by Nicole Lee Comments (286)

Private Banking: Make Bank without Selling Your Soul or Imprisoning Yourself in a Cubicle 80 Hours per Week?

Private Banking careers

“I’ll miss you a lot, but it’s a good call to move to private banking – that’s the best way to meet rich guys.”

I was about to leave the institutional sales department at my old bank, and my supervisor was giving me the proper send-off.

Girls in finance might have the gold-digger reputation, but I didn’t get into private banking because I wanted to meet rich guys – I got in because I was in the right place at the right time.

Little did I know what I had gotten myself into…

Private Banking: What You Do

I had received a 3-month notice at my old bank when I refused to transfer to a division that the department head wanted me to transfer to – so I had to find something else quickly or leave.

I interviewed across all departments and even different banks, and landed an offer as a relationship manager at a private bank.

I ended up not staying too long, but learned enough to tell you all about private banking – from what you do to the different roles to how to break in to how much you get paid.

What is Private Banking (PB)?

The private banking division at an investment bank manages assets for high net worth (HNW) individuals. You can read that as, “You’re rich but have no time to invest your money – let us make investment decisions for you, and we’ll collect a fee for those services.”

Usually these HNW individuals are worth over $5 million USD at the bulge bracket banks, but sometimes lower net worth individuals can also sign up depending on the group.

Teams are usually split into those that manage regular HNW clients and ones that manage ultra HNW clients – no, the “ultra” ones don’t have superpowers, but they do have financial assets of more than $30 million USD.

As you might imagine, the ultra HNW clients tend to be more demanding and banks devote more resources to wining, dining, and advising them. The minimum account size for PB clients is around $2 million USD, while the minimum account size for ultra HNW clients might be around $10 million USD.

Private Banking / Private Wealth Management vs. Asset Management

In PB / PWM, the money comes from wealthy individuals, while in asset management (AM) it comes from institutions – the likes of Fidelity, pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, and so on.

Roles in Private Banking

The two main roles are investment professionals and relationship managers (RM) – investment professionals manage clients’ money and recommend products, while RMs manage the relationships, respond to clients’ requests, and also sell products to clients.

It’s similar to the split between execution and relationship management in investment banking, or the industry vs. product group distinction.

RMs and investment professionals usually attend client meetings together and support one another when answering clients’ questions.

How Do Private Banks Make Money?

As you might expect, private bankers make money from fees charged to clients – but there’s more to it than that.

First off, they sell managed accounts (also known as controlled or discretionary accounts), which are professionally managed and can be personalized to cater to clients’ needs – banks charge a fee for this depending on the size of the account and get recurring revenue since the fees are collected each month or each quarter.

Private banking clients also have brokerage accounts, which allow the bank to earn money by selling products such as IPOs and secondary offerings – so if a PB client wanted to buy shares of LinkedIn’s IPO, private bankers would coordinate with the equity capital markets team to ensure that the client received a fair allocation.

Then there are other services like estate planning, income tax planning, and philanthropic planning – so the fee parade never halts.

Private Banking vs. Investment Banking

One common, yet incorrect line of thought is that private banking and investment banking are completely separate – nothing could be further from the truth.

There’s a ton of overlap because many HNW clients want direct access to the investment bank’s products – IPOs, secondary offerings, bond issuances, and even access to the most exclusive hedge funds and private equity funds. So private bankers must work with investment bankers to ensure that their clients can invest in all of those.

And PB clients – many of whom are business owners – might also want advice on restructuring or selling their businesses and may contact investment bankers to get their advice.

There’s even more overlap in Asia because family businesses dominate the IPO market – so private bankers work closely with investment bankers to make sure that their banks win new IPO mandates.

Breaking Into Private Banking

So now you know something about what you do in private banking, how you make money, and the difference between private banking, investment banking, and asset management.

Now, how do you break in?

My Own Story

I broke into private banking by building contacts throughout the investment bank – I only had 3 months, so I focused on places with specific positions available.

I was lucky because private banks were expanding when I started looking for positions, and because many private bankers were impressed by people with investment banking backgrounds and top schools on their resumes.

You don’t see degrees from places like Harvard as much outside the US, and those types of schools are especially well-regarded in Asia.

Plus, my boss was looking for someone smart, efficient, good-looking, and charming, and I fit the bill perfectly. :)

I’ve found that it’s easier to get into private banking than investment banking – the prestige and pay are both lower, so there’s less competition and you don’t see as many of the OCD/overachiever types spending months preparing for interviews.

If you want to work in private banking in Asia, you should know a local language such as Mandarin or Cantonese so you can talk to clients – you also need to understand the local culture, speak fluent English, and come from a well-known university. PBs like MBAs, but you don’t need the degree to break in.

Private Banking Interviews

Most of the interview questions were variations on “Why do you want to do private banking?”

I had worked with clients in equity sales before this, so I could sell my experience working with institutional clients and use that to convince them that I could also work with HNW clients.

That strategy doesn’t always work because it depends on the institutional clients and HNW clients in your region – in some places they can be very different in terms of personality and culture.

I didn’t go all-out with interview prep, but one friend of mine did his homework to break in: he studied for and passed the CFA to prove his literacy in finance and read all sorts of annual reports and filings to learn about the bank’s culture. The interviewers asked him very few finance questions and focused on his personality instead.

The top questions my friend and I both received in PB interviews:

  1. Why do you want to do private banking? / Why do you want to work for us?
  2. How can your previous experience add value to PB?
  3. Tell me more about your interpersonal relationship and analytical skills.
  4. What do you think about the markets?

Most of these are self-explanatory if you read the interview guides on this site; for the first question, you want to point out how you enjoy working with people and investing in the markets and that you see private banking as a perfect blend between the client-centric nature of IB and the public markets investing you would do in trading.

For #2, focus on previous experiences where you worked with clients – especially demanding or difficult ones – and show how you resolved problems and accomplished your mission anyway.

The Private Banking Culture and What You Do Day-to-Day

The pace is slower than IB and the culture tends to be more political / bureaucratic because everything is relationship-driven and merit doesn’t always count for much.

Since there are more girls in PB than in IB, people can be catty at times (and yes, I’m female so I’m allowed to say this).

As the relationship manager, I attended a lot of client meetings and took notes on what the client liked doing for fun, what his/her kids did, where their kids planned to go for college, and so on – all that is fine if you like getting to know people, but overall my learning curve in institutional sales was much steeper than it was in private banking.

My average day usually began with the morning meeting where bankers discussed what was happening in the markets, and I would help my boss prepare investment analysis and anything else she had to present. I worked closely with the investment professionals to talk about specific clients and figure out what products might be good for everyone.

The RM role is much fuzzier than the investment professional role – that’s more for the quantitative and analytical type. If you do that, you’ll act more like a trader’s assistant by preparing account statements and sales pitches for personal investments – you don’t get to see clients, but you do work closely with the RMs.

Hours are roughly 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM – with 2-hour lunch breaks, so life is not exactly difficult. That might not be enough to become Don Draper, but you could probably still squeeze in at least one affair at lunch each day.

Private Banking Salaries and Compensation

As you might expect, pay is significantly lower since the lifestyle is so good and since the work itself is lower-stakes and not as stressful.

The analyst base salary is around $80K, with bonuses anywhere from 25% to 50% of the base salary depending on the economy.

Those are good numbers for your first job out of school, but compensation will always be less than what you’d earn in investment banking since the fees are lower and overhead is higher.

Private Banking Exit Opportunities

The most common exit is to go to another private bank, or another PB division at a large bank.

Some people do get into private equity firms and hedge funds, but they’re mostly in roles such as investor relations or fundraising – without transaction experience, your chances of getting to work on actual investments aren’t great.

Some investment professionals also move into research or help funds analyze investment products and market trends.

Overall, your exit opportunities are definitely more limited than in investment banking since you don’t get deal experience and since the accounting and finance involved are much simpler.

Why I Left Private Banking

So, back to my story in the beginning: why did I decide to leave early on after I got into PB?

The short answer: another bank gave me an offer in their ECM department, and I was more interested in capital markets than private banking. I felt that it would be easier to go back into private banking whenever I wanted, but that IB would be much tougher to get into.

If you can deal with bureaucracy and you want stability, a balanced life, and decent pay, private banking could be a good option for you – I preferred the work environment of IB, so it wasn’t a good fit for me.

The Guy Made a Million Dollars!

Don’t hold your breath if you want to make millions in private banking – it’s much harder than it sounds to bring in ultra HNW clients and to win their trust.

If you already have loads of rich contacts, you might catch a lucky break and rise to the top quickly. Otherwise, you’re better off working for a relationship manager who can share his/her accounts with you.

If you’re smooth and good with office politics, private banking might be great for you – but if not, you’d make money faster in hedge funds, private equity, and investment banking since bonuses in all of those are much higher.

If you can bring in a lot of new assets as a relationship manager you can earn good money, but a rolodex of clients takes a long time to build – and building trust takes even longer than that.

As a senior RM you might have a good life wining and dining HNW clients and hanging out in high-end golf clubs and restaurants – but then you also have the stress of hitting “targets” (assets under management) set by banks.

If you decide to leave private banking, you could leverage your contacts and help them manage their businesses in exchange for equity, or even start your own firm to help them manage and invest their money.

The Best Way to Meet Rich Guys?

I never met the quality rich guys that my supervisor in institutional sales promised – but then I didn’t stick around long enough to go after all the fish in the sea.

But if you don’t mind playing the office politics game, you’re OK with lower pay in exchange for a more stable and balanced life, and you don’t like super-technical work, private banking might be right for you.

And hopefully you’ll meet more rich guys than I ever did.


About the Author

Nicole Lee has been serving as an Executive Career & Networking Coach for senior professionals in investment banking, asset management, private equity, and global Fortune 500 companies since 2012.

She has helped 500+ candidates land finance roles at firms such as Morgan Stanley, Macquarie Capital, and UBS.

You can connect with her here.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Hi Nicole,

    Thank you for the great article! What do you think about investment at private banking, as compared to an institutional sales position at an asset management? Which one is better in your opinion?

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Nicole,
    great article! How did you manage to get into ECM from PB? Currently I am working as an Investment Professional within Private Banking for a big Wealth Manager, however, I am also more interested in Capital Markets. I am wondering what the best way is to do that.
    Thanks and best regards

  3. Great article. Do you know what the pay looks like beyond the initial analyst years?

  4. Could you please expand on the office politics game that you mentioned 3 times in the article? There is office politics in any corporate set up, how different is the PWM office politics game than others?

    1. We cover office politics in other articles on this site – for example:

      I don’t think PWM office politics are much different from politics anywhere else, but the difference in PWM is that it’s a bit harder to judge your “results” – compared to, say, a hedge fund where every single trade you make is scrutinized – so you probably see more people angling their way to the top without actually deserving it.

  5. Thank you for the awesome insight! Recently i have been offered a 9 month contract role for an assistant rm role for the PB division at a bulge bracket, from the what the hr has informed me conversion is dependant on my performance and availability. But from your experience what are the actual conversion rate given i am a high performer in this scenario?

    1. Conversion rates tend to be high for private banking because it’s not as competitive as other areas such as investment banking. I would guess well over 50% receive return offers, and if you perform well, it’s probably closer to 90%.

  6. Thanks for the great article! Wondering what are the key differences between investment professionals at private banking vs those at asset management/mutual funds, in terms of entry barrier (interview process)/day-to-day/exit opportunity? Or are these roles relatively similar and an investment professional can move from PB to AM quite easily and vice versa?

    1. Private banking deals with *individuals* i.e. wealthy people who have earned their money through a business, high-paying jobs, sometimes inheritance, etc., while asset management and mutual funds deal with institutions such as pension funds, endowments, etc. who want to invest in the public markets on behalf of *their* clients.

      There are some similarities, but the roles are quite different because PB is more sales/relationship-oriented, with market knowledge required depending on the role, while AM and mutual funds are much more investing and market-focused and tend to lead to better opportunities outside the field.

      1. For investment professionals focusing on equities for example, how are they different in PB vs AM? Do those in PB not make buy/sell recommendations? Just trying to understand why investment professionals in PB are disadvantaged in terms of exits compared to AM.

        1. Private bankers make investment recommendations that are more related to portfolio allocations and macro-level fund deployment, while asset managers tend to do a wider variety of analysis… some focus on the micro (individual stocks, bonds, etc.), while others operate at more of a macro level. AM analysis also tends to be more involved and is growing more quant-oriented.

  7. What are the exit opportunities for a private banker? I’ve heard of the occasional person moving into investment banking, however I understand this is a rarity.

    1. Moving into IB from PB is quite difficult and rare. As this article stated, outside of moving to another bank, the most common exit opportunities are investor relations or fundraising (at all types of firms) or sometimes research (equity, but also potentially credit and others). The problem is that PB is mostly sales with fairly simple accounting/finance and no transaction work, so it doesn’t give you that many options.

  8. Hey there! I’ve been reading you / using this page since 6 years coming into the Finance world lol and you are still my go-to. Really appreciate and love your stuff! I’ve gone from securities industry to management consulting, and now have my first interview at Chase Private Client. I want to ask if this is their actual wealth management group? What do you think of the group? And if in your opinion this is a smart move as a mid-level employee now?

    1. Sorry, don’t know enough to comment about it. I’ll see if we can run an article on that topic in the future.

  9. Some of my buddies who started in Private Banking, confirmed with me that the base is 80K + 10K sign on, but not sure of bonus range.

    1. Yes, that’s probably more accurate. These salary figures need to be updated.

  10. Hey I am planning to apply to B-school this year. I am working in Goldman Sachs currently and have completed my CFA level 1 this year. After MBA I want to get into PB as a RM. I wanted to understand what skills specifically MBA help me gain through my experiences there. Will MBA help me connect to HNW clients? What else MBA help me in building my skills?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think its your relationship management skills, network, and credibility from your MBA assuming you are going to a top school. An MBA can also hone your analytical skills and this can be useful in analysing stocks.

  11. Great article and very informative!

    I have a different experience level and path towards private banking than what your intended readership probably is. As my name implies, I’m coming from the retail side of things. I am my branch’s licensed banker selling life insurance and fixed annuities (really the latter more than the former), but ultimately I am a retail banker working in a regulate branch, opening up student checking accounts and ordering checks for little old ladies. The work can actually get pretty intense.

    My question is: How is the workload and stress level of private banking compared to retail banking? What are the customers like in terms of dealing with them, how demanding they are, etc? How is it in terms of making sales and meeting goals?

    I know that the investment bankers on here are all probably snickering to themselves right now, but retail banking is difficult and stressful enough and I want to make sure that, if I go from retail to private, that I’m not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    Despite listing pay as a con, that $70k/year would definitely be a huge jump in salary for me, so it’s definitely worth investigating.

    I can see that PB is much easier than IB, but how does it compare to RB?

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say it really depends on the team and the bank. If you’re talking about GS PB etc the quota can be quite high and RMs will have to meet such quota. I think the stress level maybe similar though different – in PWM you’re dealing with HNW or UHNW clients who maybe more sophisticated and perhaps demanding. But given the numbers involved, you maybe making more with the same level of stress. I wouldn’t say PB is much easier than IB – ultimately you still have to source deals.

  12. Hi!
    I enjoyed reading this article . The queries you addressed therein are genuine real time queries which people have , as opposed to some abstract and typical questions.
    I am an MBA candidate and wanted to enter private management for the some of the reasons you mentioned above: work life balance ( i don’t mind the lower pay) less stressful job etc. However, I wanted to ask you , if a person has near zero contacts with HNW individuals on date, what are his chances of entering a private bank? Is bringing in clients a necessary aspect of private banking?
    After reading your article I felt more comfortable about investment manager roles .
    How does one become an investment manager ? Is that role similar to that of a relationship manager in term of bringing in clients? Looking forwards to hearing from you ! Thanks !!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes as you progress in the ladder the more clients you can bring in the more money you make. As a junior, you don’t really need any contacts with HNW individuals, unless you’re aiming for RM roles. Yes IM roles are probably better for you. IM roles are more focused on investments and less focused on building relationships.

  13. So how would a high net worth client decide if they’d rather go with a private banker within an bulge bracket investment bank or hire a private wealth management firm that specializes in higher net worth clients?

    so from what I gathered you’re better off to hire a RIA (non-broker) wealth management firm vs. than an adviser from the wealth management department at a big bank like Goldman Sachs?

    so if the above question is true: how do you know if you should hire a private banker or a RIA (non-broker) wealth management firm? (again, assuming you’re a high net worth client.)

    Thanks for the insight!!!!

  14. Hi Nicole,

    I have a JPM superday for wealth management coming up soon. The role is in HK. I was wondering what could potentially come up in the interview. Will my language skills be tested? I study university in the UK currently.

    Thanks! :)

    1. Yes, language skills could potentially come up because in HK you will work with many Chinese clients. Other questions are likely to be fit/market-based (e.g., pitch us a stock, tell us about recent market events, etc.).

  15. can i become a private banker without a degree…

    1. That can be challenging…

  16. I know that PB compensation is less than IB, with recent increases in base salaries in IB will PB also raise base salaries.

    1. Most likely, yes, but I don’t think we’ve seen confirmation of those changes yet.

  17. Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for sharing! It is a great article.

    I have been in the wealth management industry for about 4 years in sales-oriented role. Mainly serving mass to mass affluent customers. I am looking at
    joining as RM in any PB based in Singapore. Is that a hindrance if I am not a Singaporean nor PR?

    Long term wise, I am thinking to move into research oriented position particularly in equity analysis role. However, I find out that most of the job posting requires candidates to have 2-3 years of relevant research experience. In order to break into the industry, I have completed CFA level 2 and looking at completing it next year. Any other ways that I can do to land myself a job in that position?

    Thanks for your time in advance Nicole.



    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      50/50 depending on clients you cover. Yes a CFA helps. Otherwise, I think its about your investment experience – ability to analyse stocks and demonstrate your critical thinking skills. If you can demonstrate the above and build your network on the buyside this can help. You may also want to attend buyside conferences to meet people.

  18. Thank you for this very informative article Nicole!

    I have some questions regarding the article and my future prospective in the banking industry. I am currently studying in LSE (first year) and initially I was interested in investment banking (and working in the S&T division), but this article gave me an insight into private banking.
    From your article I have learned that private bankers get to “live a life” compared to investment bankers with their busy schedules working up to 100 hours, but instead private bankers get paid less. I was curious as to how much is “working less”(in terms of first year analysts)?

    I am very interested in meeting new people and building strong positive relationships (which I tend to be good at), but I believe even in Sales&Trading division of investment banking I get to meet a lot of the clients and not work as much as other front office workers in e.g. M&A division? I wonder if this is correct, and whether or not the amount of time spent with clients or working is comparable with being a private banker.

    Also, I want to apply for a spring internship for the bulge bracket firms, and most of them seem to have a private banking sector within the firm. Would you say it is easier for me to catch an opportunity as a intern in private banking compared to investment banking? Or do you recommend doing an internship in investment banking first then moving to private banking once graduated (or after some experience). If you have any advice to give me feel free to do so!

    Lastly, I came across the “private wealth management” division in investment banks, and is this basically the same as private banking?

    Thank you!

    Best wishes,

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can meet a lot of people in S&T. Yes, PB can sometimes be easier to break in vs. IB, though yes I’d suggest that you do IB first before moving into PB if possible. Yes private wealth management (PWM) is usually the same as private banking. However, some firms may have different tiers (i.e. ultra high net worth, high net worth, etc).

      1. Thank you for answering Nicole!
        I also have one more question to ask,,
        Do you think it is necessary to have certificates in investment banking (if I could) or are internship experiences more important?
        I was thinking, since next summer I don’t think I’ll be doing any internships (because I’m still in first year), so maybe getting CPA or FRM? Would they help or should I just look for an opportunity to do something fun instead

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Internships are more important. I’d do something fun, unless you want to pursue accounting.

  19. Hi there,

    Many thanks for this highly informative article. I was wondering if you could describe or point me in the right direction for even more detail on the pay structure. For instance, my understanding is that the bonus is basically based on the revenue one generates for the firm. But is it weighed more towards bringing in AUM, which presumably bring in more recurring revenue?

    And in terms of firms “fighting” over experienced relationship managers – would the singing bonus, etc be based on how much AUM they actually bring over to the new firm?

    And finally, in your opinion, is it generally the best career move to stick with a large firm (Merrill, UBS, Credit Suisse, etc.) or a smaller boutique? I ask because I keep hearing about smaller firms going out of business due to higher regulatory costs.

    Thank you,

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, bonus does depend on how much money you bring in, especially if you are a RM. Yes, I’d stick with a large firm initially, build your clientele, and move to a smaller boutique once you’re confident that you can generate revenue on your own with your existing client base

  20. Hello Nicole, thanks for your insights. Quick question: how does the compensation package and bonus look like for an investment professional at an associate level look like within PB? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’m not 100% sure, but I’d say base maybe similar/slightly lower than IB. I’m not 100% sure regarding bonus because it depends on your performance and the bank.

  21. I’m currently studying for CFA Level 1 (June – if I fail, December) and also recently finished my Masters but in a non-finance/economics/business field (software). I am also currently working for a firm targeting private banks and wealth managers (their subscription/client reach is 85% of the top 100 private banks) after spending 4-5 years in non-finance roles/industries. I think PB/WM could be good, but I also want to combine IT/software with my CFA (crossed fingers). What types of roles do you envision that would incorporate both IT and PB/WM as well as CFA? My thoughts would be along the lines of robo, creating/implementing automated investment platforms etc. My undergrad is in media/communications, I know the value of networking and being able to hustle for what you want in life!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps a more analytical role in PB/WM say a role that focuses on selecting investments for clients. In terms of a role that requires creating investment platforms for clients I don’t know of a role off the top of my head but you can (1) create this role for yourself as you progress in your career (2) work for a smaller/more entrepreneurial firm that allows you to do so (3) start your own firm. I may be wrong here; readers may have better suggestions.

  22. Thank you for the great article!
    I have a BS degree in accounting and finance with MS in accounting. I’m currently working at a Big 4 accounting firm in its financial services tax department in NY. I understand that having that perception of “accountant” is a strong disadvantage when going into banking but do I have a chance of going into PB as a investment professional? I have a CPA and I’m planning to get CFA soon. Any other suggestions?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I’d probably start at smaller retail banks, build up your client base, and then move to PWM – I’ve seen this happen, but you’ll have to have a good client base.

  23. Hello M&I!

    I love your stuff! I have a BB WM interview coming up soon and I’m not quite sure what questions to prepare myself for. The role is quantitative and is based in the Gulf Region. Any thoughts on the most important/likely questions that I could be asked?

    Thanks a tonne!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Karim, I’d say understanding valuation methods is useful. For wealth management areas such portfolio theory maybe useful in interviews I’m not 100% sure about questions specific to the Gulf region but I presume the above are useful to know.

  24. Love this article! Thank you for all the helpful info.
    I am now facing a really difficult situation that I hope to have your insights and advice. I have got an FT BB PB offer (signed already as it came early on). However, I now got 2 other offers: one for global market sales in a big international bank (not BB); the other for IB in a smaller bank. As a fresh grad, I haven’t had any past experience in the 3 areas above (i did an internship in trading support), but I feel like the latter 2 offers are much more exciting than PB. I know that my interest lies in the capital market, but definitely notice that IB offers more exit opportunities. In the long term, I would love to be in a role dealing with technical analysis and managing investments (still not very specific yet as I had very limited working experience). So my question will be, if I stick to the current offer, is it very difficult to break into the role that I want? If yes, would the other 2 offers be better and is it worth it to make the decision to switch?

    1. That is a tough call. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s a great idea to switch to the other offers if you don’t have a strong feeling about what you want to do in the future… if PB really isn’t for you, you can always move out of it and do something else or go back to one of the other firms (or similar firms) once you have more experience.

      You don’t really manage investments in IB since it’s not a markets-based role, and you do even less of that in sales. So I would probably stick with your current offer until you have a more specific idea in mind.

  25. What should one do to prepare for a technical interview in private banking?

    Studying accounting, DCF, and valuation seems pretty standard for all finance interviews….anything else?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I’d do that, and have a stock pitch in mind. Understand the stock market really well; technical questions on stock market, and even some on portfolio management (i.e. alpha, sharpe ratio etc) may come up.

  26. Hi Nichole,

    I have a final round of interview lined up with CFO and other leadership team of a tech firm next week. The position is supposed to Head M&A along with investor relations. Can you advise me how should I approach the interview? also on what sort of questions to expect? as in the initial rounds of interview I was not only grilled about the entire M&A process including DCF, IRR, 3 model statements, LOI, corporate law and enterprise valuations but was also asked how will I help the firm get investment from private equity funds and other UHNWI’s to invest in the firm (equities, LBO’s, debts etc..)

    I have a M&A and investor relations background. I did handle HNWI’s, funds and PE’s in earlier part of my career however in the past five years I’m heading the investment banking team concentrating on TMT in my current firm.

    I’m probably out of the line here with my questions about IB I suppose, but would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say really understand what the tech firm does, how you can add value once they hire you, why you want to work in tech in the long term, and how you’d be dealing with investors (perhaps from your previous experience). may also be useful.

  27. Love these articles, I just have a question – I am quite inexperienced in banking and don’t have a high end qualification. I do however have a lot of good finance experience with a lot of responsibility at a young age and I’m good at networking, which is why I can get considered for jobs outside my remit.

    I recently had an interview with a top private bank for a Private Banking Executive role (not a banker role I know but, from what the bankers have told me, one that can develop into one if you’re good at the role) I don’t think I did well enough in the interview, infact I think I fluffed it, but I have another interview coming up as a Private Equity Account Executive for a Big 4 Firm. If I take this role and excel in it, become an Account Manager / Director, will that give me good exit opportunities to go into a relationship management role at a private equity firm ?

    1. To clarify, “private equity” is very different from “private banking.” Private equity firms don’t really have relationship manager roles, though the larger ones may have investor relations-type roles. So it may potentially be helpful for moving into PE directly, but only for very specific roles and mostly at the larger firms.

  28. 1: Is there a difference between Private Wealth Management and Private Banking?

    2: I have been told by multiple sources, all anecdotal (family friends), that Private Wealth Management is a joke at Morgan Stanley and UBS. Is this true?

    I’ve been given an Investment Banking offer at a no-name boutique, and offers in Private Wealth Management at both Morgan Stanley and UBS……I’m deciding which of the 3 to take.

    My ultimate goal is to do Investment Banking at a bulge bracket.

    Nicole, thank you as always.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Technically no
      2. I don’t know. It depends on what they mean by “a joke.” I think MS and UBS have reputable PWM divisions. If you want to do IB stick to the boutique. If you want PB, I’d go with MS or UBS. Perhaps UBS since Swiss banks are probably better with PWM but I maybe wrong. If you compare PB work to IB work, then yes PB work and hours maybe “a joke” to some, but it depends on what your objectives are.

  29. Hi Nicole,

    I am from Australia and would like to get into financial planning/wealth management/private banking (same thing I assume). In Australia we have approved financial planning bachelor degrees which would enable me to then go for my CFP certification – an internationally recognized title. Would this be the best option? Or would a finance degree be better suited? There is an option where I can do a double major in both finance and financial planning. However if I did a straight finance degree i could also minor in financial services, and ‘superannuation and wealth management’. So which would be the best pathway?

    Also as a CFP would it be possible to go into private banking since it is sort of basically financial planning for rich people?

    Would CFP or CFA be more suitable?

    I like working with people and helping them achieve financial success or increase their wealth. So i like talking to people but I also am interested in working with the stock market/investing – so using both my social skills and my brain to work.

    The pay, as long as it is above average and decent Im fine with as I would probably die working 16 hour days.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say a finance degree is better. I’m not sure about a CFP but a CFA would probably be preferable. Yes you would likely be working 12-hour days.

      1. Is weaith management the same as financial planning? So you look after all aspects of the clients financial lives. Or is wealth management more about making the client more money.

        I heard that private banking was like financial planning where most of it is talking to the clients and your not doing that much investing?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, in a way. You do talk to clients quite a bit if you’re a relationship manager so most of your time is spent on socialising. However, you’ll still need to know about investing. PB also have roles (say investment professional) that are mainly focused on analysing the markets + investing so these people work closely with the RMs to advise their clients.

  30. Hi Nicole,

    Great article. I have 4 years of experience working in a private bank in India as relationship manager managed mid business clients. Right now I am pursuing my MBA In US. I got an offer to attend final interview for private banking summer associate role in CS. I am still thinking this is the role I would be fit in? I want to know any tips to attend the final interview as well.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes this may fit you – hard to say since I have not worked with you before. In terms of tips, make sure you understand what’s going on in the markets, and why you want to work in PB in the States ( I presume this is where you’re interviewing) vs. India – different clientele, culture, etc

  31. Avatar
    Julien Aponte

    Good morning Nicole,
    I have a difficult decision to make within the next year and was hoping you could offer your intellectual insight. I currently work at a wealth management firm (have been working there since I was 18 now 21) and summer is looming around the corner. I have struggled with deciding whether independent wealth management or investment banking is the path to forgo. My work-life balance is great right now but I will admit that sometimes work gets very stale and the office environment is not always exciting. Wealth management would require me to attain clients and at a young age it would be extremely difficult. In addition, most of my pay would be based on commision, so paychecks would be quite inconsistent in the first 5 years. With investment banking I feel the environment would be more exhilarating and fun and challenging, although work-life balance would severely lack. Pay would also be much better at investment banking up front and be more secure than wealth management. However, my boss is the sole owner of his company and looking for someone to succeed his business in the next 15 years when he retires. So my question to you would be how do I possibly decide between the two? And which one do you prefer?

    Brief Credentials
    University of South Florida Alumni
    Degree in Finance
    3 years Financial experience and Sales experience
    GPA 3.9

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think you need to make any decisions here, unless you have an offer at an IB. What I’d do is continue working at your current firm and network with bankers at IB. If an interesting opportunity comes up in IB, you can take it. 15 years is a long time; I wouldn’t count on your boss retiring and taking over his company, unless you really love what he does and your current firm. Even then, I think its good to gain some IB experience if you have a chance.

  32. Avatar
    Harry Huang

    Hi Nicole, thanks for this great article, it is really helpful! I just got an interview with JP Morgan’s PB for solutionist position. I wonder if you have any advice about interviews for this particular position or any PB interviews in general? Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think you need to know the markets, basic modeling skills, why PB, and demonstrate that you have the presentation and communication skills to perhaps interact with HNW clients down the line. You may not necessarily be meeting them when you first start, but they may groom you to do so down the line so you want to look presentable. I’m not sure re. JPM’s PB solutionist position so perhaps readers may have better suggestions

      1. Avatar
        Harry Huang

        Thank you very much Nicole! I will find out more about the solutionist position but what you mentioned is already very helpful! I really appreciate it.

      2. Hi, my son who has an engineering degree recently went for an assessment and interview for commercial banking graduate scheme with a large UK bank. Afterwards they contacted him and said they thought he would be better suited to private banking and I am wondering why. Please could you advise if commercial banking has better career and salary prospects that private banking can offer. Any thoughts on why they would think this? Many thanks.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I wouldn’t say so. I think both have good prospects, and given increasing wealth globally, there’s an increasing demand for private bankers. Perhaps your son demonstrated solid client management skills as well as knowledge for the markets, which is why they suggested him to be join private banking instead.

  33. is it possible to switch from engineering to private banking?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes that is possible, and having an MBA from a top tier school may help you transition to PB

  34. Why does private banking require mba? Sigh

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Top tier PB firms prefer top tier MBA students because many of their clients view top tier MBAs highly and the degree just demonstrates “credibility” to people.

  35. I am in a bit of the same position as Jessica above. I have an intern offer from the Private Bank at JPM which I look at as more of a long term thing and an offer from a rapidly growing investment bank (Stifel). I originally saw myself as only doing a stint in IBD but the training, big-name, etc. of JPM is a big pull. Both are in NYC and I would have the opportunity to network at both firms. The value for working in an Investment Bank would be leveraging the opportunity to go into Private Equity (Lower middle market or middle market PE) either directly (after 2-4 years) or after going back to get an MBA. A successful career in Private Banking, using the BB name on your resume to go into IBD at a smaller bank, or eventually leveraging the opportunity to go into Asset Management is not a bad position to be in either. Alumni at both firms have reached out to me and the culture at both seem to be very positive which makes the decision harder on my part. Any thoughts on my dilemma would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It really depends – if you want to do IBD, I’d go with the smaller firm, though JPM gives you credibility and may open you more doors. However, transferring from PB to IBD from JPM maybe challenging, which is why I suggest going with the smaller firm.

  36. Glassdoor has a banker associate at JPM making $150k all in. Does this sound correct? What does it take to be an associate?

      1. The banker associate description says that he works for the Private Banker. It differentiates from Investment Banking Associate. I was asking about an the position who helps the private banker.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          That would be a RM (relationship manager) associate.

  37. Hi Nicole.

    I know you mentioned that it’s easier to move from IBD to PWM than the other way around. I’m a little torn because I’m considering accepting a summer internship at PWM in a BB or IBD in a mid-market bank. Long term, I believe my skill set and strengths suit PWM a lot better than IBD and I like the BB I received an offer at, however, I am curious about IBD and I like that it gives me more exit opps if I want to move into PWM or consulting or corporate strategy in the future. Do you think IBD at a smaller bank (BMO Capital Markets) can be leveraged easier when switching jobs or even industries or the brand name of a BB, in the PWM division is more valuable? And, should I value the idea of learning a lot and being able to leverage it for exit opps (IBD) more or value the opportunity to try something I might want as a career but with less exit opps if I find I don’t want to do it long term (PWM)?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations – great spot to be in!

      Yes IBD can potentially offer you better exit opportunities. If you’re pretty sure you want to do IBD I’d go with BMO. One thing I’d do is to research on the growth of BMO – is the company growing fast? How is their deal pipeline? Do you fit into the culture? If the company is growing fast, has a good deal pipeline and niche position and great culture, yes I’d try it.

      Otherwise, JPM may offer you a better brand name and you can leverage that in interviews, or try to transfer internally.

      Be prepared that you may have to go through fall recruiting again though, since you may not necessarily like BMO as a firm or JPM’s PB division or itself as a firm. So I’d network a lot and continue to hone your pitch and valuation skills during the summer.

      1. Thank you! I am definitely very happy with my choices :)

        BMO is actually growing really quickly in the US recently and I love the people I have talked to but I don’t think I will stay in IBD long term because of the lifestyle…I’m just curious about IBD and interested in learning more and I think the summer would be a great way to determine my level of interest/fit/gain more transferable skills.

        PWM at JPM is more of a long term career move that I could see myself staying in for a while…it just doesn’t have as many exit opps as IBD if I change my mind. And another area I am interested in long term is consulting, which I think will be harder to transfer into from PWM. (Although some people say the brand name of JPM is enough to trump IBD at a lesser known firm…do you know any truth in this?)

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes brand name of JPM can help you transition to IBD at smaller firms. If you feel that PB is more suitable for your lifestyle, I’d probably go with that. With the above being said, if you really want to give IB a try and like the people at BMO, this maybe a better option for you.

          Consulting – this is a different area, I would focus on the first two first. I think it’d be difficult to move from either to consulting, unless you go back and get an MBA though I may be wrong.

          If you’re looking at gaining skills, getting exposure to IB and joining a fast-growing firm which can potentially offer you more responsibilities and perhaps compensation down the line, try BMO.

          If you’re looking for solid reputation and PB work, choose JPM.

          Consulting – However, if you’re looking to start your own business, consulting maybe a good starting point

  38. hi Nicole
    I started my banking career as RM wealth management for 5 years then I switched into PB but I am not satisfied with my career kindly suggest me what to do for elevation in my career. either through any degree or switching to other industry.kindly help me to choose better

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes an MBA at a target school can retool you and increase your exit opps

  39. Hi Nicole,

    First of all, kudos for this article. It garnered my unequivocal attention. I for one believe that bureaucracy and PB go hand in hand, ironic I suppose.
    I have a question for you. What happens when one don’t meet his or her targets? or for example if one is a experienced hire and if he or she will not able to bring her previous clients (AUM) into the new boutique or bank as promised in the interview (not all clients will be interested in moving their assets to a new firm)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for your compliment. I think three scenarios can happen (1) You don’t get a raise (2) You get “demoted” (3) You get let go …

  40. Hi Nicole, thank you for the insightful article. I am interested in pursuing a PB career in Asia, with HK at the top of the list. Just wondering though, how important are language skills in HK PB? I would consider myself comfortable with speaking mandarin, but I am not totally confident of being able to discuss a product with clients, for example. Is there a great deal of emphasis placed on analysts being 100% fluent?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes there is though there maybe groups/roles that don’t require fluent Mandarin – it depends on the role and group

  41. If you go from IB to PB, would it be possible to change back to IB?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes though interviewers may wonder why you’d want to do so, unless you work for a small PE fund that isn’t doing too well

  42. Avatar
    Barton Yip

    Hey Nicole – honest question: did you get your original job straight out of college (the institutional sales one) through connections?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Nope, I applied online.

  43. Great comments about politics and bureaucracy at pbs, Nicole! I hear thing about the industry especially when turnover rates are rather high.

    Couple of sites out there are fairly good for general private banking news but has some good analysis on the regional business.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your insights!

  44. Avatar

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the post. Right now I’m a junior college and I’m still thinking between IB and PB/PWM. They’re just two options I’m highly considering. In terms of my summer after junior year, assuming I’m still uncertain should I shoot for an IB or PB internship? Down along the road is it hard to move from IB as an analyst/associate to PB/PWM? I’m just thinking in the long run. Thanks.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say choose IB first. It’s probably easier to move to PB from IB than vice versa. I don’t think its hard to move from IB to PB/PWM down the line (in my personal experience).

  45. Hey,

    I’m from HK as well. Would it be easy to break into private banking with a degree from UCLA?


    1. Not “easy” but do-able, yes, depending on work experience and so on

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      UCLA is a good school. I think you’ll need to have the right network to break in. Knowing Mandarin is also pretty crucial. Apply and see how it goes!

  46. hi nicole, thanks so much for the article! i’ll be starting as a PB first year analyst (RM track) in a couple of months, and was wondering how being in PB will affect one’s chances of gaining admission to a good MBA program, especially since the business schools receive so many “finance” applications from the more competitive IB/PE side. while you were in PB, did you know of colleagues who applied and got into top US business schools?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congrats! I don’t recall of any colleagues who applied and got into top business schools, though I’m sure quite a few from PB did end up going back to b-school. I think it really depends on your reference letters (be nice to your boss), your responsibilities and your essay. I think you can differentiate yourself by making an impact at work such as ..being the top rated RM in PB. Having extracurricular activities (if you have the time) would also help. For instance, if you could start getting involved in organizations like the Ocean Conservancy and doing solid work for them you may also increase your chances.

  47. Avatar

    Hey Nicole,

    great article !could you tell me a bit about the different asset and structured liability products available to HNWs in PB ?
    How does it vary from place and institution ?
    Thanks !

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for reading! You can invest in alternative investments like hedge funds, IPOs, FX linked structured deposits etc. It depends on the bank, and unfortunately I don’t have all the information! I will keep you posted though!

  48. Hi Nicole, very insightful thoughts. While I understand there are many relationship hires in PWM/PB for summer internship, is this also the case with full-time hires? I know in fulltime many hires in IBD have strong backgrounds especially in Asia. But what about in PWM/PB? would there also be many relationship/strong background hires at full-time level? And how would the quality of these relationship hires in PWM/PB compared to those in IBD/GCM?


    1. I think they do still happen with full-time hires – it is less competitive to get into PB so you don’t necessarily need to have as much of a pedigree background to get in. I’m not sure what you mean about the “quality” of those hires, but as I mentioned, generally it’s less competitive so you won’t see as many people with perfect grades from top schools there.

  49. Hi Nicole , great article.
    Quick question, I have little numbers experience and am not so confident with the quantitative side of banks (I study history&politics at university). I also don’t know much about banks and banking culture in general. However I just got a PB internship this summer at a global firm (Family connection) and I’m wondering if a being a RM is better for someone who is better with words like meand not so good with numbers like me? Or are there other roles that may suit me? Sorry for the wordiness, trying to find my footing in this industry

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ronnie, thanks for visiting our site! Yes if you’re good at managing and establishing relationships with clients, being a RM is probably better than being an IM. Otherwise, you can look at AM sales

  50. Great article, thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your support! If you like the article, please share it on facebook!

  51. Hi Nicole

    Great article ! I’m a financial planner with an insurance company for the last 9 years and at age 32, am thinking of switching over to wealth management . I’m also keen in the area of assets management , hedge funds , private equity and PB . My intention is to do a CFA level 1 end of this year and a Masters degree in wealth management next year, which area do you suggest to go into given my age at early to mid 30s by the time I finish my studies . For PB , do I need a book to go into at entry level ? I do not have a Rolodex of hnw but certainly some contacts which may qualify as hnw given my sales experience . Please advise . Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your comment. You don’t need a rolodex of clients to break in at the entry level. Your CFA is a smart move. I think you may be able to break in at the associate level. You may still have to generate commissions as you progress so you’ll have to develop your contacts fast and it may be challenging at first.

      1. thanks for reply Nicole . Just to check how does one break into Pte banking at entry level ? Most jobs adverts on efinancialcareers always want expericed bankers with min book $50m Aum in first year .so how can one apply at entry level without any experience ? Also any idea what’s the base(usd) and bonus like at associate level ? Thanks

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          To break into PB at entry level, I’d suggest you to apply online (they have job postings online) or through your own contacts. efinancialcareers isn’t the best place to go to if you want to look for a good role in IB/PB (other firms) in my experience! Base is similar to IB. Bonus may be less, though I don’t have the numbers on had so I can’t comment!

  52. Hi Nicole,

    I am in a similar situation to you. I just got an offer from a BB private bank as investment professional in Hong Kong. Given the current markets I am of course glad that I even have an offer.

    But my concerns are because PB deals with personal finance and not corporate finance, would it be difficult to move into PE, IBD, GCM, or a company’s corporate finance department? I have a junior internship experience at another BB’s DCM in Hong Kong but didn’t receive the return offer. But do you think it would be possible to transfer to corporate finance/investment management/research in the future? Do people with PB background rise into executive positions within the bank or to other companies?

    Also could you tell me in more detail how you made the transfer to ECM? How many years were you into PB that time, and how did you make the connection with the other bank?

    It would be great if you can provide me your contact email to discuss things further.

    1. I think you can transition, especially if you have the DCM internship. It will probably be easier to move into capital markets from PB vs. some of the other groups. I will let Nicole respond to the rest.

      1. Hi Brian, thanks for the comment. By saying it is easier to move into capital markets from PB than some other groups do you mean PB can more easily move to capital markets than IBD, S&T? and could you please elaborate on why it is easy to transit from PB to capital markets?

        Many Thanks!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, it may be harder to move into corporate finance going forward because most banks prefer analysts with some sort of deal/transaction experience, unless you have connections with HNW clients and can bring in IB deals. If you work on the Investments team in PB, it may be easier for you to transition into research/investment management as long as you can demonstrate your technical skills and knowledge of the market. Taking the CFA/having taken the CFA will help if you want to progress in PB/move to research/IM too.

          Yes some in PB take executive positions within the bank. I made the transfer to ECM because I was given an offer there when I was in PB. I have already been speaking with the other bank many months prior to my role in PB.

          Adding to Brian’s point, it may be easier to move into Capital Markets from PB vs other groups because PB is still considered front office (assuming you’re working for a RM or an IM) and your sales/interpersonal/pitching skills are transferable to Capital Markets. It would be best if you could build relationships with HNW clients – that will be useful for IB/Capital Market roles going forward.

  53. Avatar
    johnny bananas

    The salary numbers definitely seem skewed. I cannot see an PWM analyst base salary being $70k + 18-35k bonus. From my experience and what I have read, PWM starting salary is $50-60 TOPS if part of a development program, or much less if it is sales focused given commission.

    It also may be at the office team/manager’s discretion – say you get hired as an analyst for a team in a random city (lets say with UBS PWM): the manager or director there could probably pay the analyst an hourly rate of his choice, to come out of his office’s cost budget.

    1. Could be. These are regional numbers from Asia so that may be it. I don’t really think $70K vs. $50-60K is off by a huge amount though.

  54. Great article.

    I am a junior and will be doing a Global Wealth Management internship with Merrill Lynch this summer. How helpful is this internship in getting a FT offer after graduation? Thank you for your insight.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Having ML on your resume and this internship experience help.

  55. Thank you Nicole.
    the ability to sell and develop relationships is the only skill i can see which comes from PB. But is it something like a core skill at IB? Perhaps, not as they are more focussed on deals, financial modelling, etc etc.
    I have never comes across someone who has moved from PB to IB like in M&A, PE, VC which are more lucrative careers instead of PB.
    If anyone on the forum has made a change and it turned out more productive then please share your thoughts and experiences. As i’m in a dilemma at the moment and on the cross road where its really confusing to decide what to do next after spending 9 years in PB.
    Appreciate your help and thoughts.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, it is not common for people to switch from PB to IB, though this does not mean it isn’t do-able.

  56. thank you, but i feel the response did not help as that quiz could only give you an indication and not analyze your previous experience and transferable skills.

    maybe you could identify the skills required in IB and what skills we can move from PB to IB?

    are there any skills in the first place which can be moved from PB to IB? it’s only relationship building and gaining trust of high net worth individuals.

    with regard to IPO’s, my clients are not that wealthy to have their own IPO or something, they are high net worth, maybe a worth between £50 mil to £150 mil with an exception of few who are worth £250 mil.

    now, what is that someone could do in IB if moving from PB? why would you be hired instead of someone else who is more experienced?

    appreciate your input and help

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ability to sell is transferable. Ability to build relationship with clients and convert them to sales (i.e. deals) are crucial at the senior level.

      You also need to be able to understand how to value companies in-depth, and how the invest banking process works.

  57. Thank you for the comments and the article itself, its very helpful and insightful.

    I have some thoughts and questions which i would like to run past you and hopefully you could evaluate and help.

    you were able to move from IB to PB. Great. But how could someone move from B to IB when they have worked in PB for almost 9 years and hasn’t been very successful in terms of raising as much AUM’s as ideally should have been.

    I’m good in initiating contacts and making relationships but when it comes to closure of deal and pressurizing the client to do business, I’m not very good at it. i feel I’m good at business development but not at completion.

    i may be wrong but need to judge it. At times i feel i could be good in IB. But IB itself is such a big platform, don’t really know where i could fit in.

    What are routes to IB from PB; Private Equity, M & A?

    whats the best use i can make of my career in PB

    Best Regards

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      From PB to IB – If you have established a base of clients who will potentially do business with your IB division (i.e. IPO, etc), that will help.

      Where you could fit in – perhaps you can check out this quiz

  58. What is a Call Report? Specifically a Private Wealth Management Call Report?

    Does it have something to do with Prospect Management?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Readers can give you better insights

  59. Hi Brian/Nicole,

    I have an interview with a BB in their PWM division next week so thank you in advance for this article. I am unsure if I should give it my all to get this job or if I should continue searching for an ibank that will take me in.

    For some context, I graduated in Acc from BYU a year ago and was herded into Big 4 public accounting. I saw friends interviewing at banks and was oblivious, thinking the exit ops from banking and big four assurance are similar. I know now how wrong I am. I have spent the past two months networking relentlessly and finally landed a phone interview with a small boutique. They said they are looking for someone with seasoned transaction experience, but a managing director sent my resume to someone in a BB-PWM division who immediately called offering an interview. Really I want to set myself up to get into a top b-school.

    I also have a real estate acquisitions analyst interview with a small PE firm lined up. So back to the question, do you think pursuing one more than the other would more beneficial for b-school or would it be more beneficial to keep networking and possibly break into an ibank? Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d work with what you’ve got now and see which offer you get. Try your best in all interviews and go with the flow. Re b-school, it depends on your whole application – recommendation letters, GMAT, essays, your performance at work (which they determine via your recs) so I can’t say

  60. hi nicole, quick question–how do they decide who becomes an RM and who becomes an investment professional for analysts? thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on your team your strengths and opening

  61. Hi Nicole,

    I am a MBA student at LBS, and I would like to work in Finance, but IB – M&A does not fit well in my life style. I have experience in VC and energy trading sales. I get more and more interested in PB, as it seems to join analytics and relationship sides. Pay off are still fine, not as good as in IB, but you have still time to spend the money, and can still earn a decent amount after a few years.

    My concern is that I don’t know the possibility to get into the European Market, as there is not a lot of growth … On the other hand, rich are getting richer, and many entrepreneurs are abour to sell their companies in the next coming years. Do you have any views on the hires there ? What to do to be recruited at an MBA level (I mean get an internship at BBs).

    many thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think there’s always a demand for PWM. I’d start networking and look around. Since you’re in LBS, I’m sure plenty of the banks recruit on campus.

  62. Dear Nicole,

    Thanks for this amazing article!

    I only managed to receive a commercial banking relationship manager training offer at a top-tier HK bank.

    In your view, what is the best way for me to break in private banking now?

    Should I try to gain experience in the commercial banking as a relationship manager first for several years, then try for the post of RM for PWM? (AVP equivalent)

    or is it better to try to break in as a fresh analyst for PWM?

    Thanks in advance:)

    1. oh and I am a fresh graduate :)

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Pedigree helps a lot, especially in Asia, if you want to work in PWM for a top tier IB. Having access to HNW clients will help. Not sure if your experience in commercial banking will really help unless you can generate leads. Having a CFA, good looks, presentation & knowledge of the country you are covering will also help too. Try to build relationships w HNW clients through your bank if you can

  63. Hello Nicole;

    I am preparing interview for PB in HK and wonder how to answer interview question NNA and ROA question. Please advice.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Don’t quite understand your question? What about net new assets and return on assets?

  64. Hey Nicole,

    Wonderful article, extremely helpful.
    I was wondering if the pay/bonuses differ across large cities or are they mostly the same?
    Im interviewing for a PB analyst role this week for the Miami office of a large BB bank, would the pay/bonus be around what you listed for this scenario?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes bonuses differ though base is similar. In some countries like Hong Kong they may give you housing allowance though it isn’t as common these days.

      I’d think so but I am not sure – I’d suggest you check with PB analysts who work in Miami!

  65. I wonder if PWM is the only area of management where it would be possible for an older (30 something) to break in. A 65-year old high worth retiree would have more in common with, and would be more likely to listen to, a 35-year old male advisor than a 25-year old female.

    1. It’s probably more feasible than in other areas like IB/PE, but most new recruits tend to be younger anyway. Your chances would be higher, though, for the reasons you stated.

  66. Hi! Wonderful article, truly inspiring!
    If you had the chance to apply now for some PB firms which ones would you choose? and why?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Haha, given the choice, I’d choose the top ones like GS given the brand name and the caliber of clients such banks have.

      1. Thanks for the fastest reply ever! Two more follow ups:
        1-Wouldn’t you try any Swiss bank? :)
        2-Do you think some xp is needed before applying to toptier banks?
        Thanks in advance!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          1. Yes they are great at PB
          2. Not necessarily, but pedigree is very important if you apply to top banks. Your language, style and background will have to fit that group you are interested in too. For instance, if I want to serve Chinese ultra HNW clients I’ll have to speak fluent Mandarin, come from top tier US/UK school (ideally have a top tier MBA too), present myself and dress really well (catered to Chinese clients) and know where to wine and dine my clients….

          1. Thanks Nicole you are totally enlightening me. The more I get to know about private banking the more it fascinates me. Is there a single reason why you wouldn’t suggest me to apply for PB? :)

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            If it interests you, go ahead. Do it and see if you like it. If not, you can always move into something else. Apply first and see how it goes.

  67. Since private bankers work with investment bankers so much, have you noticed any private banker switch to the investment banking division? Let’s assume the private banker in question is from the investments side and has a C.F.A.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I believe some have, but I’m not sure if this is the usual case. I hear more cases of i-bankers moving to private banking

  68. How easy is it to go from a full fledged private banker to becoming a founder of your own hedge fund?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on the situation.

      If you have developed a network of UHNW clients who trust you to invest their money, you are truly passionate about investing, and you have had a solid track record outperforming the markets in the last 8-10 years, you may want to start a HF. I haven’t heard of any full fledged private bankers becoming founder of their own hedge funds. I think this is because the skill-sets required for the two roles are different

  69. Avatar

    Hey Nicole and Brian,

    First off, great article!

    I am a sophomore in Asia, completing a wealth management internship in a boutique and will be completing another in a big independent financial advisory shop.

    1)What are the various entry-level positions available to fresh grads in PB? I’m graduating next June.

    2)I’m primarily more interested in ER, will these experiences help my application? In addition, I have registered for CFA Level 1 in Dec 2012 and have joined stock competitions and am in my school’s investment club.

    3)I’m considering taking a gap term to complete an internship, either in CF or ER or AM. This is to boost my chances of getting the FT job I want. Do you guys have any opinions on this?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Analyst roles, you’d be either working for an Investment Professional or a Relationship Manager
      2. Yes, these experiences will help
      3. Sure, though I am not sure if this is necessary given your experience, unless the internship is for a very good firm and you’ll have awesome experience!

  70. Avatar
    Danny mah

    Hi Nicole, It was very interesting reading your article on how Private Banking worked and how they make money. However, I’m on the opposite side looking for a private banker to look after my investments as I have less and less time. As a HNW individual, what should I look for in a private bankers? How do I know if I can trust him/her with my savings and if he/her is looking after my interests or just trying to meet their quotas. I went to talk to bankers and they basically tell me the same thing, they want my account and I’m their ideal customer,etc, etc, etc. I can’t tell them apart. Any comment is appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Good question. It can be challenging to figure out which banker is acting in your best interest. Do you have any friends (genuine friends you can talk to) who have dealt with private bankers? They may know of solid private bankers to recommend you to, even if its just for a brief chat. Other than that, I’d continue to have discussions with the bankers and develop a relationship with them first. You can then gauge who to trust. I’d also ask them lots of questions and try to understand what they propose with your savings. Compare notes then. Most importantly, I’d consult your gut/intuition when you speak with the bankers …

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Adding to the above, I had a chance to speak to a veteran in PE. His response is as follows:

        Some customers of the big banks’ private banking arms (and quite a few employees who have left these organisations) are disillusioned that the products offered are sometimes what the bank wants to sell (because it has a large profit margin for the bank) rather than that which is good for the client.

        There are two possible solutions to this:
        1. Invest with a private bank which is based on a family office (ie the founder’s capital is being invested in the same investments).
        2. Receive advice from a private bank that is offering 3rd party products – but this is only rarely done for a flat fee.

        A doubt you are allowed to offer specific recommendations, but Fleming Family & Partners and Deltec Capital are examples of (1) that I know and London & Capital will recommend other organisations products for a flat fee.

  71. If private bankers and investment bankers work together then there could be conflicts of interest.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This is a gray area. In my experience, they do work together closely, at least in Asia.

      1. I see.

        By the way, since, as a private banker, you are managing your own book of clients, are you kind of self-employed? Are Directors of Wealth Management at Private Banks simply taking a coaching role for client advisors?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No I don’t think so, because you still need to deal w the firm’s politics
          I don’t quite understand your second question?

          1. A coaching role as in training the client advisors to become better at their roles.

            Also, when you build up your own client base, how much cold calling do you do?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Senior RMs may help junior RMs and train them up, but I don’t know much “coaching” there is in PB
            In BBs, you don’t really cold call …

      2. I also heard Hong Kong is facing a shortage of private bankers. Does this translate to less competitiveness at the entry-level?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t know if the above claim is true. Competitiveness is a relative term.

          1. Relative to New York City or Toronto.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            They require different skills and pedigree is pretty important if you want to break into PB at BBs.

          3. Thank you so much, Ms. Lee.

  72. Hello! I just wanted to thank you for the great article!
    I am starting my internship in PB at a BB in two weeks and I am not sure whether I will be working for the Bankers or the Investors but I had a few questions:

    1. How important is it to master Excel?
    2. Should i get Bloomberg certified?
    3. I heard from someone that investors crunch numbers and do DCFs all day. Is this true?

    Thank you so much again!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. It is important but the modeling work is not as intense as that in IB. If you are on the “Investments” side modeling might carry more weight than if you were in the “Relationships” side
      2. It might help though I don’t think it makes a big difference.
      3. Depends on your group. Not that I’ve experienced but I’m only speaking from my experience. I’ve heard from others that they crunched numbers quite a lot though.

  73. I know this might be dumb – But what are the major differences between PWM and Asset Management in terms of skill sets, job nature and exit opportunities? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Main difference b/ PWM & AM – in PWM you are dealing with high net worth clients’ money, in AM you are dealing with institutional (institutions, governments, foundations and endowments, corporations) & retail investors’ (individuals’) money. Skill sets, job nature, exit opportunities can be somewhat similar (though there are still differences) depending on the role. You’d have to provide me the role you are interested in so I can give you a better feel. Good question.

      1. Thanks Nicole for answering my question. I am interested in client relationship management in general (hence RM in PWM/AM) :)

        I have heard that the Swiss Banks are more popular choices for PWM because of some obscure ‘tax benefits’ as opposed to US banks. Some say the former can hide the clients’ financial information in Switzerland, which is impossible for local governments to dig out. Is that true?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I believe so but I’m not quite sure. This article may shed some light

          1. That said, what are the comparative advantages of US banks if everyone can save some money by switching to Swiss banks? Thx!

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            That’s a good question. I think it depends on where the client is based in and which firm the client has a better relationship with. The relationship managers of the firms matter quite a bit in this case because they can influence clients’ decisions. I’m not too familiar with the difference (in terms of tax savings etc) re. putting money in US vs Switzerland. Maybe private bankers who are readers of this site can shed some light on this issue.

  74. Hi Nicole,

    Great article. When you say ‘Great Lifestyle’ would you say this is relative to other roles in finance such as IB or a great lifestyle in its own right?

    Also, how much would you say this varies between institutions or are they all very similar? As somebody who does value a certain degree of work-life balance, would you say this is the best role to get into? If not, what else would you suggest?

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Relative to other roles in IB. On its own, it’s still not really a 9-5 job with flextime or anything. It varies a bit because you generally work more at bigger banks, but the variability is lower than different sized banks in IB. Other potential roles would be asset management or trading since they follow market hours, but again they’re far from 9-5 jobs… if you want lifestyle your best bet is some type of corporate finance role at a normal company.

  75. How is the learning curve steeper in institutional sales compared to private banking?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am only speaking from my personal experience: In institutional sales, you are exposed to research analysts traders etc. You attend morning calls, summarize notes from morning calls, have access to institutional clients and speak to research analysts across various industries regarding their stock calls and brainstorm ways to address institutional clients’ questions on the markets and needs. In private banking (again this is only speaking from my personal experience) your level of exposure to research analysts and institutional clients is v minimal (and you learn a lot by talking to them). Institutional investors are usually, in my limited experience, more sophisticated than PWM investors so your learning curve can be steeper because institutional investors may demand more from you

  76. Hi Nicole,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entire posts. Thanks for this brilliant input.

    Nicole, I must admit that I need a bit of your advice too, if you don’t mind. I’m in HK working for a brokerage firm for almost about a year now. I’m giving IIQE exams and in few months time; I intend to become an IFA.

    I realized that what I do in terms of generating business is pretty much the same as what RM of a bank does. The only difference I presume is that we are not fed with leads as they probably are (I may be wrong here).

    I have my MBA from UK, and after working in few non finance industries for sometime I finally stepped into this job, which is my first finance related job.

    My weakness is that I DO NOT know the local language (Cantonese & Mandarine ) at all.

    I have been constantly trying to find out the step up role suitable for me within the finance/investment world where ONLY English language is sufficient.

    I have an immense willingness to get all the way up to the top level of this industry in another 10 to 15 years. Your guidance here would help me put the right step forward.

    Look forward to hearing from you…


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      What sort of clients do you cover? If you don’t speak Chinese/Mandarin and you want to break into private banking, I’d suggest you to look at PBs that cover SEA clients though I think they’d still prefer you to speak a local language and have a degree from a top tier school. Perhaps the second/third tier PBs are less strict. Another area you can look into are sales roles at asset management firms. You’ll have to speak to them and see which roles don’t require you to speak an Asian language though. Hard for me to say on this comments page because I don’t know what skills you have and what you’re good at.

      1. Thanks Nicole!

        You are right! I did realize that PBs do seek local language skills. Hence, I have been putting some serious contemplation on inclining towards a role on research. Your latter suggestion coincided with my intentions.

        If I have to pursue this role says within a year down the line, how do you suggest I should prepare myself?

        Sales have been my strength all along; however, if I have to honestly answer myself – I would want to keep my hard-core sales skills aside for some years and get into a technicality of investments.

        I’ve been digging in a lot about my end goal, and that would be somewhat like – being on the forefront of Credit analysis and deal execution, investment professional who analyses and performs deep due diligence on a pipeline of stressed and distressed instruments…. and moving on to financial restructuring and operational turnaround, etc.

        I know I am just nearly one-year-old in this industry, but I have got to find my way to where I want to reach. However, at present I need to know.

        1)what should be my next step up?
        2) what do I need to prepare myself?
        3) How long do I need for a preparation?

        I hope you are getting where I’m coming from.

        Any advice at all will be much appreciated.

        Best regards,

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Honestly, its very hard for me to say on this comments page given limited amount of information available. I’d suggest you (a) Figure out your key strengths and weaknesses (b) areas which you are interested in and think can add value (seems like you’ve done so already) (c) build a contact database and network with people in such areas

          How long do you need to prepare? It really depends on you. This is all an internal process, while reaching out to people is an external process that takes time and patience. I can’t give you a time frame. Just follow a,b and c and you should be able to gain clarity and new direction.

  77. Avatar

    Hi Nicole,

    Awesome article, very insightful

    Im considering becoming a financial planner – which is heavily sales-oriented in terms of bringing in new clients. Will this be a good transition into Private banking and subsequently investment banking? I am currently 23 years old and have been working at a brokerage house on the retail side. I’ve been told that with financial planning, its 80% sales and 20% analysis/admin, is this the same with Private Banking? Lastly, to get into Private banking do you generally need to have an established and loyal client book?

    Sorry for the lengthy post – any insights will be much appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. It’s somewhat transferable yes, but the exact percentages might be off… PB is more geared toward sales though. To get in at the entry level you don’t need a client book.

  78. Hi Nicole,

    First of all, thanks for the excellent article!

    I received a private banking offer as an analyst at a BB and I have few questions:

    1- How technical would working in the investment lab be? Would I get to research investment ideas? or maybe execute the trades? Would the job be similar to someone who’s doing, say equity research?
    2- I am generally interested in Equity Research, how easy would a transition be from private banking to equity research? or to a research role at a mutual fund (asset management)??

    Thank you Nicole!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes I think you’ll be able to conduct research on various investment ideas. Not sure if you will get to execute trades though
      2. If you are an investment professional at the PB, I believe the transition shouldn’t be too hard though you’ll have to network intensively and demonstrate valuation/modelling skills in interviews

  79. Thanks for the great insights. I have a question for Nicole as I interned in institutional sales but interviewing for pb now, no S&T opening at all now. What are the chances, and how can I get back to Sales after I’m on a pb job?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Don’t know how you pitch yourself so I can’t say. Decent chances but best if you have a network of institutional investors

  80. Great interview, thank you.

    I was wondering how much success in this line of work depends on sales and bringing in new business. I am not interested in IB due to the lifestyle constraints and PB seems like a nice gig; however, taking a job in this economy where my success (or whether I get to keep my job) largely depends on the sales I do is not really for me.

    If one can just float along and continue earning the 60-70k base + small bonus while doing the analysis and preparing the pitches its a decent job but getting fired for not generating enough sales sucks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think you’ll be expected to generate sales as an analyst/associate. If you are an investment professional, I don’t think they will evaluate your performance based on your sales. However, if you are a RM (at the senior level), you will be evaluated based on how much $ you bring in. I still think PWM is a relatively safe place to work in (vs. IB)!

  81. Avatar
    Chet Pandya


    Currently 37 years old.

    Only have an HNC Higher National Certificate. No degree or other qualifications

    1) Am i to old for working in investment banking or private banking?

    2) Do i need to go to uni and top up my qualification

    3) or can i just do some professional qualifications through the CISI and apply for junior roles?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. I hate to give definite answers but in your case, I believe so.
      2. No. Why do you want to go back to univ at 37? Can’t you start a business or do something else?
      3. Sure. You’ll have to start from the bottom though

      1. Avatar
        Chet Pandya

        I want to go back to university to top up my HNC to a degree as i did not get an opp to complete it earlier, it would be part time, and its always been a life long ambition to get an MBA either full or part time.

        I have a lot of friends who have done there DFS and CEMAP and become financial advisors or mortgage advisors BUT I want to go into investment banking or private banking if not then would it be easier to go into wealth management?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Then get an MBA part time while you work then.
          PB is wealth management unless you meant asset management. In your case, I think it can be challenging for you to break into IB/PB/AM. I’d suggest you to network intensively with bankers and see what positions come up.

          1. Avatar
            Chet Pandya

            Just finished reading Money and Power, How Goldman Sachs came to rule the world,l amazing book. I would love to work for GS…

          2. Avatar
            Chet Pandya

            What business school do you recommend in the UK. I was thinking about the London Business School. or Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Loughborough. I would love to go to Harvard

          3. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Sure LBS is a great bschool.

          4. Avatar
            Chet Pandya

            Will it help me to get into IB, PB?

          5. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes. It is a target school

  82. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the informative article- private banking has definitely piqued my interest. I was wondering if you could elaborate on the rigidity (or lack thereof) of PB recruiting in Asia. Just a quick backstory- I’m a 2011 college grad with summer internships at a HK-based hedge fund and a middle market investment bank (M&A) in the US, but no job offers as of yet. I am currently studying Mandarin intensively in China for the next year and predict a decent degree of fluency in Chinese (enough to write an ER report) by the time my program concludes. I had a couple of questions:

    1) Is PB similar to ER and IBD in that there is a highly structured process, or will it be possible for me to break in one year out of graduation? (In Asia)

    2) I’ve heard somewhere that equity sales with non-Asian institutional clients in Hong Kong is a route one can take if they don’t have the requisite “Mandarin fluency” but still want to work in the region. Is this true? And if so, are there similar routes in PB?

    3) If I start in PB in California, how “stuck” am I to the region? That is, if I’m working to develop a client base in Asia… should I not be in the United States?



    1. 1) Not as structured as ER or IBD, so one year after graduation is potentially do-able.

      2) It’s possible, yes. PB would be tougher since it’s more localized than institutional sales.

      3) Yes, better to start where your clients are. PB is more local than other industries.

  83. Dear M&I crew,

    Would appreciate your feedback. So I found the only alum working in finance in the area, contacted and met in person, and he appeared to be friendly and said it’s ok to follow up with any questions. But the meeting didn’t produce any leads (could be bad technique on my part, I’m very new to the “networking” game). I also have the feeling the person doesn’t fully understand what I’m trying to do, possibly due to his elite background (target school, “big names” work experience), he simply didn’t have to network to get started (he got in via campus recruiting). So the suggestions he gave were centered around recruiting via the standard “apply online” channel. I keep an eye on job boards regularly and I do see there’s a posting for trainee positions from the same bank, would it be appropriate to email him and ask for someone whom I could talk to regarding this “trainee” position?

    Another question on cold-emailing, is finding random people on LinkedIn a viable option? I would jot down whatever names I manage to find and try to infer their emails ( And what do you think is the most effective email subject if I have absolutely no connection with the person I’m going to email?

    Appology for the lengthy post, grateful for your inputs!! Many thanks!!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, email him. Linkedin viable though emailing is better. Subject – something warm but formal. Something that makes you stand out, but not stalkerish or desperate. Below articles shd help.

  84. Hi Nicole applying to inst sales and private banking roles this year. How does an application/resume change for a role such as these I know Brian has produced IB resume but would it be the Same layout and format, what points should be emphasized

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Similar resume layout & format. Emphasize your sales, relationship management, communication and interpersonal relationship skills. It would also be nice if you could highlight your financial experience (perhaps you had some experience in picking stocks).

      1. Sure, thanks for that. I have had informational meetings with quite a few bankers and they are all refferring me to HR, after our phone call and I have gotten I am getting Head of Graduate Recruitment warm leads, how can i play this to my advantage, this may be a question for Brian ‘the networking guru’ but I would be open for answers from anyone.

  85. Hi, what is the comp like in inst sales?

    1. Similar to IB. Most jobs in finance that are Wall Street-related offer similar pay structures.

      In sales (part of sales & trading), trading volumes are going to impact the salesperson’s comp. A bank that generates greater trading volume is going to offer higher pay, all other things the same.

      1. Would your bonus be directly related to the business you generated personally?

        1. There is typically an individual component, but there is also an overall group performance component to bonuses.

  86. Hong Kong? I wonder if its possible to network FROM M&I and ask for an internship from Nicole…

    1. On the other hand, Nicole do you find some of the more standard methods of finding a job useful in HK? For example I’m a senior in HK, and I feel like its less about networking and more about being good in the classic things and going through a real app, not to mention the fact BBs are much more inclined to hire front office from the States (eg. 290 interns at MS this summer, 280 in front office, 279 of them from States). PWM is different naturally, but what are some more HK specific ways of going at a job at front office more…indirectly?

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        No. I don’t like standard procedures if I can choose but that is just me. Find out the email address of people who have the power to hire you (assuming you want to be on their team), email them and send them your details/interest to work for them. Simple.

        1. Does cold emailing (assuming that’s what you meant) work that well in HK though? Things seem to be more structured and hierarchal than what I would expect from the States…

          1. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes. It works. I do it all the time.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ha! I can teach you how to network but you’ll have to do the work and find the internship yourself.

  87. Hi Nicole,

    Being a Hong Kong native, do you happen to know of any regular networking event among bankers in Hong Kong that is also open to the aspiring bankers out there? The question is coming from a 25yo who fooled around in school and graduated with an abominable GPA and is now heading no where fast as far as his career is concerned. Nonetheless he would like to at least make up for some lost time and start doing some networking even though he knows he’s so late in the game.

    Many thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t personally know of events that are catered to “meeting bankers” here. I think your best bet to meet bankers is to join Pure Fitness (IFC/Kinwick) and go clubbing in LKF (think Prive) haha. CLSA organizes an annual investor conference though you’d be meeting more institutional investors through that event, and that event is “invite-only” though you can always try to find someone who works at CLSA and tag along. Bankers are usually traveling/working so it is hard to get a hold of them. Also try hanging out at The Bankers Club, American Club, China Club (if you are a member), Sevva…or even try to attend upcoming IPOs’ roadshow meetings (not sure how you can get in though) if you can. Just hang out more in Central (IFC, Citibank Tower), West Kowloon (Elements)…but genuine and keep your cool!

      1. Getting into the CLSA Forum would be great. Meet lots of folks plus they always have big, big name speakers (e.g. Bill Clinton) and big name entertainment (e.g. Macy Gray). Don’t mean for this to sound like an advertisement…

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Thanks Adam! Glad to know we have a fan from CLSA!

          1. Not from CLSA myself, but several friends are…

      2. Thank you for your reply Nicole. I don’t see myself gaining access to any of the above any time soon, but definitely worth keeping an eye on. Not into clubbing but the Prive is eye-opening for sure….

        Hanging out in the gym is a good idea, but what if I can’t afford Pure Fitness, are Fitness First or California Fitness less prevalent among bankers? :P

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes. HK is small. Just network as much as you can. And I’m sure you can afford Pure Fitness; its just a matter of priority.

  88. I’m in Australia and want to work overseas for a while in IB after working here for a few years.
    Would it be easier/harder get a job in London/ New York doing m&a, ecm ER or any other groups.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I can’t answer you because I don’t know your background and interests. I’d say try applying to the jobs anyway and see where it leads you.

  89. Where is the best sky dive location you have jumped from? Also, where have you swam with sharks – South Africa, Thailand, Australia?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Best skydive locations I recommend – Cape Town, Hawaii (Oahu) & Fox Glacier in New Zealand. I did shark cage diving in Cape Town and Oahu.

      1. Shark caging!! AmAaaaazing!

  90. Great and very insightful article, congratulations to Brian and the M&I team for the new layout.. Keep ’em coming!!

  91. im a nontarget junior with who is taking a semester off. I’m currently working part-time with a charity fund where i do a bit of investment analysis.

    Just wondering if I should stick with the charity or try to shoot for another internship. Im worried that im too late to snag one for the fall now. I have banking and research experience, but i cant return to those boutiques because im stuck in my hometown, which is a city with tons of banks and hf/pe funds etc.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Great! I can’t make the decision for you. If working at the charity is what you really want and you are learning from it, I’d say continue. I also think the investment analysis you are conducting is useful when you apply for roles (research/funds) in the future. Can you also work part-time for another fund in your hometown? If you’re worried, I’d probably do that too. Also try to network within your town as much as you can and see if any interesting opportunities pop up

  92. it seems like no banks are recruiting. would be great to get an article on that. also seems like HK recruiting is getting popular because they are still hiring

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ok, I’ll speak to our M&I team re the above. Yes even banks in HK have hiring freezes. However, its not the end of the world. Sometimes random positions pop up when you least expect it…

  93. I just finished my PWM summer internship in HK at a bulge bracket and this article pinpoint most of the pros and cons I found – it was very accurate and well-organized. I think the “bank within a bank” comment serves the business well. My favorite aspect about it is still the broad exposure to different financial products. That said, even senior sales would agree that starting off in private banking isn’t the best career choice straight out of college.

    I also notice that not every bank separates the role of investment managers and relationship managers.

    Overall, well done and huge thanks, Nicole and Brian! :)


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks! Glad you like the article!

  94. Avatar
    Banker Chick

    How is the hierarchical ladder? The same than in IB?
    If I complete 2-3 yrs in IB, in what position could I get in in PB?
    Awesome post! The new writers bring freshness to the site! Well played, Bri!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, similar. You’d probably be a third year analyst/first year associate in PB

  95. Just wanted to give a shout out to a fellow Hoya, great article!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks Ryan. Happy to meet a fellow Hoya – let me know if you have any questions etc. Remember to join GUSIF. It certainly helped me land myself my first gig in finance.

  96. Dear Nicole and Brian,

    Thanks for your article.

    In HK, will recruiters think one is weird for not doing something business related for an undergrad degree? Do people in HK consider the top 2 UK unis as “like Harvard” (or HYPSMC)?

    Where does a non-business/econ degree from HYPSM/Oxbridge stand compared with “global business” or “BBA” degrees from the top 3 local unis for banking jobs?

    Is it true that there is a lot lot more competition in HK for analyst/summer intern positions (IB/PB) than London + other places?

    In what aspect would one’s story (from Brain’s IB Interview Guide template) differ for PB?

    For e.g. How should the last paragraph be changed (…an advisor or investor for XXX industry…) ? Should I still mention all the modeling.. LBO…DCA…investment club… and accounting stuff I’ve learned or done in my story/resume?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Not necessarily – depends on the recruiter. Can’t say, depends on if the “people” you are referring to are from UK or US. Strictly speaking, most recruiters prefer people w a Finance/Accounting degree. If you’re looking at quant roles, recruiters prefer peeps with Math/ Engineering degree. However, there are people who didn’t major in finance/math/acct who got into banking. The majors matter, but not as much as you may think

      2. Perhaps, since many people want to come to Asia. Can’t say if its more competitive than London/NY (now) though

      3. Mention the investment club and accounting stuff you’ve learned. Just say you really like managing people’s wealth, and you think you can add value to the division by helping HNW individuals to invest given your skills and passion in investing (pls back this up w “real life scenarios”). Also say you have great relationship building skills, and act with “class” and speak “well”

  97. Hi, how possible do you think the institutional sales – capital markets leap is? And by the way thanks for this site, it has been massively useful.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You’ve asked the right person! Ta!

      Of course its possible. ECM needs people who have an understanding of how institutional investors think, and ECM requires investors’ feedback in order to market the banks’ IPOs, FOs, etc.

      Most people I know wouldn’t want to move from sales to ECM though.

      1. On that last point, I wanted to ask why you wanted to make that transition actually. You were in syndicate though right? More sales-ish, less excel monkeying…

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I made that transition because things didn’t work out at the previous firm, and I got a better offer at another firm with an amazing boss (your boss is very important in your career, especially early on, probably more so than other factors). I also wanted to understand more about the IPO markets so that was a smooth transition for me. The desk also needed someone with a sales background. Syndicate is more sales-ish; it does involve working on excel spreadsheets and long hours though.

  98. Great article for those who wants to break into PB. I’d like to ask if this is possible for retail banking RM breaks into PB? Have you heard any successful cases?

    Look forward to hearing from you and thanks again for the sharing!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I have not heard of any cases myself. I think its possible for retail RMs to break into PB. However, I do believe PBs have more stringent requirements for their RMs since PBs’ focus is on servicing HNW /ultra-HNW clients; and such clients are usually more demanding.

      1. Sorry to ride on your pot Tom. But I too have a question similar for Nicole.

        To break into Private Banking, doesn’t one usually have to start off at retail and build a portfolio of clients? This is what I got from a PB working at a BB.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          While it might be a different case in Asia, I believe networking (if you have a rolodex of rich -HNW/ultra HNW-guys, yes you can break in from retail) and “pedigree” is crucial for one to land a job in PB.

          In my experience, I see people break in from IB because they want a better lifestyle. Strategically, it makes sense too because a lot of times the PB client is also the IB client for the bank.

          Others break in from analyst/associate programs (for junior level positions). One exceptional experience was a personal friend who broke into PB; he had financial services background, but not in a BB.

          1. Appreciate it Nicole, Great job with the article!

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Anytime. Thank you for reading the article!

  99. Avatar
    Campbell Cao

    I can’t retire in my 30’s with 10 million in the bank with this career? I guess I’ll wait for the next article.

    1. We are planning to cover how to win the lottery and/or become a drug dealer soon, so you might be in luck.

  100. Thanks for this article, it comes at a good time for me: I have just completed a 10-week Private Banking internship at a Bulge Bracket bank (I am coming from a target school but with no prior finance experience whatsoever). I thought it would be a good way to get a foot into the finance door but also to get a general feel for the whole industry. Was a really good experience and I had a great time. But as expected, I am now trying to switch to either Corporate Banking or IB. It seems to me that Private Banking is not necessarily the best place to start a career unless one is absolutely certain that he/she wants to stay in the industry. As Nicole writes, you can probably learn much more in IB or elsewhere.

    There are, however, a few more aspects on PB which I believe are worth mentioning. For example, hardly anyone gets to start as a RM, if you actually begin your career in PB, you are extremely likely to have to work on the product side for quite some time (I think our youngest RM was around 28). The interesting thing about the Private Bank is that it is like a bank in a bank. On a micro-level it combines many of the other functions which a bank does. For example, I was working on the Credit side, which is one of the key products, and was dealing with Client’s requests for loans. So my work was probably much more similar to the work of say a Corporate Banker than the work of a PB RM. Of course there are all the other product groups like capital markets, investment counseling, etc. which very much deal with the market side. If the RM is the heart of PB, probably more than 50% of the people who work in PB still work in one of the product groups and it is an entirely different experience from the work as a RM (and also in terms of pay).

    It is definitely an interesting industry and I absolutely agree with the points you list on the plus-side. On the negative side it is an extremely fragmented industry and hardly any of the players holds any significant share of the market whatsoever. What is more, the tendency seems to go towards further fragmentation as the threshold for UHNW individuals to open Family offices decreases. Now guys from >150-200MM Net Worth are starting to open up Family Offices which poses quite a challenge for traditional Private Banks.

    In Europe the industry also faces a VERY tough environment as there is only very little new wealth creation. That means that a lot of the banks are trying to cut cost aggressively which will have a sad impact on employee numbers in the foreseeable future…

    Hope that helps to give some more insight.

    Btw. thanks a lot for this website and all the advice in general. I am pretty sure that without it I would have had a significantly harder time in getting into finance in the first place!

    1. Thanks for sharing! Great information there. And yeah, Asia seems more interesting than Europe strictly from the “new wealth creation” perspective.

  101. Dear Nicole/Brian,
    I’d like to apologise for this plea for help, but I’m only doing this because I’m at a loss.

    I’m a 26 year old from Malaysia, with very little investment banking experience (about a year in total). I graduated with a Law, & Acc. & Finance degree from England. I’ve always wanted to break into Private Equity/Equity Capital Markets in Singapore, & I’ve only just received a rejection from my final choice. I’m basically out of options. My reasons for wanting to get out of Malaysia are the crappy political environment here, the increasing costs of living, & the blatant prejudice against Chinese people here.

    I’m basically in need of advice. I’ve been told that I may have to spend at least 3 years here in a local investment bank before I’m able to leave the country. I’ve also been told that I would probably shine a lot better here due to my command of the language (as well as other languages), which is a lacking characteristic in Malaysia’s workforce. My fears are as below:

    1) That I’ll have to work in Corporate Finance in order to increase my employability elsewhere. I’m trying to avoid this as I don’t have as big an interest as I do in Private Equity as I do with CF.

    2) Should I get into ECM, I may not be able to get into Private Equity. And even if I do, I’ll have to start from scratch the moment I move.

    I really don’t know what I’m asking for. All that I know is that I’m at a loss, & perhaps I’m looking for some sort of educated guidance. I know that you guys don’t usually provide guidance of this sort (from your earlier articles), but I’m really desperate. If you must know, my interests lie in Private Equity & Equity Capital Markets. Regarding ideal locations, they are Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong (in that order).

    I’d appreciate any advice/guidance that you may provide. I would completely understand if you opt not to reply. But I hope that you do. I’m really at a loss. Thanks.

    1. I would say get out of Malaysia ASAP. Is there any way you could go back to the UK to recruit there? Or even Singapore? Australia is a little questionable since I think it’s harder to get a visa there (could be wrong on that though).

      I would skip ECM since it’s less closely related to PE and instead try to do corporate finance or business development at a normal company, and then move into PE from there (which does happen, though it’s less common than other places).

      1. Thank you so much for your advice Brian.

        I’ve exhausted all my options in Singapore. I graduated in 2009, which was the worst year to graduate, as the 2008 financial crisis had caused huge unemployment. So working in the UK was out of the question, given that I’m a foreigner. And I don’t think the UK has improved much in terms of employment. I still have British friends back there who are still bouncing around the odd job looking for an opportunity to head into the financial services sector.

        Australia is a little hard to get into, not so much because of the visa, but because most companies explicitly state in their requirements that only PRs/Residents can apply.

        I’ve only tried the big firms (Morgan Stanley,JP Morgan…you get the idea) in Hong Kong (this was before I discovered your site & realised that they’d never hire me), so I’m currently frantically hunting around for smaller ones…although I heard the competition for employment in Hong Kong is harder.

        Sigh, I guess I can’t run away from Corporate Finance. I could give business development a shot. Either way, I’ll keep my options open. Thank you so much Brian. This means a lot to me.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I think at this point, you shouldn’t think too much about your “end goal” yet because what you need now is “one step above” your current experience. Look for jobs in ECM, Corp Finance and PE – Once you land a job, then you decide whether you want it or not. No point in thinking so much now. Keep your options open. Again, best way to go about it is to find out who the MDs are, email them and ask them to hire you. And..

          Corp finance – while hours are long, its good training for PE. You can also apply directly to PE houses ; they sometimes have entry level positions.

          While ECM might not be able to prep you for PE, you’d be surprised the contacts you might meet through this job, and with the right network & story, you might be able to break into PE after ECM. Better yet, you might like ECM so much that you want to stay. I’ve heard of a couple of houses in ECM hiring in the last few months because they need analysts to do the grunt work. You should look into that.

          Do bear in mind that you will need to speak Mandarin if you want these roles in HK.

          You have not exhausted all your options – keep trying.

          1. Thanks for your reply Nicole.

            I’ll be considering my options later today, as well as prepping my applications.

            Regarding speaking Mandarin, I do speak Mandarin and Cantonese at a conversational level, but I can’t read or write Chinese. Would this still be a problem?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes. Conversational is good but not ideal, they want peeps who are fluent and can read and write esp if you have to do pitch books, meet Chinese clients. They might test you in interviews. I’d suggest you to look at roles which aren’t too “china focused” so they won’t require such high level of language skills.

    2. dear lost,
      stop blaming other ppl… if other ppl can make it to IB y u cant? me, started my IB career in Msia.. now it been 15 wonderful yrs already.. ask ursef again. for me its simple.. u are the problem.

  102. What’s the comp look like moving up the ladder towards more senior positions?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on your role and how much commission you generate. Base (just base) is similar across the board (BB) – I don’t have the salary list with me – though bonuses differ.

      If you are a rainmaker (stellar relationship manager) with a rolodex of accounts – this might take over 8 years ++ to build – you’ll probably make USD 1-2 mn or more a year. And you might also be able to negotiate better perks, etc.

      1. What can the average RM make a year?
        And how much of a cut of the commission does the RM take in bonus.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          It depends on your level and your bank. I really can’t say.

          This article might be helpful even though it is a bit dated

          1. Hiya, i’ve read that one before but it was good to read it again with fresh eyes, I’m an arts major, visual effects in particular from England, I didn’t decide I wanted to do finance until end of first year, and I thought about it for a year to be sure, and going into my third year of uni. my school is not a target school for banks but my department is the best in the UK and arguably the best in Europe, having excellent relationships with Hollywood post production houses,etc (How can I show that in resume/interviews, as most bankers wont know that. Despite lack of finance experience I landed a PB internship at a boutique/mid market bank over the summer for 9 weeks, by networking like crazy like Brian says,(thank again) The company is pretty much going in the direction of that article looking to hire big rainmakers with fat books.

            I found that most of the private bankers were while males servicing other white males.

            Nicole you seem like the perfect person to ask, I am interested in institutional sales and private banking. The bank I worked in was quite slow paced. I am interested in being somewhere much more fast paced environment and a big fan of the markets, i run my own private portfolio and have been doing ok(beat the S&P 500 by 14% last quarter) I think I would enjoy it more but would be much easier to get into PB and then maybe prehaps move after?

            Another Question I have is Networking, I have been still networking like crazy but most Private Bankers dont seem to understand why Im talking to them. I basically tell them that I want to be a PB when i graduate and that I am asking them how I can stand out in the application and how to achieve that, and then call on them when I go to apply for their bank.

            Is this the right way to go about it or would I want to be more ballsy or less ballsy?

            Would I go the same way to apply for Inst Sales roles?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Nice. Yes I think you should def check out working on the S&T floor – Equities/Other products Sales/Sales Trading/Trading. If you want to break in now, why not? Yes it is easier to break into PB but then you can transfer internally. However, if you are good at investing & trading, I don’t see why its so hard to break in S&T now; you will need to demonstrate your passion and knowledge of the markets in your interviews. You can always try to network w traders, institutional salespeople across various bulge brackets and brokerage firms and try to land an interview.

            I think you’re doing the right thing. However, some people might be “scared/intimidated” by your approach. You also need to apply tact when approaching people for jobs. Yes, its quantity, but its also about the quality of your network — this I learned as I progressed in my career. If some don’t want to help you, then approach others; there will always be people you click w better. Keep on!

  103. Hi Nicole,

    Would like to know if there is significant technical knowledge required of a PWM intern? I will be attending college next year and I have managed to secure a PWM internship before college starts.

    If yes, what books/materials should I be reading? Would the Technical Guides be sufficient? Thanks in advance!

    1. Also, I am given the freedom to select my attachment – investment professional / RM. Judging from your post, I’m assuming that joining the investment team would be better in terms of learning experience, is that accurate? Thanks again.

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        If you want to learn more about investments, I believe joining the investment team would suit you better. You’ll be more involved in the clients’ portfolios and making recommendations on what to buy/sell to clients

        As an RM, you’d be more involved in maintaining the relationships your senior RM build with his/her clients

    2. Can’t answer all your questions but the required technical knowledge is not too extensive, maybe basic Excel knowledge and the normal accounting/valuation stuff. Experience investing and trading stocks yourself is a plus.

  104. Shark-Diving?? That’s sounds like some serious stuff :)

    Great article by the way.

    1. Thanks! And yeah, she is pretty serious about adventure travel.

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        I’ve been chilling out lately. :) No adventure traveling…for a while.

  105. Very insightful. Your article couldn’t be more timely. I just completed an internship with a PE firm and am thinking of breaking into Private Banking.

    I do agree that the industry tends to be more dominated by females than males and I’d assume its because most HNW individuals are males who prefer to wine and dine with the opposite sex. So how does that work out for males in the industry? Are they naturally at a disadvantage?

    Thanks again Nicole!

    1. Nicole may have her own thoughts here but I don’t think males are necessarily disadvantaged – plenty of senior people in the industry are male. As you said it’s probably not as male-dominated as other industries, but I don’t think you would necessarily be at a disadvantage.

      1. Thanks Brian. And like jojo below, I have to say, good job with the website. Your commitment is inspiring.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Haha, I think the industry tends to have more females vs IB because PB offers a better lifestyle than IB. PB is also very “relationship-driven” and requires more “soft skills”. Most girls in general might be stronger in such skills (I know I am categorizing and I might be wrong, this is just my observation). And no, I think (and this is just my opinion) males can stand out in PB because there are so many girls (vs IB) haha.

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