Our research topic digs deeply into the war zone of investment banking – the trading floor. It is a place of constant chaos and is truly a pressure cooker of stress. Shouting, swearing, and sighs of disappointment are often commonplace at the job. Despite all the pressure, the nature of the position still interests us profoundly in various ways. We expected the interviewing process and dynamics of the position to be much like the story detailed in Michael Lewis’s novel, Liar’s Poker. We were initially captivated by all the stereotypes associated with Wall Street, namely the profit-driven industry, speculative gambles, and exploitive insider trading. However, realizing the dramatized effect of the book, we wanted to research the topic at the rudimentary stage – the interviewing process. Speculating the specifics of the interviewing process may be difficult. As a result, we reached out to two professionals in capital markets to familiarize ourselves with the process. During the several networking events, we met a few professionals that were veterans in the field. We quickly took advantage of the opportunity and reached out to them. Our first professional, Amy Hoo, currently works as a director in Global Investment Solutions at Merrill Lynch in New York. Much like us, she also graduated from New York University Stern School of Business. She worked in capital markets for almost eight years before making a transfer to Global Investment Solutions. She served as the vice president in the Equity Derivatives & Structured Product Sales in Merrill Lynch Hong Kong division and she had much to share in regard to the logistics of the interview and her ideal candidate. Our second professional, Lei Lei, currently works as an associate in Emerging Market Sales in Deutsche Bank. She graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received her master degree in Harvard University. She has had over four years of experience in the field. Fortunately, we were able to learn about some of her interviewing experience and insights in her earlier career. The core subjects of our research includes: general profile, approach to interviewing, interviewer structure and questions, evaluations, follow-ups, and general advices. Furthermore, the analysis encompasses some specific questions that the professionals believed to be crucial in the interview. As James Montier quoted in his book The Little Book of Behavioral Investment, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Our research has greatly prepared us for our upcoming recruitment in the related fields.
Trader and salespeople are two distinctive positions that may have some major differences. Traders must rely on their market instincts. They make snap decisions and they are in charge of what to buy or sell at what price. Salespeople, on the other hand, act as a middleperson between clients and traders. They promote company’s financial products and call on institutional and high-net-worth investors to suggest trading ideas.
Due to the distinctive responsibilities of the two positions, recruiters follow different criteria as they evaluate their candidates. Many recruiters prefer traders that come from mathematics or engineering background. The quantitative nature of the position requires traders to think on their feet and seize any possible opportunities. As Amy expressed during her interview, she liked to hire engineers over other majors because mathematic majors focus too much on numbers while finance majors focus too much on intuition. It is important to take account of both macro and micro movements in the market in order to fully exploit potential profits.
Sales, on the other hand, is a client-facing position. They are required to have good interpersonal skills and dedication to salesmanship. Early in the position, most of the analysts would have to cold-call clients and build their own books. Lei Lei explains that it often takes an analyst more than a...