by Brian DeChesare Comments (268)

Investment Banking Canada: Recruiting, Careers, and Exit Opportunities

Investment Banking Canada

Investment banking Canada… it must be pretty much the same as in the U.S., right?

How different could recruiting and careers really be?

As it turns out, “a lot.”

In this interview with a reader who works in investment banking in Canada, you’ll learn:

  • Investment banking networking tactics – who knew the library could be so helpful?
  • How recruiting differs in Canada and how you can break in.
  • Differences in the finance industry, the work itself, and exit opportunities.

Let’s get started:

Investment Banking Canada: How to Break in via the Library

Q: You have an interesting “how I got my first internship” story – let’s hear it.

A: Sure. I was originally an accounting major and had done a few accounting-related internships, but I was pretty clueless when it came to finance.

But I was very curious about the field, and one day I was in the library reading books on investing and learning what I could from each one.

I flipped to the back of one book and the author’s bio said that he was an alumnus from my school, and that he lived in my city – so I Googled him, found his contact information, called him and then proposed interning for him for 3-4 months for free.

He responded by offering a paid internship instead, which is where I got started.

Q: I think that’s one of the best networking stories I’ve ever heard.

It sounds like you were more direct with your networking tactics than most other aspiring bankers – what other stories can you share with us?

A: Once I met another high-level financier at my school – well-known, but not a “target school” – at a presentation there.

I got his contact information, then met up with him for coffee and pitched him an investment idea on the spot.

That took him by surprise and impressed him because most people don’t have the nerve to do that.

It didn’t directly lead to a job, but a few weeks later I saw a job posting for another finance firm on the same floor in the same building as his company – so I asked him about it, and got a referral to go around the normal channels and speak directly with people at the firm that posted the ad.

I got into banking by taking a similar approach as well: I simply contacted another acquaintance and asked for what I wanted, getting a referral to a well-known M&A group in the process.

Q: So it sounds like being direct pays off when networking for investment banking Canada roles, or at least it did for you.

A: You can’t be too in-your-face, but being direct worked way better for me than sitting around and trading emails for 9 months while you’re afraid to ask for an interview or propose an internship.

You want to show that you’re smart and that you can learn quickly, but you also want to be modest in your approach and not “brag” too much when you call someone.

Q: What about the numbers here – how many people were you calling or emailing each day to get results?

A: I called about 7 or 8 people per day for 2-3 months to get my full-time offer.

I didn’t call anyone on Mondays or Fridays – I just used those days for collecting names. I aimed for around 30 new names each weekend, which was enough for the 7 or 8 people per day I mentioned before.

Of those 7 or 8 people, I got through to about 2 or 3 per day via a combination of emailing and cold-calling.

If you want to get past gatekeepers, being nice to secretaries is essential – if you’re super nice and good at sweet-talking them, you’ll be able to get through to a lot of “unreachable” people.

But a lot of it also depends on the person and the mood they’re in. If someone’s having a bad day, you may just not be successful.

And sometimes people get freaked out if they find out that you Googled their name to find them.

Investment Banking Canada: Recruiting

Q: How difficult is it to break into investment banking in Canada?

A: The degree of difficulty is similar to the U.S. because there are fewer positions, but there are also fewer people applying in the first place.

If you’re from Canada then you’ll have a more difficult time recruiting in the U.S. because top schools here are not as well-known in the States, and because of the usual work visa issues.

But sometimes if you’re coming from the U.S. – especially if you went to a top school there – it can be easier to break in here.

Q: You mentioned the work visa problems for Canadian citizens looking to work in the U.S.

Do you have any friends who made the move successfully? How difficult is it to get around these issues?

A: I’ve had friends who have done it, but they all came from the top undergraduate business schools for investment banking here, e.g. McGill and Ivey.

I don’t know how difficult it is personally because I focused 100% on banks in Canada instead – I just figured that my chances would be higher and that there would be fewer issues.

Q: Continuing with the “investment banking Canada” theme, let’s talk about recruiting differences.

How are resumes and interviews different from the U.S. and other regions? Are there assessment centers like you see in Europe?

A: No assessment centers. Resumes are pretty much the same, but there are a couple differences in investment banking interviews:

  • There’s more of an emphasis on “fit” questions because the offices are smaller, and they want to be 100% certain that you are the perfect candidate.
  • I had an additional round of interviews after my Superday interviews – they brought in the top 3 candidates and interviewed us again to determine who would get the offer.

These differences may apply outside of Canada as well.

For example, both of the points above are true at many small private equity firms in the US – they focus obsessively on “fit” questions and may put you through 20 rounds of interviews because they’re tiny and “fit” is critical.

Investment Banking Canada: Careers and Industry Differences

Q: So recruiting itself sounds similar, though there are some differences due to the average office size in Canada.

What about the industry itself? How is Canada different from the U.S.?

A: Sure. The industries in both countries are more different than the recruiting processes – here are the key points:

  • It’s smaller – Everyone knows everyone else, and there are only a few major financial hubs – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal
  • It’s less structuredDirect promotes from Analyst to Associate are more common here, and getting an MBA is less common. They are also more willing to take on people from unconventional backgrounds.
  • The industry focus is different – In Canada, the big industries are mining, natural resources, and energy. In Montreal and Toronto there are some tech, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies, but overall the industries we cover are narrower than what you would find in the US.

Q: You’ve mentioned a couple times now that offices are smaller overall – does this also mean that deal teams are smaller and that Analysts get more responsibility?

A: Definitely. Deal teams are leaner overall, and sometimes entire teams here consist of just 10 bankers.

I’ve seen Analysts take deals from A to Z before, and do things that are normally reserved for Associates and VPs.

Q: What about the ratio of clients and deals to pitches?

A: That’s dependent on your bank, your group, your location, and the industry, so it’s difficult to generalize – but overall I don’t think it’s too much different from banking anywhere else.

Right now, I’m working on 7 major projects and of those, 5 are pitches and 2 are deals.

So I’m only spending around 30% of my time on clients, but that’s common for investment banking unless you’re in an extremely busy group.

Q: What are the hours like?

A: I’ve been doing 90 hours a week since I started – pretty much the same as the U.S. and other developed markets.

Don’t come here thinking that you’ll be leaving at 7 PM every day just because it’s Canada!

Investment Banking Canada: Exit Opportunities

Q: You mentioned earlier that there are more direct Analyst-Associate promotes in Canada.

Does that mean that rather than pursuing the usual exit opportunities, most bankers just stay in the industry?

A: I wouldn’t say “most” bankers here stay in banking, but there is definitely less of an obsession with exit opportunities.

I’ve seen a few people leave for the buy-side, but overall the percentage is lower than in the U.S., where almost all Analysts move on after 2-3 years.

One other difference is that the MBA to investment banking path is rarer here – I don’t know why, exactly, but it’s more unusual to jump into banking if you’ve already gone to business school.

Q: You’ve now worked in a couple fields within finance and accounting. What are you planning to do in the future?

A: At this point I’m planning to stay in banking for a few years and then move into private equity.

Accounting, asset management, and private wealth management were not for me – I like being on the transactional side a lot more, so banking and PE are a better fit.

Q: Great, thanks for your time and all your tips about “investment banking Canada.”

A: No problem.

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. Hi Brian,

    Quick question: Queen’s MFin vs Ivey’s MBA vs Rotman MBA to break into IB in Toronto?

    1. Rotman is better than Ivey due to the internship. But the bigger issue is that there’s little MBA hiring of IB Associates in Canada because promotions are more common. I don’t know much about the Queen’s MFin program, but if the placement stats are good, that may be the best option.

  2. Hello Brian, i am an international student and i was wondering to break into IB in Canada which Msc in finance and university is better? I have 2 offers, one from Queens university with its campus in Downtown Toronto, the other from Grenoble Ecole De Management which is consistently ranked among top 20 programs world wide. I have emerging market PE experience, which i know will be discounted to zero in Canada ” not Canadian experience ” so i am willing to take the road. IB couple of years then achieve my dream of getting into big pension PE like CPP or the sky the limit and get into a place like Onex. What is my best route? On a side note, my undergrad is low so i am doing the masters as rebranding i am on my way to finish CFA level 2 and 3 afterward, and since optimally I am seeking Investment management and PE i may consider doing CAIA/ FRM whichever suits the career progression. What do you think i should do?

    1. Queens is the simple answer because it’s one of the top target programs for IB in Canada. See:

      I would not bother with the CAIA, FRM, etc., or even the CFA because they will not help much next to work experience and a top school.

      1. Thanks for your reply! If i got a chance to do an MBA at Western Ivey would it help position me better for getting to Investment Banking for some time then to do the PE shift in CPP for example? I read your article on Canadian Pension fund jobs. I was wondering, what would the perfect ” doable” career path be for someone in Canada? investment banking to pension funds to big PE like Onex? Maybe top Consulting ” MBB” to a pension fund or top PE directly? Does the buy-side big names in Canada like BlackRock Asset Management Canada, TD Asset Management, RBC Global Asset Management offer better pay and experience in general? I want to know your take on it.

        Because right now, I have 1.5 years in top Local PE shop in Egypt, which I know Canadians are gonna discount this to 0 years. And i have a low GPA from Engineering school in Egypt, 70%. So I am considering now MBA at top schools in Canada to help rebrand myself and enter as post MBA Associate or even into one of there Graduate Programs and I’ve learned that CFA is slightly more respected in Canada so I am on my way to finish it soon.

        I want to know which B school and career path combination would be perfect in my case.

        Sorry for the extremely long reply but I am trying my best to make the best decision and I can’t do it without your help.


        1. MBA-recruiting for IB roles in Canada is limited-to-non-existent, so that’s not a great option. Europe and the U.S. are more viable for MBA-level roles. In general, the best path into pension funds or PE in Canada is to recruit for Analyst roles right out of undergrad or a Master’s program and then use that experience to get in. The challenge is that it’s a very small market, and banks hire very few Analysts each year, which is why many Canadian students end up going to places like the U.S. or U.K.

  3. Hello,

    I am an undergraduate student in the Dominican Republic. If I go to one of the top schools (Ivey, Rotman, Queen’s, Schulich, and McGill) for a Master’s Degree in Finance,

    How difficult do you think it would be for me to break into IB/PE in Canada?

    Or what are my odds at getting the necessary internships to then transition to IB/PE as an international student?

    1. It’s very difficult because the market in Canada is small. See some of the comments here about the probabilities:

      If you want to get into IB/PE, Canada as an international student is usually not the answer. You would be better off trying this in a bigger market such as the U.S. or Europe.

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for this great article. If you had to make a guess how many bankers or even analysts would you say there are in Canada?

    1. According to this more recent article:

      “The Big 5 banks here don’t hire that many people each year – each bank might hire a few dozen in Canada and up to 90-100 throughout North America.”

      So, in total, maybe a few hundred, with ~100-150 or so hired each year. There are a few thousand in the U.S., so you can see why Canada is a challenging market.

  5. Sorry, should have asked this in one place.

    Best school for masters in canada if you want to break into IB?


    1. Rotman / U Toronto, McGill’s, Laurier’s, basically the same list as the top undergrad programs.

  6. Hi Brian
    Some other readers have already taken a stab and I have a similar question. I know that MBA->IB isn’t given the same weight as it is in Can as the US, so how common is lateraly moving within one of the Big 5 CAD banks from a totally different function (S&T, Counterparty credit, etc)? Is it doable? You don’t learn the valuations side of things needed for IB and get a different skillset, but is it easier once you have a foot in the door with one of these banks?

    1. Yes, it is doable. I don’t know how often it happens, but according to the interviewee here, “many of the Analysts and Associates from my class have switched to investment banking industry groups or markets-based groups like ECM or DCM”:

      In Canada, it’s almost certainly easier to do that than to get an MBA and then try to break into IB because the industry is small and MBA recruiting is not well-developed.

  7. Hi Brian! Great info as always.
    I saw you had an article addressing the topic of moving laterally from Buyside to IB, but as a Canadian, I thought I might ask it here.
    How common is it? Is it easier to move from buyside to IB rather than from S&T to IB?

    1. If anything, it’s harder because all those industries are significantly smaller in Canada. There are hardly any hedge funds, fewer PE firms, and most buy-side roles are at the pension funds. It’s much more common to move from S&T to IB than it is to move from any buy-side role to IB, in all regions (including Canada).

  8. Hi Brian,

    I have been working on the FX S&T desk for a little over 1.5 years. However, I finished my undergrad only in December 2018. I am 27 years old. I had applied for an S&T internship and got a job offer instead. I took the job thinking it would be easy to transfer over into IB. That is not the case right now. I am based in Montreal and am looking for the best way to get into IB. A direct jump into it would be hard and I know it. I am currently studying to write my GMAT this summer and was going to apply to IVEY (UWO), ROTMAN (UofT) and DESAUTELS (MCGILL). Mcgill would obviously be easier because its Montreal based and I live close by whereas the 2 others would require me to move. The costs are significantly different as well. Mcgill is about 45k for 1 year for a Masters of Management in Finance. IVEYs MBA is 1 year and 100k + relocation fees and etc, Rotman is 110k + relocation fees and etc. I know I will be returning to school but the challenge is figuring out which one and if there is a significant benefit between one of those 3 (all seem to be top 4 depending on different websites). Any insight would really help!


    1. I don’t know much about MSF programs in Canada, but based on that description, I would just take the cheapest/closest one because it doesn’t sound like there’s a huge difference between them. The biggest issue is that there’s just not that much IB activity in Montreal compared with Toronto… so, I’m not sure. The MSF could help you move over, but I don’t know if it’s 100% necessary if you’re willing to relocate/network elsewhere.

  9. Hi Brian, fantastic interview with an inspiring guy. Couldn’t help but notice he posits that US candidates might be able to break in to Canadian IB. I am an American Ivy grad who turned down BB summer analyst offer in NYC for career as pro athlete, and now that I am retired, have sights set on IB in Montreal. Is it realistic for someone with my background to break in in Canada through networking, or will I have to go get a top MBA in US to make this transition? Thanks!

    1. I would not recommend Canada, despite what this interviewee said (also, this interview is ANCIENT – like almost 10 years old). For why, please see:

      “Q: How difficult is it to break into IB in Canada? Previous interviewees have argued that it’s anywhere between “extremely difficult” and “impossible.”

      A: It is difficult, but not impossible.

      The top 4-5 business programs here (Ivey, Rotman, Queen’s, Schulich, and McGill) have at least ~200 graduates per year, which means at least 1,000 potential candidates. About 200-300 of them will be interested in IB roles.

      Of course, not all of them apply solely in Canada; some go to the U.S., U.K., or other places.

      The Big 5 banks here don’t hire that many people each year – each bank might hire a few dozen in Canada and up to 90-100 throughout North America.

      Your odds of winning a role in Toronto are not spectacular, but they’re not necessarily much worse than in other places.”

  10. Avatar

    sup Brian.

    Great information! I’m really interested in ibanking the more I’ve read about and the occasions I’ve talked to interns and 1st years. Problem for me, is I guess I realized a bit too late. Currently (the key summer between my penultimate and final year) I am working in sell side trading at one of the major banks. I guess I missed out on a chance for applying for that oh so important junior year internship, since I assume most FT candidates get hired from that.

    My question is, what do you think my chances are for FT recruiting at the end of my final year? Does a trading internship help me at all? for a bit of background, I come from an admittedly non-target school (certainly not Ivey or Queens) but have solid extracurrs/investment club stuff and I passed level I cfa

    Do I stand a chance to possibly get interviews? or is a MFIN my only option (I just don’t really want to go back to school and I can’t extend my undergrad degree another year). I certainly had to bust my tail getting my trading internship – maybe it helps me for ibanking? (then again, im not sure how many openings there are assuming most interns are brought back)
    I would appreciate your guidance. Thx bro

    1. A trading internship will help, but it’s still very difficult to win an FT role without converting an IB internship, especially in Canada. Your best bet is to network around for an IB spot somewhere and use the name/brand of your current bank to get responses to your networking emails. It would also help a lot if you could apply to jobs in the U.S. or U.K. or other, bigger markets since Canada’s IB market is small next to those.

  11. Hi Brian,

    I’m a recent graduate from a non-target Canadian university. I’m looking to break into an IB or buy-side analyst role, but know that it’s going to be difficult. What options would you recommend for increasing my chances of success? Would trying to network my way into an unpaid internship be best? I’ve also considered working for a investment advisory firm before perhaps doing a graduate degree at a target school. If i did this, would the MBA or Mfin be a better choice?


    1. There are some tips here:

      Yes, you will need some type of internship, maybe at a boutique PE or VC firm if you can’t find anything in banking. If you get another degree early enough, the Mfin is better. The MBA path is not a great idea in Canada because MBA hiring is less prevalent and there are fewer positions. If you do an MBA, you should go to the U.S. or Europe if possible.

  12. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the IBanking info in Canada. Are you able to provide some color on the sales & trading environment on bay street?
    I am a second year (2/4) student from a western canadian (obviously non-target) school who didn’t make it to the superday round for a summer internship in S&T for the coming summer (interesting how far the timeline for recruitment has moved up). I think ill be able to atleast secure a position in something like asset management for a small firm before trying to get that S&T internship in my penultimate year.
    My question is
    1) How hard is it to get the initial S&T internship with one of the major CAD banks (theres only so many of them unlike the US)? Are MBAs/MFins interviewing for these roles as well and hence far more advantaged?
    2) Any idea what the conversion rate is for a S&T internship into one of the full-time rotational roles?

    1. I cannot, sorry. We hope to cover this topic in the future, but do not presently have much information on S&T in Canada, partially because the industry is even smaller than the one in the U.S. (which itself has shrunk quite a lot in the past decade).

  13. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for this article!
    Interview season is around the corner for FT IB roles and I just wanted to get some of your feedback. I’m an undergrad at a non-target canadian university that will be graduating this year. I don’t have any IB internship experience (as I never really considered it until summer recruitment ended) but I do have internship experience in trading and asset management and prior to that in corporate finance.
    – Am I at a big disadvantage as far as getting the first interview b/c I don’t have IB experience and don’t go to a target school?
    – I am quite concerned about my technical skills as even though I have lots of practical experience in trading and equity research, I haven’t done much valuations. Would you recommend the guide?
    And this is an idea that I’ve heard a lot. Is it worth it to apply to a post-undergrad internship (ie. try and apply for summer analyst positions even though they’re looking for people who grad in 2019)? I’m not considering delaying graduation to have another go at it but I’m not sure if FIs would take graduates who aren’t returning to school

    1. 1) Yes.

      2) You need to have a very solid handle on the technical side to have any chance at getting through interviews. So you need to learn somehow.

      3) You should probably think about a Master’s in Finance degree and do an internship during/before that. Realistically, it will be almost impossible to win a full-time IB role in 2017… from a non-target school… without prior IB internships… in Canada (a much smaller market than the U.S.).

  14. Hello Team M&I,

    I have been reading your posts since a long time now. Let me just say that I thoroughly enjoy them.
    Now here is my question, I am Indian, I have an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. My collective work experience(including internships) is approximately two years.

    However I have not worked in any finance related role. Majority of my roles would be related to strategy consulting.

    I will be pursuing a master degrees in Management from a good Business school in Germany.
    In the second year of my masters I have the option of going for a semester abroad at Rotman or Queen’s.

    Do you think that it will be next to impossible for me to break into investment banking in Canada?
    Also does it make sense to apply for summer internship (starting 2018)?

    1. Yes, it will be extremely difficult to win IB offers in Canada as an international student because many Canadian students at top schools there can’t even do so due to the small size of the industry. You’re better off applying for roles in London or elsewhere in Europe.

  15. Avatar
    Casey Koomson

    I am currently at university of Toronto- Scarborough and I am looking to get into investment banking after my undergraduate degree. do you recommend I transfer to another school after my first year or I stay at university of Toronto?

    1. To maximize your chances of getting into IB in Canada, you should be at one of the target schools there: Richard Ivey, Queen’s, Desautels, Schulich, and Rotman. So if you are serious and in a position to transfer, yes, you should do it.

  16. Very insightful article.
    I am a 3rd-year student at Mcgill University majoring in Mining Engineering and minoring in economics, can I break into investment banking?

    1. It depends on the type and quality of internships you’ve had and the networking you’ve done. McGill is a target school in Canada, but the industry is very small there, and you don’t have much of a shot without significant internship experience these days.

  17. Hi,
    I am an undergraduate student at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, studying towards a BMgt Finance. I’m interested in going into IB upon my graduation. I’m thinking of getting an internship at an investment bank such as JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs and if I work hard I might get a job offer upon my graduation. I plan to get CFA certification but I don’t know whether it’ll be worthwhile getting it before finding a job or I should go into it while working. Also, do you have any idea about the credibility of the school and how competitive I’ll be in the job market? What advice do you generally have for me as I pursue my dreams? Thanks!

    1. You have a low chance of getting into IB in Canada if you attend that type of university. See some of our other articles on Canada. The best schools for IB there are Ivey, Rotman, Queen’s, Schulich, and McGill. Outside of those, it’s extremely tough because the industry is so small. So, I would consider transferring to one of those other schools or doing a Master’s degree in the U.S. at a top school there.

  18. Hi, for Canadian undergrad business schools I’m wondering, out of the top Canadian schools for banking, which one has the most representation or best reputation in the US/New York specifically? Thanks very much!

    1. I don’t know offhand, but I would assume Rotman. But that is just a wild guess based on location and numbers (anyone else feel free to correct this).

  19. Avatar
    james cooper

    what do compensations look like in canada ?

    1. Lower than in the U.S. I don’t have the numbers anymore, but it’s a decent discount to compensation in the U.S., partially because the CAD has weakened.

  20. Hi – great article!

    A friend of mine recommended Rotman, Ivey or Queens for IB in Canada. I browsed their websites and found a very interesting MBA program at Queens for BBAs. It’s 1 year and part-time. Do you think this program would still be suitable to pursue an associate role in IB?

    1. Those are some of the main target schools in Canada, but it’s hard to get in from MBA programs there because banks don’t offer many Associate roles. You are better off attempting to enter as an Analyst, if possible.

  21. Hi,

    I am a Canadian student at a target school for IB on the west coast. Do you have any more information on the difficulty of Canadians recruiting in US? The TN visa is a lot easier to get than the H1B but several banks state permanent work authorization is needed for all positions or non IB positions like asset management. In that case, would being Canadian allow me an opening to negotiate because the TN visa is so much less complicated?

    1. Thanks

    2. Yes, it’s a bit easier if you have the TN visa, so it’s more plausible to win U.S. jobs if you’re a Canadian citizen. I know Canadian readers in the past have definitely won U.S.-based positions, but I don’t have information on the specifics. It’s the type of thing that’s best not to bring up upfront.

  22. Hi, I’m planning to pursue MFin from Queens. Unfortunately, it is for working professionals and the campus is located in Toronto (main campus: Kingston). The bright side is that it holds a strong brand value in Canada, provides a great opportunity to network with really experienced classmates and MFin students are allowed to attend career-related services at the main campus. My concern was regarding my work experience. I have cleared all levels of CFA & FRM. If I plan to go for MFin next yr, I will have almost 1 yr of PE analyst experience. Assuming I get admitted with 1 yr WE, and if I chose to go for IB, will I have to start over from 1st yr analyst position? As an alternative, getting more work exp. (2 yr in total) and going there for MFin would allow me to join as IB associate? Given the competition with MBA does my chances look slim for IB associate? Being 24 yrs old, I’m in a dilemma about what shall I do next. I know that I need to make a decision but an advice regarding the direction would be very helpful.

    1. I think it depends on the bank you go to, but no matter what happens, you would not be able to start as an associate. Maybe a 2nd or 3rd year analyst, but that’s it. Large banks would probably make you start over as a 1st year analyst, whereas smaller ones might let you come in as a 2nd year. I don’t think staying out of school for 2 years benefits you in any way, so 1 year and then the MFin program is the better option.

      1. Thanks Brian for clearing out the confusion. I appreciate the good work your team is doing in helping out aspiring bankers.

  23. Hi,
    I did my Masters in Financial Engineering from EPFl, Switzerland. I worked in Big4 for quite sometime pricing energy options and now working for an IB in the market risk. I am currently in India and applied for my PR to Canada. I wanted to move to IB in Canada ? What is the best way to do it ? I want to be in a FO job. I can move into trading but I am a little nervous that I might get fired if I don’t make money. I don’t enjoy Risk Management much. What should I do ?

    1. It would be tough to go from risk management to investment banking. It’s much easier to get into S&T from your current position – there are a few tips on how to move from middle-office roles into S&T here:

  24. Hi, I got an analyst offer doing M&A in mining group in one of the big four Canadian banks. Can you please share your deal exposure nowadays considering the low commodity prices and accordingly less active metals&mining M&A deals in Canada?

    Are you still be able to keep that 2 deals work amount or you might have more downtime now? Appreciate if you can share your experience during this downturn of the industry. Thanks.

    1. Yeah, you probably won’t see great deal flow in mining whenever commodity prices have crashed… a fair number of distressed deals and asset sales, maybe, though. This interview was conducted years ago, so I would expect the interviewee to be less busy generally now.

  25. Hi guys,

    Very helpful article. Just wanted to clarify – is Rotman not considered a target specifically for IB? I am in asset management and thinking about doing the MFin program at Rotman to aid in my career path in the AM industry (not IB). If any readers have any insight into this, would be very helpful. I am a CFA charterholder and have about 4.5 years experience working at an asset management firm, currently as an associate PM.


    1. Rotman is a target for IB jobs. I’m not sure about the MFin program there, specifically, though, so readers may have better insights on that one.

  26. Hi,

    1. Is it worthwhile to go to a US or UK school (Wharton, Oxford, LSE) if I want to work in Canada? I’m a Canadian citizen and I worry that by studying abroad, I will miss out on a lot of the recruitment to Canadian firms.

    2. If I go to a Canadian school, which schools would be ideal for IB/Consulting? I heard that Ivey and Queens can land you jobs in Canada and abroad, but is there a big difference between the two?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes you may, and I don’t think its worthwhile unless you want to experience abroad/work abroad
      2. Yes. I am not 100% sure if the difference so I’ll let readers help you on this front.

  27. Hi Nicole I am in my early 20s with a finance defree from York university. I have gained an acceptance to Rotman MBA program immediately after my undergrad due to decent GPAs and my two years working as a real estate broker while studying my undergrad.

    How difficult would it be for me to break into IBD with my relatively little work experience after completing my MBA? What are some good ways to network and land a internship at BB? Would my experience in real estate contribute in anyway to IB? I am also open for any additional tips.

    Many thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d focus on finance clubs and alumni network in your university. Without relevant experience it can be challenging. Yes it can potentially be useful and you may also want to branch out to commercial real estate –

  28. Oh btw many of the other Canadian focused articles don’t work.

    1. We removed several of them because we feel they are not representative of the market and are misleading in some ways. There are plenty of other, newer articles with some focus on Canada if you do a search.

  29. I’m currently in my early 30’s…with an undergrad in non-finance, non-science.
    Worked as a Financial Advisor for a couple of years and am currently working as a BA in a Canadian Bank (Capital Markets segment) for about 2 years.

    I’m considering applying to Ivy 1 year MBA program to make help me make a switch to IB, Equity Research or PE/VC move. I’ve completed the CFA although not relevant to IB and PE/VC.

    The Ivy program is 1 year without an internship. Would this help me make the switch to any of the above?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, the program can potentially help if banks recruit on your campus (and from your program). You can also use the alumni network to connect with people in the industry.

  30. Hi Nicole

    I am a CA with over 10 years of experience (currently 31 years old). I am trying to break into ibanking but worry I am facing an age issue from a recruiting standpoint as most entry level analyst are in their early 20’s fresh out of school

    How should I go about this? Does i bank do experienced hire from non-finance group (ie accounting)


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say getting your MBA at a target school may help. This article should also address your concerns:

  31. hi i am interested in hedge funds and was wondering how the industry is in canada, bay street and is it better in the us because us hedge funds are getting regulated and are getting poor returns, will the industry in canada grow in the future

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure though readers can potentially help.

  32. How do I identify companies that need turn around work. Lenders say that for privacy reasons they can’t say who needs help and companies that are in trouble generally don’t advertise the fact. I am a CPA with +30 years experience that likes to fix broken companies and division’s but can’t identify them fast enough to move from one to the next one without a prolonged down period?

    1. Maybe look at Seeking Alpha, SumZero, etc. and see what kinds of companies people are writing Short recommendations for.

  33. Hi,

    I went to Sheridan College and graduated it with good GPA and now I’m studying at York University (not Schulich). I became very interested in investment banking, equity firm and capital market in general. I have several questions that will help me to indicate my career path:

    1) Should I specialize in finance or accounting? This debate is very confusing as some people say finance major from non-target school won’t get into capital market but rather they get into retail banking. There is truth to this but what do you suggest? Should I do both CPA and CFA?

    2) I’m in my second year and will be taking semester load of courses in summer because I need certain courses and credits to qualify for internship program at York. I don’t have a lot of work experience. My work experience consists of customer service at WalMart, warehouse, and accounting clerk at wholesale business. I am volunteering at York’s social business club but at an entry level volunteer position. Step by step, what do you recommend me to do outside of studying this year? For example, should I learn financial modelling first? Or building network? And what do you recommend me to do during third and fourth year?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Both works. I’d say do both if you can. I wouldn’t do the CPA or CFA yet. You can start the CFA toward your senior year if you’re interested in the buy-side and the markets.
      2) First I’d suggest you to join a finance/investment club at your school and take responsibility as an officer if you can next semester. I’d also make sure your GPA is above 3.6. Then in your 3rd year, I’d make sure you attend all bank sessions and try your best to be as active as you can in the finance club your 1st semester next year so you can write about it on your resume. If you have any valuation experience you can gain during that time this would be useful. And make sure you start networking with people, especially alum on LinkedIn this coming semester going into next semester. I’d also set up informational meetings if possible. In your 3rd year make sure you get an internship the summer going into your 4th year. Once you’ve done all that leave us a message on the forum and we can give you more directions re. your 4th year. Good luck!

      1. Thank you very much, very useful! Just one more question, how should I reach alum on LinkedIn? Because most likely we won’t have mutual connection. I thought it could be too creepy to add someone who don’t me know whatsoever.

        Thanks again!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Through your connections, or you can join LinkedIn forums/groups in Finance/IB in your area. Once you get accepted to the group you can contribute by posing relevant articles etc. Once you prove yourself to be a good resource (may take a few weeks), you’ll probably start building a few useful connections through LinkedIn and you can leverage from that.

          1. Thank you, I never thought about that! I will implement your advices. I will come back if I need further advice.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            You’re welcome!

  34. Hi Nicole,

    I worked in Corporate Banking (Energy Division) for like 5 years in my country as Relationship Manager before coming to Canada for my MBA at Gustavson School of Business (UVic). I am and also a CFA Level 2 Candidate and was wondering if its possible for someone with my status to land an IB Associate job in Canada considering that my business school does not rank amongst the top in the country.

    I have kind of put a bit of effort into networking but it just seems like the top business schools in Ontario and McGill get all the gig. Any ideas please. Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, you’ll need to network quite a bit and contact all the banks in Canada. You may also find that cities like Calgary are less competitive than Toronto given that you are not from a target school.

      1. Thank you so much for your response. I applied and received an interview request email from RBC Capital Markets about two days back. Do you have any tips on what the initial telephone interviews are usually like?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Congratulations. They’re likely to be qualitative (assuming HR does the interview) and focused on fit questions (How do you fit in a team, how do you lead, why banking, why RBC, what was your previous experience like etc).

  35. Hi Nicole,

    I currently work for one of the big4 banks in toronto and looking to switch from procurement to IB. I have decided to do an MBA hoping to land an associate position at my bank. The question is, is it too early to start cold calling MDs and asking for what they look for in candidates when hiring? Also do you think that Rotman compare to Schullick will give me a better chance at land a position in Capital Makets.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d network and send MDs a cold email, though I wouldn’t necessarily cold call and ask them what they look for straight away without having established a relationship with them first. I’d say both are decent schools, though readers may have better suggestions re. differences b/ the 2.

  36. Hello. Thanks for the reply.

    3 more questions; 1) “If you want to get past gatekeepers, being nice to secretaries is essential – if you’re super nice and good at sweet-talking them, you’ll be able to get through to a lot of “unreachable” people.”

    What should one ask the secretary when speaking to them? Would directly asking for names be a bad idea? I’ve spoken to many secretaries and sometimes redirected to MD but I almost always get their voice-mail. Are there any articles I can look at that relate to this topic?

    2) “In Canada, the big industries are mining, natural resources, and energy. In Montreal and Toronto there are some tech, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies, but overall the industries we cover are narrower than what you would find in the US.”

    Is the US list of industries noticeably larger? Does this make a difference in pay or possibility of career opportunities?

    3) Overall, would you say pursuing a job in Canada would lead to more opportunities, success and a higher salary compared to the US or would it be vice versa? Would it be somewhat equal?

    I’m sorry about the long response I know I’m asking a lot but if you can find the time to response I’d really appreciate it.

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes great post by Keith Ferrazzi here:
      2. I think it depends on the particular industry but yes US in generally maybe bigger in some of those industries (you may want to check re. energy/natural resources I don’t have the stats). In terms of pay I’d say it depends on the firm but I am not sure if the difference is that big but then again it depends on individual situation
      3. I’d say it is somewhat equal; all depends on your performance

      1. (1 & 2 – your comment on individual situation/performance) I assumed as much!

        Currently in uni. I ultimately would like to work in NY simply to say I do (haha, call me shallow), but I would be happy to transfer over (which right now seems to be the best option to optimize my chances of landing into a good firm there) after working a few years at a nice firm in Toronto.

        Of course this is all easier said than done.

        Thanks for you help!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No this isn’t shallow. If you want to transfer to NY, I’d suggest you to transfer internally (if they have an office there), or try to cold call people via LinkedIn, set up meetings, and fly down to NY.

          1. I’ve had the jitters, afraid I won’t be able to make it to NY IB for some reason. I still have 2 years to graduation but it’s good to think about these things. I’m networking for internships currently (in Canada).
            Thanks for your help!

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes you’re thinking ahead! You’re welcome.

          3. Hi @Nicole. I’m not sure if you remember our conversation, but I was actually hoping you could give me some more advice. If I was planning on switching internally, how would I go about doing it? Furthermore, at what point in my career after landing a position would be a good time to transfer? Also, just off the top of your head, would a bank like RBC, Toronto Dominion or any of the top 5 banks from Canada be banks that you believe would be worth targeting towards landing an IB career in? How do banks such as these compare to some of the bigger IBing firms in NY? Lastly, I’ve read Ibers often hop from one bank to another – is this true?

            Thanks again for your help. Looking forward to hearing from you.

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            – After a year but there’s no set time
            – Yes they are decent banks, but the firms in NY are probably more renowned in the States.
            – Yes top candidates are highly sought after and they hop from one bank to another in a short period of a time, sometimes less than one year

          5. Thank you for all your help! I’ll be sure to come back if I have any more questions. Have a great afternoon.

          6. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole


  37. Hi. Do investment banks in Toronto rival those in America compared to geography and deal sizes?

    1. Sorry, do the bigger banks in Canada rival the bigger banks in America in terms of private equity/investment banking or hedge funds

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        I’d say no, because I think US has more activities on that front, though I maybe wrong.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think so.

  38. Hello,
    I’m a Canadian citizen who will be a freshman at Wharton this fall. Will I have a harder time applying for internships and full-time positions (especially those at BBs) because I will need sponsoring? If so, what can I do in the coming years to help myself?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it can be more challenging but I wouldn’t worry about it because quite a few Canadians work on Wall Street. You may just have to network a lot, build your credentials, gain work experience, just like every A-player does, to distinguish yourself.

      1. Thank you very much for your prompt response. It is much appreciated.

  39. Hello Nicole,

    I’m a new reader and have recently gotten interested in IB as per some recent networking experiences with some IBankers. From what I can tell most of the larger IB firms tend to hire exclusively from the top undergraduate programs here in Canada (i.e. Ivey, McGill). Unfortunately, I am not in a top-tier Canadian finance school and this being the case I was wondering if you could offer some guidance as to what I could do to differentiate myself from the pack. I have been actively networking and trying to get in through the “back-door” approach but is there any way you can suggest that I could make myself more appealing when applying through the “front-door” approach?

  40. Hey Nicole,

    I am a graduating with a bachelors in business from UK. I am planning to move to Canada to Diploma in Accounting from UBC/Sauder, which will fulfil my requirements for CPA. If I have to go for IB, what is the best possible way to go about it, in Canada?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’m not quite sure re. the visa status and this may be more challenging for you since you’re not Canadian. The best possible way is to network with alumni at UBC (they should have a pretty big network in IB Canada). You may want to check out the articles below if you haven’t already done so

      1. Thanks for a quick response :). I am aware of the visa issues, therefore I am not directly applying for jobs there. If I study there, I will get work permit for the time period, I will study. Like, If I study for 1.5 years, I will get 1.5 years post graduate work permit. I will do the networking bit once I get there. I will have a look on the articles as well.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Awesome! Good luck!

  41. Hi, I am currently working in Transaction Services for a big 4 firm in the US on a H1B visa. However, I am looking to make the transition to a BB in Canada. May I know what is the best way to go about it? Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d start networking and arranging informational interviews. I’d then fly down to Canada and meet up with your contacts.

  42. Does Canada (especially Toronto) usually welcome U.S. potential hirees?

    And is getting an MBA in the States going to help my argument more into breaking in a BB in Toronto?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you go to a target in the States, yes this may help you. You’ll also be competing with candidates from top universities in Canada though.

  43. Does it matter which Canadian IB I go to if I’m looking at PE opps in Canada? Would I be disadvantaged if I went to a Canadian instead of a US BB in toronto? My main concern is if going to a US BB would put me in a substantially better position if I want to go to a top US bschool

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Working in a US BB may put you in a better position if you want to go a top US bschool. With the above being said, your work experience (deals you’ve been involved in), your recommendation letters and essays probably matter more though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  44. Hello there. Brief background about myself. I am currently in my early 30s. I have a Bachelors and Masters in Engineering from one of the top two engineering schools in Canada. Have very strong software design/coding experience and very strong quant ability. Currently in Law School and have solid experience with intellectual property and patents. If I want to break into banking (seems to be more profitable than IP law), how can I leverage my skills? I will likely be around 35 before making the transition. Of course, since I am not coming from a traditional background, I will have to make many cold calls I am sure.. Any advice on how I can sell myself? I would imagine a combined engineering/quant/law skill set will be useful in SOME capacity? What are my chances??

    You guys are awesome and your advice is much appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps you can move into IPO/M&A law and then break in? It may be an easier option if you’re already a lawyer. If you want to break in now, you’ll be competing against others who have had industry and deal experience and you’ll have to demonstrate you have IB knowledge/experience.

      I’d probably look at roles in smaller firms like HFs and PEs because your quant and law background may be of interest to them, though you’ll have to make up for your lack of IB/valuation experience

      Thanks for your support of your site and your trust in us.

      1. Thanks Nicole for the quick response.

        With respect to moving into IPO/M&A before breaking in, I’d rather NOT spend time in the legal industry first – I’d rather jump straight into banking right after law school. I can certainly take courses that are relevant to Corporate Law (which I have already done a bit). That being said, I already do have intellectual property experience and I will take a look at HFs and PEs as you suggested. Do these firms have any interest in patent portfolio analysis and the like?

        Also, how do you think I can sell the fact that I went to law school first and then now trying to jump into banking? To be honest, I was concerned about the banking market when I decided to go back to school and IP law is a very stable and somewhat profitable field – thus my decision to pursue a JD instead of a MBA. But, now banking appears to have recovered and there is more money in it.. I can’t really say THIS to someone I am interviewing with.. What do you think is a good way to spin the story? Thx!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          You’d need to talk about a finance spark – what inspired you in to move to finance, elaborate on that. Maybe you were exposed to IB deals in law, or you spoke with bankers etc ( Then focus on bridging your skills with your interest in finance. I think VC and PE firms would be interested in patent portfolio analysis though you’ll need a specific pitch for each and focus on why you want to move into VC/PE (for VC – PE –

  45. Hi,

    I’m a second-year student at University of Toronto and a recent IB enthusiast. I want to secure a summer or an off-cycle internship but have just started with my application process.

    I recently got in touch with some people from the field and would like to leverage that to get an offer. Is it too late to go through the normal application process? Should I just hustle?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You’ll have to start networking and cold calling people. It may be best to focus on boutiques/smaller firms because their recruiting process may be less structured. If you can demonstrate your value, it may be easier for you to break in versus going for larger firms/BB. I think it may be a bit too late for you to go through the normal application process.

      1. Thanks for the reply Nicole! Going to have some informational interviews these next few weeks and will keep that in mind. Is it possible to go around the normal application process though?

  46. Hi,
    I’m a long time reader. I recently had a internship stint at a Canadian bank as a business analyst for their wealth management division. How easy is it for a business analyst to swap over to the investment banking side of things.

    1. PWM to IB is a fairly common move, so not too difficult especially if you’re going for an IB internship as opposed to an FT offer.

  47. Avatar


    I am a Canadian citizen and I live in Toronto. I come from a poor family and that is the reason I ended up going to Seneca College and received a 2 year Diploma in Accounting (I completed the diploma in one year … summer school). My GPA was a 4.0 (Honor graduate). My work experience includes being a Sales expert/Promoter for a IT Company and I was an Assistant Financial Accountant at a big fashion retail ($30Mil turnover).

    My major is accounting and I start school at Ryerson University in Toronto (I have 3 semesters worth of credits from college). I wanted to know if there is any possibility that I could make it in to Investment banking.. If so, what kind of work experience should I be looking for and what companies should I apply to? I read that I could work at a big 4 firm, get my CPA and go to TAS and then try with an MBA but that is a long and arduous process compared to going straight in to IBanking itself.

    What other areas of finance would be possible for me with an Accounting degree? I am looking for a career that is stable and would pay off in the short and long run (I want to know what it feels like to be rich/upper middle class). Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This quiz should help
      If you’re looking for a career that’s stable, I’d stick to accounting and get your CPA

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