Working on Wall Street - Bulge Bracket Banks

This Post is part of the Wall Street - Where to start your Corporate Finance Career series contributed by Neil Venters of

Who are they?
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Citigroup, etc. The list goes on. These are the big guys (domestic and foreign) who compete for the largest and most lucrative government and corporate deals - the deals you hear about on the mainstream news.

How to get hired?
Bulge bracket banks have a rigid hiring schedule both in terms of timing and the candidate pool. They spend a great amount of effort and money to keep the pipeline of analysts flowing. Typically a bank will visit select academic institutions and put the candidates through several rounds of rigorous on and off-campus interviews. Banks, competing with each other over best candidates usually come to campuses earlier than later so depending on the school recruiting can take place as early as fall.

Are Bulge Brackets gates closed if you did not go to a target school? Nope, but you will need connections to get your foot in the door. For example, I got an interview with then JP Morgan because one of my professors recommended me to an alum, who worked at the bank. Couple phone calls and a trip to New York later, I was in the recruiting loop. So if you are not in a target school, consider professors, friends, family, people you met while interning. Banking inherently is a relationship business, and networking does help so start developing this skill early.

Where are the banks located?
The main American offices are in New York City, predominantly in Midtown Manhattan – with a few notable exceptions such as Goldman or Citi which are based Downtown. The banks also maintain smaller regional offices in large business hubs such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The satellite offices are there to service clients in these areas and are usually smaller and built around certain practice (tech, entertainment, retail, etc.). They are usually slightly easier to get a job at, if you can prove geographical ties to such place and demonstrate an interest in the particular industry.

What are the Pros and Cons?
Bulge Bracket banks are a good place to build your equity early on. You will get valuable training and a solid brand name on your resume.  After a year or two, you will have an easier time moving on to the next challenge.  However, keep in mind that the environment is somewhat cold and impersonal. Also, your success will likely be determined by how well you work the system, rather than how hard you work and how smart you are.

In Summary.
Bulge Brackets are a great springboard into a corporate finance career. There is lots of competition for roles in these firms, and they are looking for people with strong skills and a willingness to do extra to impress. So if you have aspirations to work in the bulge bracket, start putting in the extra yards to differentiate yourself!