by Brian DeChesare Comments (91)

Investment Banking Recruiting in Europe: London vs. Frankfurt vs. Milan

Investment Banking Recruiting Europe

While you’ve learned all about recruiting in Europe before in places like the UK, Germany, and Italy, we’ve never done a direct comparison of what to expect in each region.

Will you really have to go through assessment centers and similar interviews in each place?

Are they only looking for locals or can you break in as a foreigner? What about language requirements and that all-important summer internship to full-time offer conversion rate?

Today a reader who has recruited across Europe – and won 2 internship offers – will share his experiences and answer all those questions, plus a whole lot more.


Q: Can you walk us through your background and how you first got interested in finance?

A: Sure. I was born and raised in Italy, and after high school I studied business administration and completed a BSc in Finance from a non-target Italian university.

During my 3rd year there, I took a few classes in corporate banking and first learned about investment banking, M&A, PE, and VC.

The professor was great and we had several financiers as guest speakers – I was most interested in private equity and how they look for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in. There are so many SMEs here that I knew there would be a lot of opportunity if I could break into PE.

Q: So you tried to get into PE coming from a non-target university with no full-time experience?

A: No, not yet. I looked for information online and spoke with the guest speakers in our class and learned that most people in PE had MBAs, that you had to know accounting very well, and that you had to do investment banking, consulting, or auditing first to break in.

I knew I needed better access to recruiters and more accounting knowledge, so I looked for a 2-year MSc program in Accounting and applied to the only “target” university in Italy.

I moved to Milan to complete the MSc program and then found out about summer internships in investment banking – but my chances weren’t good since I was from a non-target university, hadn’t studied abroad, had no relevant work experience, and didn’t speak a 3rd language.

But I applied to all the banks anyway and ended up getting several interviews and assessment centers, and then won a back office internship in London – which I accepted, since I had no better options. I also figured that having a bulge bracket name on my CV would at least help me with recruiting in the future.

After finishing that internship, I applied to both full-time jobs and internships (internships work a bit differently here) in investment banking in the UK and continental Europe, and went through recruiting in London, Milan, and Frankfurt, finally winning 2 internship offers.

M&I Note: The audit to PE path is more common in Europe. It does happen in the US and other regions as well, but your chances are not as good unless you’ve done something like audit to Big 4 TAS first.

M&I Note 2: While I’ve been critical of the back office in the past, it’s not the end of the world if you accept a back office internship. It’s more difficult to move from the back office to the front office if you’ve already accepted a full-time offer.

Q: That’s quite a story – you must have had a great strategy for winning those offers, or at least something that made you stand out.

A: In high school I wanted to play football full-time at first, and I had also worked as a sports journalist for a local newspaper before.

That wasn’t prestigious, but it did give me something to talk about in interviews for my “interesting fact” – and I could reference that when they asked about leadership, managing stressful situations, and so on.

This story helped me get my first back office internship – I think the 2 IB internship offers were more about solid technical preparation, since I had focused on my corporate finance studies over the past year.


Q: That’s a good one – much better than those interviewees who tell you that their “hobbies” are learning Excel or doing statistical analysis.

So what was the recruiting process in these different cities like?

A: I always started by applying to London first – usually applications from continental Europe are checked by local offices first, even if you apply to London. Sometimes they’ll even call you and say, “There are no spots left in London – are you interested in Milan?”

Then, if you pass the initial CV / cover letter / competency question screen, you’ll get a first round in the local office (Milan in this case) and then the 2nd round in London, or maybe a phone interview and then the AC in London.

With one bank I did the 1st and 2nd rounds in London and was then sent to Milan for the 3rd round since they ran out of spots in London, but that was the exception and not the rule.

My overall experience looked like this:

  • Bank A: Applied for the graduate program in London, did a phone interview, and then an assessment center in London (group work, then 3 interviews with 4 VPs).
  • Bank B: Applied for the graduate program in London, did a 1st round interview there with 2 associates, and then also did the AC in London (business case and presentation to Director, then another 2 interviews with 2 other Directors). But then I was sent to Milan for 3 interviews with the local Directors there and also had to complete an Excel practice test as well.
  • Bank C: Applied for summer internship in London and was then called and asked if I was interested in Milan – I did the 1st round in Milan with 1 analyst and 1 associate and then the 2nd round in Milan with 2 associates.
  • Bank D: Applied for a 3-month internship in Frankfurt via email – they responded shortly after that, and I then completed 3 interviews in Frankfurt on the same day (with 2 associates and 1 analyst).

Q: Awesome, thanks for sharing that information – I’m sure everyone’s recruiting experience is different but it’s good to have data on what to expect in different places.

So it sounds like you didn’t do much networking to get any of these interviews?

A: That’s correct – I did not do much networking. I already knew one of the VPs that interviewed me at Bank A because I met him during my previous summer internship, so I spoke with him in advance and asked about recruiting, how to best position myself, and so on.

But then another guy won the offer from Bank A, so it wasn’t too effective for me.

Q: What about CV differences? Is there anything that banks in Milan and Frankfurt care about but which offices in London do not?

A: The overall structure of CVs is not that much different, but in local offices they tend to care more about your grades.

In Milan and Frankfurt they asked me specifically for my GPA, while in London HR just scanned it quickly when screening CVs.

Another difference is that for full-time recruiting, they pretty much expect you to have had a previous internship in investment banking – whereas for internships you can get in just by having strong technical knowledge and some kind of previous experience even if it isn’t directly related.

All the candidates that received full-time offers in my final round interviews were former summer interns who had worked in IB at other banks.

Q: Right, so standards tend to be higher for full-time interviews, and it’s tougher to break in if you haven’t had that IB internship before.

What about the type of people who recruit in each place? How is that different, and what are the language requirements in those cities?

A: Overall there’s the least amount of diversity in Milan because you must be fluent in Italian. So it’s mostly Italian students who end up there – either voluntarily or because they didn’t get into the London office.

Most of these students are coming from schools such as Bocconi University, LUISS, Politecnico, or ESCP.

In Frankfurt, they didn’t care about language abilities for internships. I don’t speak German but still won the offer there – but for full-time positions it’s different and I was told that you must be fluent in German to do investment banking there.

In London you see the most diversity – people from all countries throughout Europe, Asia, and North/South America.

Obviously there’s no language requirement there except for English, but language skills are still viewed very highly and you’d be at a disadvantage if you don’t speak other European languages.

Q: What about differences with interviews? Did you find a different ratio of “fit” to technical questions, or were the questions themselves any different?

A: Overall, I had the most technical interviews in Frankfurt. They asked pretty much everything you could ask: standard questions about the Earnings per Share formula, EPS accretion / dilution, synergies, the control premium, the liquidity discount, what happens post-merger, how to value startup and bio-tech firms, how to adjust for pension plans, leasing, stock options, derivatives, and more.

They asked me to explain how a PE firm works, what the average debt-to-equity ratio in LBOs was, how to value a company, and then how to write down and change all the main items of a P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

In Milan they also asked a fair amount of technical questions (Beta, WACC, DCF, multiples, etc.) but they didn’t go nearly as in-depth as they did in Frankfurt. They also asked a lot of questions about consolidated statements – what the financial statements for a parent company plus its subsidiaries look like and how to combine them.

For more on this topic, please see our tutorial on the equity method of accounting.

In London, the technical questions were the easiest – everything was pretty standard and consisted of questions you can find in most interview guides. They focused more on your background and how well you fit in with the rest of the team there.

Q: Interesting – I’m sure we’ll get a lot of comments from readers there who experienced slightly different (or maybe significantly different?) interviews.

Earlier you mentioned that you won several internship offers even though you’re set to graduate shortly and you said that internships in Italy are “a bit different.” How does that work exactly?

A: In Italy we don’t have structured summer internships like you see in other countries.

You might find them at a bulge bracket bank with local offices in Italy, but local banks here don’t have such programs.

So 6 months before you graduate, when you’re writing your thesis and exams are over, you can apply for off-cycle internships. If you’re good enough to get in and do well there, they’ll just ask you to keep working after the internship, effectively turning it into a full-time offer.

That’s much different from London, where you usually do the internship just before your final year and then you start full-time one year later.

I don’t know what the exact “conversion rate” is in these 2 places, but your chances might actually be higher in Milan since pretty much all full-time bankers at local banks started out by completing post-graduation internships first.

Another difference here is that some banks only want students who have already graduated when they search for interns – and the internships themselves last 6 months rather than 10-12 weeks.

Since banks don’t have structured programs, they just post job openings on their website or on the business school careers page and you submit your CV and cover letter without completing competency questions or numerical tests or anything like that.

You also see that for some international boutiques with offices in Milan, but it’s more common at local banks.

Next Steps

Q: You mentioned before that you applied to both full-time jobs and internships but ended up with the 2 internship offers – do you think it’s harder to get full-time offers in Europe?

A: I think in general it’s more difficult to get full-time offers because people with previous IB internships have a huge advantage, so Europe is no different in that respect.

Q: I see; it’s definitely getting more competitive every year. 10 years ago the people applying to banks for full-time roles had far less internship experience.

So what’s next for you? When do your internships start?

A: Originally I was planning to complete one of my internships over the summer and then start the next one in September, before graduating in December or May.

Recently, though, some personal problems arose and because of those I couldn’t join one of the banks in the summer – so I’m going to focus on my thesis for now.

That would at least give me the option to move back into academia if I decide that I don’t want to do investment banking or can’t stand the hours.

Q: Great. Thanks for sharing your story – I learned a lot!

A: No problem, hope you enjoyed it.

For Even More Practice…

For even more practice with numerical, verbal and logical aptitude tests and assessment centers in general, check out Job Test Prep and all their test prep offerings.

They have our highest recommendation for online tests and assessment center prep – and their courses are the single best way around to prepare for EMEA recruiting.

Want more?

You might be interested in M&A Investment Banking: The Best Group Ever?

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hi, I am EBRD banking analyst in London (26 M) before that worked in BIG 4 Audit in Europe. What are chances of Winning IB Associate role in London with Part-time or full-time LBS master in finance? Master in finance for me has its pros as it is significantly cheaper compared to MBA.

    1. Hard to say without more context (would need to see your university background and grades), but I think you should have a decent shot assuming everything else is good. The biggest issue is that there’s not a lot of MBA-level hiring in London because internal promotions are more common, and you’ll be up against people with direct IB experience.

      So… the Big 4 and EBRD names will help, but you’re in a more challenging market where others will have more relevant experience.

  2. Hello , I am 23M not speaking Dutch, French or German
    I am working in BIG 4 private equity audit in Luxembourg. Next year I am going to move into BIG 4 Corporate finance. Could you give me any advice regarding exit opportunities in Europe or UK? I am thinking of IB, Private equity opportunities.

    1. The simple advice here is: “Go to London.” You’ll have more exit opportunities, and London experience is valued at a premium over other cities. Big 4 corporate finance is more useful than a Big 4 audit role, but you should still attempt to move into an IB role sooner rather than later if you want to make the move at all. It’s not quite as crazy a recruiting timeline in Europe, but you still want to act quickly or you’ll be over-qualified for Analyst roles.

      1. Thank you!
        To attempt for analyst role, is master program a must? Or I can try it just with sending resumes

        1. It depends on your background and work experience. A Master’s is most helpful if your undergrad university is not well-known or you don’t have great/relevant work experience. Your work experience is quite relevant, so a Master’s degree is probably not worth it in your case unless you network extensively and do not make much progress within a few months.

  3. Hi,
    I have few questions.

    Do you know about M&A investment banking in Switzerland?
    Ubs and credit swiss majorly, do you know the hours that they work bein analyst/associate/VP/D/MD?
    Thanks a lot

    1. No, I don’t, sorry. We have covered other European countries before but not Switzerland. I will see if we can do so in the future.

  4. Tanish Shukla

    Hey Brian!
    I am from southeast asia(India) and I wan to to break into Investment Banking in London, I have an offer from Bocconi University for Eco & Fin, and I have seen that Bocconi places well in London. However since I am a non European I have heard getting a work visa is a big issue and banks only hire Italians from Bocconi or other europeans since they don’t need visa sponsorship. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    1. Yes, visas will be an issue in that case. I don’t know the specifics of the process in London, but in general, you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t have a European passport. Not necessarily a huge one because most of the large banks in the UK still do sponsor non-EU students, but some of the elite boutiques do not.

  5. Arman Rafi

    Hay, I am from Bangladesh, South Asia. I have completed my graduation from Economics. Now, I am planning for MSC in Finance in Europe. I wanna break into investment banking as well. Before starting my masters, I have still 1 year in my hand. So, I am quite in a fix of doing either another masters or moving into an finance internship in my country.

    What will be helpful for me as I wanna be an finance professional specially an investment banker???
    And what about the valuation an internship in a renowned financial institution in my country for achieving a financial career in Europe or North America???

    1. Get a finance internship, ideally one at a small PE or VC firm or brokerage or something like that. A valuation internship could also help. It just depends on what’s available and easiest to get.

  6. Hi,
    What is the best way to break into an analyst role in BB IB in Frankfurt, directly from a consultant position in Big 4 TAS with no prior IB internship experience? Also, is this path to BB IB recruiting common in Frankfurt?

    1. I don’t think it’s that common in Frankfurt. See:

      They tend to recruit a lot of business/finance students… if you have no prior IB internships, you probably have a better chance in London, even post-Brexit.

  7. As an undergrad in the US about to graduate, would you say it is more difficult to land a position overseas or in the US for full-time? Curious because recruitment starts relatively soon, so I just want to know if I would be wasting my time applying for international positions.

    1. Unless you have an extremely good reason to be in another country (native-level language skills, family, other roots/connections, etc.), it will almost always be easier to win IB roles in the U.S. I would not bother applying elsewhere unless you have a great reason to do so or nothing else works out.

  8. Mahesh Babu


    I am an MBA guy, Having 2 years of experience in Investment Banking in one of MNC from INDIA, looking a job opportunity in Germany, Please suggest me some information to get in.

    1. ??? I don’t know, we have covered Germany on the site before. Please do a search to find the article(s).

  9. Robin Lewis

    I am a Commerce graduate with 5+ years of experience in customer service/call center in India with international clients from UK and Australia.Now in Bordeaux,France completing a diploma in business management in wine and spirits(2016-February 2017).I am interested in investment banking since long,now with BIWS I think I can fulfill it.But after completing a BIWS course will I get a job in France,cost, and what will be the salary,and do I need to know French language,which banks will hire,if yes?

  10. Hi,
    I have a few questions about IB in Europe that I hope you could answer. I am a US citizen, and I have lived and studied in the US my entire life, including university. However, I speak multiple European languages and I am also an EU citizen (dual US-EU citizen), so I could work in the EU and EFTA without any visa, if I am correct.

    First, even if I apply to banks in the US, should I list my European citizenship on my resume, in case they would want to relocate me (which would be complete fine with me)? If yes, where should I list this on my resume? Would having this on my resume improve my chances?

    Would my dual citizenship and proficiencies in multiple language give me an advantage in recruiting in Europe, even if I have never attended school in Europe nor had any financial internships in Europe?

    Would you recommend that I apply to full-time positions in Europe, or am I wasting my time doing so?

    Should I apply to cities where English is not the primary language, even if I speak that language to business proficiency, or would banks from a specific country only be interested in people who are native speakers of that language?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      1) Not necessary, but you can list it at the bottom of your resume
      2) Yes, but I believe others may also speak various languages so work experience and fit are probably more important
      3) Yes I’d suggest that you apply to roles in Europe too
      4) I’d apply to areas where there are native speakers of English, but this is your personal preference

  11. Hi M&I,

    I am a final year student in the UK and I am applying for IBD, mainly SA roles. I have achieved a high first in my second year and thus I expect to graduate with a first as well. My question might sound dumb, but should’t I write in applications that I have obtained a first class and not that I am expecting it? I mean, my grade up to today, in 35% of my course is a first.

    Thank you in a advance for your reply!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d list that you are first class, if you’ve achieved 1st class and are in the category now

  12. Frasiercrane

    The interviewee mentions that he moved to milan to complete a degree at the only “target” uni in italy but then goes on to say that his chances for an internship were slim as he was from a non target uni….please enlighten me on this.also what are the target unis in Europe …are warwick /bocconi /cass considered good enough?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      He obtained his masters from a target university in italy, and his bachelors from a non-target

      They are decent schools, though I’d say you may want to check out LBS

  13. What about investment banking in Switzerland? Why it is not mentioned anywhere?

    1. We hope to cover it in the future. So far no one from Switzerland has volunteered to be interviewed.

  14. Can the team get a separate Germany edition , like italy , canada? Preferably working at Deutsche bank , in Frankfurt

    1. We’ve covered many countries in Europe (and throughout the rest of the world) including Germany, France, Italy Norway, etc.:

  15. confusedguy

    This is regarding IBD only and no racism is intended in my post.

    I spoke to several analysts across BBs and elite boutiques who sent me a breakdown of their intern and analyst class. Over 80% of students were from European schools. The few ‘British’ students that were selected were from another country and just studied here and there were maybe 1-2 actual british people. You could only pinpoint the people from ethnic backgrounds … almost everyone was ‘white’. In the boutiques, ‘white british’ people seemed to dominate e.g. places like Rothschild and Lazard. For a profession that claims its diverse, the figures hardly seem to agree.

    Why does this happen? Even though practically every country in the EU speaks English, someone who speaks an EU language is always preferred, regardless. It’s probably a culture thing…?

    I have seen time and time again that students from my target uni getting internship offers and doing a fraction of what people from ethnic minorities do. I know people who own a business, are scoring top grades in school in a related subject, have several leadership positions, play sports to a high level and so on, not even get to the interview stage – whereas students who are scoring mediocre grades and do one extra activity (at a low level) get through. Why? Because they know an EU language fluently. Or maybe its just luck?

    My point – discrimination in recruiting still exists. This is why you see a lot of british people in MO and S&T roles instead. This is incredibly unfair as British universities are some of the top in the world and I believe recruitment should provide a fair playing ground.

    My question is – because of this unfair approach to IBD recruiting, should people who only know english or know english + an asian language focus their efforts on a division where they stand a chance?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Language skills are important in IB, in any business for for that matter. For instance, for some client facing roles in HK, interviewers won’t even consider you if you don’t speak Mandarin. There is really no “formula” to break in. Language skills matter, but other factors are important too. Labeling whether the process is fair or not may not be constructive

      If a specific division requires certain language skills, your chances will increase significantly if you possess such language skills

      1. confusedguy

        Oh please dot get me wrong… I totally get why language skills are important in some areas of IB. My point was that in the EMEA region, unless you know at least one european language, no matter how good you are otherwise, you stand a very small chance of getting into a BB but a reasonable chance of getting into an elite boutique (from what I have seen). To me – this is unfair – as there is no ‘requirement’ stated when applicants apply that a candidate should have an EU language… because they know its wrong to discriminate on this basis. Yet they do it internally. This is upsetting in my opinion. Its fine if specific divisions require specific skills but it seems IBD in general want people with EU languages (for EMEA positions).

        Its also sad to see so many people from top British universities end up in MO roles or ‘pushed to markets’ because they don’t have an EU language. Seems like everyone is stereotyped even before they get to choose their career! haha

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Thanks for sharing your perception to us.

        2. confusedguy – That is great to know for someone like me with a “European” background, thank you very much for sharing this. It is also very encouraging to apply for such roles in London.

          I always thought that you had much better chances if you were British (privately educated + degree from Oxbridge). I also had the impression that ethnic minorities (especially Black/African) are very aggressively recruited in the City in recent years.

          There’s also a lot of anti-EU propaganda coming from London, so I thought (White-)Europeans wouldn’t be that welcome there.

          I’m very glad to have read your comment and hope there is some truth in it.

          I would be very interested to hear comments from other people with an insight into the London recruitment market. Thanks in advance!

        3. Well IB is mostly a client facing role so if u cant speak the language which ur client does , then recruiting u is of no use.Working in EU barring UK requires knowledge of the local language atleast 95% of the time , if u dont know it , then u wont find any joy and theres no use of whining.
          Imagine if all MOU’s,financial statements etc are in German and you cant read/write/speak it , then whats the use.Plus they can translate those documents for you to accomodate you , it would be better to hire a local.

  16. Hi M&I,

    I would be happy to write a piece about S&T recruiting in Germany specifically (interviews etc.) and how I got two internships at an elite boutique and at one of the bigger investment banks without any prior experience and no connections.

    If you’re interested

    1. please get in touch with me.

    2. Hi Philip,

      I’ve seen that M&I didn’t answer. I will be having interviews next week for S&T in Frankfurt at a BB and wanted to ask how you felt and if oyu had any recommendations.

  17. Hi M&I,

    I was wondering how easy it is to break into the U.S. IB world after doing an internship at a boutique M&A bank in Sweden.
    I previously did an internship at a BB (MS, JP, GS) in wealth management and at a boutique AM firm, both in NYC and am graduating from a US college, just going abroad for my investment banking internship.


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Your M&A experience in Sweden can be useful and transferable to IBD roles in US. With the above being said, it all depends on how you pitch your story and what kind of deals you’ve done. Of course having a BB name (IBD) on your resume will be even better in your case.

  18. Excel Penguin

    A couple people brought up ‘multilingualism’ as an important factor even for London office. Do only European languages count, or does fluency in a major Asian languages also get considered as ‘useful’ multilingualism?

    …yeah guess you might ask why I don’t go back to Asia after I graduate (from a US college)–I plan to do that in the future but I want to start out in a major financial center, but I don’t want to stay in the States or start in HK (mostly personal & family reasons).

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I believe the usefulness of a language depends on the type of clients you will be dealing with; if you are dealing with Chinese (Polish…etc) clients, you’ll need to speak Chinese (Polish…etc).

      1. Excel Penguin

        Thanks Nicole. Are the deals in London really that international, where Asian languages come in handy? My impression was that London is the HQ for EMEA, just as HK is the HQ of Asia Pacific…but recently I’m told that London has the most international exposure. What’s your take on that?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Don’t think its common though there might be funds/roles there that only service Chinese clients because they do have such roles in NY. Look at roles that service sovereign wealth funds like China Investment Corporation, or local Chinese funds. Network and ask around. I assume you speak Mandarin

  19. Hey could you shed some light on the exact process for Frankfurt internships? It’s summer after my sophomore year. I’m proficient but not fluent in German and have also studied some business classes in Germany. How do I get myself started in the Frankfurt app process?

    1. Can’t really say as I did not do it personally, this was an interview. But it’s not much different from the process in the UK, they look for similar items and apparently grades are really important in Germany.

  20. LubashVicash

    If you want to apply to a MSc degree the best schools in UK are LSE, LBS, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and UCL.
    If you want to apply to an MBA program I would just take into account LBS, Oxford and Cambridge.
    No, I’m not working in London now but in Continental Europe.

    1. Thank you very much for the info.

  21. Hey Brian,

    Another great article again. Thank you. Speaking of IB opportunities in Europe, what do you think are the chances of getting in there with some IB experience gained in the US?

    I am an European Union citizen doing my undergrad in the US. I have just got an internship with a boutique bank and I was wondering what are my chances of being accepted in an European bank if I decided to leave the US.

    The only thing that might keep me away from working here full time is my status (F1 student visa); I will need sponsorship after I graduate, which may be a problem. I am allowed to work in the European Union that is why I am considering to return after I graduate. My curiosity is if my US experience is valuable for any of the European banks.

    1. LubashVicash

      Hi Marius,

      even if I’m not Brian I would like to give you what I know about this.
      Last summer I was interning in a BB in London and there were some other interns who were european citizens studying in the US.
      If you are studying in a good school there and you are allowed to work in EU, your experience should not stop you and, obviously, working in a boutique should help you to reach the interview step.

      1. Hi Lubash,

        Thanks for sharing. I am not going to a top school in the US but I have been doing 2 or three very good internships and I have a very good GPA. My plan is to take my OPT and continue with this BB for a year and then apply to a top graduate school either in the US or the UK. I would like to work in a bigger financial center like London or New York. That is why I am targeting top graduate schools where IB banks come and recruit.

        Are you still working in London now?


        1. Also, it seems that you know more about IB in Europe. Can u provide me with a list of schools in the UK where IB frequently recruits? I would greatly appreciate it.


    2. Yes it is valuable, I’m assuming you know other languages as well so you shouldn’t have any issues recruiting in Europe.

  22. sPaCePiR8

    Confirm the more technical interviews in Germany vs. London. I studied in Germany and had lots of interviews there with both boutique and BBs. In general, far more technical. Moved to London a couple of months ago, here the focus is much more on your personality, what you did so far in work experience etc.
    A friend of mine just had his interview session at an “elite boutique” in Frankfurt -part of it was a 4h modeling session with building LBO models from scratch, technical interviews with lots of junior bankers etc. All that for an Analyst 2 position…

    1. Thanks for sharing, amazing that they asked your friend to do all that for an analyst position.

  23. Very interesting article, thanks for posting.

    Question about European Universities and studying abroad, I plan to study abroad at Bocconi Univ. and am wondering if I want to apply to European banks would I be going through the recruitment process at the time as a student of Bocconi or would it still be as a student of my American school?

    1. They would probably look at both in interviews etc. but for the actual applications if you apply in Europe you would be treated as a Bocconi student.

  24. could you please throw some light for indians trying to break into IB in the US with a few years of work exp in bulge bracket banks at back office level

    1. It is incredibly difficult due to the strict visa requirements in the US. I wouldn’t even bother as the country will soon be irrelevant anyway – India has a much better future. Coming from the back office you would have to get into a top MBA program to even have a small chance of getting in.

      1. The US IBs will soon be irrelevant? What makes you say that?

        For the record, I’m Asian-American, interning for one of the Big 4 in Asia, where I’m in university. Where should I go from here? Aim to get into one of the BB banks in Asia (presumably trying for Hong Kong, perhaps Singapore)? Or try to head back to the US, though I figure that that might be tough without a target US university degree.

        I’ve also considered Europe, but it looks like it’d be hard to get in there as an American studying in Asia. I speak a little Spanish, but not enough to do business with.

        1. The country in general I meant. I think it’s in a state of long-term decline and won’t recover anytime soon. Staying in Asia is the safest bet at this point, it would be tough to get into the US without a US degree and difficult logistically to network.

  25. Two questions regarding an application for Frankfurt (M&A):

    1. How competitive is the application process compared with London? Probably there are very few analyst positions in Frankfurt? Or is it even easier in Frankfurt if you are speaking German?

    2. Does every BB offer the possibilty of a direct application for a certain city (e. g. Frankfurt)? I’ve often seen the application for a certain region (e. g. EMEA), but is it usual to select a certain city?

    Thank you

    1. LubashVicash

      DB, BarCap, MS, JPM, Rothschild, Lazard, UBS, Nomura, BNP Paribas, SocGen, Unicredit and probably many others allow you to select the city. Usually, after you have chosen the region (ie. EMEA) they ask you to pick a city.

    2. It is probably less competitive than London due to the language requirements. But there are also fewer people applying.

      Most of the time you do get to pick a city as the poster above said.

      1. Thanks! Two more questions:

        What about the payment then? Is it comparable to London in terms of purchasing power (or even higher due tue lower prices in Frankfurt)?

        And what about exit options? Does it matter wheter you have worked at a BB in London or Frankfurt or applies: “Morgan Stanley = Morgan Stanley”?

        1. I’d say breaking into IBD is probably harder in Frankfurt. German labour laws make it pretty hard for a bank to fire their employees, in comparison to the UK. Thus, hiring appears to be much more prudent in Frankfurt.

          Similar to the NYC -vs- Houston argument Brian made in another article.. you will most likely be able to save more money in Frankfurt.

          Also, S&T appears to be based primarily in London for most places. Commerzbank is the only place that has a huge trading floor in FFM.

        2. Yes you could probably save more there. Working in London would make it a bit easier to move elsewhere but the firm’s name is the same anywhere.

  26. Any tips for an American trying to break into Europe for full-time?

    Also, what countries can you work in with only English (other than England)?

    1. As a few commenters wrote above, maybe the Netherlands and potentially Germany depending on the role (not M&A, but something more on the asset management side maybe). It’s pretty tough to break in there without knowing other languages, but if you have something else impressive you could still do it… if you’re trying to break in from the US, an in-person trip would be essential, a Master’s program at a top school in the UK would also be a good idea.

    2. “Any tips for an American trying to break into Europe for full-time?”
      Why would you do that???

      Well,Netherlands is OK (check ING and ABN AMBRO).Not sure about other countries.But keep in mind two things:

      Almost all IB in Europe is done through London (especially debt issuance),otherwise we talk about small and local M&A or equity raising deals.Even if you choose non-UK banks,their IB offices are based there (exceptions could be swiss banks,which have sizable IB offices in their home country along with presence in the UK-but they demand german language).
      Also,if you want to choose trading,I dont think you need to speak the local language (there may be some exceptions).Im not talking about the sales part of course…

      1. LubashVicash

        In the Netherlands you can also check Rabobank. They have been recruiting for Amsterdam interns that don’t speak dutch.

        1. Does anybody know what the IBD working hours are like in the Netherlands?

          It would also be helpful if someone could give a picture of the working hours in other Continental European countries.


  27. Polthor

    I’d like to share my experience, I had a few interviews for internships in Milan, for BB and local IB and a PE firm. All of them were pretty much focused on technical questions, starting from basic ones (WACC, DCF, multiples) to some more complicated questions about accretion/dilution, M&A, consolidated IAS accounting or financial statements. There were a fair amount of random brain teasers as well. I still have to finish my BSc, so I don’t think the technical questions depend a lot on the MSc thing (even though almost every applicant to internships and jobs in Italy has a Msc).
    With all the companies I had a phone interview first, than usually a 2-3 interviews with associates/VP in the same day. Still having to hear back from the banks, but I got an offer by the PE shop and I’ll probably go with that.

    Talking about the language, Italian is a must if you wanna work in Italy, but foreign languages are obviously a plus.

    1. Thanks for sharing, interesting that the questions there were so technical.

  28. Why is Germany still devided on that Europe map? :)

    1. Haha good question, I didn’t even notice that… outdated image maybe?

  29. How important is multilingualism in London IB? I’m an American considering graduate programs in finance at British target schools. I was wondering if only speaking English would put me at a severe disadvantage, as I am still a foreigner, but don’t have multiple languages like the rest of the foreigners.

    1. It is pretty important from what interviewers here have shared before. You could probably still get in, but you should have something else impressive to compensate.

  30. I just wanted to add that I had similar experiences. I had interviews in London and Frankfurt a couple of weeks ago, and in Frankfurt they also focused more on technical questions than in London.

    Regarding speaking German in Frankfurt: It depends on the Bank how good your German needs to be. There are a couple of Banks which have a specific contingent of internship spots for non-German speakers, but there are other Banks which nearly only take German speaking interns.

    1. Well,usually if you work in Europe in any city besides London,you deal with regional companies,therefore speaking the language is required.

    2. Interesting to hear that. And yeah I think Germany might be an exception with the language requirements since so many people there speak English – you probably don’t see that as much elsewhere.

      1. LubashVicash

        Netherlands is another exception. They do recruit for internship people that do not speak dutch.
        On the other hand, this does not happen in France where you are usually required to be fluent in French to work in Paris.

        1. I think that Netherlands is the easiest country where you can get an internship without speaking the native language.
          But when I tried to apply there through some networking, they told me that they already had accepted too many internationals and they also needed to get some Dutch interns.

      2. Solvetia

        What about going to Germany, Italy, etc. in a senior position? Could that be different maybe?
        I am not talking about MDs, but more like Senior Associates, ADs, VPs.
        I recently completed an internship at an Austrian Investmentbank with strong focus on CEE. Except for the team which covered the Austrian market, they were happy if anybody with experience from London or so joined them as one of the positions mentioned above. Still, they had to take German classes. German isn’t being considered a easy language to learn

        1. It might be possible but there are tons of senior people who can speak other languages in Europe, so I don’t know how well it would work.

    3. Obaidur Rehman

      Not sure if I would agree with you on the language part. I am currently enrolled on an exchange program at a target school in Frankfurt and have been applying for internship positions at both boutiques and BB banks there but to my disappointment language seems to be a massive barrier. This is despite the fact that most technical work and presentations are conducted in English. Some of the local bankers I have come across at dinners say that German proficiency is more of a requirement for their clients than the bank itself.

  31. Q1,didnt they ask you way too many technical questions in Frankfurt?Was it because you did a Macc?
    Q2,how’s Bocconi?

    1. I’m not sure if the interviewee is responding to these questions, but on #1, yes, it may have partially been because of the MSc degree but according to a poster below he also received more technical questions in Frankfurt anyway.

      For #2, it is the top school in Italy for finance so not sure there is much more to say. Another interview on Italy here:

    2. Q1: Generally, Germans are much more focused on your technical skills and practical experience than on your personality (not to say that in some cases they genuinly don’t care). To land a full-time entry level job, you are expected to have AT LEAST 3 relevant internships, preferably within the banking/financial sector or consultancy.

      Take it from me, a non-German who did their BSc in one of the best universities around here, and had 2.5 years of internship experience upon graduation. German was always my working language, but I can tell you that even though there are positions available for English-speakers, they are much less than those for German speakers. Germans are (in my opinion) among the most, if not the most, competitive Europeans so the ones intending to go into IB typically do quite a few internships, have some international experience, etc. and banks can easily find qualified people who actually speak the language. Most offers for English-speakers are for either highly technical roles or just for experienced hires.

      I reckon more people apply to London (both UK and International) than to Germany, because, after all, you only need to speak English. However, this does not mean that landing a good job in Frankfurt would be much easier, even for German speakers!

      Q2: Now again, since I did my master’s degree at Bocconi (I am not Italian either), the university is very famous in Europe. IMHO, Quality-of-education-wise nothing special, studied and learned much more in my BSc, BUT good name to have on your CV.

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