Investment Banking: Australia Edition

121 Comments | Investment Banking - Asia

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I get a lot of questions on investment banking in different parts of the world. Since I based this site on my experience working in the US, there has been a North American bias in most of the articles so far.

As I traveled through Asia, though, I met readers who have worked in different regions of the world and I learned more about their experiences elsewhere.

Australia might not be the first place that pops into your mind when you think of finance, but I heard some very interesting insights from a reader recently, and figured they would be worth sharing – especially since some of these points apply to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Here’s an informal “interview” I conducted with one reader who works at a boutique/middle-market firm in Australia.

Q: We all know about the hours and culture of banking, especially in places like New York – what’s it like in Australia?

Keep in mind that I’m at a smaller firm so it’s different from working at a bulge bracket down here. That said, the culture is definitely more relaxed and laid back than what you’d find in the US and Europe.

Bankers may be a bit older on average, and that may explain part of it – they’re not as interested in killing you with work all the time.

Sometimes we have holidays where everything just shuts down as well – I don’t think that’s too common in other regions.

At the junior level, it’s definitely not a 9-5 job but it’s also not 100+ hours per week like bigger firms are known for.

I’ve heard some horror stories about bulge brackets down here so it might just be specific to my firm, but overall I’d say the hours are better on average.

Q: In terms of culture, does everyone get along with everyone else? Do people hang out outside of work?

Our office is split between people with families / in serious relationships and the young, single people. A lot of Analysts and younger Associates hang out with each other, but outside of work you might only see the older bankers at holiday parties and other company events. It’s unlikely that you’d go for drinks with your MD out of the blue.

Q: What about the types of deals you work on? Is there a focus on any particular industry?

Most companies we work with are in the Asia-Pac region, so there’s definitely a geography bias. We do a fair bit of work with China as well, or at least we did before the meltdown – but we liaise with the closest office for cross-border deals.

My group focuses primarily on M&A, so that’s what I’ve spent most of my time on. Since natural resources and energy are huge industries in Australia, we do a lot of deals in those markets.

However, we are a smaller firm so we tend to be generalists and have exposure to a variety of industries and even at the higher levels we don’t specialize too much. While MDs have their niches, they tend to work across industries quite often and leverage our global offices for more targeted industry expertise.

Q: In the US, the recruitment process is focused squarely on resumes, first-round interviews and then final rounds / Superdays, at least if you’re applying through on-campus recruiting at a “target” school.

In Europe and Asia there’s more emphasis on assessment centers, case studies, online tests, and sometimes written competency questions.

What is the process like in Australia?

Similar to Asia and Europe, most banks do all of the above here. You have to go through online tests on written and quantitative subjects, and there are assessment days where you have to present case studies on transactions and hypothetical scenarios to bankers.

And then you also have to go through standard interviews as well – overall the process is more rigorous.

Q: That sounds intense. Any tips for case studies or presentations at assessment centers? I get a lot of questions on that, but I’m not an expert since most US offices do not require it.

Keep it simple and don’t over-think the questions. More importantly, be honest! If you don’t know something, don’t waste bankers’ time by trying to ‘fake’ your way through it. They’ll see through it and you’ll lose all respect.

You have a very limited amount of time to read up on the scenario, get together your materials, and present – so focus on 3-4 key points and don’t waste time creating complicated models or doing lots of math.

First and foremost, the bankers listening to your presentation are interested in your communication abilities – not whether you can build a perfect LBO model. Presenting a succinct case without over-complicating it helps you the most.

Q: If the recruiting process is so much more rigorous, how do people typically break into the industry? Is the “path” more structured than in other regions?

Most people in banking in Australia have been in finance for a long time, and have studied it in university as well. It’s less common to be a “career changer” here, and you rarely see people from other backgrounds jump into the field. This becomes more pronounced as you move away from bulge bracket firms and into boutiques.

Partially, this is because the industry is just much smaller compared to other regions, but it’s also just a cultural point in Australia/Asia, where you tend to follow more of a set path.

Q: Ok, so the industry is smaller and recruiting sounds like it’s more intense as well. How many people are actually interested in investment banking in Australia?

There’s less interest overall. Outside the top few universities, most students don’t even think about formal internships during the summer.

The general culture is far different from the US where students are almost expected to do internships during their summers.

This doesn’t mean that it’s easier to get in, though – the industry is smaller overall and recruiting is more rigorous.

Q: What about exit opportunities? Does everyone jump to private equity or hedge funds after 2 years?

It’s less common to make the jump to the buy-side – the notion of only staying for 2 years and using it as a steppingstone is not as prevalent here. It’s more likely for an analyst to switch to another bank due to fit/pay considerations as opposed to moving into private equity / hedge funds.

That’s because it’s less common to change careers in Australian culture, but it’s also a function of how small the PE / HF industry is here – even compared to banking.

Q: Right, that makes sense. But what about moving outside Australia to other regions? Have any of your friends done that?

You can do it, but it’s more difficult than starting in New York or London and then moving to different regions. Experience in a region like Australia doesn’t translate quite as well to other parts of the world, and if you want to move to the US or Europe, you may not get “full credit” for the work you did here.

The opportunity to move outside Australia is probably better if you make the move within your firm through an internal transfer. Another possibility would be to move into Southeast Asia, although knowledge of a local language would definitely be a plus.

Q: What about the pay / bonuses as compared to the US and other regions?

Is anyone actually getting a bonus this year?

You’ll have to ask me again when I finish up my first year – I’m not 100% certain, but I imagine they’d be a bit lower than New York / London bonuses. Again, this depends on where you’re at – boutiques tend to start with a higher base and a lower bonus while the bulge bracket firms start with lower bases and higher bonuses.

Q: Great, thanks for your time.

Sure thing – just don’t post this with a photo of a kangaroo or anything!

Note: All joking aside I really do want to visit Australia soon.

Note 2: Worked in a region outside the US and want to share your experiences (anonymously of course, this is finance)? Contact me and we can set up a quick interview.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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121 Comments to “Investment Banking: Australia Edition”

Comments

  1. IW says

    Hi, Can you please provide more information about the assessment day case studies. Are we supposed to build a DCF model from scratch or create some kind of Merger model for a company in a few short hours? Also, I assume apart from the financial statements, you are asked to prepare slides and prepare for a 10 min presentation??

    Thanks

  2. Anshu says

    Hey, I am currently 20 years old and have gained employment into the finance industry mainly in financial planning part but am about to be employed by MLC as a client services consultant. I am currently however doing average/poorley at university but want to ultimatly become an Investment banker. Would you suggest this is the right path to follow ? I have completed already a diploma in financial planning and am about to commece a advanced diploma in financial planning along side another diploma in share trading. I am currently studying bachelors of commerce majoring in finance and economics. your help wuold be very much appreciated.

  3. Shaun says

    Hi,

    I am a 29 year old currently working in the Corporate Finance team of a large infrastructure project (and have about 4-5 years of relevant experience in total).

    I am due to finish my Masters in Applied Finance in mid 2011.

    What is the best way for me to move into Investment Banking in Australia? What level can I expect to move in at?

    Shaun

    • says

      You would probably still be an Analyst – the best way to get in is via on-campus recruiting from your Master’s program. A smaller bank might take you on as a 2nd or 3rd year Analyst though since you have more work experience than a fresh college graduate.

      • Shaun says

        Thanks, do you think Associate programs in other countries/regions are an avenue worth exploring for people with my background?

        • says

          Maybe, but I don’t know that it will make a big difference. Banks have a strong preference for hiring either undergrads with no experience or MBAs with 3-5 years of experience.

  4. banker says

    Hi,

    I was looking to interview at MM firms (Lazard, Greenhill etc) in Australia and was wondering if you know the working hours involved in these firms? I was hoping that by working in the non-BB banks, I can work 60-70 hours and not 90-100 hours (if at all possible in investment banking).

    Thanks.

    • says

      Hours might be slightly less overall but that is a poor reason to go into banking because you will still have 100 hour weeks occasionally… the problem is not the hours but the unpredictability.

  5. James says

    Thanks for sharing the info, it was a great read.

    I’m 19 years old and am studying a Commerce degree with majors in Accounting and Finance at a non-group of 8 university here in Australia. I also have a cadetship with a reputable accounting firm right under the Big 4 (full time internship position). I do extra curricular activities such as peer mentoring and being an ambassador for the university. I’m currently starting my third year of uni (four year degree with the cadetship program) and am highly interested in applying for the big I banks, particularly Macquarie as I am very keen to get into Investment Banking.

    The concern is that I have only been able to achieve a credit average so far (and remember my uni isn’t one of the big ones in the country). With my job experience, is there any hope to get a graduate position with the big banks here in Australia as an Analyst? I’m keen to embrace the 100 hour weeks and do whatever it takes but I need to know if there’s still a chance?

    Thanks, great site

    • says

      You would be better off transferring to a top university there, otherwise it’s tough because networking doesn’t work as well in Australia.

        • Peter says

          unfortunately there are a lot of cadets in Australia and because their positions are mainly based around assurance and tax, it will be hard to stand out.

  6. phil says

    Great article, as always. What would you think of an “Investment Banking: Germany Edition”? Frankfurt Is the leading financial center in central Europe and I think that a lot of your subscribers are from there. (like me) Would be very glad to know sth inside stuff about the business there. Thanks

    • says

      We actually have something coming up soon on that, though it’s from someone relatively new so it’s not as detailed as some of the articles here.

  7. NT says

    Hi,

    I am currently a penultimate year undergrad student studying accounting and finance at the University of Melbourne.

    I am very interested in getting an investment banking internship over my final summer break (dec-feb) and hence have signed up for employer information sessions that my university has organised. Do you know if banks in Australia are accustomed to providing investment banking internships during summer? As far as my research goes, most internship programmes are offered in other countries such as the states, singapore, hong kong, london etc, but I haven’t managed to find such programmes offered in Australia.

    Also, I am an international student and am planning on working full time back in Singapore when I graduate. Is it still a good idea for me to attend these sessions and apply for an internship if possible?

    • says

      I think it’s less common in Australia but they do exist, probably at larger banks most of the time. Any experience helps, even if you want to return to Singapore.

  8. James Wang says

    Hi

    Im currently working in a Transaction Services team at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms in Sydney doing mostly financial due dilligence work and looking to break into investment banking in a couple of years.

    What do you think is the best way for me to get into this area?

    I did a Commerce/Law double degree at an Australian G8 University

  9. Ryan Nash says

    Hi there,
    I have a few questions about being an investment banker in Australia. If you do not mind. I am only a high-school student as well, but very interested in finance.

    1.) Would it be wise to get a double degree; Commerce majoring in Finance and Business administration? Or would it be wise to just get the one degree? The double degree in Australia is a lot faster then getting two separate degrees.

    2.) Would it be possible to join a bulge-bracket IB as an associate or having to be an analyst.

    3.) How would an Australian IB lifestyle ie; hours, workload compare to a New York or other major city IB?

    4.) Would the salary of an analyst/ associate be about the same or less as an US investment banker?

    5.)I have seen on many posts saying it is an easy job and a lot of people choose it as a career? So i want to know how many of those analysts would end up being promoted?

    6.) Would investment banking change in the future in anyway?

    Thank-you

    Ryan

  10. Graduate says

    Excellent article. I got a graduate program at a Big 4 Commercial Bank (Institutional Banking) next year, and want to break into IB later.

    What is the best way of doing this? I’m going to take my CFA level 1 during my final semester (Yes, I know you are against CFA), and want to specialize in Global Markets. Is it hard to transfer into IB? I heard it is easier for DCM.

    Should I do a couple years of work, do my MBA and go into IB as an associate?

    Also, I want to work in Hong Kong one day.

    Cheers :)

    • says

      Yes you could do that it’s easier to just move in directly as MBA is expensive in time and money. Going to ECM or DCM would be easier

  11. Jimmi says

    Hi M&I,

    I know your trying to add to your Aussie section but is there any way you could fast track this? Apps close for summer internships on the 15th of July for Melbourne and 5th of August for Sydney. Currently I have researched 2 deals – Foxtel – Austar and AMP – AXA APH, an IPO – QR National and am keeping up to date with the other M&A activity in the region. Am a NZ penultimate finance and economics student, decent grades, have a consulting internship under my belt and some extracurriculars but worried that it might not be enough. In Aus will I be required to know anything more than the DCF, Sum of Parts, and Comparables methods? Any tips from you or other readers would be greatly appreciated. So far I have applied for 6 BB and 3 boutiques.

    • says

      It is really beyond my control because I am crazy busy at the moment and no one has stepped forward to volunteer to contribute there. If someone does, I will add it, but I just may not get time due to other projects that have come up.

      I also do not write about deals or news as that content goes out of date quickly.

      You should learn how to value mining and natural resource companies (the NAV model at least) which is covered in the interview guide, can also look online for that. Otherwise AU is really not that much different and they still ask similar questions.

  12. Lee says

    Hi there,

    I am an UCL engineering student, who wishes to break into investment banking at those BB firms in Singapore. Do you think UCL is a target school for those BB firms? If not, do you think an advanced engineering degree from Cambridge helps? Would it be as difficult as in london to break into the BB firms in Singapore?

    Thanks for your advice.

    • says

      I think it is but may not be as much recruitment as other schools so Cambridge may help (but again not 100% certain). For Singpaore it is difficult if you don’t have any background in the region and/or you can’t travel there to interview in person.

  13. James says

    Hello,

    I want to work in the USA as having been there last year, I liked the cities, people, vibe etc very much.

    I’m in my final year of a 3 year Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of Melbourne – Majoring in Accounting + Finance with high marks. I intend to apply for Honours in Finance for 2012.
    Is Honours appreciated by employers in USA?

    Secondly, Australia has an affiliation with USA (E-3 Visa) where Australians can apply for and work for 2 years (can be renewed) provided the job is professional and requires a degree or some skill. The catch is that you need an offer first before applying, but then the application is almost certain to go through I’m told. I think this is a fantastic opportunity.

    Do you think there is a decent chance of a foreigner gaining employment in USA in banking, in light of the high unemployment rate? I imagine this extends to the finance sector. I’m going to make some calls to BB’s overseas, but am after some general info on conditions in the industry at the moment, and BB’s attitude to hiring people from overseas.

    Thanks in advance for your input. Also, I’m a huge fan of your website.

    James

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Honours is appreciated though I think the States operates in a different educational system and you need to make it clear to employers what “Honours” entail.

      It is relatively difficult to get into banking as a foreigner since most of the banks received TARP money and they can’t hire international employees. I have heard that some people were forced to leave the country because no one would sponsor their visas for that reason. The best way might be to look for jobs at European banks like Deutsche bank since they didn’t receive TARP money. I have to say though unless you have something you can offer that other local employees can’t, its hard to convince them to go through the process of sponsorship for you. You might want to look at other countries too.

      An interesting way to go about this might be to speak to Australian banks in NY and see if its easier for them to sponsor you. You might also try to work in Australia and then transfer to the States.

  14. Siddharth says

    Hi,
    I am interested in pursuing investment banking as a career.
    I have completed my under grad from india,bachelors of commerce (66%- a 3 year course).
    I’ll also be completing chartered accountancy next year(it is an undergraduate course in india, which i was/am pursuing along with bachelors of commerce).

    I am planning to go for an mba in finance from the best possible australian university that i can get into which require no work experience( as i’ll have none when i apply for admission right after completing chartered accountancy).

    I am pretty sure that i can get a pretty good GMAT score.

    would like to know which universities should i target in australia to get into IB in australia itself or somewhere in south east asia( keeping in mind my educational credentials so far).
    And also whether i am on the right track by opting for an mba in finance.

    thanks

  15. Jim says

    Hi M&I,

    I am completing a BB IBD internship this summer in Sydney and wondering what the options are for getting grad positions in London or NY straight after. From what I have read of your boarder-jumping apps they tend to rely on networking which won’t be possible in this case. I see a few options:
    1. Apply directly for grad roles in Lon/NY
    2. Apply through Syd HR at the BB bank I’ll be working for over summer
    3. Apply for Lon/NY grad and Syd grad – but I think a lot of firms only let you submit one application.
    4. Hit Sydney for a few years than internal transfer.
    5. Hit Sydney for a few years then top tier MBA

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated, I want to get over there ASAP. Loving the articles!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1,2 works
      For 3, you can find ways to get around it i.e. network w people in various offices & send your info to them (of course w tact and strategy)
      4&5 : Takes too long . Why don’t you just apply now if you want London/NY? 5- you’re trying too hard unless you really want an MBA

  16. John says

    Hey guys,

    I’m from Australia and I’ve repeatedly read on this site that ‘networking doesn’t work as well’ here.

    I myself have found that to be true, cold-calling usually leads to a curt and sharp response from the receptionist to apply via the website and any attempts to ask for ‘informational interviews’ draw a confused and utterly bewildered response.

    Any attempts to talk to someone relevant MDs, Analysts etc will lead to a resounding and absolute ‘NO’ from whichever pretentious under-educated receptionist that happens to answer the phone, in fact it is difficult to even grab the emails of any bankers as asking for them will usually lead to a ‘send them to me and I’ll make sure it goes to the right people’ response from the aforementioned idiot administrators whilst they happily delete your email during their lunch break with a smile.

    In short- here’s a tip; BE NICE TO WHOEVER PICKS UP THE PHONE. No matter what his/her position no matter unimportant they are, when making any contact with the firm they have great influence over how far you’ll go getting an interview, they make sure your emails ACTUALLY get forwarded, they can give you the names of actual bankers, their contact details, most convenient hours, they may even set up a formal talk with a banker for you over the phone! Or, they can end your hopes of ever being recruited into that firm in the span of around half a second. I speak the above from all personal experience.

    I have gotten my past two internships with mid-markets via volume cold-calling. I have a few questions regarding networking:

    1. ‘Networking doesn’t work as well’, is it still even worth doing in Australia? Bulge-Banks, IB, Commercial and even small PE and boutique shops are ALL very formal in their recruiting process described above. Truthfully, is networking still worthwhile? Is it still worth the effort?

    2. If it IS worthwhile, are there any additional tips for people here in Australia? Could be an idea for an extra article specifically for people in Australia and New Zealand? It is extremely difficult here to set up an ‘informational interview’ or to meet with any bankers in person. Recruiting here has become TOO STRUCTURED.

    Either way I’m currently addicted to your site, you guys are bigger here than you think. A little more Australia specific advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Yes you are dealing with people.
      2. I haven’t worked in Australia/NZ so I can’t say though I’d imagine people would still be open to meeting you for coffee if you have questions about what they do. Yes I can see how recruitment can be structured but structures are built by people, who network and tend to hire people they like working with. So honestly while there might be some difference b/ networking in NZ/Aus vs other places, I think networking requires the same “skills” everywhere

      Thanks – we will keep that in mind and think of ways to cover more articles on Australia

  17. Engineer says

    hey guys,

    How common is the career change from engineer to IB? I have always been interested in making this career change. I’m still quite young and in my 2nd year as a Graduate Engineer at a top consulting firm. I have no finance background (in the form of formal education).

    Any experiences/tips with this would be great!

  18. Michael says

    Hi M&I Team,

    I am undertaking a Masters in Finance. I have the opportunity to either take up a Research Project for the final semester, or take on 3 electives as a substitute. These two avenues are tantamount.

    In your opinion, which avenue would IBs prefer and why?

    Thanks in advance. Looking forward to more Australian content. Keep up the superb work.

  19. Mica says

    Hi Nicole / M&I Team,

    Do you have any insights into what Australian investment bankers do after a stint in banking?

    Given the PE and HF industries are small, there isn’t the same scope for corp dev (certainly no Fortune500 type roles) and I assume VC is basically nonexistent…are most AUs bankers, career I-Bers?

    Understand if you might not have visibility on this point though!

    Cheers

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I haven’t worked in Aus before so perhaps other readers can offer a more in-depth perspective. I’d have thought Aus bankers wld pursue opportunities in PE after IB though

    • says

      Just to add to Nicole’s comment: most bankers there actually stay in banking. Much less emphasis on exit opportunities. PE/HF/VC are all much smaller to nonexistent in some cases, and so you pretty much either stay in banking or move over to a company and do corp fin / corp dev there. There are some buy-side firms but it’s harder because there aren’t as many and they’re smaller in sheer numbers.

  20. Jamie says

    hi there,

    i’m looking at breaking into a BB IB at singapore in the future (will be graduating from an Australian Go8 in 2012). to that, i was wondering which internship is more relevant, or is there no difference since they’re non-IB related?

    1. auditing with a big 4 accounting firm
    2. commercial banking with standard chartered

    thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      tough one to choose. I guess you can spin both even though they are a bit “far-stretched”. I’d choose 1. over 2. though 2. might be relevant to guys in the FIG group in IB

  21. Philip says

    Hi M&I,

    I started university as what I considered a complete failure. I seemed to have barely scraped passed my degree but was somehow accepted into the masters program. I’ve been getting high averages (equivalent to 4.0) in my masters program but haven’t been recieving offers. I’ve tried networking and coldcalling but people in Australia don’t seem to have much leniancy on what can actually be done. Any ideas on what I can do?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Continue networking. Attend networking events. Once you gain the trust of a contact that works in your desired field, he/she should be happy to introduce new contacts to you. Don’t give up!

  22. Stefan says

    Hey M&I,

    I’m just wondering if the career prospects of me entering investment banking post university are the same if I complete a Commerce/Law double-degree at a non-G8 university than if I complete straight Commerce at a G8 university. Assuming that I do very well in either course, and still make an effort to apply for internships and cold-call during my summer breaks, will my slightly less prestigious university make much of a difference to potential bulge bracket firms who operate in Australia if I still show that I have a strong interest/skill in finance?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Double degree is better, if you can maintain your grades and sanity (assuming you enjoy the field). Law is useful, whether you want to be in IB or not. I’d suggest you to take finance courses in university to demonstrate your skills/knowledge/interest in the field

      • Jono Choi says

        I’d like to add that transfering universities in Australia is very easy. Some G8 universities won’t accept credit point transfers into their universities for your law subjects though. I’ve had friends from non G8 express extreme difficulty getting into finance, so I’d advise on attempting a transfer first. That being said being at a G8 university won’t guarantee much. As I’ve also been told from friends in the industry that recently MQ Cap, CS, UBS (I assume most people are aimming for firms along these lines) don’t hire graduates anymore. The industry is still relatively small in Australia and times like these don’t help. Try to get every competitive edge you can if you really want to break in.

      • Luke says

        I read elsewhere on your website that a 2nd or dual degree in law was a bad ROI, is Australia an exception to this?

        Also, if I was looking to find a career on the buyside is it easier to try and break into an aus HF (despite the size of the industry) after 3 or so years IB experience or would I be more successful making an internal transfer to NY and trying to find a HF job there? If I do this how long will I have to work in Aus before they would consider a transfer and would my Aus IB experience be considered when applying for a buyside role? The easy answer would be to apply for IB in NY directly but I simply lack the contacts to do that.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          It depends on your circumstance and what you want to achieve. Law is useful in IB but I don’t know if banks will hire you just because you have a law degree unless you want to be in the legal/compliance dept or want to be work in law firms that specialize in IPOs/M&As etc.

          However, having a law degree does help you in banking as you progress in your career but it is not a must. Whether it is a good investment or not depends on your judgement

          I think both are good options but it really depends on your background and I can’t advise you just on the comments page alone. You have to bear in mind that you don’t have a visa to work in NY though so it may be tough but not impossible.

          1-2 years maybe? Depends on luck and other factors too. Yes, for Australian investments.

    • Anon says

      Target universities are the Group of 8 – Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Western Australia, The University of Adelaide, The University of Queensland

      There are a few other universities which banks target but the above are the most common.

      • Anon says

        I’m from a private University on the Gold Coast and we regularly have students Interning/getting grad jobs in all IBs in Aus. It isn’t essential to be at G8, but there are some unis that are automatic ‘cull’ universities.

        I’m starting with a BB next year, and 4 of my friends are interning in BBs this year as well. It’s not impossible!

    • Jono Choi says

      I believe the top tier universities are ANU, University of NSW, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia, Monash and University of Sydney. If you’re looking at it pretty much each respective state has a top tier university and theres no real gain in moving interstate to gain a slight advantage. To my knowledge the very top end schools are UNSW, UMelb and Usyd. The others are slightly less regarded. I earned my degree at UNSW but didn’t particularly like the quality of teaching or the provided materials. I heard theres higher quality teaching and materials at Usyd but most top end students do come from UNSW. When I did my IB internship we had 7 Comm students from UNSW, one science student from USYD and the rest were from abroad(strange I know).

  23. Josh says

    Hi there,

    I am contacting you in regards to degrees that can support me gettig into IB? Would just a commerce degree be enough with an impressive interview?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Its not only about the degree. Its about your whole presentation (school name, work experience, GPA, etc). If you already have an interview, it doesn’t matter what degree you have because it all depends on how you interview at this stage

  24. Grad says

    Hi M&I

    I am an Australian Student who just finished an internship in a Bulge Bracket bank in Hong Kong.
    I am in the process of deciding whether I should return to HK as an analyst, or decline the return offer and apply to Australia. I am torn because I didn’t really enjoy the culture in HK, but there are a lot of opportunities in Asia. I have never worked in Australia IBs before so don’t know whether I would like it more.

    I was thinking perhaps to take the offer from HK and apply to another internship in Australia so that I can make a more informed decision. However, is it looked down upon in the industry to sign on, and continue looking for opportunities elsewhere?

    Many thanks for your help and advice!

      • Grad says

        Thanks for you input Nicole! Could you give me any advice on how to inform HR about giving up a position without burning bridges. I am wary of the fact that the industry is very small, and any “wrong moves” could damage reputation. I don’t want to rule out moving to Asia later on in my career, so don’t want this to damage my path in the future.

        Many thanks!

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Once you have made up your decision, call HR and tell them genuinely and directly why you want to give up the position. Sincerity and honesty is key. Also try to do this in person. If not, do so on the phone. Emailing can be perceived as a “cop-out”

  25. International Student says

    Hello M&I,

    I think I may be in an interesting position that you may not have encountered yet. I did my undergraduate degree as a double major in Business and English, graduated in May ’11. I went to a small, liberal arts school in AL. I didn’t have much luck on the job market and decided to go back to school.

    So now I’m in the penultimate year in my Masters degree of International Economics & Finance at the second-ranked school in Australia. Here’s the problem though. Although I have firms like McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, UBS, Bain & Company, etc. interviewing on campus, the fact that I’m an international student means that it’s much harder for me to secure an internship position as most companies require “Australian or New Zealand residency or Permanent Residency status”. The interesting part of this is that that’s only required of the internship. Most of the aforementioned firms allow international students to apply to their graduate programs. But how can I compete against other candidates that have the internship experience if I can’t get one of my own? Any advice?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Where are you from? You might have to work in their offices based in your home country. You might want to speak to HR of these companies and see. I’d also suggest you to speak with your school’s international students counselor as well as int’l students who have graduated a few years ahead of you from your same school who secured jobs in Australia

      Do not worry – many int’l students are going through the same thing

  26. Sam says

    I’ve just started my 2nd year (of 3), in Australia, and basically I’m wondering when I should be looking at internships. This site talks about summer internships, which for us is obviously Dec-Feb. Should I be trying to find something in the middle of my penultimate year at University? Or something at the end of my degree?

    My initial dream/plan was to work in Sydney for a couple of years and then “transfer” to the US or Europe. But I have since read that this can be a tricky path, and it’s usually better to start out in the country you wish to work in. So I’ve taken a look at Credit Suisse’s website, where they give you the option of applying to only 3 regions. Now I don’t know if I should be looking into the Syd/Melb office internships, where I may have more of a chance, or instead putting NYC, Chicago down where I will likely be overlooked due to comparatively no name school / lack of experience.

    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d imagine something in the middle of your penultimate year. I’m not quite familiar with the Australian educational system, but I’d suggest you to apply before deadlines of summer interns

      Yes, unless you are a US citizen, but coming from a comparatively no-name school w lack of experience makes your case even more challenging if you apply to NYC/Chicago

  27. Elliot says

    I am in my final year and applying for an internship with the bulge bracket IB’s. I was wondering if a credit average at one of the top universities in Australia will stand me in good stead.

    Also the site is fantastic and could you please compile some further information on the Australian perspective. It would very much be appreciated by all who use this website.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Other than your grades, having solid IB experience, a strong network and a passion in finance will make you stand out. Of course having a distinction average is preferable to a credit average but I believe solid work experience, strong story and passion in the industry matters more

      Thanks! I will let my team know of your thoughts

  28. jason says

    i would really love to work in Australia but i am a european does anyone know if i can work in Australia right out of a top european university like imperial or lse??? and is it preferable to go to an australian university?

  29. bob says

    Hey guys,

    What is the Equity Research scene like in Australia?
    And I’ve heard the Hedge Fund scene is tiny, so what is the Asset Management front like?

    Cheers.

  30. lgk says

    Hi M&I,

    I am an Investment banker from India working as an Associate in a mid-market boutique for the last 2.5 years now relocating to Sydney due to personal reasons. I’ve worked on 5-6 transactions (and closed two) primarily across renewable energy, infrastructure, healthcare and financial services sectors. I’ve done a PE internship, an MBA from the best business school in India (top quartile globally), the CFA and 1 year of pre-MBA work experience at Goldman as a tech. analyst. I aspire to continue in investment banking post my relocation.

    My question to you/Australian readers is whether lack of local Australian experience will be a major impediment and if so, what would be the best ways to get around it – internships, contract roles or perhaps, a degree from an Australian university (as a last resort)? Thanks in advance.

    I am a great fan of your website and find the content very useful.

    • says

      Not really sure of that one, but I think they care less about local experience in Australia because it’s a developed market. So I don’t think it will be a huge problem, especially if you have energy/infrastructure experience.

  31. JC says

    Hi M&I
    Personally, this was one of the most helpful articles I have read on internet. I am in the process of deciding whether to apply for IB in Australia so any advice/comment would be appreciated.

    I am a junior studying at one of the top Ivies. My GPA is not stellar but it is above average. My only experience in financial industry was at sales division at Standard Chartered Bank. I am originally from Australia and I was admitted to USYD commerce/law double degree program, studied for one semester and then withdrew. I also sat the Australian SAT (aka ATAR) and have scored a very high mark.

    My question is, do you think I have any chance at BB in Australia? I do not know if Australian firms value American education and even if it is one of the Ivies, the recruiters might not think of it better than USYD..

    Thanks :) Always a fan

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You might have a better chance networking/interviewing with people in the industry from America who is working in Australia.

  32. K says

    Hi MI,

    I study at Monash University and I’ve got two internship offers with the M&A group at a Big 4 firm and an IB boutique in Singapore. From my understanding, they both work on middle market deals. Which would you think is a better path to take if I want to break into BBs in the future?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d go for the IB boutique. I’d suggest you to conduct in-depth research on the two positions (i.e. What will you be doing on a daily basis? Who will you be reporting to etc etc?) before you make a decision.

    • Tian says

      Hi K, i’m currently studying at Monash University and am applying for internships in banks. I was just wondering if you had any idea what banks in australia are looking for?

      Also, did you have a good GPA overall to be chosen for an internship?

  33. Jordan says

    Hello MI,

    I am a student currently studying at University of Queensland in Australia, however I am from Hong Kong and return there during holidays.

    This imposes an issue for me regarding internships, as summer in Australia and HK are during different times of the year. Thus, when i return to HK for my summer break, the IB’s in HK will only be running their Winter Internship programs that last only a few weeks (providing that they offer such a program).

    So my question is: Would a winter internship from an IB in Hong Kong be of good value? Or would i be better off trying to secure summer interships in Australia?

    Thanks !

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think you’re better off securing internships in Australia though if you can secure a winter internship in HK this will help too

  34. Jake says

    Hello MI

    I have recently graduated from University with a finance and statistics degree. I am about to start my grad role in management consulting for a tier 3 company. I wanted to know what should i do in order to move either to an investment bank or private equity in the next 3 years.

    Thanks

  35. James says

    Investment Banking doesn’t seem to be as popular in Australia so how would I go about moving to either london or dubai to get a career?
    Does an Australian Bachelor’s degree in Commerce double majoring in accounting and economics count for anything?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think it may be more challenging given visa and language (for Dubai) issues. Yes a bachelor degree in those subjects is useful, but you’ll also be competing other candidates with such degree who are already based in those countries. You’ll have to either have very solid IB experience or/and strong network in IB to stand out. I’d suggest you to set up informational interviews and make a trip to those countries if you’re serious about moving there.

  36. Lucy says

    Hello MI,

    I graduated in 2009 and started working fulltime at GE in one of their Commercial Lending divisions in Melbourne. After 1.5 years I moved to Sydney where I’m currently working in the Fund Accounting team. I also started my Masters last year doing MCom maj. Financial Econometrics. I would really like to get into Corporate Finance but I’m not sure how to go about it.
    I’d like to ask firstly, should I change my major to just Finance? Does it matter?
    Secondly, should I try to get an internship/grad program through the Big 4? I’m working fulltime so I’m not sure if an internship is the best way. What would you suggest is the best pathway for me?

    Thanks!!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you are studying at a target master program (G8), I think it would be the easiest for you to go through the school’s recruiting system. While I don’t think changing your major matters all that much, I think being able to demonstrate your knowledge in corporate finance/understanding of valuation will help. You can either change your major, or take courses in finance and accounting. In terms of getting into corporate finance, I believe you’ll be competing with candidates who have had IB/deal experience and you’ll have to demonstrate (1) your knowledge of the industry (2) your passion in IB.

      Internships with the big 4: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-into-investment-banking-accountant/ – Not exactly relevant to IB roles, but you may want to check out TAS.

  37. James says

    Hi, I am a current Actuarial Studies/Economics student at UNSW also doing a Finance major. I plan on working as an actuarial analyst for a few years then move to IB.

    I would like to know how difficult this (know one person, but had an MBA from top uni) or can a Actl/Eco student get into IB grad programs? If so does an Actuarial/Eco degree with a finance major provide any advantage over straight commerce or commerce/maths students who have majored in Finance when applying for IB Grad positions and Internships?

    Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      In an ideal situation, I would suggest you to apply straight for IB grad roles first. Actuary can be your backup. I don’t think a role in actuarial science can directly help you get a role in finance, nor do I think it provides major advantages over straight commerce students. Start looking for roles in banks now – If you’re studying at a top university, banks would recruit there. Attend info sessions when they’re on campus and start networking.

      • James says

        Thanks for the reply!!
        From what my peers and tutors at uni have told me the Actuarial course is far more difficult than a straight commerce degree (also more difficult to gain entry into) therefore I assumed it provide an advantage but thank you for clearing that up.
        And yes many companies/banks do visit UNSW (ranked best b-school in aus I think).

        • M&I - Nicole says

          If you want to do Actuary as a backup, I’d go for it. Otherwise, I’d probably choose commerce/finance because the two subjects are probably more useful for finance/business roles, and it is likely to be easier to gain higher grades in such subjects – you need strong grades to get a first round interview with banks.

  38. Grant says

    If you want to break into Big4 accounting firm’s transaction or corporate finance group or ASX company’s strategy and planning department, should I get Masters in Applied Finance or Master in Financial Analysis. I’m not quiet targeting banking jobs so would Masters in Finance be an overkill? UNSW has an one year program (Masters in Financial Analysis) which sound really appalling. Would appreciate your comments.

  39. says

    I am currently 27 and finishing a double degree in social work and social planning. I am looking into studying a masters in economics. Would my social work degree
    reduce my chances of getting employed as an investment banker?

  40. Thomas says

    I’ve just completed my bachelor’s degree in Engineering and I’m thinking of applying for a Master of Applied Finance or a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance in Australia.
    From what I’ve learned so far, Monash, Melbourne or ANU would be great choices, for they are well placed in world rankings. However, as my main objective is IB/PE, I’m a bit concerned that going to Australia instead of USA and Europe can affect or even restrict opportunities back in my country after the master program.
    Should I reconsider going to USA or Europe?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes that may help, but you may also want to consider other factor such as your place of residence, citizenship, industry of focus, etc.

  41. says

    I’ve a bachelor degree from Europe in international management and I have managed a non profit business association in asia during 7 years. I m now based in Australia as a permanent resident. I would like to work as a banker. Should I go through a Bachelor degree again or should I go for a master? Which bachelor or master would you advise? Thanks

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