Investment Banking & Investment Management

How to Network for Investment Banking and Investment Management Jobs

Networking is vital when it comes to hunting for investment banking and investment management jobs in Singapore. So what can you do to make a positive impact on your hunt?
The gradsingapore Team
The gradsingapore Team
How to Network for Investment Banking and Investment Jobs Index

You’ve probably heard everyone tell you, from seniors to fellow university alumni, and career coaches, about the importance of networking, and how it can make or break your job search.

It holds true in any industry – after all, networking can lead to available roles that aren’t openly advertised, or even translate into opportunities to find a mentor who can walk you through your job hunt process.

But in the investment banking and investment management sector, it’s especially important. For starters, the field is small and specialised, so who you know can make a big difference in your career journey and job search. Secondly, competition is very stiff, with both professionals and fresh graduates jockeying to land coveted limited roles. Thus, having someone in the industry who can give you insights into how best to approach the recruitment process can make all the difference in helping you land your role of choice.

With all this mind, having a network you can leverage on can give you a big advantage. Except, there’s a problem. Maybe you know a thing or two about networking in general – you’ve attended courses in university, and checked out a few career fairs – but you don’t really know how to network in the context of the investment banking and investment management sector. So, what should you do?

Here’s how you can go about it!

1. Get your priorities right

Why: As a fresh graduate, all networking and recruitment events probably seem like they’re worth going to, especially if they’re hosted by your dream employer or bigger investment banks and fund houses (J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Franklin Templeton, PICO Venture Partners, etc.). After all, you need to get your name and profile out there for recruiters to see!

However, there’s a large number of events out there, and especially so during hiring season, which can seem overwhelming. So, it’s important that you identify events crucial to your job hunt and dream job, and prioritise them in order to save your time and energy.

How to identify these events: If your skills and interests are more specialised, it’s better to target networking and recruitment events that feature employers looking for those specific skills and interests.

An example of a specialised skill and interest is risk management, which both commercial and investment banks usually have high demand for. If this is the case, you can look for events hosted by firms such as BlackRock, which usually holds sessions in September. Alternatively, you can consider looking at banks in attendance at school career fairs, like Deutsche Bank.

If your skill set leans towards being more generalist, such as a keen understanding of financial markets and global events, you can cast a much wider net. With more and more firms hosting virtual or hybrid networking and recruitment events, you can consider attending regional and international events from an online platform, such as the eFinancialCareers Virtual Career Event.

Tip: When you’re networking across networking and recruitment events, keep an eye out for regional and international contacts. Chances are, with how small the industry is, and with graduate schemes often rotating you across different countries, it’s entirely possible that you could run into each other again along the way.

2. Do your research

What: If you’re going to a networking and recruitment event where you don’t know any recruiter or industry professional, try searching on LinkedIn to see if you can find out the names of those you’d like to talk to beforehand. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find them through relevant event tags and hashtags.

Take note: If you’re a person’s second-degree connection – meaning you were introduced by a mutual contact – you should talk to your mutual contact to find out what to expect. Networking through personal connections is a great shortcut, as they can be really helpful when you want to impress a potential contact, and can save a lot of time.

3. Use any opportunity

Briefly: When we say use every opportunity, we mean it. The most common time you’ll be able to network with recruiters from potential employers is at campus networking and recruitment events, whether physical, virtual, or hybrid. But there’s also nothing wrong with speaking with an industry professional if they’re at your campus to give a career talk or academic lecture.

If you would like to network with said professional, prepare some intelligent questions beforehand, hang back after the talk or lecture and see if they’re able to give you a moment of their time (they’re usually happy to, if you ask nicely).

It’s also a good idea to ask if there’s anyone else in their firm that they think you should meet. This could be as simple as being introduced to an intern with a similar background to yours, or an alumnus from your university who can guide you on your job search process.

Take note: After having a chat with either a recruiter or an industry professional, ask for their business card, and check if it’s alright to add them to your LinkedIn network so that you can keep in touch.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask recruiters or industry professionals for their business cards – the worst they can do is say “no”, and even that’s unlikely! If they’ve forgotten to bring their cards, ask if you can add them directly to your LinkedIn network instead.

4. Be brave!

Why: Walking into a room full of people you don’t know can be incredibly daunting. Even if you aren’t shy, it can be tempting to just retreat into a quiet corner and either people-watch or check your phone (read: message your friends on WhatsApp or Telegram).

What you can do: If it’s a physical event, look out for groups with an odd number of people (three, five, seven, nine, etc.). Because networking and recruitment events are very noisy affairs, it’s hard to hold a three-way conversation. Someone in the group will automatically gravitate towards you and pull you into a conversation.

Put your hand out and introduce yourself. Social niceties dictate that the other will have to return the handshake and give their name as well. From there, they’ll probably start asking you questions.

Alternatively, if you’re at a virtual event, wait until there’s a lull in the conversation, or pipe up if someone asks a question you know the answer to. After that, introduce yourself and settle into networking!

Take note: At physical events, after you’ve begun a conversation, it’s tempting to remain with the group and continue chatting with them for the rest of your time there. Try not to do so though, as the purpose of you being at an event is to talk with as many recruiters and industry professionals as possible.

Tip: Never be rude or dismissive of a potential contact’s assistant! Most of the time, they’re the ones vetting phone calls and emails. Instead, be polite and professional to everyone you happen to speak and network with.

5. Approach people you know at events

What: If you see someone you know at networking and recruitment events, don’t be afraid to leverage it, even if you don’t know them that well. Instead, walk up, greet them and briefly catch up.

What you can do: You don’t need to be very familiar with someone to ask them questions. Just be sure to keep small talk on the weather to a minimum, and ask intelligent questions like “What are some day-to-day responsibilities you have?” and “What made you choose the firm you’re at?”

On the other hand, a question you shouldn’t ask is “What’s it like to be an investment banker/investment manager?”

6. Don't always talk about work

Why: Investment bankers and investment managers are human, too. So, despite their long working hours, they don’t think about work 100 per cent of the time!

What you can do: At networking and recruitment events, pay attention when people mention hobbies, or if they’re fans of specific sports teams, and see if you have common interests. Later, when you approach the same people, start conversations with them using that knowledge!

Tip: The investment banking and investment management sector is very demanding, and usually places large amounts of stress on professionals there. Because of this, don’t be afraid to mix non-finance topics into talk about work. You never know – a potential contact may be willing to leave work for a quick coffee break with you to cope with the stress. That can be converted into a networking opportunity!

7. Follow up on new contacts

Why: You’ve gone for the networking and recruitment events your dream firm hosted, or were present at, and even spoke with the relevant industry professionals and recruiters. You even hit it off with them and got their business cards! It should be enough to get you into the company when you send in your application, right?

Well… no.

What you can do: It isn’t enough to just get someone’s contact details and add them to your network – you have to follow up immediately. Remember, you’re not the only fresh graduate to speak with, or network, with them!

Instead, let them know that you’ll either or email them to ask some questions, or simply to establish a link with them. If you held an interesting conversation, consider adding that to your phone call or email to jog their memory.

Alternatively, if you’re bold enough, you can set up a meeting over coffee. Be sure to keep to it, though! There’s no faster way to make a bad impression than setting up a meeting and turning up late, or worse, not showing up at all.

Tip: Be genuine with your questions! No one likes hanging around a pretentious person who’s obviously got an ulterior motive. (Yes, there are people like that!)

8. Keep track of everyone you meet

Why: As you attend and network at these events, you’ll likely accumulate a number of contacts to keep track of. They might be from different firms, and occupy similar positions, or are in the same firm, but engaged in different roles.

What you can do: It’s good to do some background research about your connections, and keep track of them using a folder or planner. This can be taking note of their positions and who they work for, as well as any meetings you’ve had with them. That being said, do be mindful as you do so – being stalker-y is the last thing you want to be seen as!

Make it a point to follow up on your contacts regularly too.

Tip: You can set up alerts for your contacts, if you want. With this, you’ll be kept up-to-date on what they’re doing, as well as any significant events they’re a part of, such as work anniversaries, or big deals they close. When these notifications pop up, send them congratulatory messages. It’s a small touch your contacts will appreciate, and will cost you little to no time at all!

Networking is an effective way to enter the investment banking and investment management field, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and grow your network!