Structured Finance | Debt Capital Markets | BB&T Capital Markets

Structured Finance investment Banking

Banking Investment / March 5, 2019

I’ve gotten requests to cover dozens of different topics – some of which are easy to find information on, and others that require Jack Bauer-style interrogation techniques to find clues.

In the latter category is Structured Finance – look around online and you’ll find dozens of different definitions and contradictory descriptions of what it is and what you do there.

The same thing happened when I started poking around online as well, so I decided the next best alternative would be finding a willing interviewee who works in the field – and that’s why you’re reading this right now.

Here’s what you’ll learn in Part 1 of this crash-course on Structured Finance:

  • How our interviewee moved from a liberal arts background with no finance experience to a bulge bracket bank.
  • What you do in Structured Finance.
  • How it’s different from investment banking, ECM, DCM, LevFin, and sales & trading.
  • How you break in and what to expect in interviews.

Let’s go:

Background and Definitions

Q: Let’s start with your background. What’s your story, and how did you break into finance?

A: I went to a top 20 undergrad university, and was originally a pre-law major – but then I took a class on economic forecasting, got started building models, and became much more interested in finance since it was more exciting and in-tune with my personality.

I graduated into a recession where jobs were almost non-existent, so I had to cast a wide net to find my first full-time job. I started out at an investment consulting firm, where I mainly conducted due diligence on private equity firms and hedge funds. As a result of this experience, I became very interested in the buy-side.

However, I knew I would need a different skill set in order to break in. After some research I decided that a job in banking would give me the broadest and most applicable experience.

The only problem: I had a liberal arts background and little finance experience on my resume. So I decided to fix those problems by going through 2 levels of the CFA and then refining my financial modeling skills.

Q: Now I’m going to stop the interview and end this discussion because you just mentioned “CFA.”

Just kidding, since it was actually useful in your case.

A: I knew you were going to have that reaction! While it was essential for me to learn about finance and demonstrate that I was both serious and capable, now that I’m working at a bulge bracket bank I can attest to the fact that the CFA is (1) Not helpful for advancement, (2) Not valued by your bosses, and (3) Not possible to pass with the hours you’ll be working.

Q: And then? This story doesn’t end with the exam magically getting you in, right?

A: Nope. I went through tons of cold calls, resume submissions, and the usual networking tactics you’ve recommended before, and finally landed an opportunity at a regional boutique bank that focused on technology M&A.