What is the finance industry like, and can you briefly describe the roles on offer?
Ans: The finance industry is extremely diverse in the roles it offers, the expectations (both academic and on-the-job) and includes a wide spectrum of opportunities, some of which I have tried to mention below:
- Investment Banking – An investment banking role usually deals with products from the equity capital markets, debt capital markets and mergers and acquisitions domains and an analyst’s tasks usually include identifying and analysing opportunities, making pitch books and presentations, preparing financial models, attending meetings and executing transactions through interactions with the client, regulatory bodies (eg. Stock exchanges and SEBI in India) and counsels who handle the documentation
- Markets – The role involves a quantitative aspect which encompasses analysing markets, identifying triggers and opportunities for client trades (for banks / regulated bodies) and in-house trading (by trading firms). This may also involve a sales aspect of reaching out to clients, understanding their credit, liquidity and foreign currency requirements to take or hedge positions and push products to suit their needs
- Equity Research – Equity research roles essentially cover the research analyst’s views on various listed companies. The work involves analysing the companies, preparing models and understanding the companies’ financials which form the basis of the research analyst’s views of the company and eventually lead to an investment decision (eg. buy, sell or hold)
- Consumer Banking / Commercial Banking – Though these aren’t specific roles but departments and a wide array of roles exist in them, the core responsibility of these departments shall include client management, sales, analysing client behaviour to offer products best and servicing all client requests. The role may involve building tools to automate roles and analyse client behaviours which can involve coding
- Cards – The cards business shall usually deal with analysing client spending trends and identifying key trends or key customers to push the products and services of a bank to grow business further
- Tech roles in finance – Usually, the tech roles are associated with automating and optimizing some aspects in a finance company’s day to day operations and will involve coding layered on an understanding of how the business works and finding inefficiencies
I haven’t covered business analyst roles floated by financial institutions and this may not be exhaustive because memory isn’t necessarily a strong point.
What were your reasons for choosing Finance over other sectors?
Ans: Personally, finance was a sector that appealed to me right from the start and a few institute courses and further reading definitely pushed it further up the priority. A brief internship in Deutsche Bank also helped me understand the jobs better and led to a better understanding of what the industry, its dynamics, its people and its requirements are. The possibility of creating a significant real-life impact to well-known companies through my analysis, actions and decisions is what currently drive me on. Further, a project span varying from a few months to a year or two where a company can get listed or merge with another company and completely transform itself creates an inexplicable excitement in me which serves as major motivation
What is the lifestyle like?
Ans: The lifestyle varies significantly from one department to the other. Specifically, for investment banking, it is assumed that the individual is signing up for as many hours as the project or the work demands as soon as the offer letter is accepted with a smile. The work hours are on the higher side majorly because of a thin and privileged workforce and all non-work duties are more or less pushed to the weekend (sadly :().
Does the work get monotonous after a point of time?
Ans: Due to the wide array of projects and companies, the thin workforce and an inclusive environment where you can ask for diversity in the work you do, the work doesn’t get monotonous at all. Every company and product comes with its complexity, regulations, process timelines and huge industry and sector knowledge making it interesting.
What about promotions? How fast or slow is the process?
Ans: Most investment banks or boutique investment banking firms that offer an undergraduate role have a structured process wherein ‘promotions’ or appraisals within the bracket of an ‘analyst’ happen yearly but a jump to the next tier (eg. associate) shall take roughly 3-4 years.
What are some exit options?
Ans: Considering a very thin workforce in most investment banks, the supply of ‘investment bankers’ remains a constraint making exits a decent opportunity. Exit options include other investment banks, private equity firms, venture capital firms, sovereign wealth funds and on a few occasions joining the finance team of a client you’ve worked with.
Is switching profiles feasible (i.e from Finance to FMCGs/Consult/Analytics, higher studies etc), and after how long do people leave their jobs? For what reasons?
Ans: Since undergraduate profiles are given to people assuming it is their first job, a complete switch is a definite possibility especially if there is a strong story behind the individual’s switch. A natural switch may happen somewhere between 1.5 – 2 years considering that most programmes are structured 2 year contracts with a performance-based conversion. Reasons for switching may include moving to the investing space (as mentioned earlier), moving to a competitor with a better work-life balance and a higher pay (seldom since every firm offers a considerable paycheck).
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