Author is Daniel Chia, co-founder of Call Levels. Call Levels is a real time financial monitoring tool that sends notifications to users when price levels are hit. He was recently featured on The Banker (a subsidiary of Financial Times) to talk about his bold venture into Fintech with Call Levels app, after years of being a banker in the traditional finance industry.
“Dan, I’m being paid less than a taxi driver!”.
My friend, who had just joined one of Asia’s largest hedge funds from a top university, burst out in anger. I had met him for lunch, expecting him to be animated, excitedly telling me about the new things he was learning, but he just sat there, sullen and seething.
I tried to sympathize, but knowing the industry I wasn’t surprised. And after a recent conversation with my co-founder about her brother’s panic at sourcing internships, I’ve realized how little young people know about the industries that they are joining.
I’ve asked a few of my friends, and with their inputs am going to give a brief overview of finance starting jobs 101, at the request of the interns at Call Levels, and other young students wanting to enter the industry.
Investment Banking Analyst
Smarts Needed: It doesn’t take much to worship in the temple of Excel
Most Important Qualification: “Do you know who my father is?”
Peer Social Status: High, it’s the true finishing school of all the “it” kids. If you aren’t part of “them”, you better be.
Pay: Subsistence if you want to stay near where “they” stay.
Upside: High, not because of the pointless work you do, but because you work with the people who will hire you in the future.
Smarts Needed: You have to sound smart presenting in Excel and Powerpoint.
Most Important Qualification: Gaming the System.
Peer Social Status: High, You look good, you sound good, you must be.
Pay: Good per month. Per hour, not so much.
Upside: The world will always need someone who can reply “1+1? What would you want it to be, Sir?”
Smarts Needed: Low to High, depending on whether they are looking for whizzkids.
Most Important Qualification: “Are you Lucky?”
Peer Social Status: Depends. The girls don’t care about the stuff you are doing. But if you make enough money they’ll pretend to.
Pay: You should talk about commission instead.
Upside: “Are you Lucky?”
Sales / Brokers / Relationship Managers
Smarts Needed: Enough brains to understand that the key difference between you and your client is on the phone, where your client can say “f************ you” and then hangs up, you hang up first, then say “f********** you”.
Most Important Qualification: “Are you Likeable?”
Peer Social Status: High, until they find out what you’re actually doing.
Pay: Only the commissions matter.
Upside: “Are you Likeable?”
Private Equity / Hedge Fund Analyst
Smarts Needed: High. They throw you in deep early to swim with sharks.
Most Important Qualification: “Eat what you kill”
Peer Social Status: Only those who are good enough to know will know.
Pay: Depends on the Shark.
Upside: A good riposte for a newbie who says he works in a hedge fund is to ask “Is it yours?”. The upside as a fish swimming next to the shark is a lot less.
Smarts Needed: Hustle-level street smarts and skin thicker than Trump’s.
Most Important Qualification: “Are you brave enough to take the plunge?”
Peer Social Status: Not very high, unless you want to constantly adjust upwards. But if they feel like eating something “light” (read: “cheap”) you will be their best friend again.
Upside: All. Think multi billion dollar IPO with your name splashing across all headlines.
Hope this is useful. As for my “lowly paid” friend, he managed to force his way into a top tier bank as a better paid investment banker, where he realised that the real upside was with the entrepreneurs he slogged for there, and then decided to make that jump himself.
Finance still remains very attractive for many people, including myself, especially with the growing excitement about Fintech disrupting and challenging the traditional space. Just like many other Fintech entrepreneurs, I started Call Levels with my co-founder with the mind to serve a gap in the industry — providing real time financial monitoring to bring convenience for all investors.
Switching from a banker to an entrepreneur was not the easiest route to take, but I’m certainly enjoying sharing Call Levels’ visions with other like minded people. Also, coming from a banking background allowed me to understand the industry better and that’s also how Call Levels came about. You can watch my interview with The Banker (a subsidiary of Financial Times) where I share more about Call Levels’ business and our future plans.