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Jordan Szekely: Mergers & Acquisitions - Media & Entertainment

  Basic job is valuing companies - qualitatively & quantitatively
  Looking at companies to assess their value
  Valuation = determining fair value of a company
  Long two years if you're not really interested.

  • You need stamina
  • Use your contacts at firms.

Ben Kinney: Equity Sales & Trading

  No other industry offers the same opportunities.
  Fortune 500 companies want people who know how capital markets work.
  Why Sales & Trading?

  • 12-hour days - very fun.
  • Sales and Trading is like a sprint - in office between 6 am and 6:30 pm.
  • Usually leaves work right after 5:00.
  • Day is extremely varied.
  • Sit shoulder to shoulder with other sales and traders (literally).
  • Sells securities - sells US & government treasury debt, derivatives.
  • Talks to large institutions about trade ideas.
  • Fixed income debt (bonds) has no central exchange, so all banks have their own trading floor.
  • You must be a people person - lots of customer contact.
  • Alcohol tolerance goes up a lot! - you go out with clients at least 2 times/week.
  • Get on a trading floor if you're interested.

  Choose your firm & your job based on the people.

  • These are the folks who are going to pay you.
  • You need to know that people will support & trust you.

  Useful skill sets:

  • Common sense
  • Able to learn quickly
  • If you hate math or if numbers scare you, don't do it.
  • Have a "blue collar" approach to the job - work really hard.


  • Be honest in what you claim you can do.
  • Quantitative questions - process of getting to your answer
  • Your resume doesn't mean too much once you've gotten your interview.
  • "Fun factor" - have things to talk about.

The difference between Private Client Services and Sales & Trading:

  • S &T = talks to large institutions ($100MM+) - Freddie mac, Fannie Mae, Fed.
  • PCS = high net worth individuals, or agents for individuals
  • PCS = Investing in everything: equities, equities derivatives, etc.
  • PCS = No one will ask you really complex questions.

Michael Grossman: Global Equity Research (internal equity research group)

  Putnam Investments

  • Chief competitors are Fidelity and Wellington
  • Has $400 billion under management; 4th largest asset management firm
  • Responsible for 2-3% of what's traded daily.

  Putnam Investments is a "buy side" (as opposed to "sell side" firm)

  • Buys securities from the investment banks, etc.
  • Keep research totally inside.
  • Use sell-side research, but "with a grain of salt"
  • Very unbiased: no clients, no banking business. - clients depend on this
  • Few analyst positions in buy side.

  Sell side

  • Sell research plus "makes markets" (ie, sells securities).
  • Between investment banking arm of the bank & equity research side.
  • Get information ahead of the public.

  Mike's job:

  • Neither a marathon nor a sprint - describes his job as a "workout"
  • Gives you choice of how hard you push.
  • Research analyst in European ISPs, retail & e-commerce.
  • Can also do equity research for private partners in the firm.
  • Gets in, reads Wall Street Journal, checks news.
  • Always learn a specific industry, but you also need general info.
  • Reads research reports - sell side & independent analyst.
  • Gets exposure to CEOs, since they want Putnam buying their product.
  • Also does quantitative stuff - cash flow analysis, valuation modeling.
  • Learn a lot of accounting on the job.
  • Due diligence - qualitative research.
  • Not research in the sense of going to the library and reading a book.
  • Travel 2-3 times a month.
  • Get lots of responsibility.
  • Learn lots of qualitative, quantitative, and communication skills.
  • Can go to business-finance side or business side.
  • Good links to business schools - if you're great, the company can get you in.


  • Be yourself, academically and socially - faking it really comes out.
  • The interview process takes stamina.
  • Don't think all the good jobs come only in September and October.

Questions and Answers

1. What is the difference between sales and trading?

  • Sales: client calls wanting to buy ____.
  • Trading & Risking the firm's capital. Facilitating customer trades.

2. How quantitative are interview questions for equities research?

  • 9 out of 10 questions are non-quantitative.
  • Interviewers want smart, hard-working candidates, interested in the market.
  • As an interviewee, it's the luck of the draw who your interviewer will be.
  • Keep your interviewing in perspective. People switch jobs a lot! By 26, you may have been through a lot of jobs.
  • Get over the Wharton inferiority complex - you already know a lot.

3. What are the advantages of New York over other locations?

  • Investment banking - New York
  • Buy side - Boston
  • Ideal to be as close to the center of everything as possible. Salomon Smith Barney's trading floor is only in New York. You get to pick up a lot.
  • Boutique firms - Lots of acquisition going on. Hard to make the jump from smaller firms up.
  • Leverage in the markets, & amount of assets, give you power.
  • For banking, you need to consider what you want, what your life is like.  If quality of life and having your work recognized matters to you, then smaller markets/firms may work for you.

4. What about the size of the analyst class? Does it help if it's smaller?

  • On a new job, you have to create your presence and value - "get me on the deal"
  • In terms of getting recognition, it may depend on who you work with and/or the project you are assigned to.
  • Salomon only had 11 Sales & Trading people - all made associate in 2 years.
  • Sales & Trading gives you access to senior folks very easily - you get much more exposure to senior management.

5. What about someone whose background includes no great experience?

  • It may be hard without some decent experience.
  • But if you can sell yourself, that's all that matters.

6. What kind of training will you get?

  • Firms will train you and pay for any courses. Series 7, Series 63, CFA, MBA - many firms will support it, particularly for Asset Management & Equity Research; less in Sales & Trading; middle for I-banking.
  • The dot.com phenomenon has scared banks, so MBAs are no longer needed - lots of fast promotions.

7. How do you know you will like investment banking?

  • Like high-pressure situations.
  • Like lots of action.
  • Able to learn a lot.

8. In sales, do you interview generally, or for a specific desk?

  • Varies by firm.
  • Salomon Smith Barney - generalist program for 2 months, then you get to choose.

9. Advice for International students.

  • Domestic/overseas experience
  • Lehman - can move internationally, if you can make things happen and if people want to leverage you.
  • Mention where you want to work.

10. Promoting yourself - what works and what doesn't?

  • Very fine line - show interest and persistence without being overbearing or annoying.
  • Really random why people get jobs.
  • Never turn down an interview.
  • Learn your pitch.
  • Being from Penn gives you a real leg up.
  • Firms look for intelligent people who are proactive, energetic and involved.
  • Jobs are learned on the job.