When applying for investment banking jobs, does it matter which office you apply to? The short answer is, absolutely. As a practical matter, this can be an incredibly important question.
Of course if you’re from the United States, attending a target university, and really interested in a finance career, then New York City might be a no brainer. There are lots of situations, however, where it may not be as clear.
Language Requirements and Immigration
First, let’s consider two variables that have a direct impact on which offices you may be competitive for, language requirements and immigration regulations. Many offices outside the United States have language requirements. For example, if you are targeting an office in Asia, say Tokyo, good English language skills are a given and fluent, if not native, Janpanese will almost always be required. In other parts of Asia, increasingly Mandarin Chinese is sought after.
Additionally, changes in immigration policy can also be a key driver in office selection. It’s very easy to search online how difficult it might be to secure a work visa if trying to work in a foreign country. In a place like Hong Kong, it is still relatively easy to secure an employment visa, while in a place like the United Kingdom that is often not the case, and even more so with Brexit uncertainty.
Beyond language requirements and immigration regulations, there is another critical reason to carefully consider office selection. What many students don’t realize is that recruitment can vary depending on which office/region is targeted.
Of course all banks have the standard online CV submission process, deadlines, etc…which is pretty standard across regions. Each region, however, has different characteristics when it comes to recruiting that is important for students to realize.
In the United States, networking is usually critical for successful recruitment, while in the UK/Europe and Asia this is not necessarily the case, though it definitely doesn’t hurt.
Instead, in the United Kingdom, most banks run a Spring Week, which is a fast track way for students to secure interviews at investment banks. These types of programs are generally not common outside of Europe. Additionally, many banks in Europe will run long-term internships say six months, which are sometimes referred to as industrial placements or in some situations can be off-cycle internships (i.e., internships that are not part of the standard summer internship cycle). Such long-term internships are also becoming more common in some markets in Asia, like Hong Kong or Seoul, and are a great way for students to secure opportunities outside of the traditional summer internship.
Key Differences for Asia
A few more key differences for Asian offices is that analyst intake classes are usually smaller than in New York City or London mainly because Asian offices are usually smaller than their counterparts in the United States or Europe.
Another key point is that recruitment for Asian offices is usually global in nature. For example, for New York City recruitment, you may be competing against other students from the United States and maybe Canada. If recruiting for say the Hong Kong office of an investment bank, however, then the applicant pool consists of students from universities in Hong Kong, mainland China, and elsewhere in Asia. Additionally, students with the relevant language capabilities that are studying in Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe, also frequently apply to Asian offices, thus creating even more competition for a smaller number of seats.
So if you are preparing for investment banking recruitment, keep in mind the importance of office selection as it can have a significant impact in how you will need to organize your application strategy.