Thursday, December 28, 2006

1st anniversary of my blog

One year ago to this day (if I'm not mistaken - in any case I believe it was a few days after Xmas), I started this blog, not knowing where this would go. So I just wanted to wish my blog a happy 1st birthday :-).

I was inspired to start this mainly by the blogs of The Divine Miss N and Rusgirl, as I found them to be very helpful (whenever I didn't know how to do things, I would just copy their source code, paste it into my template and modify it a little bit :-) ). I think I was the first blogger of the class of 2008, though Moe almost beat me to it (his blog has sadly closed down since then due to some hacker attack). Then there was Wheels, who never showed up in our class and stopped blogging in June (though he did show up at admits weekend). Where are you?

Then there were Ellen, Jorge and FM, enthusiastic in the beginning but somewhat less once classes started. But of course, we are still a large group of active bloggers in our class, namely Patxi, Karlitos, VJ, Linda, and our recent addition, Genie! So the new admits should have plenty of resources here to find out about life in London and ask questions - congrats again, guys & girls! And this is just the class of 2008. Obviously, the veterans of the class of 2007 - Suzy, KV, Al and Myles, are also part of this happy family ;-).

Let me end on this happy note, I have enjoyed having this blog and getting to know more of you and so... expect me to continue :-).

Happy holidays and a happy new year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good time to get into investment banking?

I'm not sure how to interpret the record bonuses paid out to investment bankers these weeks. Most journalists, and also quite a few investment bankers I've talked to, take the way things are going well now as proof that things will go badly very soon. I don't know if this is a realistic assessment though. What I observe is that most financial journalists are embarassed they didn't see the tech bubble bust coming in 2000, and now they are predicting a crash just in case one happens - this time they will have predicted it! The only indication I have so far from the ground that things might not go so well is that Bear Stearns has decided not to recruit Summer Associates next summer and has canceled their career presentation at London Business School on short notice. I don't know what the reasons are. I know Goldman plans to hire ~40 summer associates for their London office (IBD and FICC) next summer, so those numbers look good.

So I actually think so many people predict a crash right now mainly to insure themselves against embarassment should a crash occur. In fact, I think we might have plateaued a bit but soon things are going to rise even faster. I think the record bonuses may be a symptom of something very different, not a bubble, but a symptom of how the spread between the stars and the "underperformers" is getting bigger. I'm not talking about investment bankers strictly, it is a common phenomenon that the highest earners in most countries see their income growing disproportionately, while the bottom earners are losing purchasing power as time goes by. Capital is getting more and more concentrated in fewer hands. So in essence, if this is true, it is a great time to become an investment banker. If the world is more and more split into the lucky and the unlucky ones, it matters more and more which side you join.

These are just some thoughts I'm going through, I'm still alert that many insiders are telling me this is not a good time to enter, but in the end I notice among all courses at the MBA and in general my strongest interest lies in finance and economics, so I want to go into that field. As I mentioned in my last post, I have to take some serious career decisions right now. Luckily since classes are over I had a lot of time to think and reflect. The funny thing is, after 4 months of going here and there mentally, I am back to where I started: I definitely want to leave consulting, and the only field that excites me is Global Markets/ Sales & Trading. It is funny how you can get confused and end up at square 1 again, but I guess at least now the decision is more thought through than in the beginning. So milkround is coming up and my plan is to focus only one 4 or 5 banks that have a great programme in markets. January will be busy!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

You know the first term is over when...

- people are throwing farewell parties and wish each other happy holidays
- you start looking for Christmas presents
- you sleep 9h every night plus take long naps in the afternoon
- you finally get to see the Velázquez exhibition in the National Gallery that opened in early November

- you get to check out some a cool vintage dresses on Portobello Market
- you finally write to your best friends back home
- instead of complaining about assignments, you are sad that time passed so quickly
- you scan the job postings on the Career Services website, realise you have signed up to dozens of company presentations and that you should start writing cover letters soon

- you go to Royal Albert Hall to sing Christmas Carols
- you know it will soon be time to take some serious career decisions
- you start thinking about what to pack and prepare for the flight back home

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weird happenings in the finance world

Why is Morgan Stanley buying up hedge fund in the dozens recently, when Goldman Sachs has just created a hedge fund clone that will emulate hedge fund investments for only max. 1% of annual fees (versus 2%+20% performance in current hedge funds)? Hedge fund fees are bound to go DOWN.

In other interesting events of the finance world, I met with a managing director yesterday who heads some trading desks for a large investment bank in the City. I know him through a personal contact so he was very honest. He told me he would never go into investment banking if he was in my position, that it wasn't intellectually challenging and had no future. He said the future is in technology/automation and in Asia, in nothing else. If I can't stop it, he said trading is the way to go, all else would be useless, boring and terrible. Trading he said was still the least bad option, but a horrible environment for women. Very honest advice, but also a bit surprising to come out of someone who is in the job himself.

In any case, I'm continuing my exploration of finance jobs and am slowly but surely finding out what I would like or not. On Friday Goldman Sachs is hosting a full day event for female MBAs in their offices that I'm attending, even though we have the accounting exam in the afternoon. The good thing about the exam is, there is less and less to study the lower you set your aspirations :-).