The concept of the London Banking Tour is to provide an experience as prominent as the name makes it out to be. With this goal in mind we set out on a three day in-house tour among five financial institutions in the financial capital of the world. Accompanied by 25 excellent and ambitious students aspiring a career in finance, we arrived at Canary Wharf on Monday. In awe of the structures around us, which left us both speechless and filled with excitement, we arrived at our first host: Morgan Stanley.
While the majority of the group was still processing the immensity of the environment around us, it was time to get warmed up for the Tour. Morgan Stanley’s office is carefully located besides its brother: J.P. Morgan from which it stems as of September 16, 1935, in response to a regulatory reform which required the splitting of commercial and investment banking. Nowadays, Morgan Stanley is among the top players in the bulge market of investment banking firms, providing a variety of financial advisory services. Our hosts introduced us to the workings within the bank, career opportunities and valuable tips on how to prepare yourself for investment banking interviews. After being warmed up, it was time to cool off and appeal to our inner tourist during a few hours of spare time. We concluded the day with a nice dinner complemented by a couple of pints to get to know each other a little better.
The Tour continued on Tuesday with a visit to another American investment banking firm: Jefferies. At first, the majority had never heard of the firm but it quickly became clear that it was another big player in the financial advisory services industry. We were welcomed by a team who had recently started working for Jefferies after making a switch from Deutsche Bank. This provided an interesting outlook on the dynamics within a smaller middle market firm in contrast to a large bulge market investment bank. The discussions that ensued focused more thoroughly on this differential, which gave the students important insights which might prove useful in future career decisions. Moreover, our main host used to work for Lehman Brothers in 2008, which gave rise to a lot of curiosity amongst the participants resulting in many questions. Afterwards, we were joined by other Jefferies employees to ask any other questions we had left over a cup of coffee. It was an excellent visit, lending a lot of important insights and even though most of us could have stayed there all day, we had a tight schedule to adhere to.
After a quick stroll through the London streets, we arrived on the premise of Rothschild & Co for a surprise meeting with a prominent employee. The firm notorious for various theories concerning the amount of wealth they would manage did not fail to impress. We were welcomed in, by far, the most notable office of the Tour. Our host was an excellent example of what a successful career in investment banking has to offer. Forgetting about the recruitment aspect of the Tour for a little while, we were introduced to the ins and outs of what it’s like to work as an investment banker. Having worked for a lot of large investment banks, our host was able to leave the students intrigued and with a lot of questions unanswered. Our tight schedule prepared us for another short afternoon walk towards the next office.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) was our next stop. Headquartered in Luxembourg, the EIB is a non-profit oriented financial lender owned by member states of the European Union as shareholders. In large contrast to the other financial institutions we visited so far, the EIB promotes career opportunities which are vastly different in terms of clients, industries and workings within the firm related to company culture. The company presentation was complemented by a video testimonial of Ronald Heins (one of last year’s participants) who managed to land an internship position in success of the tour. A traditional British afternoon tea enabled the students to ask any questions they had, and to ask employees about their career paths.
After a tiring, but more importantly very exciting day, we had the evening to ourselves to relax and let the all new experiences settle in. After an hour of spare time the group met up at a restaurant for a nice dinner and discussion about the day. Afterwards, we returned back to the hotel for a couple of well-earned hours of sleep.
On Wednesday, the participants had a couple of valuable hours of spare time during which we visited Borough Market for lunch. Thereafter we had to enable our inner businessmen and women once more for the longest program of the Tour so far at Mizuho. We were welcomed in the most impressive meeting room of the Tour where the program started with presentations by employees from various departments within the firm. Mizuho is a Japanese bank with a lot of global presence and even more ambition to expand. After the presentations concluded, there was some time for coffee and cake after which we were divided into groups to dive into an interesting case study. Each group was assigned a mentor, a Mizuho employee, to help tackle the challenge the case introduced. After an hour a discussion emerged between the different groups providing interesting insights into how each group took on the challenge. The program was finalized after networking drinks and snacks with a lot of Mizuho employees.
Unfortunately, we had to leave for the train back home and our London experience had come to an end. The train ride was quiet while the participants were processing the experience of the last few days and dreaming of a career in London. The Tour provided excellent insights into the various career opportunities in the City ranging from working at a bulge market firm, a middle market firm to a non-profit company. We arrived back in Groningen enriched by new experiences, new friends and new career wishes.