Jackie Chan and John Cho to become the leading Asian-American actor of his generation.

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 corporate development at a large Internet company, and then technology-focused private equity at a middle-market fund.

Mergers & Inquisitions has over 100,000 email subscribers and over 500,000 visitors per month, and has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street JournalPrivate Equity HubeFinancialCareers, Dealbreaker, Business Insider, and Forbes.

Have you signed up for free updates yet?