Bulge Bracket Banks Analysis for MBA Veterans

If you decide to recruit for banking next year, you will have to decide on which type of banks to apply too. By the way, I really advise that you do RECRUIT for banking, do a SUMMER INTERNSHIP with banking, but DON’T ACCEPT AN OFFER from a bank (topic of another post coming soon). I focused on bulge bracket banks (but you may want to add boutique, middle-market- you can find better definitions elsewhere on the internet) and there are many ways to categorize them, but I prefer to do it this way to start it off, ranking within groups is just what I perceive is the MBA/market/my personal sentiment:
American Banks with Retail/Commercial Deposits (Large Balance Sheets):
1. J.P. Morgan
2. Bank of America Merrill Lynch
3. Citigroup

Large balance sheets make investment banking somewhat easier because you can provide multiple services for your clients, i.e. line of credit, in addition to mergers and acquisition advisory services. Problem is that banks don’t make much off of lines of credit and other commercial banking activity so it is a double-edged sword.

Broker-Dealers, Traditional Investment Banks (Small Balance Sheets)
1. Goldman Sachs
2. Morgan Stanley
3. Credit Suisse

Before the financial crisis forced some of them (maybe all?) to be bank holding companies, these guys were mainly focused on proprietary trading. CS has probably the best private bank, GS has probably the best sales and trading, and MS and GS always vie for the top in investment banking and I think historically and even today, GS is still dominating. MS dominates technology without a doubt. CS had a really crappy year for banking, down there with UBS.

Foreign Banks with Deposits in Home Country
1. Deutsche Bank
2. Barclays
3. UBS

I never thought about it this way until a veteran banker told me but he said to never work for a foreign bank unless you don’t have a choice. Do you think the Germans are going to be the first to get cut at DB or the Swiss being the first to be cut at CS, or the Americans? Yeah. And frankly if you are going to give your soul up to banking….might as well help America.


Veteran Networks

Another thing that you should really think about being a veteran and all is how strong the veteran networks are. There are actually a decent amount of Managing Directors at most banks who are veterans in banking and sales and trading so there is a certain level of support and mentorship that you can expect. However, being a veteran is far from being a “ticket” into banking – there are a shitload of ex-O3s running all over the place. Especially Navy Sub guys (JP Morgan Co-Heads of Recruiting for Columbia are both Navy Sub guys)…..but I digress.

Overall Rank Bank Veterans Network Rank Comments
1 GS  4 Didn’t get an interview from GS, but let’s face it, it’s still “King of the Street” and everybody knows it, everybody wants to be there. Culture is pretty stiff but you want GS on your resume. Total love/hate/envy relationship here.
2 JPM  3 Very active group, everyone seems more polished than the other banks. Look at JPM as a corporation that happens to be in the banking industry rather than being a bank. Just a great corporation to work for.
3 MS  2 This bank has a very old-school “American” feel to it. They’ve got tons of veterans and they will treat you right.
4 CS  1 Bet you didn’t think a Swiss bank would be #1 but they had the first veterans group and they are a bunch of party animals and fun to be with.
5 BAC  6 There are veterans, but the organization of the veterans group could be better. Being a large organization makes it hard to be cohesive. But then again….JPM does it well and they are larger.
6 DB  8 If you find a US military veteran at DB…..let me know…
7 BCS  5 If you are surprised that a British bank would rank higher than some American banks, I was too at first. Then I realized that they purchased Lehman’s investment bank and it started to make sense to me.
8 C  7 Same thing with BAC, there are veterans, but the organization could be stronger if it had a strong sponsor.
9 UBS  9 Who cares? UBS is imploding.

Wrapping up the first semester, Banking in US/EMEA/APAC

The first semester is crazy. People warned me it was crazy, but I didn’t believe them. How bad could it really be? Pretty bad if you are recruiting for everything. Part of me wants to just chill out for the rest of this year, but I’ve actually met people in real life who finds this blog useful so to pay it forward for other vets, I’m going to keep on going.


From a logistics point of view, all of my posts now are probably only useful for those MBAs entering the class of 2015 because most of the things I’ve learned this fall isn’t relevant to the spring at all (because traditional recruiting happens in the fall).


One quick note I wanted to jot down was the difference between banking in the US, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa, but basically London), vs. APAC (Asia Pacific, but basically Hong Kong). In the US, you are a new associate without any experience in banking among 80 other dudes who came from other industries. There is a super tight military network at MOST banks and your MBA alumni network should be strong.


In London, there’s a lot of analysts being promoted to associates and they have 1 year MBA. What does all of that mean for you? Instead of 80 new guys, you are one of 10 new guys vs. the 70 guys who have been there for 3-4 years. How do you think you’ll rank among them during annual reviews for the first two years? Bottom third. There is a London Banking Summit every Thanksgiving so I would take a look for yourself and enjoy London as well.


The main barrier in working in Asia, regardless of banking, consulting, or any industry, is the language requirements. There will be reading, writing, speaking, and even translation tests at most firms. I don’t know a lot of veterans who even meet this pre-requisite so this is already out.


The whole point of looking beyond the US is that you can potentially increase your chances of getting more interviews. If you know you are cut from Barclays in New York, that does not mean you are cut from Barclays London. So you apply to London. Hit up all the bulge bracket firms during your networking and the ones you get cut from, apply to their London/HK office.


That’s it for now….more to come:

  • Recruiting tips, networking etiquette
  • Why you should recruit for everything
  • Why banking in London sucks
  • Detailed notes on every company that I’ve researched



Finance Events for Military Veterans, All in NYC (October Update)

I’ve been out of the loop. School and recruiting have been crazy busy.


Friday, 10/26/2012, 12:00pm – 1:00pm: JP Morgan Veterans Lunch
Friday, 11/2/2012, 9:00am – 4:30pm: Barclays Diversity Forum (Registration over)
Friday, 11/2/2012, 4:30pm – 6:30pm: Barclays Veterans Event (Registration over)
Friday, 11/9/2012, 8:00am – 7:30pm: Goldman Sachs Veterans Event
Thursday, 11/15/2012, 6:00pm – destruction: Credit Suisse Veterans Event (Don’t miss this one…)
Friday, 11/16/2012, 8:30am – 1:30pm: Morgan Stanley Veterans Event
Friday, 11/16/2012, 4:30om – 6:00pm: Citi Veterans Event (Email cordobabrownk@citi.com by October 29)

Bank of America had an event last week but I wasn’t invited so I don’t have much details on that


It all Begins with Sleep

I’ve been out of the loop lately because school has been busier than I could have ever imagined.  I just finished the first month of my MBA experience and it is like drinking from a fire hose. I have stayed at school until midnight at least a few nights already. I wanted to write a quick note on sleep and I have a lot of great JP Morgan / Credit Suisse notes to type  up….eventually.


A lot of people talk about various ways of having success in an MBA program but I think it is as simple as getting 8 hours of sleep every night. The thing is that there will just be an endless supply of academic, recruiting, and social events and you can’t do it all. The best way to deal with this is to really block out 8 hours of sleep and then work the rest of your day from there.


Without proper sleep, you can’t be at the top of your game academically, recruiting-wise, or socially.

The 300th Revision

If I heard you telling me that one person could make 300 revisions to a resume when I got out of the Army, I would have thought you were insane. However, I have literally just made the 300th revision to my resume, starting with using a junior military officer recruiter, through working as a consultant, and then through applying to a dozen business schools.

After all this work, it still isn’t perfect and I don’t think it will ever become perfect. Some things I left out as a consultant, I put in for business school, some things I put in my business school resume, I took out now. The resume is the quintessential living document.

JP Morgan Early Advantage Program Interview & Veterans Networking Events (Update)

Last week, I received a 30 minute interview via phone for the JP Morgan Early Advantage Program and a few days later, I was accepted. It looks like its going to be on July 24 – July 25, with the Credit Suisse event being on July 26 so that will be a full week.


Will keep you all posted on what I learn from those events. I haven’t heard of a Bank of America event yet as they have the pre-MBA fellowship pipeline, but Citi has a pre-MBA fellowship event as well as a military networking event in November.


Also found an event with Barclays that occurred in November of last year, can’t link directly to the website but here’s the link, click Programs, and then Veterans (Veterans program no longer exists, but I will update this info when it does):

“Event will take place in our New York office on Friday, November 4, 2011

Applicants must RSVP by submitting an updated pdf resume to this address with subject “Veterans Networking Event” by Friday, October 7, 2011

Applicants will be notified of their status by Friday, October 21, 2011.”

Pros and Cons of Not Taking a Break Until Your MBA starts


1) Routine. Getting up at the same time every morning, read a newspaper, make breakfast, etc. I want to go into my MBA running like a well-oiled machine. If I stop working, I’ll just degenerate into never wearing pants at home and playing video games.

2) Money. Unless you are independently wealthy, a month or two of salary helps the financial burden that an MBA carries.



1) Not having enough time to relax. I can see that happening, but then again, my philosophy isn’t about rewarding myself or my family on specific occasions, i.e birthdays. I try to relax on a year-long basis. If you try to fit all your relaxing into a specific period of time, doesn’t that seem kind of stressful in itself?

2) Self reflection. This is the biggest con of not taking a break until your MBA begins. The MBA is a journey on self-reflection and you should probably figure out who you are and what you want to do, generally speaking, before you start your MBA program. There are just too many opportunities that you need to filter without getting swamped.

My mind is blown

I’m in a movie theater in Charlotte having a cocktail in a seat that I had to pick specifically when you purchase tickets (like in London) and there is a restaurant / club here as well. My mind is totally blown right now because this experience is something that is outside of what i considered a night out at the theatre. Imagine what other seemingly “ordinary” business ideas are out there? And the stuffed peppers ain’t so bad either.

Reminder and Update: Citi Pre-MBA Fellowship, deadline is Friday, June 15, 2012

Citi Pre-MBA Fellowship (Veterans): The deadline on the website says May 30, but I have received emails from business schools and other websites saying Friday, June 15, 2012.

Just received word from the Credit Suisse about being invited to their MBA Military Boot Camp, so that’s good news. Took the CFA last Saturday and I’m tempted to just throw all my books away because if I don’t get it this time, I’m not planning on trying again. My goal was to get a basic foundation of finance and I think the participation in the CFA program gives you that. Getting the charter is certainly a personal as well as professional plus, but at this point, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to commit to at least two more years of intense studying – if I even pass the first test.

In other news, I’ve been working on a project in Charlotte and I’ve very surprised how beautiful and fun the city as (at least where my hotel is at). If you ever stop by…check out the mechanical bull at the Whisky River.