Advice on a Career in Financial Markets

Article excerpt

Senior investment bankers, recruiters and other players in the financial services industry give career tips for students:I recommend financial services as a career, even though the effort you put in is higher than many other jobs, as the rewards are disproportionately even higher. However, it is hard to work here if you don't love what you do - it's impossible just to 'go through the motions', you must be passionate. It is a high energy, exciting environment where people who thrive on pressure do well.

Katalin Tischhauser, head of international convertibles research, Goldman Sachs

Read the Financial Times and the Economist to learn about the industry and where you could fit in. Then, try to get a summer position - it will give you a good idea about whether you want such a career.

Derek Walker, head, recruitment Europe, Merrill Lynch

There is an increasingly broad range of graduate opportunities on offer. In order to fully understand which training programme to apply for, graduates should research as much as they possibly can. Look at firms' graduate websites, learn about the markets through the financial press, and speak to as many people as you can about their own careers and experiences.

Internships are a fantastic way of getting an insight into life in an investment bank.

Most firms run a summer intern programme which gives penultimate-year students the chance to participate, rather than observe. Interns work alongside bankers, mostly on projects, and gain first-hand knowledge of the people and environment.

Tracey Bloomfield, graduate marketing co-ordinator, Europe, JP Morgan

Think of areas you would work if banking fails. Realise that your life is on hold for the first three years as you will work incredibly hard and may not find time for friends and family - this may seem harsh but there are now many fewer jobs and competition is fierce.

Every graduate does not need to be a mathematical guru - but a mathematician with a personality will win against a history or arts graduate with no concept of financial modelling.

Whereas the bonuses and pay structures are still well above those in other industries, there is pressure on these high packages to be kept down, so the real money will be in hedge funds and asset gathering, maybe not in investment banking roles.

These jobs are just as challenging and are riding a bubble at present - it will undoubtedly burst but how severe the damage will be is an interesting question.

Apply to all banks, not just the major players, as it is possible to learn more with a smaller bank.

Duncan MacKay, head, equity markets, at financial recruiter Marshall Warburton

The main thing is to start early, really early. It used to be possible to delay thinking about jobs until the last year of a university course, but not any more. If you want to work in investment banking, you need to begin thinking about it the first year of a university course. Thoroughly research the industry and explore your options.

Think about what is important to you, what your skills are, and how you will bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be when you leave. Work experience is important, so apply for banking internships. Consider participating in investment clubs and societies. It is all about having the right mindset from the earliest time possible.

Lesley Wilkinson, European head, resourcing, Citigroup

Where do you want to be in 10 years' time? There are many different areas in financial services - advisory, trading, analysis, etc. - and there is little transfer between them. So, select an area that plays to your strengths in the long-term, not what appears to be a fashionable, well-paid option now.

My advice to women going into financial services is to think carefully about how they can have a career and family down the line, and I don't mean just by choosing organisations with good maternity leave, rather choosing a sector likely to accommodate flexible hours while building a career and maintaining earning capacity. …