What I learned after 15+ Interviews in Finance?

After 1 year working as an Income Associate in the Finance department of the University of Edinburgh, I knew that this career path is not something that is going to be for me in the long run. I knew that I want to be part of a dynamic company that is dealing with daily challenges in a constantly changing working environment. I wanted to work in an industry where every day is different and constant learning is required to catch up with the exponential growth of the market.

During the last few months at work, I had started to get more and more interested in asset management and trading as this is one of the industries that match my criteria and career aspirations. Slowly I started to learn and work towards a Master of Science in Financial Engineering, practising paper trading and even losing my first real money account live trading. A decision has been made that I want to become a trader and go work in Asset Management in London. Although before this I wanted to take a sabbatical. A time-off to follow my passion for travel and discovering other cultures. A time-off to really reflect and make a 100% decision.

After travelling through Latin America for more than 6 months going from Mexico to Argentina over land and sea, my decision to embark on a career in Asset Management had only been solidified and I was determined to get that job and break into the industry. I was super motivated and naive at the same time. I was full of energy after accomplishing my travels and I was thinking that it is going to be that easy to break into an industry in one of the most competitive cities in the world. Fast-forward 6 months later, my motivation and naivety are both gone as I realize how hard and competitive actually is to break into Asset Management. Many of the notions and Ideas about how things really work in the real world had been changed. In the end, I figured out that you need to have at least one, if not a couple f the following to even get a shot at an interview:

  • Ivy League Degree and Excellent Grades
  • A fancy internship or previous experience in Asset Management
  • Connections, connections, connections. A person to give you a hand and pull you up.
  • A proven trading track record with positive returns of 6-12 months verified by a reputable broker. A clear strategy, logs, notes and historical data to back you up and your skills.

I realized that I didn’t have any of these things and just a 2:1 degree in Finance and some experience is definitely not going to be enough to cut it. I had no edge.

Here is a list of banks, robo-advisors, brokers, fintech companies, among others looked at and applied to for various positions:

Companies lists

Brokers Prop Shops Robo-Advisors Quant Trading
Investec Savi Trading Moneyfarm Jane Street
Killik Samuel and Co Nutmeg Blue Print Capital
Reyker Maven Scalable capital Maven
London Capital Group Winchmore True potential investor Quant Lab
City Index Rosiem Capitall LLP Wealth horizon  Two Sigma
CMC Markets Principle Trading LLP Wealth wizards  Virtu
Interactive Brokers ADG Wealthify  Jump
3D Markets CTC  Hudson River
XTB UK Bluefin  Teza
IG Forex Goldenberg Hehmeyer  GSA
FXCM Ronin Capital LLC  DRW
PhillipCapital UK Liquid Capital  Tower Research
Core Spread DRW
Plus500
ETX Capital
DF Markets
Spread Co
Formax
Oanda
Finspreads
FxPro
GKFX
Forex.com
eToro

Other more traditional organisations such as major international banks, Fintech startups and Hedge Funds. My major focus was Fintech Start-ups with which I had the most interviews without a proper match.

Banks Fintech Startups Hedge Funds
JP Morgan Algomi Brevan Howard
Santander Currency Cloud Man Investments
BlackRock DueDil BlackRock
Citi Iwoca BlueCrest Capital Management
Schroders Lendinvest Lansdowne Partners
Morgan Stanley Seedrs Winton Capital Management
State Street eToro GAM
HSBC GoCardless Transtrend
Barclays Capital MarketInvoice Sloane Robinson
Credit Agricole Ratesetter Gartmore Investment Management
Simitomo Mitsui Group Crowdcube Citadel
ICBC Zopa Och-Ziff
BPCE WorldRemit Spinnaker Capital
Societe Generale Blockchain COMAC Capital
Goldman Sachs Transferwise Jabre Capital Partners
Bank of America Funding Circle Capula Global
Metro Bank Atom Bank Cheyne Capital
ING Monzo Marshall Wace
Deutsche Bank Revolut CQS Management
Credit Swiss Receipt Bank Aspect Capital
Wells Fargo Securities Azimo Cevian Capital
RBC Capital Markets ClearBank Arrowgrass
UBS Tide Prosperity Capital Management
Jefferies Group SETL Pharo Management
BNP Paribas dopay Henderson Global Investors
Mizuho Trussle James Caird Asset Management
Lazard Chip BlueBay Asset Management
Nomura Curve Millenium Global Investments
Evercore Partners Bud Thames River Capital
BMO Capital Markets Cleo TT International
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Datasine IKOS
Lloyds 10xBanking Odey Asset Management
Aberdeen Asset Management PostQuantum Toscafund
Thomson Reuters fundingtree Ecofin
Bloomberg Starling Bank Armajaro
Alliance Bernstein Darwinex Tyrus Capital
Aon Hewitt Kantox GLC
Aviva Investors Onfido Boussard & Gavaudan
AXA Investment Managers Freeagent Altis Partners
Baillie Gifford Neyber Caxton Associates
Baring Asset Management Checkout Two Sigma
Coutts & Co Tandem Chenavari
Bank of New York Mellon Pitchbook
Brevan Howard Credit Kudos
Fidelity Clear Score
Henderson Money Farm
Hermes Risk
Investec Stripe
M & G SlimPay
Man Group
Mercer
Northern Trust
Quilter Cheviot
RBS
Standard Life
Threadneedle
Towers Watson

Something I have learned during my search is to have all the companies organised in an Excel sheet. This helped me a lot to keep a track of where and when did I apply for positions. A simple excel file with tabs for the different sub-industries of Finance and columns such as Name, Website, Positions, Date Applied on, Username and Password, etc.

Interview and Preparation

Interviews can be a daunting process and it is vital that you are prepared for all aspects of the role and the company so you can perform to the best of your abilities. Once you get invited for an interview this means that the employer already likes you and that you have the necessary skills to get the job.

  • Some example interview questions:
    • Why do you want to work for this company?
    • What is your biggest weakness?
    • Why do you think are you going to be successful at this job?
    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    • What is your most significant achievement
  • I found the 5-step interview preparation really useful:
    1. Find out about 5 major things about the company and use this to build your case on why you want to work for this company.
    2. 5 major points about the position you are applying for and all the duties related to it. See how it stacks up with your previous knowledge and experience
    3. 5 Skills exactly related to the position and matching the job description. I would usually take the skills mentioned in the job description and build my pitch around them
    4. 2 Weaknesses that you have as no one is perfect. Demonstrating how you are working towards eliminating these weaknesses.
    5. 2 achievements from your work history which are relevant to the job and can demonstrate that you are a good match.
  • 5 Questions to ask at the interview. Always have something prepared for the interviewer to show your enthusiasm for the job. For example:
    • Why has the position become available?
    • What internal/external training will be provided?
    • What are some of the challenges of this position?
    • What is the working culture of the company like?
    • What do Employees do in their spare time?
    • Why did you join this company?
  • Don’t be late – allow for delays and time to relax. Consider traffic, unexpected situations and anything else. In a city like London, anything and everything can happen so you have to be prepared. It is better to be 45 minutes early and wait outside in the rain than possibly lose an opportunity of a lifetime. Remember that there are another 15-20 people waiting to grab that position.
  • You have to know your CV and Skills inside out. On the day of the interview, you shouldn’t’ have anything in front of you on the interview table. An interview is an opportunity to sell yourself and your skills and show how prepared you are. You should have an elevator pitch for selling yourself matching the particular position for the particular company.
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression!
  • Competition breads quality. The quantity of applicants and their high level of preparation put the bar pretty high not leaving much space for any mistakes or hiccups.

 

A great website where you can prepare your CV for a professional design is Novo Resume – here.

pexels-photo-247753.jpeg

Lessons Learned:

  • Victory loves preparation. You have to be 110% prepared within the smallest detail.
  • London is one of the most competitive Labour markets in the world and Finance is at the pinnacle of it.
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression. You have to be impeccable.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic. Even if you have to fake it!
  • You are going to fail, most likely a lot. Don’t get emotionally attached to any outcome of an interview. If you get rejected remember that it is not personal even if you never hear back from them. Dust yourself off and move on!
  • Nobody cares who you are or where you come from. The only thing you have to show for is your skills, experience and the work behind your preparation. Lose the ego.
  • Always try to get some feedback, but almost never get proper feedback. Organisations and recruiters in London are always super busy so they might just move on to the hire and continue their work. If you spend loads of time on an application, interview etc. you do well, but they don’t even send you a rejection letter back. Don’t take it personally!
  • Last, but most important. Patience! Patience! Patience! I cannot state this enough. I have been very impatient throughout the whole process and it has only lead to undesired frustration and poor performance on subsequent interviews. Completely detach yourself from any outcomes so you can keep calm and move forward.
  • You are most likely going to get asked some difficult questions which would be intended to test your handling of pressure and unfamiliar territory.
  • Do use the STAR system examples ready for each competency and skills with your interview. S.T.A.R. stands for Situation Tasks Actions and Results.

 

Finally, the path of least resistance is constantly pulling you towards going back to the small city or taking that easier job. If you fail now, go back, study, work more, regroup and try again later. Part of being an adult is accepting things with a calm that you wish weren’t true or you don’t like. If you don’t get a job that you want now, you can always come back and get it later. Personally,  I will go and work on the four sticking points that can give me an edge and get me where I want to get. Once I do that I would be getting headhunted rather than me reaching out to companies and recruiters.

London doesn’t make or break you. London breaks you first, then makes you.

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