WCM Educational Recap #5: Finance Recruiting 101
Recapped by Gabrielle Lam
First, Second, and Third-Year Finance Recruiting
This week we went over the landscape for careers in finance to shed light on the frameworks necessary for students to succeed within their recruiting journey.
There are three primary routes in which first-year students can search for a summer internship:
Firm Recruiting Portals: Companies which fall into this category are large and well-established firms or banks (e.g. the Big Five Canadian banks). Students can apply to these companies either through the career portal or in some scenarios, on Western Connect.
- Pros: Competitive salary, add a well-known name to your resume, and make connections to lateral for more interesting opportunities in the future
- Cons: Work may be less interesting as you may be one of a few hundred summer interns and positions are typically more challenging to obtain as you need to get past the “HR wall.”
Getting past the resume drop stage is more difficult due to the sheer volume of applications these firms receive. Thus, try to attend recruiting events hosted a firm and reach out to the recruiter who hosted the event afterwards via LinkedIn or email. Also, reach out to any current employees you may personally know to learn more about their position.
Western Business Mailing Clubs Lists: Many of the major business clubs at Western (e.g. WCM and WIC), email out various internship opportunities throughout the school year to their members.
- Pros: More relevant work, a unique learning opportunity as many have well-establish internship programs, and you will have the opportunity to network with individuals who often come from a variety of career paths
- Cons: Often not paid and limited positions are available
Prior to the interview stage of these processes, reach out to any prior interns of the firm (e.g. HBA1’s or HBA2’s). They may be able to provide some insights into the firm, position, and interview process.
Networking and Cold-Emailing: Connect and chat with people who currently work at a firm you are interested in.
- Pros: New and unique opportunities, more relevant and impactful work
- Cons: Often not paid and requires more initial work and outreach on your part.
The majority of opportunities will be found via this route.
Some responsibilities that an entry-level finance internship may entail are research, outreach, data entry, and deal flow notes.
Most entry-level summer internships applications are released in January or February. Additionally, it is not necessary to have a finance or business-related internship in first year. Given the competitive landscape and limited opportunities, any work experience is beneficial, but try to be proactive throughout the entire job searching process.
Second-year processes are still largely informal, so conducting your own research, cold-emailing, and networking are critical.
There are four common areas of second-year internships:
- Search Funds and Private Equity
- Investment Banking
- Equity Research
- Sales & Trading
In terms of historical second-year timelines and placements, firms which typically recruit at Western (e.g. FirePower Capital and LaurelCrest Partners), typically begin their recruiting processes in August and into the second semester.
Other processes, including the Big 5 Canadian Banks, begin posting their positions in January. Typical roles they recruit for include Business Analyst and Credit Analyst. Additionally, the Big 4 Accounting Firms similarly begin releasing opportunities in January for roles of Financial Analyst, AI & Innovation, and more.
When selecting a job, there are three criteria’s you should consider:
- Enjoyment: Whether you will truly value the experience based on the work you will be doing, and the learning opportunity offered.
- Culture: By reflecting back on the company’s employees you have interacted with thus far; do you believe you will fit with the firm’s people and culture?
- Quality/Exposure: If the firm is positively regarded and has a positive record of where employees work afterwards.
Opportunities are released on a rolling basis beginning in the second semester of second year and ending around halfway through the first semester of HBA1.
Canada Recruiting: The interview focus is usually equally weighted between behavioural and technical questions. Furthermore, most firms target Ivey, with most internships either 10 or 16 weeks in length.
- E.g. Lazard, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs
United States Recruiting: Less available as fewer firms target Ivey, and most internships are 10 weeks in length.
- E.g. Houlihan Lokey, Evercore, Silver Lake Partners
General Process Overview
Keep in mind that recruiting is largely a numbers game and based on luck, thus try to network and cold email as many people as possible.
A mutual connection vouches for you to a member of a firm.
- Apply where you have an existing connection (e.g. friends or family)
- Network with previous interns (e.g. upper-year students)
Reaching out to someone with no introduction.
- Cold-email or cold-message on LinkedIn — you should try to establish a connection with them in your initial reach-out (e.g. they are a Western/Ivey alumni)
The interview process can be broken into three stages:
- Informal Interview: Focus on cultural fit and prove that you are prepared
- Preliminary Rounds: Technical question heavy and walk through previous experiences
- Superday: Senior interviewers, discussion-based, and be prepared for anything
Resume & Work Experience:
- Your most recent and relevant experience
- Your journey through university — focus on demonstrating the steps that you took to achieve professional growth
- Interesting activities or extracurriculars which show your interests — diversifies your profile and generates conversation with recruiters who may share similar interests
- The Team Structure: Consider the size of the analyst class, the scope of analyst responsibilities, and level of interaction with seniors
- Firm Culture: The in-office culture (e.g. level of emphasis on mentorship) and out-of-office culture (e.g. team dynamic)
- Unique Characteristics of the Firm: Identify one of the things that makes the firm unique (e.g. Goldman Sachs and the Blast Policy)
- Past Deals: Learn about 1 or 2 previous deal the company has completed and be able to personally explain why you find it interesting
Technical & Behavioural Preparation
- Essential for the interviews of all internship levels. Be prepared to have natural conversations about experiences which demonstrate qualities which are attractive to the team (e.g. teamwork, leadership, imitative)
- First-Year: Less technical heavy, but may have questions regarding accounting and valuation
- Second and Third Year: Understand the technical concepts (e.g. EV, equity values and DCFs) and invest time into understanding the concepts rather than memorizing sample answers
Market & Economy Preparation
- Required: Prepare to speak about 3 (non-mainstream) industry trends and identify 1–2 deals that you find interesting
- Optional: Prepare an acquisition idea of two companies that should merge
- Required: Prepare at least one “buy” pitch
- Optional: Prepare a “short” pitch
- Prepare a short-term and long-term opinion of the economy — including GDP, unemployment, interest rates, and COVID-19 impact
Industry-Specific Valuation (Optional):
- If interviewing for industry-specific roles, understand the corresponding valuation techniques and industry-specific metrics
Resources & Cold-Emailing
- Guides/Primers: The Vault, Wall Street Oasis (WSO), 400 Guide, Rosenbaum
- WCM Team: Mock interviews and coffee chats
- Professionals: Western/Ivey alumni and WSO forums
- Books: Competition Demystified, The Most Important Thing, The Intelligent Investor
Cold-Emailing Best Practices:
- Be short & simple, but not blunt & stay professional
- Don’t need to tell your life story, but mention a common interest you have regarding their career and experiences
- Don’t overuse buzz words, and don’t go overboard with descriptors
- Don’t include a resume or transcript before emailing them — build a relationship first and only send if they ask for it later
- Include a call to action (a phone call, or a chance to meet in person)