From the monthly archives:

September 2010

Banks in Asia have rebounded faster than in other global markets and are now searching for investment banking talent at all levels, reports Forbes. Much of this demand is being driven by large increases in investment banking business.

Investment banking fees in Asia (ex-Japan) are nearly three times higher in 2010 than the year before, $3.1 billion versus $1.1 billion. And this figure surpasses the previous high water mark of $2.8 billion in the first half of 2007.

Some of the skills sets in highest demand include Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) experience, particularly since Asian deal-making is close to pre-crisis record levels. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse are all reportedly building their M&A teams in Hong Kong.

Demand is high for Equity Capital Market analysts due to an increasing number of Asian IPOs. Other areas in high demand include Private Banking, to deal with increasing Asian family wealth. Firms such as HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Citi and Morgan Stanley have announced plans to grow their private banking headcounts in Singapore. As well as Risk and Compliance Control and Finance Technology. Firms are coping with shortages by either transferring personnel from Europe and North America or stepping up hiring at the mid- to senior levels.

What’s your take? If you’re a North American native, would you work in Asia for a few years for the international experience and credentials? Add your comments below.

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You know that networking is essential for uncovering investment banking job opportunities and getting your foot in the door for an interview. But let’s face it: not everyone is naturally gregarious or extroverted. Some of us may find networking uncomfortable and a bit of a challenge.

Take heart, says certified professional career coach Natascha Saunders, in an article she wrote for Color Magazine USA. Even the most introverted candidate can network successfully. She goes on to bust some common myths about networking that could be holding people back.

Myth #1, you’ve got to know people in high places in order to network successfully. Not so, in fact setting up informational interviews with mid-range workers and even those lower down on the food chain can help you uncover insights about the company you’re targeting and who to speak to next. You can also use these interviews to perfect your 60-second elevator pitch for the more crucial interviews later on.

Myth No. 2: you’ve got to be a natural to network. Not so, says Saunders, who worked with a “timid” candidate who still managed to land an investment banking job at UBS in New York. Together, they worked on her image, her elevator pitch, and her reasons for wanting to network for more information. With practice, your pitch comes more naturally and you gain confidence. Saunders also recommends two books on networking: Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffrey Gitomer and The Networking Survival Guide by Diane Darling.

Finally, don’t think that you need to know a lot of people to network well. Start small, with your friends, parents, parents’ friends, relatives, etc., and go from there. Put the whole “Six Degrees of Separation” principle to work in your favor. Someone will know someone who can open doors for you.

What’s your opinion? What networking technique or trick works especially well for you? Add your comments below.

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As the fall job-hunting season kicks into high gear, you may want to be prepared for some of the more out-in-left-field type of questions. Interviewers often lob unusual questions just to rattle you, and to see how well you think on your feet.

Let’s assume that you are already well prepared for the softball questions such as, why do you want to work in investment banking? Why this firm? Why did you leave your last firm? Why so soon?

But answering the trickier ones is often not so much about answering quickly, as it is about offering a creative response that causes even the most jaded interviewer to sit up and think, “Hmmm… this guy has something worth listening to.” An article in the Globe and Mail had some suggestions, based on feedback from several top career coaches. Here are a few:

Where do you want to be five years from now? Okay, this one you should expect. But how you answer it matters. Don’t go into exact titles or salary levels, the experts say, because it shows you might leave the firm if you aren’t promoted quickly enough. Instead, say something like, “I hope to still be working for this company, with newly acquired skills and responsibilities.”

What skill do you think needs improvement? Nobody likes to admit their weaknesses. But you can be prepared for this question by picking something minor that you are already working to improve, such as your ability to speak a foreign language.

What was the last book you read? If you’re not proud of your reading list, you can dodge this one by saying you are an avid reader not only of books but of articles related to your industry. But you had better be prepared to discuss one or two interesting articles.

What person, real or fictional, would you like to trade places with for a week? This one’s a real trap, according to the article, because the interviewer may hate the person you choose. They suggest something along the lines of, “I haven’t thought about being someone else, but there is one person I deeply respect, and that’s my Dad.” They’ll have to respect you for this answer.

The article also has suggestions for ways to communicate your “brand,” demonstrate your passion for the industry, and be unexpected, but in a good way.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in an investment banking job interview? Add your comments below.

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Sell Night Toned Down for Investment Banking Job Seekers

September 6, 2010

Just two short years ago, top college graduates looking to land an investment banking job at one of the big firms might have expected a lavish night out at one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, tickets to Yankees games or limousine service to the VIP lounges at NYC clubs. Not anymore, reports Businessweek. Today’s grads will […]

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