We speak to Alex Woodgate about his experiences on the...
The best advice I can give to students considering a career in investment banking is to speak to as many people from the industry, and to ask them as many questions, as possible. When I started university, I didn’t know anything whatsoever about investment banking, but by talking to representatives at company presentations and recruitment events I gained some valuable insights. From there, I took part in a couple of Spring Week programmes to get a taste of the roles available within investment banking and I was impressed by how motivated and intelligent everybody was, which convinced me that it was the right career for me.
When I joined UBS, I had five weeks of training with all the other new analysts, which included an introduction to the bank, its culture, and its different divisions, as well as technical training. I had studied Economics at the University of Nottingham, followed by a Masters at Cass Business School, but everyone comes from very different academic backgrounds so the training is designed to make sure everyone is at the same level by the time they hit their desks.
The training is very comprehensive, but nobody expects you to know everything. I’ve been at UBS for nine months now, and I still have lots of questions and I’m learning new things every day. When I don’t understand something, I try to work it out for myself first, but I can always ask someone else in my team or my Associate Director. My exposure to the senior directors is limited because they’re very busy and often in meetings, but they’re approachable and hands-on, so I can easily talk to them if I have any problems.
When you first join the bank it’s challenging because there are so many new things to take on board and there’s a lot of technical information to learn. But it becomes easier as you go along and it quickly becomes second nature to you. There are ten people in my team and we all get along really well, but we’re from different backgrounds and have different working styles, so when I joined I had to learn how to integrate with them and how to approach each one when I need to talk to them.
It can also be difficult to fit your personal life around your work commitments, but I think it’s possible to find a balance. It’s typical for me to work from 8.30am until midnight, and often at the weekend too, so I try to meet my friends early in the morning for breakfast or on weekends when I don’t have to work.
At the moment, the content of my work doesn’t change much from transaction to transaction, but the situations can be very different depending on the deal and the intensity of the work, so it’s an exciting environment. For me, the most enjoyable part of my job is the analytical tasks and research, and also how I’m learning from every project I do, which will help me to develop my role in the future.
I arrive at the office. While having breakfast, I catch up on the news and outline my tasks for the day.
My colleagues arrive and the proper working day starts. Over the past couple of days I have been working on a response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) from a client, part of the process of pitching for new business. This morning, I’m finalising the document, known as a pitch book, by checking the details, processing mark-ups made by the associate director (AD) I’m working with, and making final changes in preparation for a meeting at 13.00.
The director (D) asks for more background information on the company he and the AD are pitching to, which means it’s research time for me! I provide the director with information about the company’s current level of trading, recent major news and events, their share price and market capitalisation.
I start cracking on with the RFP book. I check some draft slides prepared by our Hyderabad team in India, and I realise that a request I submitted for presentations yesterday can be improved formatting-wise. The mark-up is too complex for me to submit via email, so I go downstairs to our presentations team to explain the changes. Although this takes more time, the quality of the outcome is generally better if it’s explained in person.
The AD and D go for their meeting. As there won’t be any immediate requests in the next half an hour or so, I quickly go to grab some lunch.
I eat lunch at my desk while checking some news stories and Energy Bulletin updates. I also continue checking details for the RFP book.
The AD and D come back from their meeting. The Managing Director with overall responsibility for the deal suggests we have a sit-down on the RFP book, as he has some mark-ups. We brainstorm some ideas for developing it.
I’m not sure I understand what we need to do on the RFP book because new concepts have been mentioned that I’m unfamiliar with. So I submit a request to our information centre for any research or other information available on these concepts.
It turns out that the team working on the RFP book needs to be expanded to include the Infrastructure desk. I consult the Infrastructure guys for their views on the pitch, and then sit down with senior members of my team and the head of shipping to talk through various points.
We’ve got 60 pages of the RFP book so far! I chase the Singapore office to send their input across.
I continue to help to compile the book under the oversight of an AD. We mark pages to use in presentations where possible, and make sure the figures make sense and are consistent.
I order dinner online and continue with the task. When dinner arrives, we eat together in one of the conference rooms.
We continue working on the RFP book and on preparing the presentation slides.
I recap the day, make a list of priorities for tomorrow morning, and go home.
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