I am currently an active duty USAF Captain (financial management/cost analysis officer) stationed in Los Angeles. I am planning on separating from the military at the end of next year to pursue a career in financial services. My goal is investment banking but I know that this is one of the most competitive fields to get into, so I would also like to learn about asset management.
I would love to connect with anyone who has IB or AM experience, as well as anyone that works within any of the bulge bracket banks (JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Goldman Sachs, etc), boutique banks, or middle-market banks. I am trying to figure out how to best prepare myself for my transition and make myself as competitive as possible over this next year.
I already completed my MBA through Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, so I will not be able to break into the industry via the traditional route (straight out of b-school).
I was in your similar situation - I got my MBA while still active duty and wanted to go into IB. I spent two years preparing and networking for a role in either AM or IB at a BB.
Like others have said - its TOUGH to break into. Good news - it's not impossible... and given your background, it might even be pretty easy. The easiest route BY FAR is through a veteran program at one of the BBs:
UBS Veteran Associate Program
Goldman Sachs Veteran Integration Program
Bank of America Veteran Associate Program
Others: JP Morgan and WF Fargo have a program I believe, but they aren't as robust.
Each of these programs is basically paid internships. It's up to you to perform and get a job. UBS is the one I would recommend. They have an amazing track record and is probably your best bet if you want a front office role. The others are great too for other reasons, but I'm partial to UBS.
Other resources I used: Investment Banking Institute and Breaking Into Wall Street programs. BIWS was an AWESOME resource to learn how to financial model like a pro. It also really prepares you for technical questions on interviews. However, if you're going for one of these veteran programs, the technical questions will be much easier than an analyst or associate out of undergrad/MBA. Wall Street Oasis is another great website I'd use a lot.
Breaking in on your own would be super tough... I know guys who have done this as well though but it has always been through another veteran connection. Think of it this way: why should a bank hire you when they have guys fresh out of IVY MBA with an IB internship under their belt (and maybe a few years as an analyst) fighting for the same spot? You'll have to jump that hurdle convincing people who might not know how awesome you are... just to get your foot in the door for the interview. Again, not impossible, just a bit difficult.
For me personally - I ultimately decided against banking (far too late in my transition process) I even turned down a super day invite from a BB. What changed my mind was a program called BreakLine. I took a trip out to SF to visit a number of tech companies... and I fell in love with the industry. The pay isn't going to be banking numbers.... but is actually much better than you'd think. The per hour pay is certainly better in tech though - the work-life balance can be as good as you want it (work from home, no mandatory hours, weekends off, unlimited vacation days, etc).
I'd recommend making sure that banking is something you really want to do. Read "What Color is Your Parachute" if you haven't already. I wish I had read that much sooner than I did - my perspectives would have changed drastically.
Anyway - hopefully, some of that helps. I'm happy to chat any time if you have more questions or need some connections anywhere.
I was an equity analyst, but left to start a business with my wife. I am sure that you are aware that you will need to relocate from Southern California.
You received a lot of great advice (especially Keith's), but they missed a easy one: call your alma mater. A great business school, such as IU, should have an excellent alumni network that career services and you can tap.
You may want to focus on the larger firm's initially. It is easier to move to a boutique, smaller shop, and regional firm from a large one than going in the reverse order. The exception is a very well regarded boutique, such as Allen & Co. for media and Sandler O'Neill in for financial services. I worked at a large firm and a boutique. I preferred the latter, but it was a personal preference (I liked the comraderie that came from a smaller shop).
Please don't read into a lack of interest during late-November and December, especially during a down market. The more senior people are trying to close deals by year-end and take vacations with their families. Also, people are reluctant to switch firms before bonus season, therefore, the openings emerge during late January.
Best of luck!
Hi Captain Galbraith - Wow, what an extraordinary background of excelling in your career, and satisfying the required education, training and experience for the path you choose. It’s no surprise you are preparing now to compete in the future. Also your timing is good with the social climate encouraging woman in leadership (e.g., CA recently passes a law requiring public boards of directions to include females). I would not think you would have a lack of opportunity. I can offer assistance; I have direct connections to the CEO’s of a number of the kinds of organizations you are wanting to connect with, and I would be enthusiastic to pass along your resume. If you would like to follow-up on that please contact me, Best wishes, Ethan
Please reach out to me. I might be able to help.
Ginny- Hi and thank you for your service! I’ve spent 45 years on Wall St. and am currently mentoring an Army Captain that is transitioning out next year. He is currently working on an internship at a venture capital firm and has had several firms in New York that have shown an interest in pursuing a position with him. My advice is to broaden the areas of financial services that you might have an interest in and try to get a foot in the door. Several financial services firms are very interested in hiring veterans so look at their websites to see which have programs for hiring vets.
Always glad to speak to you.
There are some amazing answers already provided and as someone within an AM firm, the opportunities are vast within the industry. I'll have to piggy-back off of Sotir's & Keith's comments - open the possibilities to all avenues within the financial services industry and hone in on what interests you the most. Fintech is a rapidly growing space and may align closer with your career/life goals.
Most of the recent hires have some computer science or data analytic skillsets to supplement their traditional finance/MBA/CFA background - might be helpful to look into. Most of the IB guys I know went the traditional path directly from B-School.
Happy to discuss in more detail!
It may be a tough road but you have to start with the knowledge that given an opportunity, you know you'd succeed. I'm in my 38th year on Wall Street and willing to share whatever knowledge I have that may be helpful. I can't get you the job but I can sure help you get prepared to go after the opportunities. Please contact me at email@example.com or go on my LinkedIn page and see my post called Owning Your Own Story - that's where the journey starts. Another thought - find you way into one of these firms using your own current capabilities, build your reputation in that firm, then use their mobility programs to find your true spot. Why compete where you can't compete with all those freshly minted MBAs? Compete where you can based on what and who you are right now - which is pretty darned good.
It's very tough breaking into Wall Street after the military, especially not going through a non-traditional route. This is a very structured business with traditional recruiting. You gotta discover what you really want to do and go for it 100%. IBanking can take a really big tole on your personal life and health. Whichever career path you decide, see if it's something viable you see yourself doing for a long time. Essentially, it's best to learn real financial skills and industry knowledge before you even interview, otherwise you might be seen as one more lost veteran trying to figure their way into a new world.
Have you considered looking into the financial consulting sector within one of the Big 4 Accounting and Consulting Firms like Ernst & Young, PWC, KPMG and Deloitte? These are great firms that provide a lot of experience, opportunity, professional development and positive work cultures. They are also veteran friendly. I retired 3.5 years ago as a partner with Ernst & Young and would be happy to share my experiences with you in this profession.
While I am somewhat new to Merrill Lynch, I have been in the financial services industry for a number of years. After serving in the late 60s, I worked with what I now known as JPMorgan Chase for 30+ years managing the corporate banking and investment business nationwide. This management experience was followed by working for a pure investment banking firm, I then joined AIG working with Jeff Greenberg and his Dad, then an IRIA, and last before joining ML I ran a private bank and investment activity for TD Bank.
I would be pleased to help you in any way possible to include introducing you to a Hoosier who attended the Air Force academy, served in Vietnam and then worked for Merrill Lynch for 30 + years. Please call or write: 203-273-3629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a wonderful Christmas season
Citigroup has a Military Officer Leadership Program (MOLP). A few of my colleagues are part of the program.
I work threat intelligence for Citigroup and might be able to connect you with my colleagues who are part of the MOLP.
My email is email@example.com.
Please send me your resume and interests. I will send them to my colleagues.
I think it is a matter of geographic not networking. Start where you want to be and can afford to learn the ropes. Goldman has a big hub in Utah, but it is expensive to live here when comparing the salary to living expenses. Wells Fargo is also here, and has a more stable culture for growth. Where do you want to live?
I would be happy to talk with you. I have been in the industry and working for morgan Stanley for 12 years. please feel free to email me at Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Capt Galbraith,
I don't have a finance background myself but there are many opportunities in the financial field at Raytheon. Your education along with experience and security clearance could make you a great candidate. I know you're a ways out from separation but if you want to get an idea of the types of positions, visit https://jobs.raytheon.com
Good luck on your transition from AD.
I am with Merrill Lynch. I would be happy to chat with you.
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