Bernstein.... interview for private client

What’s the deal with this firm? I’m interviewing for a private client associate position. One of my best friends at my previous firm was absolutely REAMED three years ago by the person set to interview me. He popped a mint during the interview and she went bat-shit. The most important thing for me is that people are respectful of one another. Is that the case here?

I think you should bring some mints to the interview, but make sure to offer her one.

Come on, we need details about that story - I’ve already pictured it in my mind but I’m sure the reality is way funnier…

Work for the FI AM arm…don’t know tooo much about Bernstein PC but I can let you know about AB as a whole hit me up at with any questions if you want

I sent you some questions. Thanks for the help

There is something of a cultural tradition at Alliance/Bernstein, particularly the Bernstein side - that interviewers are supposed to throw tough puzzles and watch you squirm as you try to think through them. I’ve been interviewed by maybe 20 different people at AB from time to time and every single one of them threw some kind of fairly intense analysis for me to figure out. Things like “explain to me why the Yen hasn’t strengthened lately,” “what’s wrong with using a log transformation on this kind of data,” “explain why the evidence for global warming should be compelling.” They don’t always faze me (sometimes they do), but they are never trivial to answer.

Thanks. If they pull some sh*t like that I will say I have no idea. If they disrespect me by asking some obscure crap that is irrelevant to the position I might just get up and leave. I’ve had it with a-holes. Gentlemen (and women) only please. That said I think I may be well suited to HNW. Institutional business is sexier but can be pretty damn boring for a junior person. At least here I’ll be able to talk to clients and make asset allocation recommendations.

Well, the stuff wasn’t entirely irrelevant. One of the positions was a currency related stuff, so understanding the Yen bit was relevant. Turned out the guy who asked me didn’t know either but wanted hear me think through the issues and come up with an analysis. The log transformation question was relevant because there were quantitative aspects to the job. And there was climate related stuff on my resume that they chose to dig into. So it wasn’t completely random. Usually they’re trying to dig into how you think, rather than whether the answer is right. I’ve heard that people have been asked things like “estimate the number of light bulbs in Manhattan,” clearly getting the right answer is not the key issue here, but watching how you handle coming up with estimates of things for which you have very incomplete information, which is actually a pretty important skill for investors to have. And by the way, the people I interviewed (except maybe one) were all very nice. They just asked tough questions, but it wasn’t as if they acted all superior about it.

Dante sent you an email last night

They asked me how many cows mcdonalds kills per year to put in its hamburgers. I should have said, “0…McDonald’s doesn’t have beef burgers…it’s soy and recycled waste as far as I know”. I don’t like the Bernstein culture…they think they are all so damn smart, and they acted quite pretentious in sell-side interviews I had there a number of years back. I chose to take another job, rather than work in a rather low paying sweat shop (on the SS at least).

while I agree that these questions are more like something a fresh graduate would be asked, but they are asked to see how you react to unknown situations…essentially if you give them a weird look, your not a ‘problem solver’…they are not asking you an exact answer but peeking into your brain to determine your thought process… if say u said there are x number of mcdonalds in the world, each sells x amount of burgers…blah blah…therefore approximately x cows…that would have been it!

My understanding is that the merger between Alliance and Bernstein was a disaster. The Bernstein guys are a bunch of a-holes from what I can tell. Just a question- if you want to work with HNW, why go to Bernstein? They are only going to let you sell their own products I believe, which puts you in a really bad competitive position relative to almost any other wealth management firm.