How I got into Investment Banking without an Ivy League degree

I am writing this blog to share my personal story having worked at bulge bracket investment banks as a research analyst for more than 10 years.

To begin with, I came from a humble single parent family background. I was very average in high school. I only got into an average selective high school as a wait list student. I was also bullied quite a lot back in high school and I never fought back. My mum instilled this mentality that fighting back would create more issues so my first line of defence was always to grind through them. I also recall she mentioned that being above average in grades is enough, which is how I ended up living my life.

I had no idea what I wanted to do at university and picked actuarial because I thought I was good at maths (but I really wasn’t) and somehow got sold that it was more prestigious than being an accountant.

Again, I got into actuarial marginally and was average academically throughout. So I didn’t get any scholarships. But I did get a traineeship with a bank in my last year though I wasn’t offered a full time job at the end.

Now looking back, there is one minor detail that I left out in all these, which I believe had a major influence. During my high school years, a cousin came over and stayed with us for a couple of years. He mentioned to me there was a person called Warren Buffet, who was his idol.

That is when I got fascinated by the idea of being a stock analyst and investment. Thinking back, I somehow, in my subconscious mind, built in that I really wanted to be a stock analyst and so I started reading a lot of books like Security Analysis, The Intelligent Investor and books from George Soros. I would also recommend Think and Grow Rich for anyone with aspirations in their lives — a book I only started reading recently somehow.

Back then, I had no idea how you would become a stock analyst other than maybe to do a degree in finance. I didn’t know you have to network with the right people, identify your niche and all that sort of stuff. I just came from a very humble family background and thought being a stock analyst seems a good way to make money and a better living.

As fate would have it, one of my closer friends at university ended up getting a job at a bulge bracket firm and eventually I went to work for him as an associate. But I didn’t get to do that straight away, he actually led me to a number of jobs first and it was around a couple of years later that it happened. So things take time and so you need to be persistent and really have desire for it.

NEXT – How I got from Back Office to Front Office in Banking

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