Break into Bay Street 攻略

                                                                                Break into Bay Street

Many Chinese students in Toronto are pursuing business/commerce degrees and are contemplating a career in front office finance roles including investment banking, equity research, corporate banking, and sales and trading. I would like to share some of my learnings on how to obtain a front office finance offer in Toronto, aka, “break into Bay Street”.

Make a Wise Choice of Your Program/School

Students from a target program/school do have an edge. For example, if you were a student from the Master of Financial Economics program at the University of Toronto, you would have a way better chance of obtaining a front office offer - you would have a substantially higher possibility of getting invited to an interview, receiving lenient questions from interviewers, obtaining help from your alumni, and getting notified of internally posted positions.

Therefore it is always good to know your interested programs/schools first, understand their placements, and make a wise choice. However you should also keep in mind that a good program/school is usually highly competitive to enter in the first place.

Speak Fluent English

It surprised me when I first discovered that many Chinese students in Toronto were unable to speak fluent English. Being fully bilingual in both English and Chinese is the minimum requirement of obtaining a front office finance job. If you were concerned with your language skills, practice more. Toastmasters is a good place to practice and improve your public speaking skills in English.

You can either Go Global or Canadian

Unfortunately, there is (almost) no option of going Chinese. Therefore your knowledge of the Chinese market would most likely not help for your search of a front office finance role in Canada. The financial transaction between China and Canada is minimal. Front office finance roles would require you to either go global or Canadian or do both. You need to prepare the interviews accordingly.

Study Hard and Get a Good Grade, and Learn to Network

The good news is that front office finance teams are not as picky on grades as management consulting ones. I heard that 3.8+/4 is one prerequisite of obtaining an interview invitation from MBB (McKinney, BCG and Bain). Front office finance roles are way more lenient. If you have adequate GPA (3.3 /4) and proper networking, you will have a good chance of getting invited for an interview.

The importance of networking cannot be stressed enough. Effective networking will give you a better chance of getting notified of the position, obtaining invitation for an interview and having internal advocates. Networking will help greatly in your job search. However you have to learn to effectively network. I do not have any tricks here. It is about practice. You network more, and eventually you will know what to ask and present.

Build Technical Skills

Can you walk me through an LBO? OK, if you do not know much about LBO, do you know how to calculate FCFF, and why FCFF is calculated that way? Those are considered “teaser” level interview questions for investment banking. If you have no idea about either of them, you will have a lot to catch up. Business schools general have resources to help build up your technical skills, and to accumulate technical skills is a long-term process – you better start early.

Prepare Well for Interviews
I have heard of extreme examples where people practice interviews every day for years until they finally receive their dream offers. Probably your job search would not be that difficult. However as a student who speaks English as your second language, you need a lot of practice to be confident and perform well in your interviews.

Once I am in, What to Do after?

That is what I am trying to figure out as well. As for myself, I believe a lot of personal and cultural adjustments are needed. Learning is a continuous life time process.

What are your ideas? I am very open to any discussions.

本文作者为2015问吧奖学金参选选手:Cheng Gong
学校:Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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