Finance Industry Guide
“At its core, working in the finance industry means to be involved in managing and moving money within a variety of different environments and scenarios. Companies that take on this responsibility vary greatly in size, from the behemoths of the industry to smaller companies with sizable funds. Working in finance goes beyond Wall St. to allow an individual to gain deeper insight into corporations, government entities, and non-profit organizations.
The main areas of the banking industry as it pertains to financial services include commercial and investment banking, sales and trading, portfolio management (e.g. hedge funds, mutual funds, wealth management), private equity, and venture capital. Other areas under the umbrella of finance can also include accounting, insurance, real estate, and such.”Read more: What is the financial services sector? | Investopedia
If going down the path of finance is of interest to you, doing research about the industry by reading trade publications, newsletters, and popular websites is a great place to start. Did you know that The Wall Street Journal has been in publication since 1889? There’s a reason for that; it is an excellent source of financial news and information for well over a century. Other websites to peruse include: Bloomberg, Barron’s, and Seeking Alpha.
By diving into content from these kinds of sources, you will not only learn key industry terms (MA, IPO, stock, bond, etc.), but your understanding will deepen as you witness how they play out in the context of real companies and deals in the marketplace. You will also develop an awareness of what’s happening on a macro- and micro-level scale that provides greater context to financial concepts.
Because the finance and banking industries are multi-faceted, there are a variety of careers available to you. Each practice offers a unique experience depending on whether you’re front-office, back-office, or somewhere in-between. Websites such as Mergers and Inquisitions, eFinancial Careers and Wall St. Oasis offer valuable perspectives about the differences between sales and trading, wealth management, investment banking, and the like. Vault (available to Georgetown students for free through the career center’s website), is another good place to conduct industry and company research. And of course, you can always learn about companies straight from the source by visiting their websites and attending their events on campus, which can be found on Handshake. Doing this sort of research will allow you to get a new perspective on where your interests and skills may fit best in the industry while also learning about the culture of different firms and their teams.
In no other industry is networking more important than in financial services. While networking with higher ups is fine, the most powerful people in terms of hiring at a bank are first and second year analysts, as they are the individuals you will be working closely with if you enter the firm. You can find Hoyas in these positions on LinkedIn, the Alumni Career Network and in Hoya Gateway. Consider others in your network – faculty members, family and friends, former classmates who are now working in the industry – and reach out with questions!
Just like for any job, you will want to tailor your resume and cover letter based on the needs of a position. Finance is no different. Although each division is different in what they contribute to a firm, some of the common, overlapping traits they look for include interpersonal skills, quantitative analysis, and attention to detail. And while you don’t need to have a business background in order to successfully go into finance, mastering financial concepts is a must to demonstrate your understanding. Come to Cawley for a drop-in appointment any time Monday through Friday between 1pm and 3pm to get a resume or cover letter review. Visit the Interviewing section of our website to review and practice general questions.
While internships are useful in landing full-time employment in other industries, participating in internship recruiting is imperative in landing a full-time position in the industry. Most firms aim to secure 85% or higher of their full-time class from the previous summer’s intern pool. In addition, financial services firms, and in particular the bulge bracket banks, are notorious for early recruiting. As of Fall of 2018, bulge bracket firms recruit students during the spring of their sophomore year for internships scheduled for the summer after their junior year, a full 14 months ahead of the internship’s start date. So how should students go about preparing for this process?
- Identify a list of target companies and apply to positions both on Handshake and on company websites. Review the Vault Guides for lists of top firms and overviews of culture and opportunities. Read our first destination reports, which contain specific information about companies that hired Georgetown seniors. Search Handshake as well as company websites to identify organizations and opportunities.
- Learn the various parts of a bank. Many students assume that the only division of a bank is investment banking. There are many divisions in a bank that also provide excellent careers and may be a better fit for you. Learn the pros and cons of each.
- Meet with an industry advisor at the Cawley Career Center for tailored feedback and recruiting updates. Appointments can be made on Handshake.
- NETWORK, NETWORK AND NETWORK SOME MORE.
- Practice interviews, and be able to answer technical questions (as found on the resources above). You should be able to answer the questions, “Why are you interested in financial services?” and “Why are you interested in working for our firm?” These two questions cause many Georgetown students to stumble. You should not only be able to articulate the tie between your skill set and what the bank is looking for in that position or division, but also genuinely express what makes the bank stand out amongst its peers.
Financial Services firms recruit in a very specific, very rigid way. Information sessions and other events will take place during the spring of your sophomore year. Plan on attending at least one event held by each firm you’re interested in. Follow the application instructions outlined by the firm carefully, meeting all required dates and deadlines on all web platforms (Handshake and company website) specified by the firm. The amount of time between when a firm holds an information session and when applications are released varies by company. Keep track of this information in order to stay on top of the process.
Plan on participating in two rounds of interviews: a first-round, which may take place on campus or at the firm’s office, and a second round called a “Superday.” A Superday is a series of 30-minute interviews back-to-back, usually at the firm’s office. Firms are not only testing you on what you know, but also on your endurance. And will solicit feedback from all of the various interviewers.
You will likely know quite quickly whether or not you have an internship offer. For bulge bracket banks, the process will be done by the start of the fall of the junior year. Small firms may complete this process later in the fall and maybe even in the spring of your junior year. The rule of thumb is the bigger the firm the earlier their recruiting process.
Sample List of Firms
Bulge Bracket Banks
- Bank of America
- Credit Suisse
- Goldman Sachs
- Morgan Stanley
Middle Market Banks
- BMO Capital Markets
- BNP Paribas
- Canaccord Genuity
- Cantor Fitzgerald
- Houlihan Lokey
- Mizuho Financial Group
- RBC Capital Markets
- Robert W. Baird
- William Blair & Company
- Centerview Partners
- Perella Weinberg Partners