Essence Education successfully launched its second Investment Banking Career Talk

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On Apr 10, Essence Education successfully launched its second Investment Banking Career Talk, in which Alex Wu, a Convertible Bond Trader, Jianan LU, an Index Derivative Trader, and Jason Pan, IBD Banker shared with our students the blunt truths on their respective roles and how to build up core competences to pave a shining career path.

The following are in chronological order of their lectures:

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Jason Pan, IBD Banker

Jason shared with our students what analysts, associates, VPs, directors and managing directors do respectively in IBD – in short, the more senior one becomes, the more focus will be put on the clients, from searching for potential ones, understanding their needs, proposing solutions, negotiating fees and so on. Although the analysts at the bottom are required to do the “trash work” and have very long working hours, Jason believed that his time as an analyst was his fastest learning period in terms of technical skills. After more experience was accumulated, now he enjoyed meeting with high level people (CEOs, CFOs and so on) in different companies, studying the different projects they are currently striving on, and learning directly from them. To be successful in IBD, Jason believed that one needs to love the job or at least the next job and then work hard to learn and accumulate experiences.

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Jianan (Peter) LU, Index Derivative Trader

After introducing his role as an index derivative trader, Peter focused on how to get in an investment bank and how to survive in the first few years. Peter suggests that students know the roles they are interested in before applying (and thus do not apply for too many roles at the same time) and then apply as soon as possible as many companies are hiring in a rolling basis and almost all the vacant positions are taken before the deadlines. For the interviews, he suggests that students get well prepared about 1) behavioral questions (such as what is your biggest challenge so far), 2) technical questions (he suggests “Heard on the Street” and the so-called Green Book for these questions), and 3) market related questions (such as what is S&P level now and what is your favorite stock). He highly recommends students, especially those not in the so-called “target schools”, do proper networking, via alumni or friends, to get the chance for the interview and the chance to get in the investment banks.

Peter believes that good resilience is required to survive the first few years, especially before your core competence is built and when you got a bad boss, as you will be required to do many ground, dirty works from buying burgers for your managers to coding VBAs in spreadsheets. Traders are typically self-esteemed or even arrogant and lack patience – they will mark you stupid if you ask the same questions multiple times. Thus, Peter suggests that new joiners should have the ability to learn things on their own. Of course, if you do have a question that you cannot solve, asking questions is required as pretending to know the answer when you do not will often bring in very bad consequences. At the end, Peter suggests that new joiners should also learn what the other teams are doing to form a holistic picture about the market.

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Alex WU, Convertible Bond Trader

Alex put forward 3 key pieces of advice for students to build up a shining career:

1) Networking:

Alex Wu is an expert in trading illiquid assets, such as convertible bond, distressed bonds, high yields and so on. He believes that fundamental analysis is crucial for trading illiquid assets. In addition, networking is important in gaining critical info about the company you trade and thus helps to form one’s core competence in trading these illiquid assets.

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2) Think positively:

Alex used his own experience in 2008 as an example. In 2008, his line manager lost a lot of money and thus had bad temper and asked him to do all the dirty works, from company research (a job for an analyst rather than a trader) to reporting losses to the bosses, losses that had no relation to Alex at all. Nevertheless, he gradually built up the ability to do everything required to be successful in that role. When the company started to fire people, he, rather than his boss, was kept! He suggests that we all should remember that every cloud has a silver lining!

3) Get out of your comfortable zone:

Alex is not a social animal himself. However, to shine in this role, he pushes himself to go out and join in social events to build up the important network abovementioned. He believes that this is crucial for one to achieve success no matter what he does – follow your heart and do what you need to do, especially when it is outside your comfort zone!

The biggest risk you take is not taking any risks!