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The information contained in this section is a quick overview of key features of various “professional” jobs. This guide is by no means intended to be exhaustive and largely represents personal opinions and experience of various Club members

Investment Banking

Several complex business lines (also known as the “sell side”) which, generally, include:

¤         Corporate Finance (also known as “equity” side advisory). The “bread and butter” of the investment banking business, providing advisory and execution services for various transactions (e.g. M&A – mergers and acquisitions, LBOs, IPOs, secondary equity issues) involving corporates, governments, funds and other investors

¤         Leveraged and Structured Finance (other names: “debt” side).  Provides advisory and execution services (underwriting, raising, structuring) for debt financing mandates for corporates and private equity funds seeking financing for acquisitions, debt restructuring, etc.

¤         Sales and Trading. Distribution of new equity, debt and derivatives issues as well as trading in existing financial products

¤         Equity Capital Markets (ECM) and Debt Capital Markets (DCM). Generally a joint venture between Corporate Finance and Sales and Trading, focusing exclusively on the marketing, execution and structuring of new equity or debt issues

¤         Research. Provides constant research coverage on general economics, listed companies as well as specialised research on various debt or derivative instruments; it is intended to provide an independent opinion, irrespective of the relationship between the corporate and other business lines of the bank

¤         Brokerage. Includes Equity sales and trading and Equity research. Although they are “rare birds”nowadays, independent brokerage houses were quite popular in London. Also, in large houses, the brokerage business is often run as a unit.

¤         Typical career path: analyst (after university, typically 2-3 years), associate (sometimes promoted from analysts or hired after MBA, generally 3-4 years), vice-president (promoted from associate, generally 3-4 years), director, managing director

¤         The Corporate Finance divisions of investment banks are typically organised along sector-specialised origination teams and transaction-specialised “execution” teams (e.g. M&A, ECM, LBO), which work across sectors.  The origination teams are principally involved in marketing for new mandates and maintaining client relationships.  The execution teams are mainly responsible for running the transactions, including all the “technical” aspects, i.e. due diligence, valuation, information memorandum/ prospectus, offer, negotiations, etc.  The two teams generally work very closely together and for many banks, and especially for European practices outside London, the separation is not effective.

¤         A good corporate financier needs both sets of skills. Possible career paths involve starting in an execution team and moving to origination once the basic corporate finance techniques and skills have been “mastered”, or starting directly in an origination team (particularly for MBA graduates with natural selling skills)

Brokerage

¤         With the development of stock markets and the investment community, the brokerage business has developed specific services: equity research advice, sales and trading, which were previously provided as a one-amalgamated-service. 

¤         Equity research - deals with the analysis of companies operations, market position and financial results. The research provides investors with a comprehensive and informed view on equities, and is an essential tool in their investment decision-making process. An equity analyst needs an excellent understanding of accounting and financial analysis, as well as specific company's operations knowledge and in-depth sector knowledge. 

¤         Sales - responsible to provide investors with a regular update on newsflow and events in the sector/region of interest. Sales represent the interface between investors and equity analysts. A sales person needs a good understanding of financial accounts, and vast general knowledge about various sectors, regions and markets. As investors have become more sophisticated, equity analysts are increasingly required to communicate directly with investors. 

¤         Trading - deals with the technicalities of trading equities, settlement and payment and keeping client accounts.  

¤         Usual career path: Assistant (undergraduate), Junior Analyst (post graduate with no work experience), Analyst (post graduate with 1-2 years work experience), Associate (postgraduate/ MBA with 3-4 years work experience), Vice-President (post graduate with 4+ years work experience), Director (postgraduate with long work experience, top survey rankings, and important work achievements, usually head of a team or department), Managing Director.

Commercial Banking

¤         Cash Management: Collection, Disbursements, e-banking, Cards

¤         Treasury (FX, Investment instruments, Hedging, Market Research)

¤         Trade Finance (Letter of Credit & Guarantee, Export/Import Documentary Collection, Supplier Financing, Export Financing, Bills Avalisation Discounting)

¤         Export Credit Agencies based Financing

¤         Lending/Structured Finance

¤         Syndications

¤         There are three functional jobs product sales/origination, relationship management &risk management

¤         Typical carer path: It starts from Management Associate and it goes up to Senior VP/Risk Manger or Managing  Director.

Consulting

Consulting is a relatively generic term that covers a wide spectrum of professional services, but there are 4 large categories of consulting firms that account for most of the revenues in the industry:

¤         Management Consultants – Providers of advise on strategy development and implementation mainly to large corporations, but also to financial investors and governments. Differentiation among firms is made by area of focus and range from: pure strategy advise to implementation, operations etc.  (e.g. McKinsey, Bain, AT Kearney). Some firms are specialist consultants, usually with a strong focus on a particular industry and offering a combination of management, operational and strategic advisory services (e.g. Booz Allen & Hamilton).

¤         IT/Technology Consultants – Most firms focus on the design and integration of IT systems that support different management processes. Some of the main players have also strong management consulting groups. (e.g. all consulting arms of the Big 5,  Accenture)

¤         Engineering Consultants – Firms provide technical advise to clients in areas that are typically non-core to their main business. Most of this firms focus on particular industries: constructions, manufacturing etc. (e.g. Mott McDonalds))

¤         Human Resources Consultants – Professional services firms offering recruiting and organisational design services. (e.g. Michael Page)

Typical career path includes 4-5 levels starting with Analyst (undergraduates), Consultant (typical post MBA), Manager and Partner.

Large, international, reputable companies (e.g. Mc Kinsey, BCG, Bain etc) offer good training for the young employees, mentoring and great assignments. In small and medium, specialised companies, one usually goes to become a consultant after having acquired industry specific experience.

Work environment: competitive, pressured by tight deadlines, lots of travelling.

The anecdote in the industry is that a good consultant  can figure out the solution to the problem before the work starts.. The rest is a highly structured, fact gathering and scenarios testing work.

Secret of success: the elevator test. Know your product so well that you can explain it clearly to your client in 30 seconds (one elevator test).

IT Roles

There are two main business lines within Information Technology, “Hardware” (dealing with physical computers and network equipment) and “Software” (dealing with the information processed by the “Hardware”), each with several distinct career paths. Based on the experience of the club members, we will focus on the “Software” aspect. Usually in each sub-category you will find the classic Junior and Senior positions. As I.T is heavily based on technology, experience is often more important than the number of years in the field. Industry certification (vendor dependent or not) is quite valued, as it is seen as a confirmation of the claimed experience. The managerial positions appear in each sub-category. Formal management training/MBA is usually required for senior management (Chief Technical Officer/Chief Information Officer), backed up again by cross-domain technical experience. Although a university degree is not required for Junior positions, it is mandatory for most Senior and management ones.

¤         Systems management:  there are several sub-categories, each leading to specialization: system design, user system management, email systems management, operating systems and server farm administration, web server management. Some of the certifications in the area are: Microsoft Certified System Engineer, Certified Novell Engineer, Sun Certified Network Administrator, etc.

¤         Network management: Two sub-categories, design and administration. It deals with networking equipment, from cables and fiber optics to satellite communication equipment (the backbone of any IT system); the most known certification is CISCO Certified Network Administrator, due to the popularity of CISCO products

¤         Database management: design, administration, analysis and development. Certifications from all major vendors, like Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft

¤         Application development: programming, business analysis, project management. It can be quite challenging for your career due to the fast changes in programming language trends. Certifications are both language and vendor based; some of the most popular are related to web programming, Java and .Net.

¤         Information Security: each of the above-mentioned domains is found as a sub-category here, with three career paths: design, implementation and audit. Top certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Information Systems Auditor, and vendor-based from Checkpoint, ISS, etc.

¤         Helpdesk: can be found as a sub-category in each of the above-mentioned domains. Apart from the Junior/Senior positions, the career path can go from First Level support to Second Level support to Third Level support, etc., based on the level of technical expertise.

Freelance and Entrepreneurship Alternatives

¤         Business Development Services: Market Research and Analysis, Market Development, Promotion, Product Packaging Advice, Company Formation.

¤         Direct Marketing: Local Agency Representation, Direct Mailing, Sales Campaigns, Advertising and PR.

¤         Trade: Procurement, Logistics, Storage and Distribution, Import - Export Formalities, Finance Alternatives, Banking Services, Corporate Solutions.