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Ask me about finance

A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea
Hi guys,

I remember being on this forum a few year ago. At that time, I had absolutely no idea what a career in finance meant and what different career options within finance entailed. Looking back, I wish I had someone to show me the ropes. Now that I'm on the other side of the fence (sort of), I want to help you understand a bit more about the career field so you can be more prepared than I was.

A little bit about myself: I am a third year business student at a top 2 business school in Canada (Ivey, Queen's). I have recently gone through finance recruiting, interviewed with 60%+ of the large banks you are probably familiar with, and will be starting my summer internship in a few months. I don't pretend to understand everything, but I can say that I'm more intimate with the career path than most of you.

So please, ask me anything about career fit, school choices, career opportunities, recruitment procedures, etc.

I can also help answer any questions you may have about the different finance roles, including investment banking, sales & trading, equity research, corporate finance, buy-side and so on.

Unfortunately, I will not disclose any more information about myself (including which firm I'll be working with, etc) as the field is quite small and I don't want to be held liable for what I'm saying on this forum.

Ask away!
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A photo of JSH10 JSH10
How was the competition?
Were there a lot of positions available (S&T, IB, ER, etc)?
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@JSH10 wrote
How was the competition?
Were there a lot of positions available (S&T, IB, ER, etc)?



For IB summer, The five large Canadian banks hire about 6-12 people each, depending on need and candidate quality. Bulge bracket international banks hire around 1-4 (with 2 being the standard) for their Canadian offices. S&T opportunities are similar in numbers--some banks are looking to expand their S&T and will hire a few more, and some will hire a few less. Some BBs don't have trading operations in Canada so naturally they won't hire any. ER positions are much more prevalent in Canadian banks than in BB Canadian offices.
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A photo of asian123 asian123
how is mcgill as a university and how is their program for finance?

it doesnt seem to be well regarded by some people, but i know i cant trust your opinion on it.

thank u very much
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@asian123 wrote
how is mcgill as a university and how is their program for finance?

it doesnt seem to be well regarded by some people, but i know i cant trust your opinion on it.

thank u very much



Hah, if you can't trust my opinion, then why ask? In all honesty, McGill is great school. Though I have not personally met any McGill students in my final round interviews, I do know that many of the recruiters that come to my school also target McGill (As part of the 3-4 schools they target).

I have a few friends in McGill business. It does seem to me that their business program puts comparatively less emphasis on finance. Then again, most of the interview stuff can be self-taught anyway.
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A photo of immaculatedx immaculatedx
What's your opinions on the Waterloo Math Double Degree with Laurier BBA program?
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A photo of asian123 asian123

@Lifeonthesea wrote

@asian123 wrote
how is mcgill as a university and how is their program for finance?

it doesnt seem to be well regarded by some people, but i know i cant trust your opinion on it.

thank u very much



Hah, if you can't trust my opinion, then why ask? In all honesty, McGill is great school. Though I have not personally met any McGill students in my final round interviews, I do know that many of the recruiters that come to my school also target McGill (As part of the 3-4 schools they target).

I have a few friends in McGill business. It does seem to me that their business program puts comparatively less emphasis on finance. Then again, most of the interview stuff can be self-taught anyway.




crap, im sorry, i meant to say "but i know i CAN trust your opinion on it".

i meant to say that because you seem to know what ur talking about and are a lot more reliable than random students from highschool

sorry if ive insulted you, and thanks for the help.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@immaculatedx wrote
What's your opinions on the Waterloo Math Double Degree with Laurier BBA program?



I've heard their courses are quite theoretical and kids out of there do know what they're talking about. Laurier has quite a presence with Canadian banks in that there's co-op relationship (at least on the corporate and investment banking side). On the BB side, Laurier is significantly weaker. One thing to keep in mind is alumni network. Alumni network is extremely important: Alumni can guide you through prep, open doors to interviews and even swing offer decisions in your favor. The number of alumni in a financial institution also determines whether the FI comes for on-campus recruiting. Waterloo kids may be smart, but the program is quite new. Without ample alumni network, it's comparatively harder for Waterloo-ers to get first rounds.

The fit of the program also depends on what kind of finance you want to get into. Essentially, there are two overarching finance streams: Corporate finance and asset management. Corporate finance is more accounting based and requires more market knowledge; asset management is more math based and require more statistics knowledge.

Corporate finance roles include- Investment banking, Corporate banking, Private equity, Hedge fund, etc
Asset management roles include- Asset/risk management, Quant, passive investment, portfolio management, etc

I personally believe the math part of the program prepares the double degrees kids well for asset management roles.
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A photo of lemony lemony
Is there anything that you wish you had done while you were applying or while you were in First Year that you did not do, or that you did do and felt was important (and not entirely obvious)? Sorry that it is an open-ended question. I am interested in hearing advice but I'm not exactly sure what advice I'm looking for, haha.
Also, congratulations on your success thus far in the business field and in university.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@lemony wrote
Is there anything that you wish you had done while you were applying or while you were in First Year that you did not do, or that you did do and felt was important (and not entirely obvious)? Sorry that it is an open-ended question. I am interested in hearing advice but I'm not exactly sure what advice I'm looking for, haha.
Also, congratulations on your success thus far in the business field and in university.



Thanks. I'm not quite sure what you're asking for either. I think if there's one thing I would have done better, it would be reaching out to more industry professionals. Developing the network is important because it's a two-way street-- you get to see what they do and they get to know who you are. Also make sure you keep your marks up. It's easy to be "overwhelmed" by university and lose sight of things. Each school has a different grading system so I can't say what mark you need to hit, but being top 10%-15% of class sounds about right.

Don't worry about internships for your first year summer. I did something completely irrelevant to business and it was great. Think about it: summer after first year (or even after second year) is essentially the last summer you will have as a kid before you start office jobs. Use this time to do something you like, get a girlfriend (or boyfriend) and enjoy life. You'll have the rest of your life for office buildings. Employers don't expect you to work sophisticated jobs at this point anyway.

I hope that helps. If you have a more specific question, i'd be happy to answer it.
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A photo of becca88 becca88
have you ever thought about doing your program online? do you know anyone else who has ever done a BA of business admin online? i'm accepted into DeVry Calgary for BA of business admin and it sounds very promising
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
I say apply for as much scholarships/bursaries as possible and try to take as least amount of student loans as possible.
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A photo of immaculatedx immaculatedx

@Lifeonthesea wrote

@immaculatedx wrote
What's your opinions on the Waterloo Math Double Degree with Laurier BBA program?



I've heard their courses are quite theoretical and kids out of there do know what they're talking about. Laurier has quite a presence with Canadian banks in that there's co-op relationship (at least on the corporate and investment banking side). On the BB side, Laurier is significantly weaker. One thing to keep in mind is alumni network. Alumni network is extremely important: Alumni can guide you through prep, open doors to interviews and even swing offer decisions in your favor. The number of alumni in a financial institution also determines whether the FI comes for on-campus recruiting. Waterloo kids may be smart, but the program is quite new. Without ample alumni network, it's comparatively harder for Waterloo-ers to get first rounds.

The fit of the program also depends on what kind of finance you want to get into. Essentially, there are two overarching finance streams: Corporate finance and asset management. Corporate finance is more accounting based and requires more market knowledge; asset management is more math based and require more statistics knowledge.

Corporate finance roles include- Investment banking, Corporate banking, Private equity, Hedge fund, etc
Asset management roles include- Asset/risk management, Quant, passive investment, portfolio management, etc

I personally believe the math part of the program prepares the double degrees kids well for asset management roles.




Thanks for the response - I think that reinforced a lot of my thoughts. I'm most likely going to the "second side" of finance - the asset management side or w/e you want to call it. I was actually more interested in the other side but I really like Math and feel my talents are more suited for that side and that overall the program gives me more options.
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A photo of FunnyBone FunnyBone
In your opinion, would Ivey/Queen's prepare you better for a career in finance ( both corporate and asset management) or the Waterloo/Laurier DD program?
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A photo of prefontaine prefontaine
What factors (school name, GPA, extracurriculars, ect) allow someone to get an interview with a major bank? Are there any things on your resume (in general, of course) that helped you get selected? Also, do you think the Laurier BBA program would provide similiar opportunities in corporate finance when compared to Queens/Ivey? (my main reason for asking this is the major difference in tuition prices)

Thanks, it is very much appreciated.
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A photo of LampShade LampShade
Hey! We have all the high school students here super keen on I-Banking. Personally, I was quite interested also. However, after doing some networking with many industry professionals and doing some of my own research, it seems like I-Banking isn't as great as many people may have thought. What is your opinion about it?

Thanks!
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@becca88 wrote
have you ever thought about doing your program online? do you know anyone else who has ever done a BA of business admin online? i'm accepted into DeVry Calgary for BA of business admin and it sounds very promising



I personally would not consider a program online because the campus experience at university is what makes the 4 years great. If possible, I would recommend a brick & mortar school.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@FunnyBone wrote
In your opinion, would Ivey/Queen's prepare you better for a career in finance ( both corporate and asset management) or the Waterloo/Laurier DD program?




I think that's a very tough question to answer, partially because the program courses themselves are not the sole determinants of "preparation". The strength of Ivey lies within its case-based approach. This approach helps to develop a way of multi-dimensional thinking that's very useful in the long run. The strength of Queen's lies within its extra-curricular activities. Queen's Commerce has the most number of competitions & conferences out of any undergrad. Many QC kids have great experiences in EC to draw upon in behavioral interviews and future careers.

At the end of the day, theoretical knowledge only goes so far and CAPM will be CAPM no matter where you take corporate finance. The intangibles are what make I/Qs kids stand out. So if you want to compare W/L with I/Q, compare the learning/social environments.

I know this doesn't answer your question specifically--if you can narrow down the career field, I might be able to provide a more concise comparison.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@prefontaine wrote
What factors (school name, GPA, extracurriculars, ect) allow someone to get an interview with a major bank? Are there any things on your resume (in general, of course) that helped you get selected? Also, do you think the Laurier BBA program would provide similiar opportunities in corporate finance when compared to Queens/Ivey? (my main reason for asking this is the major difference in tuition prices)

Thanks, it is very much appreciated.



In response to your question, I will only talk about how to get an interview (and not about how to interview).

1) School. Being in a target school/program increases your chances significantly because firms interview on campus. If you go to a non-target school, you will have to build bridges with firms beforehand to secure interviews.

2) Grades. While good grades will not guarantee interviews, bad grades will certainly ruin your chances. As I said, aim for top 10%-15%. Marks below top 25% will raise red flags. If your marks are below average (target or non-target), your chances of interview are next to none.

3) Passion for the industry. You need to show somewhere on the resume that you are passionate about the career. Some example experiences can include: investment club membership/leadership, prior related work experience, Canadian Securities Courses, etc.

4) ECs that show teamwork/leadership (important for ibanking / buy side). While volunteering at the food shelter is fantastic, the experience may not win interviews. Recruiters are looking for team players who can take initiative. Great experiences include being the president/executive of a well-known student organization, being part of a varsity sports team, etc

5) Show tangible results on resume. Putting "Greatly improved efficiency by analyzing project redundancies" adds no value to your resume and smells terrible. If you raised substantial amount of money for a charity, put the dollar and cents amount on your resume. Financiers are very quantitative and want to see tangible results.

6) Network. This is where your bridge-building efforts pay off. If you established a contact within the firm and the contact puts in a good word for you, you will almost certainly get a first round.

If you do all these things, I guarantee you will receive all the interviews you will need.

There are two Laurier related questions already, so please check out my answers above.

Cheers.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@LampShade wrote
Hey! We have all the high school students here super keen on I-Banking. Personally, I was quite interested also. However, after doing some networking with many industry professionals and doing some of my own research, it seems like I-Banking isn't as great as many people may have thought. What is your opinion about it?

Thanks!



Sure, definitely. My opinion is that the career is only for those with STRONG interests in finance and capital markets. If you're in it for the wrong reasons (money, prestige), you will get burned out fast.

Banking hours are long; at the same time, 9-5 is boring. If I had to work a 9-5, it would probably be the death of me. In all honesty, I would much rather take on IB hrs than 40 hr weeks. But that's just me, and there are a plenty of career choices with hrs/week between 40 and 90 (consulting, for example, is around 60). IB requires great sacrifice of work life balance. To decide on IB, you will have to reconcile with your work lifestyle for at least the first few years after university.

At the same time, the work is exciting and you will learn a ton. Since IB demonstrates an individual's ability to work hard, to learn fast and to think smart, IB is also considered a great springboard for bigger and better things.

With all that said, I look very favorably on IB. But this does not necessarily mean that I chose to work in IB.
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A photo of crazlunatic crazlunatic
How did you know you have a "strong" interest in finance? A lot of people don't even know the basics of it in the first place, so how can they know they enjoy something they don't know much about?
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A photo of Haru Haru
What are your thoughts on Waterloo's Math/Chartered Accountancy and Math/Financial Analysis and Risk Management programs?
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@immaculatedx wrote
Thanks for the response - I think that reinforced a lot of my thoughts. I'm most likely going to the "second side" of finance - the asset management side or w/e you want to call it. I was actually more interested in the other side but I really like Math and feel my talents are more suited for that side and that overall the program gives me more options.




No problem. Glad to be of help.
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A photo of Lifeonthesea Lifeonthesea

@crazlunatic wrote
How did you know you have a "strong" interest in finance? A lot of people don't even know the basics of it in the first place, so how can they know they enjoy something they don't know much about?



I didn't--until I learned finance. As you said, one can't have an interest in something that one knows nothing about. I personally don't think the many high school kids who say they love finance know what they're talking about. It's perfectly okay to not know what aspect of business interests you before university--that's what business school is for.

A simple way to test whether you're interested in the markets is to ask yourself "do I really enjoy reading the WSJ, financial times, and economist on a regular basis; do I get a kick out of staying in tune with the markets?" If the honest answer is yes, then you're off to a good start.
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