by Brian DeChesare Comments (45)

Investment Banking in Australia: Perth vs. Sydney and Melbourne

Investment Banking AustraliaEver wish you had a “do-over?”

Extra lives in a video game when you die for the final time?

So do I.

Especially when it comes to articles on this site written very early on that weren’t quite as thorough as more recent content.

But unlike a character in a game, I have unlimited “do-overs” since I can go back and revisit a topic in more detail.

This time around, it’s investment banking in Australiacovered very briefly in a much older article, which was based on a short conversation with a reader.

It wasn’t bad, but there’s a lot more to the topic than “It’s more laid back, natural resource deals are huge, and traditional exit opportunities are less common.”

So this time around, I sat down to speak with a reader who’s been through the recruiting process at multiple firms in Australia, and who has a good sense of regional differences there.

Here’s how it all begin:

Getting Into Finance… in Perth

Q: So why don’t you walk us through your story?

It seems like there quite a few twists and turns, so I’m anxious to see how it compares to TV dramas involving dragons or drug dealers.

A: Sure. I started out doing a combined Law and Commerce degree at my university, as many students in Australia do.

I met an individual there who ran a small corporate services firm that helped micro-cap natural resource exploration companies list on the Australian Stock Exchange (the ASX), and I got a part-time job with his firm.

Then I interned as a law clerk, realized I didn’t like law and dropped that part of my degree, and then did internships in Big 4 accounting and Big 4 strategy consulting, but didn’t care for either of those.

I left the corporate services firm after a few years, graduated with a Commerce degree, and then I found a sales & trading opportunity at a large investment bank in Asia via a family friend.

I interviewed and accepted the S&T offer, but my start date was postponed due to work permit issues.

While I was waiting to get the work permit, I worked as an independent contractor for a renewable energy company and assisted them with a solar PV project.

Then my work permit in Asia fell through completely, so I went back to the same bank and asked about openings in Australia instead.

Graduate recruitment had already finished up, but there was an internship opening in Perth, so I interviewed there, did the internship, and then won a full-time offer.

Q: That’s quite a path.

We’ve covered S&T in Asia in the past, so what can you tell us about the IB recruiting process and how it’s different in Australia?

A: I would say it’s fairly similar to the process in the US, but you always submit your initial application online; information sessions at universities are more “informative” and few students use them well.

After you submit your application, there will be some online testing followed by a first round interview, perhaps a case study, and then a final interview after that.

Some banks will also do a phone interview for the first stage rather than an in-person interview.

There are some similarities to EMEA recruiting because of the online tests, but there aren’t formal “assessment centers” in the same sense.

They will ask you to complete case studies, but those are becoming more common in other regions as well.

Finally, the “Superday” concept from the US doesn’t exist in exactly the same way here.

There are final round interviews, but you might only speak to a few bankers and it won’t be back-to-back interviews all afternoon.

NOTE: If you’re applying to Sydney-based offices, you will still get around half a day of continuous assessments, including interviews and a posible case study.

In Perth the process tends to be more informal, but in the bigger centers the final interviews do start to resemble “Superdays.”

Q: Thanks for sharing that.

So just to clarify: with your comment about the information sessions, are you saying that networking “doesn’t work as well”?

A: Not exactly; information sessions can work well, but only if you differentiate yourself from the 20+ other students there. From what I’ve seen, most students don’t do that very well.

People can and do speak with alumni, cold call and cold email banks, and network via other means, so networking “works” in Australia.

Q: I see.

And what about the internship to full-time offer process?

Is it straightforward, or do people get stuck in “never-ending internships” as in Europe or Mexico?

A: Everything I just mentioned applies to both internship and full-time candidates, but as a full-time candidate you’ll receive more difficult interview questions.

Interns here still complete internships lasting from 10 to 12 weeks, and if they do a reasonably good job and market conditions are favorable, they’ll probably receive a full-time offer.

I believe the internship to full-time conversion rate in Asia, especially in sales & trading, is much lower and that internships can last much longer (3-12 months), but in Australia it is more straightforward.

Across the Outback: Perth vs. Melbourne and Sydney

Q: Great. So moving into the IB industry in Australia now, I am assuming the main centers are Sydney and Melbourne?

A: Correct, and Perth is the next biggest after those two. Traditional investment banks generally don’t have a big presence in other cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, etc.

There are some boutique banks in those places, but to give you some numbers, here’s a rough breakout of banks by “region of main office” (out of ~110 banks with headquarters in Australia):

  • New South Wales: 60%
  • Victoria: 20%
  • Western Australia: 14%
  • Queensland: 3%
  • South Australia: 3%

So firms are overwhelmingly based in Sydney and NSW in general, with much smaller numbers elsewhere.

Note: Keep in mind that there are probably not 110 “investment banks based in Australia” because many brokerage houses here also label themselves “investment banks.” So the definition is a bit murky.

Q: And what are the main differences between the top 3 cities?

A: Investment banking in Perth is very small – it’s so small that a local boutique actually has the largest team of anyone here.

Some of the banks in Perth only cover natural resources (e.g., Goldman Sachs), while others cover other industries as well, especially since the end of the mining boom.

If you’re working at one of the more diversified banks, you’re more likely to be a “generalist” and you may not get pigeonholed into a specific team as you would with the dedicated sector teams in Sydney or Melbourne.

But it can also be negative because deal size is smaller, and most Perth-based companies are “mid-cap” (“small-cap” by US standards).

Also, large deals here are typically handled by staff from both Perth and Sydney or Melbourne. So even if a bigger deal comes along, you won’t necessarily get great exposure as an analyst or associate.

The culture in Perth is also more laid-back and the hours are better than in the other cities, but when a deal heats up it still gets extremely busy.

Finally, since teams here are so much smaller, you often get to work directly with senior bankers such as Executive Directors. That would be less common in Sydney or Melbourne, where Analysts tend to work most closely with Associates or VPs or others further along in their investment banking careers.

Q: So, if you’re looking for better hours, more senior exposure, possible “generalist” experience (depending on the bank), but smaller deals overall, Perth might be a good bet.

A: Correct.

Q: And what about individual banks there? Which banks are strongest?

A: Traditionally, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie, and UBS have dominated the league tables.

UBS has traditionally been strongest on ECM-related deals, but now it seems to be behind GS and Macquarie (though they do trade places from year to year).

The notable independents are Lazard, Gresham, and Luminis Partners.

On the DCM and Leveraged Finance side, you’ll also see commercial banks higher up in the rankings.

You’ll see a higher percentage of natural resource deals and a lower percentage of healthcare deals here, but overall it’s a fairly good mix of industries.

To give you a rough idea: throughout Australia, around 30-40% of deals in a given year might be in the “energy, mining & utilities” sector.

Outside of that, it’s diversified and sectors like consumer retail, real estate, transportation, financial services, media, etc. each take up 5-10% of the volume each year.

Healthcare groups tend to be some of the largest in other regions, but there’s less healthcare deal activity here.

Tech and TMT also tend to see less deal activity than they do in the US.

Q: Thanks for explaining all that.

Since natural resource deals are so common in Australia, do you need more industry-specific knowledge in the same way you might, in, say, Calgary?

A: Not really, but it helps to be familiar with commodity price trends and natural resource metrics such as Enterprise Value / Reserves & Resources, EV / Mineral Equivalent Resources, and EV / Mineral Equivalent Reserves.

Your existing metals & mining investment banking article covers a lot of these.

Natural resources is very DCF-heavy (the kind without Terminal Value, so effectively it’s a NAV model), so financial modeling skills and familiarity with measuring resources are required.

It also helps to understand how different commodities are mined and processed: for example, you should know how an open-cut mine differs from an underground mine.

Q: Great, thanks for clarifying.

So you’ve spoken a bit about the culture and how the work environment differs, but what about the exit opportunities?

A: As your previous interviewees have mentioned, the “do two years and move to private equity or the buy-side” mentality is less common here.

So you see a lot of bankers staying in the field for the long-term, similar to EMEA.

In terms of Perth-specific exit opportunities, many banks tend to move their junior Perth staff to the Sydney or Melbourne offices over time.

A lot of them end up staying in those other cities, so in that sense the “exit opportunities” are similar everywhere.

If you leave banking in Perth, the most common destinations are:

There are a few hundred PE firms based in Australia – a quick Capital IQ screen shows close to 200 – but many of these funds make very, very small investments and presumably don’t hire many junior employees.

There are also relatively few hedge funds here next to markets like the US or UK.

Bottom line: if you want to work in private equity or work at a hedge fund, you’re probably best off going overseas to do so.

Q: Great. That was very informative, thanks for your time!

A: Glad I could help.

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hi,
    I’m planning to work in investment banking after university. I am currently in my final year of high school (grade 12) and my predicted ATAR will be around 99.4+. Will doing a Commerce + Law degree from Uni of QLD affect my chances of internships into banks as most IBs are located in Sydney/Melbourne?

    My plan is it develop work experience and doing internships at smaller finance related business throughout the 5 year degree which will be help gain entry into summer internship programs. (Combined with high grades). Have you heard of stories of graduates not receiving job offers although they did the summer internship? Is it possible to do different internships as well, such as for GS and Macquarie?


    1. The biggest issues with IB in Australia are that the industry is very small, nepotism is prevalent, there are few good exit opportunities, and there aren’t many alternate pathways into the industry if you don’t make it from university. It’s possible to get in from your university (but it is more of a “semi-target”), and I don’t think the location matters all that much vs. the school’s name/reputation.

      You generally want to focus on the all-important penultimate year internship that leads to a full-time offer if you do well. So, yes, you can potentially intern at different banks, but your target in that year should always be the bank where you actually want to work after graduation.

      And yes, plenty of interns do not receive full-time return offers. It all depends on performance and the overall hiring market and deal activity. The majority do receive return offers, but it’s probably more in the 60-80% range rather than 90-100%.

  2. The old adage appears to be true “If you’re not in Sydney, you’re camping out”

    1. Yes, that’s true, and yet another reason why Australia is not a great place for IB roles (in addition to everything posted in the comments here previously).

  3. Hi Brian, Thankyou for that detailed breakdown regarding finance opportunities in Perth. I am 37years old and have been working in senior computer developing and testing job for the past 15 years and i am looking to change careers early next year but still remain in Perth.

    I hold a Bachelor of Engineering (I.T major) from the University of Western Australia and i just recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Property and Finance double major) from Curtin University with a 84.33% course weighted average.

    In regards to finding a job should i be applying for graduate positions since i have no experience? Also would applying to Azure Capital, Argonaut, Euroz, Hartleys, and Miro Advisors or CPS Securities be worthwhile because i am quite old for a graduate role and/or i dont have the law component of the degree? If not, can you suggest a direction?

    1. Honestly, you are not going to make a transition into investment banking in Australia, of all places, at age 37. See some of the other comments in this thread above. It’s incredibly difficult even for experienced, well-qualified candidates at the university level.

      My advice would be to think about other finance-related roles, such as real estate brokerage, that you might actually have a chance at getting. Even in bigger markets like the U.S. and U.K., you have too much experience to get into IB directly.

  4. Divya Nair

    Hi Brian!

    A very good day to you! I am an aspiring student from India looking to pursue MS Finance from Monash Business School. I have a 1 year experience with Deutsche Bank (Equities and Derivatives) and a 6 months internship in Digital Marketing. I wanted to know what would be my job prospects after completing my masters as I intend on taking an education loan. What do you reckon? Is it worth the risk and investment?

    1. A Master’s degree in Australia? It’s not very helpful. Please see the other comments and responses here.

  5. i am applying to university of queensland but i am confused about which course to apply?i am confused between master of commerce and master of international economics and finance. both looks good to me. hope you could help me with this.
    thanks in advance

    1. You need a degree in Commerce & Law in Australia to have a good shot at IB roles..

      1. Probably no longer helpful to OP, but for future readers – I’m a summer analyst at a top bank in Sydney. All the SAs from Brisbane did the advanced finance and eco (honours) degree at UQ – seems like it must be a very good program. Outside of Brisbane though, my experience is that ~90% of bankers in Australia seem to have studied commerce and law

        1. Thanks for adding that.

        2. Hey John, that’s what i’m studying! Just finished my first year. Do you mind me asking how you managed to land your SA role?

          1. Hey Henry,
            I’m in Year 12 this year. Just wondering how are you going with BAFE? I want to know how difficult the degree is since it seems like an accelerated honours degree. Is it difficult to average 80+ WAM and how is it compared to Year 12 Atar? Thanks

  6. As an IB Banker in Aus (Sydney, specifically) a number of these comments are inaccurate.

    Going through grad applications, a number of firms did have ‘super-days’. Two of the bulge brackets had 2 days in a row of back-to-back interviews, including a dinner interview, and a day of full assessments.

    As said in some of the comments, it is EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE. In the year I applied, most of the positions had gone to internships, and most of the BB IBs were hiring max 2 graduates in each geography. Nepotism is prevalent, and I saw one candidate get a role over 2 candidates who seemed far more suited, as they had some background with the MD.

    Good luck to anyone trying to break the market…

    1. Thanks for your feedback. As I always say, if you want to add your comments or make a correction, feel free to contact us and volunteer for an interview (editor at

      Yes, Australia is competitive and nepotism is worse than in other markets, but it’s also not completely impossible… we’ve had readers who have broken into banking in Australia before.

  7. Some good information here, but a lot of it is Perth-centred (which, as noted, is a very small part of the banking landscape in Australia and shouldn’t be used to draw conclusions for Sydney and Melbourne). Some things I’d like to clarify:

    “Deutsche Bank has been catching up in recent years (as of 2015)”

    Not exactly – they won a large privatisation mandate which has pushed them up the league table, but I certainly wouldn’t see they are close to operating on the level of UBS/GSMac

    “Other notable Australian boutiques, or at least other firms I have heard of, are BBY, Ord Minnett, Bell Potter, Patersons, Pottinger, and Flagstaff Partners.”

    Some of these are brokers and have no advisory presence. The real notable independents are Lazard, Gresham and Luminis Partners as of 2015/16.

    Otherwise the rest of the information is ok, but I’d again encourage those looking to join banks in Sydney and Melbourne to not read this as gospel.

    1. Sure, but that was the point of the article: to illustrate how Perth was different from Sydney and Melbourne.

      Thanks for your feedback on the banks.

      As a general comment, we don’t like to get super-specific in articles (or case studies, modeling tests, etc.) because it just leads to nit-picking as well as information that changes frequently over time.

      This article was a bit of an exception, but based on the reception and the amount of negative comments, we’re probably not going to go through the effort of interviewing someone/writing something this specific again.

  8. Hi,

    I am studying at a top school school abroad (wall street target school) but I grew up in Australasia with ambitions to return following graduation. How receptive do you think the Australian banks are to graduates who will be based abroad during the recruiting process if they can bring global experience and relevant internships? Have you heard of cases of Video conferencing or local office interviews or generally would they be put off graduates not currently based in Australia or new Zealand during the recruiting cycle?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure but I believe Australian banks will be receptive to graduates abroad. I believe they will be interviewing you via video conferencing if they like your profile. I don’t think they’ll not interview you because you’re abroad.

  9. To those reading this and looking for a route into investment banking in Australia, let me reiterate Stephen’s earlier comment: Obtaining an MBA (even from a top-ranked institution) is unlikely to help you secure a role here. Put simply, Australian teams do not recruit MBAs at the associate level.

    At the analyst level, banks recruit top undergraduate students in very small numbers. The industry in Australia is small (compared to financial centres like New York, London or Hong Kong). Even bulge bracket banks only aim to recruit 5-10 graduate analysts each year in Melbourne and Sydney. The bulge bracket that I work for recruited 9 investment banking graduates last year – 3 in Melbourne and 6 in Sydney.

    Almost every graduate analyst will have a double degree from a ‘Group of Eight’ university (Sydney, UNSW, Melbourne, Monash, UWA, ANU, UQ, UoA). Yes there are senior people at the bank that got their degrees from other universities. No, they would not get a graduate job in today’s market. The most common degree is definitely Law / Commerce. It is the degree of choice for commercially-minded high achieving high school students that graduate in the top 1% of the academic cohort. After Law / Commerce, you see degrees like Commerce / Science (mathematics), Commerce / Engineering, Commerce / Economics, etc. If you don’t have a double-degree, then you have almost certainly obtained an honours degree in Commerce (an extra 12 months of study) in Australia.

    At the associate level, recruitment needs are highly cyclical. During a slow year, the banks may not recruit anybody at the associate level. They will aim to promote 1-3 of their analysts, or will take an international transfer from New York, London or Hong Kong. When the market picks up, the bank will aim to recruit ‘senior analysts’ with 2-5 years of professional work experience or ‘junior associates’ with 3-7 years of professional work experience. Many of these ‘lateral recruits’ with professional experience will come from large professional services firms (accountants, lawyers, management consultants and engineers – in that order of frequency). The non-IB laterals will have their professional experience ‘discounted’ when they start at a bank. So an accountant with 4 years of work experience might join as an Analyst 2 or Analyst 3 equivalent. Obviously there is plenty of flexibility for remuneration through bonuses for top performers.

    Let me put the next part in capitals (apologies for those offended by internet yelling): I HAVE NEVER SEEN A BULGE BRACKET BANK IN AUSTRALIA RECRUIT AN MBA GRADUATE THAT DID NOT HAVE PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN CORPORATE FINANCE.

    You must have experience working on M&A / ECM / DCM transactions in order to secure a lateral role in an Australian investment bank. In most cases, you will also need to demonstrate some capability to build financial models.

    The industry here is fiercely competitive. There are tens of thousands of students graduating each year with degrees in Commerce/Finance/Banking that consider investment banking to be their dream job. Of those thousands, the banks might hire 200 in total across the country.

    Nepotism (jobs for friends and family) remains prevalent in the Australian market. If a bank is going to hire 10 people in a year, you an bet that half of them have a connection in the industry. One of their parents might work in finance, or be a director of a client or a prospective client. Nepotism starts early. Investment banks will offer ‘work experience’ to those with connections. They will get a second look-in during internship recruitment. But, even with the right connections, you still need talent. It is very unlikely that your parents’ jobs will overcome your mediocre academic transcript.

    (Background: Two years at a bulge bracket in Sydney.)

    1. Thanks for adding all that. I am not really sure where we mentioned the MBA or said it would be useful, as, to my knowledge at the time of this interview, it did not seem to be useful at all in the Australian market. But thanks for reiterating that.

      It seems like many ambitious graduates in Australia might have better luck getting into the industry in other countries, based on what you have described… (Though I think the nepotism is more of a barrier than “fierce competition” – in my view, the quality of candidates in many markets has actually declined over time)

    2. Probably the most accurate comment on this board. Nothing much to add other than given the balance of probability is against a person getting an IB job, going overseas (London/NY/HK) is their best bet.

      1. Thanks for adding that. Yes, I think we’ve established how difficult it is to get into IB in Australia… with that said, I still have seen cases where people have networked their way in, though the odds are lower than in the US or UK.

  10. Hi Brian,

    Just looking to get your feedback on a topic. Im currently 28 and have been working for the same bank for 3 years in an Agribusiness lending role. Ive graduated with a Bachelor or Business in Ag although we did some DCF modeling and IRR’s which were more corporate related.

    I’ve been getting stale and looking for a change to move into IB. What would you recommend as far as extra studies ie certificate or bachelor of commerce or? Given this would put me into my early 30’s until I completed them is there another way I could get my foot in the door with the ability to learn on the door? or any online course that would be relevant to Australia that you could recommend?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say going to a target school for your masters may potentially help. I am not 100% sure if other courses/certifications can help. A Masters can potentially give you more opportunity to network.

    2. Nick,

      A Masters would definitely help – if you do it in a Top 5 program overseas. I know people hitting and are older than 30 who enter Associate programs at top tier banks. So you can do it but would need to look at HBS, LBS, Insead, Wharton, Columbia as candidate schools. If you have enough self-belief you can get in there (notwitstanding the opportunity cost). They offer top-tier networking opportunity to get into a BB or even buyside. Unfortunately for yourself, it won’t be in Australia.

  11. Stephen

    Hi, I grew up in Australia and worked on the buy-side as well as corporate development prior to leaving for Asia a few years ago. Just wanted to add my two cents after seeing the job hunting-related comments:

    1. BB investment banking in Australia is extremely competitive. Most enter after undergraduate, typically with combined bachelor degrees in commerce and law as described above with top marks. Since top universities in Australia do not go with the GPA system, this can be difficult to quantify – however typical expect a 3.7 or above GPA to land the likes of Goldmans, Lazard, Morgan Stanley, etc.

    2. The MBA degree is underdeveloped in Australia, as most employers prefer a strong undergraduate background with a “honours” year (admitted based on strong academic performance). Therefore, the ability for the likes of MBS and AGSM to guarantee entry into investment banking is somewhat illusional. Sure it can be possible, but it won’t be as straight forward as landing an investment banking role in the US after graduating from Kellogg and Wharton.

    3. The lateral move from middle/back office to front office roles is almost impossible in Australia. You will be left there to rot 99.9% of the time. I’ve seen this happen all too often and people usually end up leaving their role to open an online business.

    4. Considering the above, the ability for employers here to consider foreign candidates to basically non-existent. Working visas are already difficult to obtain, so why would they even bother?

    I apologise for the very black and white response, but think it is necessary to not lead people onto the wrong path. There will be outliers in every situation i.e. high school drop out that networked his way to eventually rise to an MD at XYZ Elite Bank, but this should be taken as a clear exception rather than an achievable norm. Having said this, the superannuation industry i.e. pension funds have more relaxed standards with hiring (at least at junior levels), and this can be an easier path to break in to the industry. Happy to provide more information on this if necessary. Going in via the big 4 route is also possible.

    Despite what many may think, it is a very elitist, snobbish system in Australian financial services that is even more pronounced than the US.

    1. Thanks for adding all that, definitely let us know if you’re interested in doing an interview at some point.

      I’ve heard about the competitiveness of the system there, in-line with what you’ve described, but it’s great to have those additional details.

      And to clarify: the interviewee here was definitely local (non-foreign) and at a top university with good academic results. So he had those advantages going in his favor.

    2. This post is on the money.

  12. Hi. I want to ask about recruiting from overseas. I currently work in one of the Big4 consulting in Hong Kong as a manager. I am granted the Skilled Independent 189 visa so I plan to move to Australia in a year time.

    1) What is the best way you would recommend for job hunting considering I would like to secure a position before quitting my job in Hong Kong? (I do however am happy to fly to Aus for interview or networking on my own expense as I got cheap tickets through my fiancee in airline)

    Background, insurance (7 years, audit, valuation, capital, actuarial, re(insurance), pricing)

    2) Is it difficult to break into banking with 7 years industry+consulting experience? (At analyst or associate level. I assume my skill set is most transferable to FIG or insurance corporate development

    1. 1) The best way to secure a role is to do an internal transfer to Australia and stay at your current firm. I’m not sure if you’re asking about this or moving to a different role.

      If you move to a different firm / industry, you would have to start networking and interviewing before you arrive and probably do a lot of video calls or something similar before you get there. You can do that remotely, but it is much easier to do it when you’re on the ground if you’re comfortable taking that risk.

      It also depends a bit on which roles you’re going for – your background is varied, so what do you want to focus on specifically?

      2) Yes, it’s relatively difficult because banks usually want impressionable fresh grads who are willing to work insane hours. They assume anyone with 5-10 years of experience will be less willing to work crazy hours.

      I think you could potentially do it, but you would probably have to start at a boutique or smaller firm, or have a really good connection at a large firm.

      Corporate development at a bank or insurance firm would be your next best bet.

  13. Hi Brian, 2 things. First I would like to contribute a little info since I get so much out of these articles. I’ve worked at a top domestic bank and 2 bb IBs but not in any real banking role (back and middle office).

    Hours – At bulge brackets it sounds the same as the states. I have a friend whose friend just joined the Morgan Stanley IBD, she recently worked 20 hours a day for a week and her team kept asking her to stay longer but she broke down and went home to sleep. During my time at UBS I also heard from my manager about one of the people working on a deal sleeping under their desk for 2 nights – didn’t even shower or change clothes.

    Second, more personally I want to break into something more research focused, ideally a buy-side investment analyst but happy to do my time in sell-side equity research, M&A, or ECM/DCM. Unfortunately, as mentioned my work experience is all middle-office; specifically, my roles are all AML/KYC related adviser/client support. The standard advice is to structure your resume to mention deals or “spin” it to sound like you did something related to that but I’m having trouble finding an angle. The best I can do is say I worked on the approvals for product launches worth up to $30M per month, or payments/transfer approvals of up to $5M per day. Can you see any better angle I can approach from? I think my poor success is due to a weak resume.

    I’ve done my best outside of work. I’ve been following the public equity markets for a while now, and have written up a lot of recommendations and research to friends and peers in my network. I recently decided to take it one step further and started a blog where I measured all my past recommendations and plan to post more in-depth, fully researched recommendations in the future. My “paper portfolio” based on all of my recommendations has returned 21.68% in the first year while market return has been 7.67%. I also manage a 6-figure real money portfolio for my family returning about 18% while market return has been about 6%. I feel like this is my best selling point and recently had the idea of listing “Investment Experience” on my resume instead of putting it into my hobbies.

    Besides that, I know I need to keep networking, but any useful tips or angles for how to sell myself would be appreciate. Am I right to focus mostly on my investing experience instead of my work experience? How can I find a spin on my work experience?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Thanks for adding your comments, very helpful. The hours are quite bad at most banks there, though Perth appears to be a bit better than the other cities.

      Hmm it’s tough to say how to spin your resume without actually seeing your experience, but I might recommend writing about who the clients were and what they did rather than your specific tasks… for example, did you work with a client that then later went onto do business elsewhere at the bank, such as by investing in an IPO or something of that nature? You could list something like that as your results rather than writing solely about product launches or payment approvals / transfers.

      I would definitely recommend highlighting your investment experience and making it a work experience on your entry, whether for IB or buy-side or research roles or anything else.

      I think you need to focus on both your work experience and your investing experience, but perhaps spin the work experience differently as I recommended above. I would also narrow down your options a bit more and aim only for one of the roles you mentioned.

      1. Always appreciate the time you take to help out Brian.

        Not sure if you know much about middle office stuff since it’s not what anyone wants to get into (ha!); basically my experience has been screening account openings, payments/transfers, and investments in structured products offered by the bank. I have to identify potential non-market risks (sanctions, high risk sources of income, transactions to third party accounts, etc.) to minimise money laundering and reputational risk to the firm.

        Honestly, it doesn’t have much to do with the markets or any deals at all. Some of these accounts are pretty high profile – some hedge funds and asset managers use our platform. Sometimes we get CEOs and ex-prime ministers opening accounts too. At most I can say I’m comfortable liaising with senior management (which I know is needed in equity research), but that’s stretching it a bit.

        The only other related experience I can think of is due diligence – which is considered a part of the AML/KYC procedure. Basically, if we get suspicious of an account or transaction, we go digging around for information to assess the risk. I’ve had to dig through some complex corporate structures to find the underlying beneficial owners, and then pull up information on them before. I suppose that’s a bit of “research” experience.

        Do you see any hope in my work experience? I really do feel like it’s my weakest link right now. I’m glad you agree I should focus on my investment experience as a pseudo-work experience, hopefully that improves things in the meantime.

        1. Even if it’s a stretch, I think you need to spin that experience as much as possible and play up your client relationship skills and talk about the broader picture in your current role (e.g., you helped the CEO or Prime Minister open an account and then he/she did XYZ with your bank… maybe not causation, but correlation). The due diligence experience is also worth spinning because you do that sort of work in other finance roles all the time. So it’s worth noting any flaws or problems you found and how that effort might have saved the bank time and money.

          So I think you can definitely portray your work experience more effectively, even if it is a bit of a stretch (which is usually the case with these things).

          1. Correlation not causation but was good, will try and spin that.

            Thanks for your help Brian!

          2. Yup, good luck!

  14. Hi Brian,

    When I am cold emailing alumni from my university should I attach my resume to the email? And if so, what is the best way to phrase why I included it? I’m afraid including it might come off as a bit too forward.



    1. If you’re directly asking for a job or internship, yes, include your resume. This works well if you have relevant experience, and not so well if you have no previous internships.

      Please see these links for examples:

  15. Hello Brian,

    Firstly thanks for all your postings keeping me on updated with latest information.

    The above article is excellent which helps us to focus on the particular filed with location where we have higher focus for growth.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it.

  16. Batiatus

    Thanks for the info Brian. Can you also share whether doing an MBA at MBS or ANU would hold you in good stead for IB roles in Aus/Nz. I’m from India & looking for MBA in Aus at these two schools.

    1. Thanks! Yes, an MBA at those schools would help with IB roles, given their rankings. But I would still contact students and faculty there first and see what their firsthand experiences are like… one issue, for example, is that I believe there is less recruiting at the Associate level in general since so many people stay in IB from the analyst level onward.

    2. Some views from my experience.

      1) MBA recruiting is far less common in Australia, as Brian has said. I am not aware of any banks that recruit at an associate level out of MBA programs.

      2) Coming from India it will be extremely difficult to land a role in Australia without the visa requirements. This will especially be the case without prior experience. You would need some kind of networking miracle to unfold if you don’t have the experience.

      3) ANU is in Canberra and going to make any kind of networking efforts difficult. This ties into point (2).

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