Philip Watson (28), Analyst, Citigroup
How did you get into the job?: I studied Applied Maths and Economics with French at Leeds University. I'm half French anyway, but having studied a language to a high level actually helped me get my job within Citigroup, as we liaise with overseas clients.
Job history: During my sandwich year at university, I worked as a Customer Services Assistant at the Woolwich advising people on ISAs and mortgages. Once I graduated I worked as a Junior Project Manager on the Y2K millennium bug project. Soon after I was offered a job in product control derivatives at Citigroup. Derivatives allow investors to take directional risks and basically hedge their bets or positions on the financial markets. In 2003 I moved into product control, share profit , loss reporting and risk management on the trading floor. I've finally moved on to work for the bank as analyst. We have several thousand clients and advise them on the best, wisest and most profitable ways to invest their money.
Best/worst bits: There are many great aspects to my job including the fact that at Citigroup it's a meritocracy and you're rewarded accordingly. There are also lots of opportunities for women to advance up the ladder. I would describe my job as varied and challenging. When you're handling the portfolio of a high-profile client you get an eye-opener into how some of the richest and most influential families operate financially. There's only one drawback when it comes to city banking: the long hours.
Advice for wannabees: The reality is that banking is hard work. You need to be determined, and have a strong personality combined with talent. Spend your summers at uni in an internship to boost your CV and gain the experience to get interviews when you leave.
CV essentials: A degree is extremely useful and most applicants will be expected to have a degree of at least 2:1 or better. Ultimately, your skills, experience and abilities will take you further than your qualifications. Other important qualities include a head for figures, the ability to take knock-backs, a competitive spirit and steadfast determination. I would say developing excellent people skills is a must, especially if you start out in local bank branches, which are very customer facing.
There are numerous posts, positions and career paths to be had in the world of finance. The four main areas are investment banking, capital markets, investment consulting and operations.
Most potential bankers gain experience through summer internships while they're at university and then join a bank as part of a graduate recruitment scheme. Once you're in, and show drive and determination, there are plenty of opportunities for training and working your way up.
The day-to-day routine varies between job roles. Your day will often start very early in the morning, especially if you are a trader. Even so, you'll need to be ready to work under pressure from the start of the day to the finish.
Philip's job will involve tasks like liaising with clients, analysing their financial position in order to advise them on how to invest and preparing reports and presentations. Keeping up to date with financial issues, as well as being aware of legal and market-risk related issues is also an important part of any banking role.
As well as being numerate and having excellent analytical capabilities, you need to be a good communicator, have boundless energy, an ability to face fresh challenges on a daily basis, and mental agility. An ability to juggle different tasks and make snap financial decisions will also get you noticed for the right reasons. Once you're in you'll get training on the job and there are numerous professional qualifications you can work towards. There's no stigma to being assertive in banking - in fact it's an asset.
Personality/Who would it suit
You don't need to be ruthless in city banking, but loads of determination certainly won't go amiss either. It can be quite a competitive industry, so you need to bounce back after any knock-backs and prove that you're keen and dedicated to the profession. Flexible thinking also helps.
How far you'll climb all depends on your intellectual capacity, as well as sharp, shrewd thinking, luck and your ability to get on with others. There's good earning potential, which often reaches six-figure salaries, and as long as you're performing well, you will receive bonuses.
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Pros and cons
Interviewed by Mariam Manneh