It's a career path that seeks more than just the talent of crunching numbers. Aside from the mathematical intellect, the financial services industry demands a great deal of teamwork, organization, and the ability to work well under pressure.
With the ability to learn from seasoned professionals, young people are not only able to develop their research and analytical skills, but are also able to witness how the business runs in real time.
The trading floor is often described as loud, fast-paced, and exciting. Keeping up-to-date with market trends, preparing presentations, and pricing trades are just some of the responsibilities of working on the trading floor.
"It would be any market centric role that would give them a real life experience in capital markets," says Jessica Pezim, senior manager, wholesale banking campus and rotation programs at CIBC, when speaking of the roles for students and new grads. "These positions are broken down between analysts and associates. Analysts would be our junior level roles—so typically coming in with an undergraduate degree and associates may have a graduate degree."
Co-op and summer internship opportunities focusing on global capital markets are just one type of the paid student programs offered at Scotiabank. These internships are a great opportunity for students to learn about the business and help them determine if this is the career path for them. For example, in the sales and trading area, new graduates can apply for a 12–18 month rotational program.
"The new graduates will go through a series of rotations to learn about the different areas of the business," says Lisa Winberg, manager of campus recruitment, Global Banking and Markets, Global Risk Management, and Group Treasury at Scotiabank. "Students have the opportunity to work with and learn from senior people and begin adding value immediately."
"Working with senior team members across various products groups, the students are responsible for providing research that will support their team in generating daily market commentary for their clients," says Winberg.
"Possessing strong communications skills is also an important aspect. For trading, you actually join a specific desk and every desk is very different," says Pezim. "We look for well-rounded, highly-motivated people with excellent communication skills as it's a very client-centric business."
Lending covers a range of financial areas from personal mortgages to business loans to risk management.
"In corporate banking, new graduates have the opportunity to engage in risk management and lending roles within the banking operations. Corporate banking serves as a relationship management role within the bank and deals with large corporate and institutional clients. Recent Graduates will join the Credit Analytics Group, and be given a broad range of assignments in each industry including researching and analyzing financial information, reviewing borrower compliance reporting, preparing regulatory compliance documents, and assisting with the credit process by participating in transaction analysis," says Winberg.
"Along with a strong accounting acumen and the ability to handle a portfolio of client accounts, time management in lending is hugely important," says Pezim. "When you have two very senior people sending you things with a similar deadline, how to prioritize and how to manage expectations is hugely important."
Winberg believes the drive and passion for the business are critical to the success of anyone entering the Capital Markets industry.
"As working Canadians, we all contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) to help build pension benefits for our retirements. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is a professional investment management organization that invests assets of the CPP currently not needed to pay benefits, in order to ensure the financial security of Canadians. The CPP fund's assets are currently at $201.5 billion."
CPPIB invests the fund's assets in a diversified portfolio that includes public and private equities, fixed income, real estate, and infrastructure. To accomplish this, they employ a number of young and experienced employees to work on its public and private investment portfolios. For current students and new grads, the opportunity to gain experience in various areas of asset management through mentorship and work experience provides a valuable stepping stone to a career in the field.
"A majority of our roles for students are within investments teams, whether in private investments or public markets," says Michelle Mendes, talent advisor for the campus programs team at CPPIB. "In terms of undergraduate students, for the most part we look for candidates to fill our analyst-level roles and draw candidates from a variety of programs including commerce, business, mathematics, and economics."
According to CPPIB's campus recruitment consultant Jamie Allison, regardless of position, "CPPIB looks for individuals with a strong interest in financial modelling, evaluations, and analytics. At CPPIB they could find themselves working alongside experienced employees on the trading floor, participating in analytical work with portfolio managers, or conducting analysis on potential investment transactions."
As well as taking on analyst positions, students at the master's level may work as associates. "In this capacity, they would be participating in the higher level investment decision-making process with a deal team," says Allison. "This could include travel to different parts of the world, working with other people in private investments to complete the due diligence on a potential investment."
To be successful, Allison says young people must be able to thrive in a transparent work environment. "A key difference between CPPIB and many other organizations is that while we are usually involved in large transactions, our organization is small enough that our teams have to be very collaborative."
Mendes adds that a passion for the field is also important. "We look for people that are willing to dive head first into the team that they'd be working in. As well, leadership skills are quite important because we do need people who are willing and able to put up their hand and ask questions."
Photo: Cathy Yeulet/THINKSTOCK