Career advice needed - almost got there on so many occasions now but just missed out

If some of the more experienced members here could share their advice with me I would greatly appreciate it.

Over the past 12 months I have interviewed with some of the big names in the UK in Asset Management for graduate/entry level Investment Analyst positions. Many of them have been final round assessment centres or interviews. The companies and positions were:

RBS Pension Investments (basically the pension fund for all UK RBS employees) - Fund Manager’s Assistant

Aberdeen Asset Management - Internship

Standard Life Investments - Fixed Income Graduate

Franklin Templeton - Junior Equities Analyst

Alliance Trust - Graduate Programme

Unfortunatley, none of these worked out.

More information about my previous experience:

I graduated in 2011 with a First-class Business Studies degree from the University of Strathclyde. During my time at university I was able to get some work experience one summer with an independent financial advisor, who happened to be visited at the time by a marketing guy at an asset management firm - suggesting that he link his SIPP products to their funds. It was during this meeting (that I had the pleasure of sitting in on) that I discovered that I wanted a career in investment research. Basically the guy gave an overview of what the firm did and how they conducted their research.

After graduating university I came out with no job and no relevant exeperience to pursue the career I wanted. Through countless hours of networking I managed to gain two different internships with a couple of Emerging Market fund managers based in London. One was a Sales and Marketing internship where I spent a lot of time doing complaince stuff for them (KYC and AML check ups essentally) and the other was within the Investments department of a very small fund manager.

During the Investments Internship I had the opportunity to go along with the CIO and his assistant analyst to several analyst meetings, study their valuation models, and conduct some basic intial research for them on several banks in the Africa region (looking at broker reports and some basic valuation multiples). I loved every moment of this and it further vindicated my decision to pursue a career in investment research.

Since those internships I have started getting more interviews (those that I had mentioned earlier), but unfortunatley I have not been successful.

I am now working remotely from home for a small investment firm based in London doing some cash flow projections for them in Excel on investment plans that are in development by the firm and helping out with the marketing materials (because the guys they have in marketing aren’t very clued up yet when it comes to investment terminology and products). While doing this I have started studying towards the CFA charter and passed Level 1 in June, I am also currently doing a financial and valuation modelling course and run my own portfolio of stocks.

I have been stuck in my current position for almost a year now and I’m desperatley trying to get out and acheive my goal of becoming an equities analyst, but the job market is incredibly tough right now and everyone wants someone with experience.

I am currently down to the final 6 for a position with a discretionary fund manager, but it’s more of a client facing role - although I would be in charge of asset allocation after a while once I pass the relevant private client industry exams (CISI). I hope I get this because I am fed up of my current job but it’s still not where I really want to be.

Any advice from the veterans on the forum on the above would be greatly appreciated.


From your post it seems you are called by quite a few reputed investment/ asset-management companies but could not still cross the final hurdle. Obviously, you have some thing in you / your cv that attracts them to call you (believe me, it is NOT so normal for most cases) but then something makes them rethink or establish your suitability as an Investment Analyst.

Some of the reasons (may seem general type at first sight but these are critical for your type of cases!) you need to explore (honestly) and take care of for your forthcoming interviews that come to my mind are:

  1. Have you taken the necessary pain to master the fundas (both technical and not so technical) and jargons (often the blank look on faces of the fresh candidates on hearing the common terms used in investment parlance puts the recruiters off!) related to the field, specific job and the organisation you are being interviewed for. Unless you have full confidence to impress the interviewers till the final round, it really is immaterial upto which level you reached. In most cases like yours, if not all, first two rounds are to know where you stand, learning (and relearning, as many reputed cos. have their own methods/ approaches) capability and your commitment level vis-a-vis the function you are supposed to undertake on selections, the final round is to check the ‘substance’ in you and would really fit in the company culture (that is why in many cases it seems more whimsical and irrational type to most fresh candidates ). The in between rounds, if any, are just there to ‘prove you are going to join a big co. if selected’. So, same approach and preparation for all stages does more harm than benefits.
  2. Have learnt enough about the company and its mission and vision - these are in many cases made up of high sounding statements meant more for brochures and company reports but are critical ‘must know’ for aspiring candidates as he/she approaches the final round specially if you can match your responses on those lines to any query regarding future (whether yours or the organisation). Higher the official more impressed he/she will be.
  3. Don’t undervalue or underestimate the experience you have, draw attention to (but don’t flaunt or brag about) it, be it KYC/AML or investment internship or managing your own portfolio. Use the face-to-face interaction or telephonic interview to correlate what you have done and know because of your work to the type of tasks you will be expected to undertake and relate it to the main functions of the company. Exploit all acts and tasks you did officially , even seemingly minor ones like attending several ‘analysts meetings’ (highlighting what and how you contributed to it) , AML/KYC tasks (underlining ‘regulatory’ knowledge you have), researching African Banks (project it to prove your grasp of a banking and specific geographical sector and its implications for the function you would undertake) etc. Prove your initiative taking character by stating some of the ‘successful’ ideas (with facts and figures) you have applied in running your portfolio .
  4. Being unsuccessful continually in several job selection process sometimes leads to setting in of a ‘defeatist’ mental frame work or thinking (posture and talking to the candidate for a few minutes recruiters can easily feel it, though the candidate may not be aware of it) in their approach. Never let it happen and keep your confidence level and hopes high. In the current job market, the finance (specially investment related) field is probably the one of the toughest field to get into but once you are there and have the necessary fortitude there is no looking back.

Hope this helps you. Best of luck for the position you are aspiring for.

Would you say you get along with your final interviewers / have similar personalities? I think this is generally underrated and actually the only reason I got hired. It’s also usually the differentiating factor when considering two people with similar skill sets (lots of them). My firm took on the person with a better personality fit and interest as opposed to the more skilled candidate. In your final interviews they should know you as a person and it better not be only “he knows how to do financial stuff”. That’s an autoding.

Also, showing desperation is bad. Very bad. Not saying you are but I’ve dinged someone for sounding too desperate to get away from his/her current job.