by Brian DeChesare Comments (16)

Want to Write for M&I – or Become a Finance Wizard?

We're HiringYup, we’re hiring.

Or maybe not “hiring,” but “looking for more contributors” since you’ll be working with me, not for me.

There 2 positions available – Associate Editor and Finance Wizard (you may want to change that second one when you list it on your resume).

Here’s what each one involves, and how you can apply:

Position #1: Associate Editor

I’m looking for a great writer to contribute articles here on an ongoing basis.

Up until now, I (Brian) have created most of the content – we’ve had contributions from Jerry, Kevin, and lots of interviewees but I’ve still done most of it and have heavily edited the rest.

And that worked well – we’ve had 3 million visitors since the start of 2009, with traffic doubling each year:

But there’s significant value in bringing on contributors, and over time the content here has shifted more and more to fields outside of investment banking and therefore outside my area of expertise.

So I’m looking for a new voice to write articles, interview readers, and generate ideas.

What This Position Involves

You will be responsible for:

  • Coming up with new ideas based on your own experiences, comments on this site, message boards, and other sources.
  • Writing articles based on our ideas and interviewing readers who volunteer to contribute.
  • Monitoring and responding to comments on the site every few days.

What do I mean by “new ideas” and “articles”?

Here’s the type of content I’m looking for:

  • Personal stories from your own experiences recruiting or working in finance.
  • Comprehensive tutorials about topics like resumes, cover letters, and interviews.
  • Insights into subjects such as the buy-side vs. the sell-side, especially when the insights cause controversy – the more the merrier.

Here’s what I’m not looking for:

  • News – This is not the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. Nothing on recent deals, commodity prices, or YouTube videos of cats acting stupid, please – that’s commoditized content with no long-term value.
  • Fluff – I have no interest in BS topics like gossip, fashion, dating, and so on – make it meaningful or don’t write at all.

Here’s the litmus test: 5 years from now, will your content still be relevant and helpful for anyone entering the finance industry?

Examples that meet this requirement: the investment banking resume template, the day in the life of an investment banking analyst article, and the “Why Private Equity?” article.

Some of those were written 3-4 years ago, but still get tons of traffic because they’re evergreen topics.

The Requirements

  • You must be a great storyteller. If you just list the facts, readers would want to poke their eyes out and jump into a scathing cauldron of acid before being devoured by crocodiles.
  • Factual articles are fine, but your writing must have an edge. You don’t have to write about drugs and killing people as I often do (one of these days the police will find the bodies…), but you must make it entertaining.
  • You must have worked in finance before – ideally in a non-investment banking sector, such as sales & trading, equity research, hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, or asset management.
  • If you’re a student and you haven’t worked full-time before, that could work but I would prefer people who have had at least a few internships.
  • The time requirements are 5-10 hours per week, and we could go beyond that depending on how much you want to contribute.
  • With that amount of time, I would expect one 1,500 – 2,000-word article from you each week, with the remaining time devoted to comments and idea generation.

You can work from anywhere you want since this is 100% online – feel free to write while you’re partying on a tropical island, as long as you have an Internet connection.

If you’re working in an industry like investment banking with long and unpredictable hours, this is not the best fit for you – you should have a few hours of free time each day on a consistent basis.

The Benefits

First, this will be a paid position because I want you to take it seriously.

I went back and forth on including a number here, but decided to leave it out because I’m more concerned with finding the right person than I am with the exact number.

You will be well-compensated, but keep in mind this is a 5-10 hour per week role – please do not expect a full-time salary.

You will be very well-paid for the amount of time you put into this, but please do not expect to make $200K per year by working 5 hours per week.

But the pay should not be your primary motivation because there are even better benefits:

  • You can list “Mergers & Inquisitions – Associate Editor” on your resume.
  • You’ll get a superb networking opportunity and you can speak with readers all around the world.
  • You will make a name for yourself and your work will be read by 200,000+ readers per month.

If you want to do this anonymously because you’re still in the industry, that’s OK – you’ll still get the networking opportunities and the other benefits above, but you won’t become “famous” since your name won’t be attached to the site.

How to Apply

To apply, you will answer a few questions and submit a writing sample.

This writing sample can be on any topic you want, but it should not be an academic essay or paper written for a school assignment as it’s hard for me to judge your storytelling or advice-giving abilities based on those.

The other questions are straightforward: tell me about your background (resume is unnecessary), share a few ideas you have, and comment on a some articles I point you to.

The application deadline is June 19, 2011. Please submit your application right here.

I’ll read everything I get and if I like what I see, I’ll contact you to continue the discussion. If you’ve been selected, you will hear back by June 26, 2011.

Then, I’ll “interview” you – just a discussion on Skype – and if it’s the right fit, we’ll take it from there.

There is a chance that I will not find the right person, in which case things will proceed as usual here.

When Quentin Tarantino wrote Inglourious Basterds, he thought Christoph Waltz’s role would be unplayable – until he found Christoph Waltz.

And it’s the same here: I’m looking for a very specific person, and it’s possible that he/she does not exist.

But you have nothing to lose from applying, and a lot to gain.

Remember not to overestimate the competition: the last time I ran a competition with only 5 prizes I received… only 5 submissions.

Position #2: Finance Wizard

Are you a finance rock star? Do you dream of Excel? Can you build an LBO model blindfolded?

And do you enjoy helping people and learning on your own?

If so, you might be a perfect match for the Finance Wizard position – we’re looking for someone to answer technical questions on Breaking Into Wall Street, respond to comments and email, and even help with the modeling and video work if you’re inclined.

Over the past 6 months the volume of questions has tripled, and we need more help.

What You’ll Be Doing

Once a day, you’ll log into the Breaking Into Wall Street site, read comments and questions, and respond to ones that have not already been answered.

You will also read emails and answer content-related questions, but you would not respond to administrative or pre-sales questions – those are already covered by several others.

At first, you will respond to one of us and we’ll check your answers to make sure they’re correct. As you improve, you’ll start to respond directly yourself.

If you do well and you enjoy it, over time your role may expand and you can contribute to the models on the site, the quick reference guides, videos, and new material.

The Requirements

  1. You must know accounting and finance inside and out. You do not have to be a former investment banker, but you should know financial modeling very well – whether you learned it in PE, at a hedge fund, or anywhere else.
  2. You must care about helping people. A lot of people in finance do not like to help others. You must be the opposite – you must genuinely care about answering questions and helping customers understand the concepts and win offers.
  3. You must be a great communicator. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but you should be able to write clearly and answer questions without introducing more confusion.
  4. The time requirement is 5-10 hours per week – please do not apply if your schedule is erratic or you cannot commit to this.

The Benefits

As with the Associate Editor role, this will be a paid position and the pay will be significant.

I’m not going to give an exact number because it depends on your experience and how good you are – but you will be well-compensated for the amount of time you put into this.

Again, please do not expect a full-time salary because this is less-than-part-time work. It’s something you’d do on the side if there’s downtime at work or in between other projects.

And then you’ll get all sorts of other benefits:

  • You can say that you worked for M&I and BIWS, and take advantage of the networking opportunities here to meet readers and customers all around the world.
  • No matter how much you already know about accounting and finance, you’ll learn even more by doing this – guaranteed. Teaching requires a mastery of the material that you’d never get from merely working at a bank.
  • You’ll receive free access to everything on BIWS, and you can go through the courses yourself at your own pace to learn whatever you need.

How to Apply

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, you can apply right here.

Since this is a technical position, I must test your knowledge of accounting and finance.

But your commitment to helping people and your communication skills are equally important, so you’ll answer questions on those as well.

The application deadline is June 19, 2011, so make sure you submit your application by then.

The recruiting process is similar to the interview process at banks: I’ll read your application, and if I like what I see I’ll contact you to continue the discussion. You’ll hear back by June 26, 2011 if you’ve made it to the next round.

Again, it is possible that I won’t be able to find the right person but I’m hoping that’s not the case.


Q: Wait, does this mean you’re no longer writing for M&I?

A: No. I still have dozens of topics to cover, and I would continue to write no matter what happens with this search. I’m looking for an additional writer, not someone to replace me.

Q: What if I want to contribute, but I only have a few ideas or I don’t want to do so every week?

A: I’m really looking for someone to contribute on an ongoing basis. I will post an announcement about future interviews / one-off contributions in the near future.

Q: Do I have to do everything, or will you help with editing and other tasks?

A: I don’t want to micromanage you, so you will be doing pretty much everything. I may make minor changes to your work, but I cannot spend hours each week performing in-depth edits.

We’ll go over what I’m looking for and I’ll teach you how to write in the style I want, but micromanaging you defeats the purpose of doing this.

Q: I don’t want to write or answer technical questions – are you looking for help with anything else?

A: At the moment everything else is covered. But if anything changes, there will be another announcement here.

Q: How many people are you hiring?

A: That depends on the quality of the applications – to start with I’m aiming for 1 person for each of these, but that may go up or down depending on who applies.

Anything Else?

That’s it for now – let me know if anything is unclear. I look forward to reading your application soon.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Looks like no one made the cut!

    1. Several editors will be starting soon, actually. We ended up getting flooded with 100+ submissions toward the end so I couldn’t reply personally to everyone – just as with job applications for any other position, you don’t necessarily hear back all the time. And I can’t afford to hire 100 writers so had to pick a much smaller number.

      The other thing is that there’s some uncertainty around the finance wizard role because one of the current contributors wants to step up his role, so that one is postponed for now. But yes I will write an update to this and explain what happened with the process in more detail.

  2. Hi,
    Are the results for the positions out?


    1. Not yet, flooded with applications and had an extremely busy week so have not made decisions yet… looking like Tuesday now

  3. Can the writing sample be a selection of different work <2000 words long rather than one piece that is 2,000 words etc?

  4. Vikas Kumar Singh


    I have just passed MBA in Finance and working with an Investment Advisory Firm since last two months only. I am interested in applying for the post of Finance Wizard. Is it okay (without experience)? Or it is foolish to try and waste my time.
    For your information, I have interest in answering queries and I want to become a finance professor later.

    1. If you can answer those questions, sure, go ahead and apply. We favor people with full-time experience because some questions are difficult to answer without having worked in the industry.

  5. Interested

    Hi Brian,

    What time of the day on the 19th is the application due? Thanks so much.

    1. I’ll probably take down the application a few hours after midnight (so 2-3 AM Eastern time on June 20). But if you’re late submitting you can just send it via email instead.

      1. Interested

        Thanks. I’m thinking about using emails anyways, as it would retain the format I’m writing it in. What’s the best email to send it to?

  6. Hi Brian!

    I’ve been reading your website for quite a while although this is my first post. First of all, congrats on building such a mine of information – I am a big fan! I have decided to apply for the Associate Editor position and have a question regarding the writing sample. I have nothing recent that is either non-academic or non-confidential, so I will write something up for the application. Should the sample be on an “evergreen” topic or would something which might not be as relevant in a few years be alright? Thanks!

    1. Either one is fine – thanks for your interest!

  7. Urvi Patel

    How does a Chartered Accountant Degree help in getting into IB?

    1. It doesn’t except in certain geographies like South Africa and India, where it’s valued (do a search for those here or go to Groups & Regions)

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