What's it like to work at one of the oldest and most prestigious investment banks in the City? Rothschild analyst Michael Marks tells Lucy Mair
More than two hundred years ago the Rothschild family established a banking empire across Europe. Today, the financial advisory group is still independent and family-controlled, and has a global footprint with offices in 40 countries worldwide.
Rothschild provides services in financial advisory, wealth management, merchant banking and asset management to individuals, companies and governments. Michael Marks joined Rothschild a year ago as an analyst in the group's Global Financial Advisory business, which delivers M&A and strategic advisory and financing advisory services. Here, he explains what makes Rothschild special.
I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, which sparked my interest in finance. But it was only when I did a summer internship at Rothschild in my penultimate year of university that I decided to go into investment banking.
Initially, I applied for the internship because I thought it would be a productive way to spend my summer. I bonded well with the people in my team and found the work very interesting so I was happy to be offered a place on the graduate programme.
I think Rothschild is different to other investment banking firms. First, because Rothschild is family-controlled with a long history and a friendly, collegiate culture, which contributes to its special atmosphere. But also because Rothschild's business is purely advisory. This means that, unlike integrated investment banks, we don't sell financial products to our clients so our advice is not conflicted. We focus only on delivering the best advice possible to our clients.
I was also drawn to the exciting work that the firm does. Rothschild works on a large volume of transactions, including some of the world's biggest deals as well as medium and smaller-sized ones. As a graduate, this means I get to work on a broad range of projects and have many opportunities to learn and develop early in my career.
At Rothschild graduates are hired on a permanent basis rather than just on a two-year training programme. When you join, all of graduates come together in London for the Global Graduate Training Programme. Afterwards, you join your team and receive ongoing training specific to your role.
I'm an analyst in the healthcare team within Global Financial Advisory's M&A business. The deals I work on involve companies mainly within the healthcare services sector, such as hospitals, lab groups and mental health services. I've also worked on some exciting pharmaceutical deals involving new technologies and drugs. Healthcare is a very interesting sector, although it's been a very steep learning curve since I joined the team.
My responsibilities as an analyst include reviewing business plans, preparing presentations, creating financial models, attending client meetings and supporting the senior members of my team.
I get to see all aspects of the deal process from start to finish. Many of our deals are on the sell-side, meaning we act for a vendor or the company being sold. I'll be involved in pitching for the deal, preparing documents for marketing the company, helping manage the deal process and interaction with bidders. No deal is ever the same though!
The fact that Rothschild is family-controlled means there's a nice working environment. Our teams are small so you get to know the people you work with very well and the culture is considered less aggressive than at other investment banks. The atmosphere reminds me of being at university because it's friendly and supportive but also intellectually rigorous.
There's also a big emphasis on staff development. Rothschild invests in giving its people the right training and also in listening to any concerns we may have. Many of the senior people have been here for their whole career and there's a strong culture of loyalty to Rothschild.
I work in a team of 25 people and I've got to know them all very well because we see each other every day in the office. There are three managing directors in my team and I regularly have meetings with them so I feel very comfortable about asking questions and chatting to them. I've had some opportunities to work with senior management, who I can learn a lot from, particularly when working on smaller transactions with fewer people on the deal team.
I'm also good friends with the other graduates who joined at the same time as me. I often meet up with my London-based colleagues for lunch, and it's helpful to have contacts in other country and sector teams to learn about the work that they're doing.
I'm very happy at Rothschild. I've been here for over a year now and I feel I still have a lot to learn. Rothschild prides itself on having a low staff turnover. Many people spend a long time here because of its special environment. The firm makes sure there are always fresh career opportunities for its people, such as offering secondments to its offices around the world, which I won't rule out!
If you're considering a career in investment banking at Rothschild I'd encourage you to think about...
Rothschild is a financial advisory firm and so it's really important to understand what it's all about. Do some research to make sure that it's what you want to do and to prepare yourself for questions during the application process. Interviewers will want to know that you understand exactly what the firm does and what your role would be.
People who work at Rothschild are proud to work for the group. Before you apply to any firm you should make an effort to understand what the culture is and why you might particularly fit in.
The vast majority of graduate hires have done an internship, either at Rothschild or another firm. I can't recommend it enough because by the end of an internship you'll have a very good idea of what an analyst role entails, and more importantly if it's right for you.
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