Monday, 11 February 2013

Breaking Into Wallstreet: Finance Interviews Prep

In this post, I will be focusing on preparation tips for Analyst-level finance jobs at major investment banks and other finance corporations. It's based on my experience with finance firms that recruited at IITB in 2012; so this post will make more sense for finance-enthusiasts at the IITs.

This post will not be focusing on Quant-finance profiles. If you need some fundae for preparing for Quant finance interviews, checkout Cracking Quant-Finance Interviews.

Integrating the following in your placement preparation routine should ideally help improve your chances of getting a finance job

Start reading a Financial daily
If you really want a financial markets role, you should know what's happening in the financial world and know it well. You should be able to answer questions based on important events that occurred in the financial markets over the recent years. For example, you might be asked 'Why did the 2008 crash occurred?', 'Tell me about what you think of Euro-zone crisis', 'What is Quantitative easing?' and so on. Reading financial news daily would help you answer above kind of questions. I suggest at least one of the following regularly:
  • The Economic Times: Focused on Indian markets. Highly recommended.
  • The Economist: It publishes some excellent finance and economics-oriented articles with interesting analysis and statistics. Recommended for those who absolutely love Economics.
  • Bloomberg/Reuters: Focused primarily on US and European markets. Read them once in a while to get an idea about stuff going on globally.

Getting your Finance concepts 'Right'
Do you know what are derivatives are? What about options? If these terms sound greek to you, I suggest reading them up from the following sources.
  • Investopedia: This is the wikipedia of finance. Read up the beginner's tutorials. Subscribe to Investopedia's daily word.
  • Vault Guide to Finance Interviews: This is an awesome handbook that gives introduction to almost all topics in finance starting from stocks & bonds to currency & interest rates. 
  • Vault Guide to Investment Banking: This one somewhat digs deeper into Investment Banking roles of Sales, Trading and Research and topics like Corporate Finance.

Financial Certifications 
  • Although certifications like CFA and FRM are way too expensive (at least by Indian standards, especially after the Rupee has eroded in comparison to Dollar), clearing them would put you in the favorites-list of recruiters. Also, they demonstrate interest and dedication that you have towards the field of Finance, thus giving you an extra cut over others in the competition. 
  • You can also pursue NCFM certification (National Stock Exchange's certification in financial markets)  for various finance modules.

Finance related Coursework 
  • Show-off some course-work in subjects related to Finance and Economics. You should try out Finance/Economics related courses running in your institute. 
  • You can pursue some from tons of Finance and Economics courses on Coursera like Game Theory, Introduction to Finance, Economics for Scientists etc. Here is the comprehensive list.

Internship in Finance
This is kind of mandatory. So try to get an internship in some role related to Financial markets if you are really interested in a long-term career in finance. 

CAT Practice
Give some mock CAT tests even if you are not going to appear for CAT. Most of the finance companies use aptitude test based shortlisting procedure and practice will help you get in the final interview shortlist. Practice Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation sections from the CAT mocks, it will really help you do good on the tests.

Miscellaneous Websites I found the following websites to be great in terms of getting to know the Finance Industry and other interview tips. Do read them to know more. You can also ask your related doubts on the forums of some of these websites.

Firms that offer Financial Analyst profiles (IITB Placements, 2012)
  • Tier1: Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, CitiGlobal, Credit Suisse, Optiver, American Express
  • Tier2: Capital One, Crisil, Finmechanics, Forefront Capital, FinIQ, Blufin, RAK Holdings


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  5. Hi. I'm a 3rd year student at IIT Roorkee majoring in Mechanical Engineering. From what I've seen, the quant profiles are open only for CS/Elec grads while the Analyst profiles are open for all. I have a relatively low GPA of 7. Do you think clearing CFA level 1 will serve to compensate for my low GPA?

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