by Brian DeChesare Comments (115)

From Sales & Trading to Investment Banking: How to Hop Over the Fence

Sales & Trading to Investment BankingOne disadvantage of sales & trading vs. investment banking is that exit opportunities are not quite as broad.

It’s difficult, for example, to move into PE or corporate development coming from trading.

But getting into investment banking may be a different story, as you’ll see in this interview with a reader who did just that.

Keep reading and find out how he leveraged his sales & trading internship into a full-time offer in investment banking.


Q: Can you tell us about your background and how you got interested in finance?

A: Sure. I’m from the Middle East originally, but I went to Canada for university and attended a well-known business program there.

I started off with an asset management internship but didn’t like the slow pace and reactive nature of the work – though it did give me a good feel for the capital markets.

I started researching the sell-side and speaking with upperclassmen who had done investment banking, and then applied to over 30 banks via my school’s career website.

That led to a grand total of 0 interviews – mostly because I didn’t have investment banking internship experience and because my GPA, around a 3.5, was lower than many of my peers with 3.8+ GPAs.

Q: So you applied to dozens of banks and came up empty-handed – what was your next move? Had you done any networking so you could have a Plan B?

A: Nope. I had done little networking and summer offers were already being handed out – I realized my error too late, so I finally started networking after summer recruiting had finished up.

I went after boutiques and any firms that had not posted jobs on my school’s website – I also focused on VPs and MDs since I had limited time and needed to find something ASAP.

That actually worked out well and I got a much better response rate from senior bankers – I made around 40 calls, set up 10 informational interviews, and made a weekend trip to meet with everyone.

That led to one interview in mid-April, but I screwed up the technical questions completely and had nothing lined up with less than 2 months before the summer began.

Q: So I’m guessing something miraculously worked out at the last-minute?

A: Pretty much. I applied to over 100 banks from January through April, and finally got a lead from an MD in Dubai who asked if I wanted to interview with them, after I had submitted my resume to the default HR person there.

I had also written a short note asking about summer positions and saying I was interested in investment banking – they didn’t have anything in banking, but they did have a few S&T interns and had an open position there, so I decided to go for it.

I prepared for the technical questions, crafted a new story about why I wanted to do S&T, and then interviewed and made it through final rounds.

Off to Dubai

Q: So you were still interested in investment banking, but you now had a sales & trading internship lined up – what was your strategy going in?

A: I knew that the specific desk I worked on would play a big role in terms of spinning the experience for banking.

I could choose between an FX trading desk and a sales desk – and I figured there would be more of a skill set overlap on the sales desk because you do financial statement analysis, meet with clients, and pitch them on specific products.

I did a few rotations and worked in trading at one point as well, but I kept asking to be put in sales.

Q: Was there anything specific to Dubai that you had to consider?

A: Overall it’s a more laid-back culture than what you see in North America, and interns are not given quite as many coffee-fetching / grunt work tasks. That actually made it a lot easier to tell a good story for full-time recruiting because I had more “real” work to point to.

I think your article on investment banking in Dubai was accurate in terms of other features of finance there.

Q: Right, I guess it’s harder to tell a good story when you spend a lot of time each day getting food for traders. Anything else you did during the internship to maximize your chances?

A: At the end of my internship I met with investment bankers at my firm and learned more about what they did on a day-to-day basis – that helped a lot because now I could >point to something specific that “sparked” my interest in banking.

I also made sure I could talk about specific clients I worked with and how it was similar to the advisory work that bankers do – and that I could explain why I fit in with banking culture more than S&T culture, after considering the sales & trading vs investment banking decision.

Recruiting: Spin Time

Q: Ok, so you have this internship under your belt and you have some solid stories to point to when networking. What did you emphasize on your resume when it came time for full-time recruiting?

A: I didn’t have too difficult a time with my resume because my experience made me easy to remember – not many people had worked in sales & trading in Dubai.

In terms of my summer experience, I highlighted structured products that I helped pitch to clients and all the financial statement analysis I did.

Rather than acting like it was all about short-term trading, I positioned each client or potential client as a “mini-pitch” and wrote about everything as if we were advising them on long-term decisions instead.

For example, let’s say that I was pitching an institutional investor on investing in a certain company.

A typical salesperson might describe this by writing, “Pitched 50,000 share purchase to Institution; firm later decided to execute trade, earning over $xx in commissions for bank.”

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t sound like an investment banker’s experience.

I would spin it around and write something like, “Analyzed financial statements for company and concluded they were undervalued by xx%, using that as key data point in pitch to Institution; firm later adopted suggestion and invested $xx of portfolio, which earned bank $xx in commissions.”

Q: Nice. And I guess you could apply that strategy even if you’re on the trading side, as long as you do any financial statement analysis or valuation.

What about networking? I’m assuming you did more of it earlier on this time around?

A: Going into full-time recruiting, I wanted to try larger firms first – but after the first week and 5-10 job postings, I still had no interviews lined up.

Even with a brand-name bank on my resume, recruiters were still not paying attention because I didn’t have that all-important banking internship – so I pounded the pavement once again and did some in-person networking with alumni and contacts from information sessions from the year before, most of whom were at larger firms.

Right before I left Dubai to return to Canada I sent an update email to all my contacts, which made it easier to set up these meetings.

Q: So were you still focusing on larger firms at this point? Or did you go for a more specific set of banks?

A: I focused on 5 banks – a mix of Canadian and international firms – and met with bankers at each of them in-person.

At this point I also rehearsed my story about why I was moving from S&T to banking dozens of times and made sure that I had an answer to every possible question about my background.

I got interviews at 3 out of the 5 banks I focused on – technically those were through my school’s recruiting system, but I never would have made it had I not networked with bankers outside the official process.

Q: And what about the interviews themselves? Given that you had the S&T internship, did bankers focus on anything different when speaking with you?

A: Since I had worked at a well-known bank – even though it was a different division – they asked a lot of technical questions. Nothing too difficult, but more than someone who hadn’t had an internship would get.

They also asked the usual questions about the stress and whether or not I could handle investment banking hours, but those were all quite easy to answer since I had met so many bankers and prepared so much by that point.

Having “interesting” interests also helped a lot – I was into martial arts and always talked about it in interviews, which set me apart from everyone else.

Amazingly, a lot of interviewees just say something like “hanging out with friends” when asked about their interests.

In Another Life…

Q: You were fortunate to do a lot of financial statement analysis and work with long-term clients on the sales desk at your bank.

But what would you say to someone who doesn’t have that option? What are the best S&T groups to work in if you want to move into banking?

A: You usually have 3 choices if you’re an intern: sales, trading, or structuring. Of those, sales makes for the easiest transition into banking – but if you can’t get into sales, try to put yourself in a position where you’re working with Equity Capital Markets or anyone on the ECM team.

Another idea is to request a 1-2 week rotation in sales, even if you spend most of your internship doing something different. 1-2 weeks is still enough to network and get some experience to write about – it’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing at all.

Yet another option: let’s say you’re on the commodities desk or in commodities sales. You could leverage that type of experience to move into a metals & mining industry group in investment banking since you already have the fundamental industry understanding.

You have to look for opportunities like that where there’s overlap with industry groups in investment banking, or where there’s a skill set such as valuation or financial statement analysis that you can use in other groups.

Q: Were any investment banking groups more receptive to you moving over from sales & trading?

A: Honestly, bankers always favor people with previous banking experienceS&T internships are valued, but not as much as banking internships.

To find receptive groups, you need industry overlap – like the example I gave above with commodities to metals & mining.

You might also work in a corporate coverage or institutional sales desk and then leverage that to move to a Financial Institutions group.

You need to find a group that’s complementary to whatever you did on the S&T side – it’s harder to move in coming from pure trading because there are fewer of those complementary pairs.

Q: Right, that makes sense – those tips should be helpful for anyone looking to switch.

What are you planning to do in the future? Don’t worry; this is not a real interview so you can tell me the truth.

A: I actually enjoy valuation quite a bit so I’m planning to stay in investment banking and M&A for a few years – the only reason I’d switch to something else is to get better hours, but I haven’t experienced the worst of that yet so it’s not on my mind.

I’ll be doing something in finance in the long-term, though I’m not sure exactly what or where quite yet.

Q: Great, thanks for your time. Your story should give hope to anyone else out there who wants to make the sales & trading to investment banking move.

A: No problem – hope you enjoyed it!

M&I - Brian

About the Author

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

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  1. Hi,

    I am currently in commodities sales. How do you think I should pitch myself to move to an ib group within the bank? (Preferably coverage). I understand the commodities sales —> mining group logic mentioned in the article. Does the industry overlap also apply for the industrials group?
    Also should I mention the idea to HR first or my manager?

    Thank you!

    1. It applies somewhat to industrials, but not as readily as it does to mining or oil & gas. Pitch yourself as someone who knows the companies and has client relationships in the space and also knows what companies are looking for in deals and financing solutions, and prove that you can learn the required accounting/finance on the side.

      Don’t even bother with HR; just go directly to bankers and use internal networking. I wouldn’t ask your manager unless they’re supportive of internal transfers.

  2. I have a BB S&T SA offer and a Big 4 M&A offer but my goal is now BB M&A. Any advice on which one to take?

    I could 1) hopefully convert the S&T offer and then try to move internally within the BB or 2) apply again for SA roles next recruiting season and with the added experience in S&T or M&A at the big 4

    1. I would say #1 is better because you’ll at least be at a large bank, though it depends a bit on your previous internship experience as well (Big 4 M&A matters less if you’ve had previous boutique IB/PE internships).

  3. Hi Brian

    What do you think about switching from IBD to S&T? Is it at all possible?

    I’m from Europe. I wanted to do M&As (for the last 2 years and thus prepared myself for it during that time) but I recently started considering the trading job (due to my growing interest in the markets). It’s too late for me to switch right now because the summer internship application process starts in 2 months. So I’m rather willing to finish what I started, i.e. going through IBD summer internship and then eventually apply for trading full-time.

    The problem is that I haven’t studied any engineering, science programs. Although I’m good with math (GMAT 710, GRE Quant section 167). I hold the Bachelor in Finance (with major in Corp Finance), and in Sept I’m about to start Master in Finance in top Europe biz school. Whole my story relates to IBD/PE – internships, work, studies, university societies, extra-curricular activities and projects. I have no relevant experience in trading apart from interest in the markets and investing my own money on stock exchange…

    What is your opinion? What are my options?..

    Thank you very much for response.

    Best regards

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d go through the internship first and then apply for trading full-time. On your dilemma:

      1) I’d spin your pitch so it relates to trading. Talk about how IBD made you realise that you want to be closer to the markets. You enjoy the quantitative side and would like to be a trader given XYZ reason

      2) I’d join an investment club if you can. I’d also start investing in a mock portfolio so you can demonstrate your interest in the markets

      3) In terms of your background, your IBD experience will help, probably more so than the programs you mentioned. They can test your quant skills during the interview with quant questions that you’ll need to think on the spot.

      The articles in this link below may also help you:

  4. Hi Brian,

    Is there an article that highlights the reverse (moving from IBD to S&T)? I am currently in an equity capital markets role in NY but would like to transition to an S&T role in HK (sales/trading/structuring/research etc…), especially something that is more macro and/or fixed income related.

    I understand that while ECM is more “markets-related” than traditional IBD, it does not seem to foot with the skill set the trading floor is asking for. That being said, what would your advice be on how I should approach making this transition?



    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      We don’t have an article on moving from IBD to S&T though this is a good idea. Yes moving to IBD to ST is not too challenging in my opinion, especially since ECM is very market-oriented. I’d network a ton with people in HK, make trips down there, and try to transition internally.

  5. Avatar
    King Kong

    Hi Nicole,

    I am still stuck on my story of wanting to move from ST to Banking.

    So I did an Equity ST summer of junior year and joined a FICC Program after college. At the moment, there are so many regulations going on so I think I will not be pursuing S&T in the future and switch to banking and ER instead.

    Could I say something about for instance getting exposure to some of the IPOs during my ST internship as well rotating on some banking groups raise my interests on working on deals and transactions versus the public markets?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I think you should add exposure to IPOs and your love of deals (vs. regulatory environment, which isn’t too strong of an argument). Talk about how you prefer to work with corporates, how deals excite you, how you love valuing companies and working with longer term projects over short term projects and investing in the markets. We have a ST to IB template in our Interview Guide, and I’d suggest you to refer to that template.

  6. Hi,

    Great article on transition from s&t into banking! I am a junior in college and I recently bumped into the same question when I was seeking for summer IBD internship. I did a trading internship in a regional bank with great reputation through my family connection. I thought I wanted to be a trader and it turned out I couldn’t be more wrong. Tbh I rly didn’t do much during my internship apart from all the food-run or coffee-run(which I am pretty good at now haha). I was in the derivatives trading desk(swap, fx,…) and it doesn’t really need financial statement analysis. My daily job would be summarizing the news overnight, booking the trades, working on some admin stuff and writing some product-specific info sheet to the sales people. I’m concerned about making my internship look more “banking” related on my resume or during my interviews. (The interviewee in this article focused on the sales side so the skill sets are more applicable for ibd whereas my trading internship has basically 0 connection with it.) Pls help me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Try to talk about any type of analyses, pitch books, presentations etc you’ve been involved in. List and quantify your impact – perhaps you won praise from seniors etc.

  7. Hi,

    I’m a first year analyst a Transaction Banking group of a global bank. (Think JPM T&SS, Citi CTS, DB Transaction Banking etc.)

    The work is fine but I would like to make the move to IBD. I realize this would be impossible to discuss with HR and could potentially result in me losing my job as I’m only a first year. So internal movement would be impossible.

    Should I apply to IBD/advisory groups for analyst positions at other banks as first year through online applications (I’m 23 and a recent grad)?

    Or, should I apply for an MFin program and apply for SA positions beforehand.

    Finally, will my banks HR find out if I’m applying/interviewing for another bank?

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can try online applications though your chances are higher if you start networking and send your resume to people directly.

      Yes you can apply for a MSc program as a backup plan

      I think chances are slim though I wouldn’t rule out this possibility. And even if they do, it is not a big deal because many do so

      1. Thats great! Thanks Nicole.

        I’m just worried that any applications I make will backfire with HR or my line manager being notified. I understand that finance is a small world, especially NY/Lon. I don’t think I’d have the balls to start networking with IBD associates etc in my bank in case word got back to my desk, so I think I’ll take your advice and try reaching out to a few people at different banks…discreetly.

        Thanks again,


        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, you can always do so subtly.

  8. Hi Nicole,

    When do you think is the best period to apply for summer internship? Like Sep/Oct/Nov? Or now? I saw some firms are now open for application, but not yet have IBD opening. Do you think it will be posted later or it implies it does not need IBD interns?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Summer intern applications don’t start this soon. Usually around Dec/Jan. Yes it will be posted later.

  9. Hi,

    I am interning S&T under an investment bank. My main task is VBA streamlining, analyzing news and stocks, and pitching any new opportunities to traders.

    So how to position myself when applying for an IB position? Coz I think I am more on research/trading side. And I think I become more technical now…while for IB, it seems like they care about your understanding of IPO rules/takeover codes…which I know but can’t show it on CV without working experience.

    Another thing is, I do have lots of opportunities to meet people, but a lot of people I know are traders/sales/research people, not really IB people coz we have the Chinese wall. So how can I break in?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Bankers would want to know if you can analyze financial statements or not. In trading you do less financial statement analysis, valuation, and transaction modeling work, so you’ll need to show that you’ve picked up these skills. Understanding of IPO rules/takeover codes are good, but not as important as fundamental understanding of valuation. They’ll also be curious if you handle the lifestyle because S&T’s lifestyle is different from IB’s. To better position yourself, you’ll need to 1) show why you’re interested in IB vs S&T i.e. you want to work w/ management team vs working on public markets 2) demonstrate your valuation skills 3) demonstrate your ability to handle the lifestyle. You’ll probably have to attend company events/outings to meet bankers. Or you can try to see if any of your friends within the firm can introduce you to people in banking. For more info on your pitch from S&T to IB, you may want to check out

      1. Thanks Nicole,

        Actually, before I land on this role, I had a consulting job, working on an M&A project. But it is just valuation and some template work. The deal was not closed yet when I leave. Then I went to work in funds in a large bank before I went to S&T. Do you think the background of working in buy and sell side is worthy of a spinning?

        For your 3 points, I generally agree. But how do I demonstrate my ability to handle the long hours lifestyle of IB on CV?

        And my situation is far more difficult. I am not from target school and my GPA is below the benchmark. I will also miss the seminars in my home town as I will study abroad for one semester. How can break into IB then?

        Thank you.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes I think you can still mention your consulting work. Your sell side experience is worthy of spinning. If you’ve multi-tasked in school/at work, perhaps you can focus on this point on your resume i.e. did XYZ project while being full-time student at school etc. You’ll have to demonstrate this in interviews. I’d rely heavily on networking over the summer, and try your best to contact HR of IBs so you’re abreast of applications etc. You may also want to consider applying for roles abroad if you’ll be abroad as a second option

          1. Regarding your last point, do you have articles related to successful applicants that can get a job overseas (e.g. at US?). It is a very competitive market with many target school local students and I am from non-target school and a foreigner to them.


  10. Great article as always!
    Thanks for all that useful information.

    I have some questions on moving from IBD to S&T.
    Is it possible?
    Does it happen a lot?
    Would someone have to start training from scratch?
    And finally which IBD department would offer the best skills?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, it is possible.

      It doesn’t happen a lot because the skill-sets are different

      No but you’ll have to follow the markets

      Depends on your group and your abilities – can’t say

    2. Just to add to that, you’re probably best off working in capital markets (ECM or DCM) if you want to move from IBD to S&T. It is definitely rare but it does happen if you move early on.

      1. If someone decides to move after 1 year of being in IBD ( mainly for lifestyle reasons) to Trading will he be a second year analyst trader? Is the probability of getting accepted for a trader role big if you have a BB M&A experience?

        Also what if you really want to make the move after a couple of months?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes – most likely.

          Depends on a lot of factors i.e. how you perform on the interview and whether you can think on your feet or not

          Network a lot and demonstrate your passion in the markets. Learn to trade! Skill sets in IBD & trading are different; people the two divisions attract are also different

  11. Avatar

    Big fan of the website so thanks for all the useful info! Have some questions though… 

    1) I noticed you had BIWS which covered Excel modelling etc but for students wanting to get into Investment Banking. Do you think it’s useful for students trying to break into Sales & Trading (ESP Trading)? Also do you have something more Trading specific that students can buy/use? 

    2) Do you have a sample S&T CV template? Like you do for IBD? Are there particular sports etc Traders tend to like/types they favour? (other then people with a quantitative background).

    3) If you have several boutique IBD experiences and have decided to move out of IBD is it worth leaving it out and focusing on ECs and company type examples to spin your way into S&T. Or keep the experience and explain the swap over if interviewed? 

    Also there’s comments above about exit opps being less in S&T. I have found that if you have a BB on your CV and a good skillset you can do well if you put your mind to it. Agreed S&T may provide fewer exit opportunities through work but you can develop your skillset through other activities in your spare time? The way I see it is if you work 20 hours a day in IBD you gain 10 skills say. With trading you work maybe 12 hours a day, gain 5 skills. You can then open a charity, business etc on the side and gain another 3/4 skills. You also have to consider that you should do what you are good at rather then then think about leaving even before you have started! (a mistake I made partly because I took everything people said 100% seriously). People from S&T end up on the Apprentice and have yet to see someone from IBD end up there. I know some who are opening businesses – its really an individual thing IMO. I really regret not looking into S&T before and just going by the whole exit opp thing…. :s

    1. 1) See my response above.

      2) We are posting an example S&T resume soon. The format is the same but the emphasis is slightly different. You have to write more about the markets, investing, math, and so on.

      3) I would keep one of the experiences but don’t leave everything on there – you still need to focus on what is most S&T-related.

      1. Avatar

        Excellent news – looking forward to the S&T resume! :D

        Whats EC’s (apart from drinking lol) are useful to show you can do S&T? esp trading. Some must stand out more then ‘others’?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Being good at poker? Quite a few traders I know are good poker players because they both require similar skills.
          Adventure sports, esp for trading. Both require knowing how to navigate the balance of risk and return.

  12. Avatar

    I noticed you had BIWS which covered Excel modelling etc but for students wanting to get into Investment Banking. Do you think it’s useful for students trying to break into Sales & Trading (ESP Trading)? Also do you have something more Trading specific that students can buy/use? Thanks in advance!

    Also there’s comments above about exit opps being less in S&T. I have found that if you have a BB on your CV and a good skillset you can do well if you put your mind to it. Agreed S&T may provide fewer exit opportunities through work but you can develop your skillset through other activities in your spare time? The way I see it is if you work 20 hours a day in IBD you gain 10 skills say. With trading you work maybe 12 hours a day, gain 5 skills. You can then open a charity, business etc on the side and gain another 3/4 skills. You also have to consider that you should do what you are good at rather then then think about leaving even before you have started! (a mistake I made partly because I took everything people said 100% seriously). People from S&T end up on the Apprentice and have yet to see someone from IBD end up there. I know some who are opening businesses – its really an individual thing IMO.

    1. I would not recommend it for trading except for maybe the Excel part. It’s harder to train a specific skill set for trading because it’s more day-to-day tasks and rushing around to complete trades as opposed to extended projects like in banking/PE so we don’t offer anything at the moment.

      In practice, it’s difficult to do a lot of activities “on the side” in S&T. I’ve had trader roommates before and the last thing they ever wanted to do at the end of a 12-hour day is do more work… you’re exhausted and just want to pass out. Maybe the weekends are available but you still have less free time than you think. But yes people do exit into different fields, the range of opportunities is still smaller than in IB though.

      1. Avatar

        Interesting. Im sure the 12 hour day is exhausting but I meant that if you really wanted to you could do other things with your life because you would have the time too vs IBD where you won’t get time to. Depends on the person I guess.

        Was talking to a recruiter the other day and they said its good I’m choosing to move from IBD –> S&T because of my ethnic background and maths focus/strengths recruiters in IBD would pass me over straight away. Does this really happen? Mathematicians are traditionally seen as ‘traders’ vs people suitable for IBD? Why?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes because IBD guys are more “qualitative” in some ways. Being a good trader requires strong quant skills. Being a good banker requires an understanding of how companies work, how to build and maintain relationships with corporate clients & selling…

  13. I love your site and the articles, especially the interviews. Very informative!

    My question is: will it be way more difficult to switch if the bank where you did S&T wasn’t a BB? For instance, is it feasible to go from BNP/HSBC Sales internship to IBD at a BB or is that rare?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Rare but not impossible

  14. How often do people make the reverse of this jump (IB to S&T)?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not often; sometimes

  15. Why is it that a lot of time I hear traders and the word banker being interchanged? Do people consider traders bankers too?

    1. Yes the average person doesn’t know WTF the difference is and thinks everything in finance is the same.

  16. Avatar

    Great Site! I just bought the Networking Ninja Toolkit and highly recommend it. Looks like you guys got yourself a repeat customer on the way!

    Question: I want to get into trading. I currently live in Houston, one of the energy capitals of the world, so energy and commodities trading is huge over here. A recruiter once told me 4 out of 5 jobs in Houston are somehow related to Oil & Gas.

    Would working in a support role or maybe even working my way to a trading position with an energy company like Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, etc. be a strength when trying to transition to a bank? How do traders/hiring managers at banks like JPMorgan, GS, UBS, etc. view commodities traders and analysts come from true energy/mining companies?

    And how is the pay for traders/trade support analysts at energy companies compared to bulge brackets?

    1. Thanks, glad you have found it helpful. I think banks or at least traders at banks would view commodities trading at energy companies in a positive light, but I’ve heard the pay is significantly worse than what you earn at large banks. But you could probably use it to break into trading at a bank if you can accept the lower pay.

      1. Avatar

        Update: I have been heavily researching the energy trading industry and have made some interesting discoveries. First of all, the energy/commodities trading industry has an even larger presence in Houston than I imagined, not only with small trading shops but so many internationally reputable firms whose only N. American presence is in Houston.

        Also, it seems as if you were right about the favorable view of traders that banks may hold. Many of the job postings actually require “previous experience at an investment bank,” and while researching the career paths that others took on LinkedIn, I saw how many people move back and forth between oil & gas conglomerates, investment banks, and various consultancies (not just in trading either, but even as analysts/associates in M&A, etc.) I guess that means the pay can’t be too far off!

  17. Hi Brian,

    I am a former private banker. I left the industry in 2009 since PB did not offer any meaningful challenges. The only challenge was the insane amount of money I was expected to reaise every year. I have been in consulting for the past two years. I would like to re-enter finance. I am interested in investment banking. Please let me know which IB areas offer jobs for good sales people. Many thanks.

    1. You might be better off on the S&T side if you have that kind of sales experience. For banking you would probably have a better shot in capital markets-related groups.

  18. I accepted an SA offer in S&T at a BB because I found it very important to demonstrate loyalty to the firm as a whole versus going somewhere else to do IBD. I could see myself doing S&T, but I’m pretty sure I want to do IBD. Did I hurt my chances at my particular bank and will this hurt me if I decide to interview at other banks?

    1. Not really, just follow what the interviewee did here

  19. How hard or what steps would someone take if they are a registered fiancial advisor associate with Smith Barney and are looking to move into IB as an analyst?

    1. Network and cold-call like crazy and focus on small boutiques, leveraging your contacts and clients at Smith Barney to reach out and find bankers

  20. How about hoping from IB to S&T after 1 year of IB? How difficult is it? What skills are transferrable?

    1. You could do that, but it’s probably harder than S&T to IB; in M&A there wouldn’t be many transferable skills, it’s easier if you’re in a group like ECM or DCM.

  21. Avatar
    Product Chick

    Another suggestion in terms of selling S&T to bankers is to look for a firm like mine where ECM/DCM/LevFin etc are a separate recruiting process from the coverage people. This is a much easier sell, as I just said after my FI S&T internship that I loved markets but was looking for something more project oriented and issuer focused. They tend to value (esp DCM) the markets analysis perspective you gain in S&T, and I would say of my entering class the internship backgrounds were about 50% banking, 35% S&T 10% other. In addition, if you want to do M&A or something similarly competitive to get into during the full time sell process, it can almost be easier coming from ECM after a year or two than going through the coverage rush process. The product groups are very close to the coverage groups and from lots of them it is very easy to move to coverage.

    Just another thought…and M&I I love your site and have been reading it since I was interviewing

    1. Good tips, thanks for sharing.

  22. Hi Brian,
    I have a quick question for you. I am doing a masters program (business masters but not an MBA) at a target school and they insist of putting a profile statement on a resume. This is a 1-2 liner that describes your strengths and the kind of positions you are looking for. I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on it.

    Thanks again.


    1. I don’t have examples/templates because IB resumes do not have Objectives – just think about what you tell new people about yourself when you meet them and use that

      1. Is it ok though? Would it make me come across as someone who thinks a bit too much of himself if I put something like “Driven/Motivated candidate” etc.

        1. Honestly they probably won’t even read it, but I think that language is expected so not an issue

  23. go to ucsd (quarter system) and is looking for part time job starting sep till dec or possibly longer. since its only 3 months and temp job, i believe i won’t do anything meaningful or that adds tons of value.

    should i go for no name pe firm analyst intern, or places like merrill, ubs, waddell for financial advisor intern?

    i assume for larger places, it will be like fetching coffee, get phone call, but still big names are hard to turn down.

    what do you suggest? (i have like 3 solid prior finance exp from no name shops)

    1. If you already have solid experience elsewhere go for the name this time

  24. I was offered a job at Morgan Stanley. Is it standard the background check takes a month. The interviewer offered the job, but told me the background check takes a month. Does this sound bizzare? It’s a non ibanking job too. It’s actually in Wealth Management, a registered associate. Any thoughts?

    1. It can take a few weeks, so not that odd

  25. Hey Brian,

    I sent you an email asking you which job offers are better and the reasons as to why I should take one of them.. I was wondering if you had the chance, to get back to me as soon as possible.

    Thanks a lot for your help Brian.


    1. Unfortunately I cannot reply to emails quickly due to volume (200+ per day) – I check comments and Twitter every 1-2 days because I can give quick responses. I do respond to everything but email I usually set aside a full day and respond to every 7 days.

      1. In that case, can you just quickly share your thoughts as to which internship offer I should take that will increase my chances to go into IB by spinning them more effectively?

        1) Branch Analyst at a BB in the wealth management division (reporting to the Branch Analyst)
        – driving branch fee-based revenue by implementing a financial planning system for the financial advisors
        – drive dramatic and sustained growth for fee-based business in the branch through business intelligence
        – provide expertise on money managers within fee-based platform to create client appropriate proposals on conference calls to deliver a tailored suite of solutions
        – Provide product and manager updates with respect to product capabilities, etc.

        2) Market Analyst (report to VP) at Aerospace company that involves
        – collects and analyze data to evaluate existing and potential product and service markets
        – manage collection, processing, analysis of data for special research of project’s objective, scope, data model, analytical models
        – statistics and analyzing of the competition landscape
        – read and analyze business development targets, facilities and enterprises with respect to the performance

        which one will be better and how come?

        thanks a bunch

        1. I responded to your email but I would go with the bank due to the name / possibility of moving elsewhere

  26. Avatar

    Hi Brain,
    Many thanks for your blog.It’s first and best of its kind in internet.Could you help me as how to answer these questions? or at least how to build a story to answer these.Thanks

    1) Describe a time when you had to be more flexible than usual because of a change that was going on around you.
    2) Provide an example when you approached your work with a mindset of having limited resources or time.
    3)Describe a situation when you faced a difficult problem and how you were able to solve it.

    1. I can answer quick questions via comments but unfortunately I cannot help with homework / craft interview answers for you because I shut down the consulting services – if you look in the IB interview guide there is guidance on those questions.

  27. Avatar
    Joe Student

    While networking, I’ve heard some bankers tell me that it might be smarter to start in equity research as you will learn more at the entry and then move into IB.

    Also have been advised to get into IB as an associate after getting an MBA. This way you would avoid the long hours associated with being an IB analyst.

    I was wondering if you had any opinions or thoughts on this and if you think it’s accurate.

    1. I also had a question in regards to this.

      I understand that most associates get to apply for that position by having a MBA from a strong program. I was wondering if it is possible to be promoted to the associate after working 2-3 years as an analyst and if its common. It seems like a waste of alot of money and two years to get an MBA if your intending on staying in investment banking and you get a job as an analyst.

      1. Yes you can get promoted after 3 years of being an analyst. It’s not “common” but if you really want to do it and the economy is decent it’s not super-difficult either. An MBA has limited value if you want to stay in banking – only real use is for networking / taking a break from work.

    2. I don’t really think that’s true as equity research can be even harder to get into than IB and doesn’t have as broad exit opportunities.

  28. This might be a stupid question, but how much earlier than summer recruiting is full-time recruiting? Summer interviews are in Jan/Feb; for full time is that more like Nov/Dec?

    1. Summer = Dec-Jan into Feb. and full-time = Aug-Sep. into Oct. (at most places, there are always exceptions depending on school scheduling etc.)

  29. Avatar

    In some of your previous posts you mentioned that students at non-target universities should go to on-campus information sessions and recruiting events at target universities – I attempted to do this and discovered you almost always need a student ID to get in. Is there some other way you were referring to that I could approach this or circumvent the need for a student ID? Thanks.

    1. You could just say you lost your ID or forgot to bring it, sometimes they won’t bother to check. Some information sessions and career fairs are held outside where it’s harder to check as well – if a place is really strict about IDs then no, you can’t do much to get around it.

  30. Avatar


    have been frequenting ur site…

    a really comprehensive website that provides useful info.!


    just got 2 questions for u:

    1. Nowadays, for most BB, apart from the traditional IBD, M&A, Capital Market, they have Global Markets team which consists of S&T, Structuring and Equity Research. I am quite interested in structuring and equity research. Could u provide more info on these 2 positions in the future? e.g. work hour, what they do, pay, how to make my resume to enter…

    2. Is it easy to transfer from IBD, M&A, Capital Market to structuring/equity research? right now, i am having an intern in a FIG coverage team, but i found out i love the structuring/equity research team more, so how can i spin my experience so that i could get interview?

    many thanks!

    1. Avatar

      P.S. the structuring team i refer to the one under global market team but NOT restructuring or sth else

    2. 1. They are both on the list but so far no one has volunteered to be interviewed.

      2. I don’t think it’s that hard to transfer, just talk about how you like following individual companies and seeing what they’ll do, how you want to be more creative, and so on.

  31. Avatar
    Spencer Maxwell

    Hi there, quick question

    I am interning somewhere and I need to find data on some specific pe fund portfolios. Could you please direct me to where I can find data on PE fund portfolio companies?

    I am aware of Edgar but are there any other helpful sources that you don’t have to pay for? Or maybe there is something where you pay per fund? What do the big firms use?


    1. Really all you can do is use Capital IQ or Factset to find that type of information – no free sources have that as it’s very difficult and time-consuming to find.

  32. In trading is there a handful of guys making all of the cash while everyone else starves, or is it more of a normal distribution?

    1. Depends where you are… most hedge funds, just like all other funds, fail to outperform the market but they still pay out big bonuses because they have a lot of capital under management. At banks there can be a big difference between bonuses but more so if you’ve been there awhile vs. at the entry-level.

  33. Another great story about breaking in,

    I have a question about an unconventional story that could possibly be used. Say for example in college you played online poker as a professional. Do you think it would be wise to mention, alot of the things required to be successful seem to translate into IB, but its something with bad connotations.

    Playing online poker means having 10-20 tables up at once(600-1200 hands/hr) making split second decisions for decent sums of money, along with keeping a tracker and analyzing weaknesses/patterns later on. And the majority of the hours logged are between 8pm-3am.

    Could this be potential to single yourself out in your interview or resume, or is it not worth the risk of being labeled a “gambler”

    1. I guess this is common for applying in trading.

    2. Mention it in a sales & trading / prop trading / HF interview but not for IBD as bankers look down on it. Traders actually like that kind of thing though.

      1. Ahh, thank you. I’ve been on this site for quite a while but this is my first post. I just wanted to say great site and very informative, if I’m able to break in I definitely will reccomend it to any prospective banker.

        1. Thanks – good luck!

  34. Another great interview.

    Would you say it is easier to land an internship for spring and summer because there may not be as much competition during the spring?

    1. Maybe, but in Europe spring internships are quite common so that might not be true there.

  35. Brian,

    Do you have any ideas on how to spin ECM internship experience when applying full-time for M&A analyst stints. I haven’t done much financial modelling and the skill set is pretty much as described in the ECM article on M&I….but surely it must count for something, given that it is technically investment banking? Thanks :)

    1. You can talk about the analysis you did to value companies going public / potentially going public and what you assisted with when conducting due diligence on companies in ECM.

  36. Avatar
    Summer Banker

    Here is a reverse question: What about going from IBD to S&T?

    Does that ever happen? Does it make sense? Should I just stay in IBD if i wanted to do hedge funds? Better hours…similar pay…i cant see why more people dont compete for S&T…

    1. Good question. I am also interested in this case!

    2. That can happen as well and it might actually be easier. It makes sense if you want better hours and similar pay and have no interest in PE / corporate development and so on. If you’re only interested in hedge funds then there’s really no reason to do IBD, though it might be tougher to get into long-term fundamentals-based HFs if you’re not coming from IBD.

  37. Great article!

    I’m currently in the last week of my boutique banking internship in New York, and I have my exit interview on the last day. Do you know what I might be able to expect from it? Is there anything I should prepare to do to increase my chances at a return offer? Anything else worth sharing about exit interviews?

    Thanks again for the great read here.

    1. I guess you should try to network with some VC/MD so he is going to bat for you!

  38. Another great article. Thanks. I was wondering why you say there are no great exit oppertunities in sales and trading. Wouldn’t running a hedge fund be a great exit op. yes it is risky but if you hit it right its a gold mine. Are there any other exit oppertunities?

    1. I just said the exit opportunities are not as broad. You can go to hedge funds, but it’s harder going to corporate development, PE, and so on. Basically with trading you either keep trading in some capacity or you move into a different industry.

  39. Great post. Quick question about internships. Are most internships paid or unpaid ? I just finished an unpaid internship at a local branch and I’m not sure I can afford to do that every year.

    1. Most internships are paid.

  40. Ah btw. (couldn’t edit)
    What does $20MM stand for? is MM million?


    1. Yes, at least in Bloombgerg conventions.

  41. Great interview. Esp. the meaning of the group you join!

    Brian, why wouldn’t you create a list with every article name? It would be very easy to find articles that fit to one’s current situation. Further, this would reduce repeated questions/linking to older articles. I would appreciate it!


    1. There are actually multiple lists of articles – that’s what the “Recruiting” “On the Job” and other categories at the top of the page are for.

      1. ouch I never clicked them, sry!

  42. Wow, this is really great: I was reading trough your getting in BiWS guide and I was going to write you a mail about my specific situation, which is almost the same as the guy you are interviewing.

    edit: I just realized that this is long and perhaps more appropriate as an email, but I’ll leave it here. may be useful to someone.

    I’d like to shoot you a couple of additional questions though. I am interning in the fixed income sales team at a regional european branch office, and as soon as my internship ends I’ll be moving to London for a semester, where I’ll give a shot at FT recruiting for IBD.

    Now, unfortunately I don’t have experience with financial statements analysis, but I hope to compensate by spinning something about a report I had to prepare for one of our clients’ CFO (biggest insurance in europe), some presentation pitches and my pet project (an excel-bloomberg based monitor of an aspect of the markets).

    So to me the real question is: what’s the timing? When are banks recruiting for their FT positions, and is there an advantage to apply as early as possible? I would like some additional time to network in London, as I have a good alumni base. Do you have any other hints/suggestions for my particular case which are not covered in your guide?

    1. If you’re going through official channels there is no advantage to applying early because CVs and applications all get read at the same time. Networking early definitely helps. Your plan sounds good so I don’t have much to add.

  43. great interview… though it might seem off the discussion here… but could you please share your views on how to move from a boutique IB to the next level (BB and later PE)… any ideas on improving the chances.. also how should one go about networking in such cases…

    1. See the articles on lateral hiring under “Recruiting” at the top of the page or do a search for “lateral hiring”

  44. Great article Brian. Could you by any chance disclose what school the interviewee came from?

    1. Glad you liked it. I can’t give information on the school or anything more than what’s here – everything has to be anonymous or no one would contribute (finance is a small world).

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