I have been coaching a few smart but docile nerds who have been eager to apply for finance roles but get cold feet at the jobs.bigbank.taleo.net page because they feel that they are not as competent as the other candidates.
On one hand, some of them have no business being investment bankers. On the other hand, a lot of investment bankers have no business being investment bankers. So I figured that if a few more unqualified candidates were going to get excellent entry-level jobs, they may as well be my friends.
As encouragement, I would like to share this anecdote.
Every time I attend one of those investment banking conferences for students, we see a few junior bankers conduct a panel interview where aspiring bankers/students ask questions and pump their tires.
Eventually, a 21-year old summer analyst with a flashy suit will give a deadpan monologue.
“Well for my spot at BAML in Hong Kong, there were 5,000 applicants and they hired two people.”
Just like Ivy League schools, American Idol and any other competitive admissions process, sometimes acceptance rates will be paraded as an affirmation that only the best of the best land spots. A 0.04% acceptance rate is as competitive as it gets.
Unfortunately, this sort of statement is not helpful and serves no purpose other than self-promotion. Worse, it discourages perfectly qualified candidates from applying for jobs that are not out of reach.
Not to take away from the integrity of the process – recruitment is mostly meritocratic – but if we strip down such statements, we will find that:
- In reality, there were only 2,000 applicants
- Of these 2,000, 1,500 were blatantly unqualified (irrelevant degree at community college, 2.0 GPA, no finance experience)
- Of these 500, 250 resumes did not get past the brand name school screen (which is quite loose) or had typographical errors and were subsequently cut by a computer
- Of these 250, 125 were cut by a computer for not having work experience
- Of these 125, 75 were cut by HR for not having well-worded work experience or on a whim (some randomness in this process)
- Of these 75, analysts and associates landed a stack of resumes and picked 25 to interview based on mood and what fraternity they were part of
- Of the 25, 15 of the candidates did not pass the technical interview (fairly accurate percentage from personal experience)
- Of the 10, 7 of them failed the behavioral/fit questions
- The top candidate took an offer at Rothschild instead
- Dad is an investment banking client
So, if we look at it another way, he only had to beat out one other person for the job.
There are a lot of investment banking jobs out there and the competition is not actually that stiff. The smartest people in finance work at Jane Street, not Macquarie. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So go apply!