Head of Corporate Transaction Banking Europe, UK
Law, University of Cambridge (Called to the Bar 1981)
I was at Deutsche Bank in various guises for 17 years, mainly working in the capital markets business. BNP Paribas had a commitment to corporate business in the UK, which appealed to me, and I joined to do corporate coverage.
I have managed a number of coverage teams since I joined, and then earlier this year, I was asked to head the Corporate and Transaction Banking team (CTBE) in the UK. This is a new Europe-wide venture, headquartered in Brussels, and very much a flagship project of the merger between BNP Paribas and Fortis, combining teams from both entities.
CTBE has a number of separate activities within it. These include corporate coverage - developing business with corporates in the UK; credit analysis – analysing companies and assessing the risks of doing business with them; cash management - providing companies with cash & banking services; and trade finance. Our clients are all large corporate entities (i.e. not financial institutions).
I spend my time dealing with clients and with the team. Day to day, this principally means problem-solving, sorting out how to get something done for a client, resolving risk issues, or planning how we advise a particular client on its financing. I also deal with companies directly, which is an essential part of my job.
I don't think BNP Paribas is an organisation where people expect to be given a huge amount of undue reverence - I think it's part of the culture that people are approachable and I try to be like that myself.
We want people to feel valued, to feel that they are making a contribution. We don't expect graduates to do just administrative work; they are involved in tasks that have real value and require brain power. We give people responsibility as soon as we feel they can handle it.
The more junior members of the team are involved in activities that give them exposure to clients and to the senior management of the bank. We encourage them to engage with people and get involved. On the client side, we deal with CEOs, FDs and Treasurers, and this is where it can get more difficult. If you are a graduate trainee you can talk to the Treasurer pretty happily in most companies, but once you are talking to CEOs about strategy, then you probably need someone with a bit more experience and gravitas. Part of our job is to get you to that point as quickly as possible!
Our expectations of graduates are high and we ask a lot of them. They are expected to think on their feet and to be extremely accurate and diligent in everything they do. In my view, the most under-rated virtues in banking are persistence and imagination.
As a graduate working in a bank, you need to be reasonably numerate but the basic requirement is 100% accuracy and attention to detail. You need to be able to express yourself well in writing and have the basic people skills, but above all, you need to get things right first time. No one will ever be shot for asking an intelligent question. Making mistakes is a good way to learn - but asking is even better.
The recession has had a huge impact on our business but BNP Paribas has weathered the crisis pretty well. We have merged with the leading Belgian bank, Fortis - which means we now have home markets in 4 countries in Western Europe, and have moved from being a leading French bank to being very much a leading European bank. Our position relative to our peers has improved dramatically, and this is not only recognised by our clients, but has greatly enhanced our appeal as an employer. Anyone joining BNP Paribas today will be part of a leading financial institution with a great future.
BSc (Hons) Business Administration, Bath University
The degree that I chose at university was a sandwich course, which required me to do a minimum of two six-month placements during the four years at Bath. For the second placement, I was taken on by Lehman Brothers, and I worked in their Investment Banking Division, Debt Capital Markets Financial Controls for seven months. This gave me a great insight into the world of investment banking and allowed me to gain experience in areas that helped me later to secure a role on the BNP Paribas Graduate Scheme.
I had a number of friends who worked for BNP Paribas at the time and had heard positive feedback about the bank from them. The interview was friendly, and allowed me to instantly feel at home.
The Graduate programme allows the whole pool of graduates to train together and interact. Training was intense and having endured the “bootcamp”, we all took away from it as much as possible –- it also helped us to build a network of peers throughout the bank who can tap into each other’s insights and specialities, if and when needed.
Since joining, I have done a series of rotations, including Options Trade Support; Exotics Trade Support; Credit Trade Support and Foreign Exchange Profit and Loss (PnL), Exotics Credit PnL Area (Structured and Arbitrage PnL)...
The rotation scheme in Operations has allowed me a large amount of interaction and insight into multiple areas of the bank .The roles have required huge interaction across numerous Front Office, Back Office and of course Middle Office divisions of the bank and allowed me to appreciate and understand how different areas work together to obtain the desired results.
Watch Dipen's film profile.
Investment Banking Europe
European Studies and French, Manchester University
I started my career in banking a little late. After travelling and working in financial recruitment, I worked for the German bank WestLB as an associate, studied hard outside work to get myself up to speed, and then went to ABN AMRO before being headhunted by BNP Paribas.
For me BNP Paribas was always a market leader, one of the strongest foreign banks in the UK, with very strong product franchises across all the capital markets and derivative space.
This place is non-hierarchical and doesn't really have badges or titles. Ultimately I'm an originator, delivering fee/ revenue-generating opportunities for my various product partners across the bank. In short, I manage and develop a portfolio of corporate client relationships and ensure the bank is in pole position to execute deals for clients across a range of products. At the same time, I'm also managing the risk exposure the bank is running against each respective client. It's a mixed bag, including property companies, transport, food producers/ retailers, building materials and oil and gas.
One of my challenges is to become a trusted adviser to Board members of client companies, which means working with CEOs, non-execs and CFOs and also group treasurers: it's very important that you have a strong relationship with them because they tend to be in charge of the transactional business. When it comes to more lucrative capital markets transactions, big decisions on capital structure and advisory mandates, that's when you have to be in tune with the CFO and CEO.
I spend my time on the phone, reading sector research, analysing credit risks, developing and delivering client pitches and meeting lots of people. Most of the types of products we sell are pretty commoditised so the differentiating factor is really people/ personal relationships, combined with our market/ sector intelligence - the added value we can bring to a client relationship. The key is to combine that with a strong appreciation of the clients' objectives and needs, underpinned by our own sound risk management skills, product and sector knowledge. We need to demonstrate that we understand the key issues and risks and can apply that understanding to the client's business.
We are usually managing a significant amount of money and we have to make sure that people are well informed within the bank. So if I'm not dealing with clients, then I'm talking to people inside the bank, presenting to credit risk committees or developing client marketing strategies with product professionals in debt, equity, derivatives or corporate finance. A lot of the work involves making sure you are selling and marketing the appropriate product. Structuring a product for a specific client or set of circumstances is also very interesting and I am always learning.
I probably have a minimum of three or four client meetings every week - it could be a catch-up, a pitch, or just listening to something they want to talk to me about. It makes a difference being in an organisation that's well known and well respected. I've worked in a much smaller house and this is a different stratosphere, particularly with how BNPP has not just withstood the credit crisis but actually improved its profile throughout this difficult time.
We are located near Regent's Park, not in the City, and initially I was sceptical about that. But having worked in the City for about 10 years, I fully appreciate the additional space and better quality of daily working life around here. I don't have to sit at my desk all day so I can take a break and go for a run in the park or to the gym we have downstairs. It’s just a lot less hectic than working in the City.
Within the bank you will certainly find a very high calibre of individuals. Many of my colleagues have come from top tier investment banks and some have been in US banks with their aggressive, working-all-hours culture, and this is quite different. BNPP is a great institution but you don't have to sacrifice your life to it - you can still value your family and enjoy downtime. That said, we work hard and do the long hours when we need to, but we also have time off.
Quite genuinely, this is a great place to work. That's down to the innovation, creativity and strength of the products and people, but also the flat structure and the truly diverse, international human side of the organisation. There are no prima donnas here. You always feel that if you come up with ideas and suggestions, you not only have the chance to follow them up but also, importantly, get the credit for it.
Fixed Income - Structured MBS Trading
BA Economics, New York University
I applied for a full time position at BNP Paribas because I recognised that it was a strong international bank that was actively expanding in the US. I knew that accepting an offer with the bank would mean I would have a meaningful role in building the franchise – I was excited to join a talented group and hit the ground running.
For me, the BNP Paribas training programme proved to be quite valuable. The curriculum gave me the foundation I needed to grasp the dynamics of the market. Participating in the training with the rest of my class provided a time to network with my peers and form strong relationships. It's great to know there is a large group of like-minded individuals with whom I can share ideas, and it also means I have contacts across all areas of the bank.
I began my career in interest rate derivatives sales, where I worked for two years. I then expressed interest in trading. Because BNP Paribas is a very flexible organization, I was given the opportunity to move to a trading desk.
Making the move to a new market meant I had a lot of catching up to do – I’ve had to further my knowledge and relative value metrics in order to trade my product effectively. Building relationships with clients is key in this industry, so reinforcing my communication skills constantly is also a crucial element of success.
In the market, every day brings new challenges. For this reason, each morning I come in and get updates from the research group, the sales force and other traders, so I can develop a strategy for the day. I'm actively engaged with a range of clients with whom I talk strategy and provide both advice and opinions.
Area of work
Operations, Client on-boarding, Analyst
Economics, Wellesley College, Boston
I chose BNP Paribas because of the people. I found them enthusiastic, interested in what they were doing, and very bright. They combine intelligence with the ability to have fun and communicate with each other and their clients. I decided that BNP Paribas was a fantastic workplace for me.
Unlike most of my colleagues, I never did a finance internship, so it has been a very steep learning curve. My economics degree prepared me mentally for this role – but not for its practice. It taught me how to solve problems and evaluate situations, which proved to be much more valuable than any formula. The training we had for five weeks early on was also very helpful, as it provided a basic business overview. The most important part of training, for me, was the relationships I formed with my fellow Analyst and Associate classmates in New York. It’s comforting to begin a new position and already have a support network built-in.
I started out on the credit sales desk as an analyst. It was a great introduction to the trading floor and provided an opportunity to learn about the business from the perspective of a marketer. At the beginning of this year, a new team focused on client on-boarding was being formed and I moved across. It's a client-facing role dealing with new customers and the process is very interesting. It was an exciting opportunity to be part of something completely new. In fact, it’s so new that we are continually writing and implementing new policies informed by our experiences. Having such a significant voice in the policy making process is very attractive to me.
On a typical day, I will look at emails on my Blackberry when I’m on the subway coming in and see if I've heard anything from a client. I have more than 100 client files that I'm currently working on, but probably in a day, I will be active on five or six.
When I get in, I check in with the team. There are currently 11 of us but we are growing and hiring. I then attend a team meeting, or hop down to the trading floor and talk to the marketers. My team supports Equities, Commodities, and Fixed Income, but I mainly support the Fixed Income Foreign Exchange desk.
When new clients are coming onboard, they need to be set up within BNP Paribas internal systems, and go through a credit, legal, and due diligence review. My team coordinates the overall process and completes the due diligence review. We follow the client until they are ready to trade.
One of the key challenges in my job is multi-tasking and being aware of the different facets that need to come together. It’s a balancing act that requires me to respond to the needs of the bank from a risk perspective while considering the interests of the marketer and the client. This requires effective communication and expectation management. It's very hands-on and any two days are never exactly the same. Each client is unique and it’s exciting to learn about the market through their differences.
As BNP Paribas is a global bank, client coverage goes beyond New York and therefore the onboarding process must also be compliant with the rules and regulations of other BNP Paribas branches around the world. This can be a complicated process and we work hard to keep both the client and the marketer happy. My favourite part of the day is when we have successfully onboarded a client globally and I get to send an email to the marketer saying, “Happy Trading!”.
I love my team and it's exactly the right place for me right now. I am hopeful that at some point, I can move to another area of the bank and continue to fill out the whole picture. There is the opportunity for huge mobility within BNP Paribas so I'd like to think I could move within the bank. I want to continue to learn and grow.
Area of work:
MEng Software Engineering, University of Sheffield
I was born in Africa but did my schooling in India and then came to the UK for university. After I did my Masters, I worked for an IT consultancy called Genesis Solutions in the research department at Sheffield University for about a year.
I was interested in banking - attracted by the dynamism and the proactiveness of the systems that you work with, and the way that they are constantly evolving. When choosing BNP Paribas I considered several factors, especially the current economic climate, and opted for this because it is a risk-calculated bank. I also liked the fact that graduates go directly into a team and work on systems straight away.
My role to date has been as a support analyst, supporting a system called Focus, which is the transaction processing system - the deal capture software - for credit derivatives. I've been in a pretty big team of about 20 people.
My day-to-day work is application support, so I'll be dealing with users, finding out why things aren't working as they should, running programs and so on. There are certain things you can't do all in one go - the front office can't do it so we have to do it in the background. In the process you get to learn about all the software. At the same time, you interact with users, and you're always learning something new as you go along. I answer phones, monitor the system, investigate problems and make sure everything is working effectively. I've had the opportunity to work on things which are business critical and I've been given the freedom to try things out, which is something I've loved.
I am now working in RAD - Rapid Applications Development, where BNP Paribas develops new applications quickly to meet specific needs. Unlike a normal application development process, the requirement is quick, so we develop an application on the fly, rather than following a rigid set of procedures.
I've been on courses for Oracle and for FPML, a banking protocoland C#. I think how you develop in the bank depends on your team and your interests. I was given an option to go into RAD and it appealed to me because of the random element - you don't just sit and develop something in a procedural way, so there's room for creativity and initiative.
The people here are very approachable, which has helped me, especially in terms of learning new things. I didn't know what to expect at first but joining the support team was one of the best decisions I've made - I have learned a great deal about the technical processes and systems in the course of my daily work and the culture has helped with that, as I've picked up a lot from my colleagues in the team. The social aspects are also quite good.
In the support team you are in touch with people constantly, so you make valuable connections, which is good for your career in the long run. I think I'd be really interested in moving into a business analyst role eventually and all the things I'm doing now will help me move in that direction.
Commodity Derivatives, Sales
BSc Bio-Chemistry, University of Edinburgh
I have always been interested in both science and finance, so I studied science with the idea that I could learn the financial side from my employer. During one summer I worked for an Asset Management firm, but although I enjoyed it, I wanted to be more involved with Investment Banking and Capital Markets.
I'd already heard about BNP Paribas from a friend who interned here, and he had a good experience and told me positive things about the people, the work and the culture. But it seemed right for me in many other ways as well. The great thing about applying to work here is that you can apply for the actual role that you want to work in, whereas in many other banks you join a rotational training programme and so you could end up anywhere. This means that you need to have a better idea of what you want to do before you apply; and maybe have a slightly higher knowledge of finance and the markets so that they'll have the confidence to put you straight onto a desk. This is perfect for someone like me because I knew exactly what I wanted to be doing.
In Commodity Derivatives, Sales and Trading work very closely together much like the chef and waiters in a restaurant. A trader makes the prices, like a chef makes the food, and the sales person takes orders from clients ensuring that everything is running smoothly by communicating between the trader and the client. One cannot work without the other.
I initially joined the precious metals team, but after discussing things with my supervisor, it looked like it might be a better option for me to go into oil, which I did. There was a greater business need in that area and more opportunities for advancement and growth
For the last 4 years I have been working on the sales side, working with physical trading houses and corporates on hedging their physical exposures to oil and oil product price risk. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I have been fortunate to be given an incredible amount of freedom and responsibility to work with these clients independently. Recently, my responsibilities have increased where I have had the opportunity to develop this team further through being appointed head of this section of sales. I now work closely with the European Head of Sales and have hired 2 sales people into this team, and a graduate joined us last September. I find this new challenge very rewarding and I think this is one of the most attractive things about working at BNP Paribas. For anyone who is ambitious and determined, BNP Paribas is willing to give the platform to excel early.
Watch Ira's film profile.
Area of work
Technology, FX Options, Fixed Income
M Eng in Computing (Software Engineering & Computational Management), Imperial College London
Initially when I joined as a graduate I trained as a developer in the pricing and risk management team. Then I moved into more of a support role, training people and also managing higher risk applications with greater responsibility. For instance in my first year I was given the task of migrating the overnight evaluations from an old system to a new Windows based system, which is a big deal because if things don't run smoothly and the bank's daily P&L isn't delivered, then questions are certainly asked! I now split my time between guiding the support team on escalated problems and developing for the Front Office.
I really enjoy both aspects of my job as they have different skill sets and different benefits. In my support role I train staff from all areas of the business on our pricing and risk management system, to give them an understanding of the fullness of the application. It's a really good experience meeting new people from so many different areas. I don't just meet Technology staff, I sit next to traders on the trading desk and explain to them all of the features in the application, many they didn't know about. They're really grateful because it makes their job easier and also they begin to understand what we do as well. One thing that I enjoy is demonstrating to the business how much effort is put into IT, showing them the enormous level of systems and infrastructure that helps them do what they do. I find that when I explain it to people, one to one, they really understand and appreciate it, they're very approachable people, just very busy.
Although I'm based in the UK; a lot of the business critical projects that I've been involved in have given me the knowledge to train people all around the world. All the development for FX Options is done here in London and to facilitate communication between us and the different business centres I've been to different areas to liaise with them directly. In my first year here I went to New York followed by a trip to Singapore and Hong Kong. I spoke to the Head of FX Trading there about the new features that we're putting into the application, then discussed how their needs differ from London's and tried to resolve any outstanding issues that they had. At BNP Paribas if you show that you're capable of learning new things and can pick things up quickly, they give you the opportunity to be involved in important and interesting things very quickly. That's one of the most satisfying things here, when you do good work it's instantly realised and you are recognised for your contribution.
I think ultimately I'd like to continue along the development path. It's very satisfying to be shown a problem and then be able to solve it in a day. You get the appreciation from the traders, you right something that's wrong and you have a direct positive impact on the business. When I develop something I talk directly to the traders, developers, marketers, whoever's involved, go directly to them and explain exactly what it is I've done. They're all very approachable because they know I'm an integral part of the business. I have successfully completed a course for a Certificate in Quantitative Finance. The company helped to organise it and it has helped me in my role as it's about understanding the pricing and modelling of exotic financial instruments, and how the mathematics and business fit together. I'd like to continue along the development route and gain a better understanding of pricing and the business, what the products actually do and hopefully progress into a team leader role.
For anyone who was considering a Technology role within BNP Paribas I'd say - go for it! Everyone is very helpful and supportive, so when you finish your graduate programme they won't try to slow you down. It's up to you to make your career whatever you want. I've been here four and a half years and I have already been a support manager and am now a senior front-end developer for the trading desk, I regularly talk to senior management including the head of FX Options, not bad in such a short time.
International Economic Relations, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)
I work in our Moscow office and my work involves full scale analysis of prospective clients and structuring of deals. Our relationship managers assist me in looking into every aspect of a company to analyse and calculate the potential risk, including operations, organisational structure, business management and production facilities. I write a credit proposal, which gives a judgement of whether or not it would be a good risk for us to take on.
There are six people in my team, four analysts (including me), one intern and then the head of the team - I get on really well with the whole team. We talk a lot about things like film and politics or else after work we might go to the cinema or for a coffee. Obviously we work very hard but I still have time get out and enjoy Moscow after work. It's a fantastic city to live in and there's so much to do like skating in winter, there's an outdoor rink in the Red Square, and in summer there's everything you could want from parks, to outdoor cafés and bars.
I joined BNP Paribas because it's a global bank with a great reputation. I always knew I wanted to work in investment banking, so when I was looking for work towards the end of university it was about finding the best fit for my skills. I interviewed at a couple of other banks but I chose BNP Paribas because of the higher quality work, the European culture and the fact that I got along very well with my interviewers. Another bonus of working here is that French is my second language so I get to use three languages quite often, French, Russian and English.
I really like the fact that my work is so relevant to my university degree. It feels good to be able to apply the theoretical knowledge that I learned at university to the practicalities of actual cases - it's also great to know that my degree wasn't a waste of time! Of course nothing can prepare you for actually doing the work and I've learned a huge amount during my time here, both from my senior colleagues and just through doing things. I often go on business trips: due diligence trips - a very exciting event, which gives you a good understanding of a particular business and production process. Moreover, the bank always gives you an opportunity to go on professional training courses.
I think to be successful at BNP Paribas you have to be creative and a problem solver. If you're creative you can look at a particular problem, come up with many different solutions to it and then choose the best one. There was a particular project that I was involved in where I was researching the background of a prospective client and I had based my analysis on a well-known shareholder who provided a sense of stability to the project. But just before we had to present to the credit committee this shareholder sold his shares, making all the work I'd done until that date practically useless. Our team had to redo all the work in one day, and ensure that our analysis still gave the right judgement. When the credit committee approved our proposal, we knew the hard work had paid off, it was very satisfying.
Structuring, Credit Derivatives, Fixed Income
European Management, University of Lancaster; Icade, Madrid
When you work in Structuring you to get to know the products inside out and also have a lot of scope for creativity. There's two main ways that we work here, either we come up with ideas for new products and pitch them to Sales who then present these to their clients, or a client comes to us with a specific requirement or problem and we develop a solution - we call this reverse enquiry. Both avenues require us to be creative, the first one is starting with a clean slate, knowing the market, coming up with ideas and making them happen. Reverse enquiries require looking at a problem and having the analytical skill and the creativity to engineer a solution that adds value for the client.
With both approaches there's a specific process we follow. Firstly we come up with product ideas, or solutions to the client's requirement, after initial discussions with Sales and Trading. Then we do an initial pricing on the product, which a Trader assesses and does a firmer pricing and then we pitch the product internally to Sales or discuss the solution together with Sales and the client. We are also responsible for creating the marketing material and the more senior Structurers are involved in the sales process throughout and meet clients frequently. Most clients would like to have a third party opinion on the risk profile of the proposed transaction, which is why we also talk to ratings agencies who rate the products in terms of their risks. Once the client has agreed to go ahead with a transaction, structuring is also actively involved in the last step which entails talking to lawyers to create the documentation and setting up the product on Bloomberg. Structuring liaises with many different parties internally and externally, which requires good interpersonal skills, stamina and patience.
The idea of a structured product is to model payoffs according to the clients' requirements, achieve a greater return than you would get with a plain vanilla product and also develop structural features that minimise risk. As Analysts, it's our responsibility to support the structuring process throughout and look at technical factors, the more senior Structurers are more focused on the marketing of products to Sales and clients.
The Structuring role has really only been created in the last 10 years, and it's great to be a part of a bank that values it so highly. My university degree was focused on business administration and finance, while many of my colleagues have more technical backgrounds like engineering. I had always been highly motivated to work in a more technical role, which is why structuring appealed to me. And that's the thing about BNP Paribas, they look at the individual person and then make a judgement about the best role to suit them. If you're motivated and smart, they're open to considering you for a role that might not look like a natural fit from your educational background, but suits your skill set.
Although you get a lot of guidance and support here you're also expected to be entrepreneurial, which is rare for an investment bank, especially as an Analyst. As an example, I knew that we were hiring a lot of Sales people for the German market, so I made my contacts and discussed products with Sales that could work for their clients. Then once I knew more about what was going to work I talked to my manager, who gave me valuable feedback, and we worked together on developing products and solutions that were going to add value for our clients. If you perform well and you're prepared to put yourself forward, you get early responsibility. BNP Paribas are very open to the idea of people learning and developing and getting involved in new things.
Watch Jason's film profile.
Technology – Fixed Income Deal Capture Technology
Diplome d’ingenieur (Masters). Information technologies, Telecom Bretagne
I originally studied physics and mathematics and then I specialised in computer science. I was also interested in finance, so I decided to apply for a summer internship in this area. Even in the middle of the financial crisis, BNP Paribas was still perceived as a successful bank, so it was a natural choice.
My summer internship was fantastic. The job was very interesting and the people were great. From the first day, I was totally integrated into the team, and had some real and challenging work to do. I learned a lot, in both the financial and technology areas. I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer of a job at the end of the internship.
During my internship I was in the Deal Capture support team, which was the best place to be to learn the different systems and to understand how things work together.
I joined as a software developer in the same area. We develop the software applications that allow traders and marketers to book trades, and enable them to follow and manage their positions. The system works in different locations worldwide, 24 hours a day.
We have various tasks to do every day, as we’re responsible for the complete life cycle of the trades. A typical day for me would include work on a new project for the next release –programming or defining the architecture. This can mean adding a new product or a new functionality to ease the life of traders or the middle office. Or I might be asked to handle a production issue preventing a trader booking a deal, for example. Following a middle office request, I might have to reallocate thousands of deals in the database from one portfolio to another.
At the beginning I was working on small bug fixes to understand how things work, but now I have bigger projects to tackle. One week in every five, I’m also responsible for following and solving the live issues. You get responsibility very quickly here which enables you to build your technical and business knowledge daily.
I recently worked on an important project, filtering out all the useless updates traders and risks teams were receiving in real time on their spreadsheets. This was critical, because an error can produce a completely wrong P&L. From the discussions with the business analysts, to the design, the programming, testing and go live, it was hard work with responsibilities, a tight deadline, and technical challenges. It is now a real pleasure to watch it working effectively.
I’ve had to learn to multi-task and to jump easily from one thing to another, for example to look at an issue appearing in production that needs immediate resolution. Problem solving in a critical environment is something else that you have to learn and which is necessary here.
The training programme has proved a fantastic opportunity for me, as I came from a more technical background. I have learned a great deal on the business side, and this knowledge is necessary even if you are a developer, as you have to understand what you are doing and why. I’ve also benefited from some more technical training.
I feel I’m learning a lot of things now and building a useful network for my career. In the future, I would like to maintain my technological competences, to work on more trading-related software applications, and perhaps move into project management.
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Capital Markets Operations (CMO)
BA Applied Maths, Paris Dauphine, Master's in Quantitative Finance and Risk Management, Bocconi
Coming from France, I always knew BNP Paribas was a big successful French bank, but as I progressed through my studies I gradually learned how important they are on the world stage as well. They have a global impact, including emerging markets and a growing presence in the UK and the US. I wanted to work in banking from quite a young age and interviewed at two other large investment banks before choosing BNP Paribas. When I took into account the credit crisis, and how BNPP were managing it, it put them overwhelmingly above the others for me.
I did an internship at Société Générale three or four years ago and then another one in the summer of 2007 in China at Natixis, but both of these were in Corporate Finance and I didn't find them the right fit for me. To me, it seems like many Corporate Finance work deals don't require as high a level of technical ability as some other parts of the bank. Because I've done some very technical degrees, I really wanted to make sure that I was able to use this knowledge in my career, that I had the opportunity to be innovative and work on very technical, quantitative products.
After doing some research and looking at the different areas of investment banking that were available, I thought Capital Markets Operations (CMO) would be more aligned with my skill set, my practical training and my expectations. CMO is the backbone of the whole of Capital Markets. When you work here you get to see and learn about all the different areas and divisions within the bank, you're able to learn more because you're getting a holistic view of things.
From what I've seen of BNP Paribas, and the people I've talked to, there seems to be a great ethos of collaborative work here, no matter which part of the bank you're in or how long you've been here. I'm hoping that in a couple of years' time I might be able to take advantage of the global network and transfer to another hub of finance; maybe Asia, or New York. I'll definitely stay in Capital Markets though, and as I keep learning and my career progresses, maybe look to move to structuring.
BSc Investment & Financial Risk Management, Cass Business School, City University, London
I am a credit analyst so my job entails looking at our corporate clients and analysing their financial soundness, which has been especially important during the financial crisis, with the lack of liquidity in financial markets.
I look at financial statements as well as assess the business as a whole - management, company risks and business risks. We try to build up a picture and from that, we deduce a company's internal credit rating. This is important for the bank in terms of the capital perspective and helps the relationship bankers price certain facilities that the company either has or is looking to put into place - maybe for a new deal or a new loan facility, for example.
We produce what's called a credit paper based on our research that includes a one-page summary of the financials and a forecast model. In terms of the models, we produce a management case, which is based on assumption of the economic/ sector outlook and the strategy of the business: we're sometimes given guidance from the company. We then stress our assumptions to show the potential downside and to give us an idea of the headroom they have on loan covenants. We work closely with the relationship managers who often have contact at CEO/CFO level, so they have a close relationship with the clients. I'm in a team of 11 so there are just a few of us, but you get to know the relationship bankers so you build your own network.
My job involves a lot of research in order to understand the drivers and needs of our clients, as we cover a range of FTSE 100/FTSE 250 corporates. You look at a range of clients, so you may work on a file for two or three weeks but then you'll start on something different. You have a mix within your portfolio and you're always learning about something new. It has been especially interesting to see how companies have reacted to the current environment. Right now I'm looking at the airline sector, which is very interesting because of the specialist financing required and the impact the recession has had on the sector - passenger numbers are declining. I've also had a look at transportation, haulage and logistics, and foods, among others.
The credit papers we produce go to relationship bankers and then the risk officer for review. The file then goes to the credit committee, where we present our financial analysis and answer any questions. The first time I went to a credit committee, it was quite daunting. You usually have the senior risk officer and the COO and you wonder what they are going to ask you: you may not have picked up on something in your analysis. The first one was a challenge but it was a good experience and I've had a number since, which has helped to develop my analysis and gain a better understanding of the areas to focus on. Credit analysis is more an art then an exact science.
BNP Paribas has sponsored me to study for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification, which will help me in my day-to-day work and will also enable me to differentiate myself. It's very broad, covering many different areas within finance, adding to the knowledge I gained while studying at university. It has taken up a lot of my spare time so I've lost my social life. But you gain in the long run in terms of gaining a qualification that is widely recognised within the investment community and skills that can be applied to a variety of areas.
Structured Finance, Leveraged Finance
Masters in Mathematics, Durham University
I work in Leveraged Finance within Structured Finance. As high leveraged debt is inherently risky there is a lot of background work to do for each transaction, so my role consists mainly of researching, comparing and structuring the debt. I analyse the companies involved, keep an eye on the progress of the companies that we've done deals with in the past and also a lot of modelling work. As I come from a maths background I find the mathematical modelling one of the most interesting parts of my role. It's an involved process examining the particular sensitivities of each model, inputting the figures and working out the risks and probabilities.
I like the mix of the things that I do at the moment. I follow the markets regularly and see things that I'm involved with reported in the Financial Times. In particular I enjoy finding out about a company and really looking deeply into the way it operates. I have to read through all the relevant documents provided, examine the due diligence, and then search for other documentation, broker reports etc and analyse all of this for the credit paper that we write. The credit paper will be presented to an internal committee and from there we'll make a decision about whether or not it's a good business to get involved with. The last deal I worked on was approved by the credit committee and it's definitely one of the most satisfying moments of my role, seeing all that hard work pay off.
It's been a very steep learning curve for me since I started with no financial markets background at all. The graduate training programme has been very, very interesting, and initially it was very useful in raising my financial knowledge and giving me the skills I needed to be able get straight to work. When I started we had two weeks in the office getting oriented, and then I went on a training course for about a month with all of the other graduates who had started at the same time as me. I found the accountancy and the excel side of the training very interesting and also passed my FSA exams and gained a broad understanding of the rest of the bank from talking to the other graduates who mostly came from Sales, Trading or Debt Capital Markets.
My team is very tight-knit, friendly and not internally competitive. This close relationship we have helps us when we're under pressure for a deadline. The last deal I worked on was pretty intense and we had to work late some nights. I didn't mind though, it's part of the job in investment banking and it was actually a great adrenaline rush, the fact that we were all in it together and determined to get things done no matter what.
Area of work
Fixed Income Operations
BSc Management, Cass Business School, City University, London
After completing my degree, I decided to take on some project work in the banking sector to get a feel for the different types of jobs available and to discover what I would particularly enjoy. I found that I wanted to strengthen my understanding of the financial world and required greater exposure to more complex products, so I chose to join a graduate programme.
I was attracted to BNP Paribas because of its reputation. Not only has it maintained a high credit rating despite the financial crisis, the culture here is unique. There is a high emphasis on development and the structure is meritocratic. Therefore, no matter what your position is, you can make a difference and have a serious input with your work. I accepted the offer as it was a great opportunity for someone fairly new to banking to learn and build up an understanding of the various products, the systems and the different roles within the organisation, particularly Fixed Income.
I've had the opportunity to work with a number of teams within the Fixed Income middle office, both on the credit and interest rates side. After the graduate boot camp, I worked with the trade support teams, where the daily work involved processing trades, ensuring accurate bookings and timely payments, investigating discrepancies and resolving queries by maintaining contact with both the front and back office. This year I have moved into looking at trading profit and loss. The experiences of the last year have strengthened my skills to adapt to suit the needs of different roles and working styles. I've had to learn roles and systems very quickly in order to make a valuable contribution to the teams that I joined.
I've found the graduate programme a brilliant introduction to the world of banking. The boot camp was intensive classroom-based learning, which was a challenge at first as it was difficult to get back into study after a year of leaving university. However, it was enjoyable as I got to know the other graduates well via group work and was able to stimulate my mind for a long period of time.
By the end of the first year, I feel that I've developed a range of valuable skills and knowledge, which are fundamental to progress in this industry.
Watch Pranai's film profile.
Structured Finance, Merchant Banking
Quantitative Economics and Mathematics, Tufts University
I first interned in the summer with Loan Syndications and joined the group as a full-time in May 2009. In May 2011, I moved into the Merchant Banking Group (“MBG”), where I now work. BNP Paribas attracted me because I enjoyed the work during my internship and I liked the people here.
I'd studied abroad, in London, the year before my internship and I'd travelled a bit in Europe so I’d seen the name of the bank in Paris. It actually has a strong position in the USA.
Since joining MBG, I’ve primarily been focused on supporting the origination and the credit analysis related to the origination of a few opportunities that we have looked at within the middle-market space. MBG is dedicated to supporting North American private equity firms and their portfolio companies with a particular focus on the middle market. The group originates, structures, underwrites and executes financings for leveraged buyouts, strategic acquisitions, recapitalizations and refinancing, primarily acting as a lead or joint lead arranger on cash-flow based senior bank debt financings. My transition to MBG will help me broaden my skill set and exposure and is an example of the mobility that’s possible at BNP Paribas.
When I was in Loan Syndications, I helped syndicate loans originated by MBG, as well as a number of corporate and energy- related transactions, which were originated by other groups within Structured Finance. My job mainly consisted of working with investors to get them comfortable with various investments that we were proposing, and putting together marketing materials to promote the different transactions. BNP Paribas originates loans for a number of different corporations and then we market them to a group of investors to allow the companies to target a larger group of lenders. Loan Syndications has two types of clients – companies who are issuing loans, and investors who are investing in those loans. I still work closely with Loan Syndications within my new role.
The culture at BNP Paribas is very international, which is great because
just working here you are exposed to many different people, with
different backgrounds and languages, from a wide range of countries and
cultures. The organisation is very flat so you are able to do a variety
of things, even as a junior member of the team. It’s been very good for
We have a training programme to cover the basic financial material but a lot of the learning happens on the job. You rely heavily on your colleagues to help you and they are great. This is a busy group, so people don’t always have time to spare, but they try to make sure you understand what is going on.
The hardest thing for me in terms of facing challenges has just been managing my time well and learning how to balance the multitude of tasks that are at hand.
The most important thing I've learned is about managing my expectations – about how much work I was going to be doing, and what type of work it would be. The more you can seek out people in the group and understand exactly what's expected of you, the easier it is to acclimatise yourself.
I think it is important to be somewhat extroverted and flexible and open to new ideas. There is definitely the opportunity for innovation at BNP Paribas. Sometimes there is a situation where you are not going to be doing a cut and dried deal; there is a special request from a client and you have to find a way to make something work. Here, you definitely have the chance to develop something new and to be creative.
Area of work
Master of Engineering (Electronics and Communications), University of Warwick
I work in Fixed Income deal capture IT. Whenever someone makes a trade they enter it onto our system and I look after everything that happens after that from an IT perspective. This includes updating the databases and sending their trading positions wherever they need to go within the business
I did a lot of programming during my university course, but also took some Finance courses and found them interesting, so I thought I'd like a career where I could combine my interests. I started researching careers in investment banking and that's when I came across BNP Paribas. The thing that immediately appealed to me was that you get a real job straightaway, that you don't spend ages training. I had just spent 4 years doing a very technical degree and didn't want to start another long period of studying. I'd also taken a year out during university and had enjoyed working, so was keen to get back to work.
I joined in August, it took a week or so to get familiar with things but then after that I was straight into working on bug fixes and programming. I've also been working on a few different projects outside my normal work, development projects. One of them is changing the functionality of how one of our databases works. Formerly people used to access replicated data, rather than directly accessing the original data. I've worked out a way to access the original data, so the system now works more efficiently and the errors that were occurring during the duplication process are reduced. Because we work as part of a global system here, my database changes will be enacted throughout all our offices around the world. I'll help with the release process to ensure that everything goes smoothly. It's great to be able to do extra projects like this, I find doing my own development work very interesting and it allows me to use my creative side as well.
I really like the fact that I'm learning a lot about programming and a lot about business. I'm not too sure which path I'd like to head along, either as a developer or a project manager, but I'd definitely like to keep learning more about the business and finance side of things. I've seen many of my colleagues move internally, to different areas of the business so I know that whatever I decide there will be plenty of opportunities and more responsibility.
My job is demanding and I have deadlines to meet and things to manage but my managers appreciate that I have a life outside the office. That seems to be a common attitude here, maybe it's a European thing but there's a big emphasis on work/life balance.
I think that for any student who's interested in early responsibility and a balanced career where you have the opportunity to move internally and really raise your level of knowledge, BNP Paribas is a good choice.
Structured Finance, Media & Telecom Finance
Mathematics & Business Studies, University of Warwick
BNP Paribas stood out for me, right from my initial contact with the bank at a campus event in my first year at university. The representatives had far more time for me than many of the other firms at the fair and I came away with a great first impression. I liked the idea of joining a team straight away and getting real experience over the course of the graduate programme. For those who know where they want to be, it means you obtain 12 months solid experience in your area of interest.
I did the FSA exams when I joined, before completing more technical training. This took place in Paris with colleagues from Europe and allowed me to begin to develop a European network. Over two weeks, it covered analysis of companies, how much they could borrow, structuring a deal and trying to develop an understanding of how to dig a little deeper – not just to take figures at face value, but to see further and highlight where issues might arise.
Between my team in London and another in Paris, we cover media and telecom companies across EMEA, providing me with insight into the dynamics of different markets and geographies. One of the principal areas of focus for my team is to arrange loans and bonds for these companies. As such, we are interested in the cash they will generate and therefore whether they will be able to pay the interest and repay the loan. We also act as relationship manager for some clients, which involves developing a relationship with the CEO, CFO and Treasurer, introducing other products of the bank and presenting ideas that they might not have thought of when we go to see them. Being innovative and standing out from the crowd is what can lead to successful business so we are always looking to come up with new strategies to pitch to clients.
Much of my development has come about through working with my team. When you first join, it’s very strange to think you are one of hundreds of thousands of employees around the world – it’s a massive organisation and the scale of operations is huge. But at the same time, I am working in a team of just ten in London and you identify with them more than anyone.
For a new deal, I’ll be responsible for preparing the majority of the credit memo we submit to obtain internal approval to lend. This usually involves analysing historical performance, researching recent industry developments and using our internal analytical systems. When we are preparing a pitch to take to a client, my work will be a lot more research-based and includes benchmarking competitors, analysing the market and charting historical shares / loans / bonds performance. I try to present the information in a way that is easily accessible and understandable to others and use visual graphs and tables as much as possible. Most of my work is in Microsoft Office – Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
After six months in the job, I started to complete the more technical aspects of our function – modelling and cash flow projections. To begin with, it can be daunting to even know where to start but my colleagues have been really helpful in explaining how it all works. You first construct an assessment of how you think the company will perform before then simulating different scenarios and seeing if the company still has enough cash available. The pressure is on, because one very small change in an assumption can have a massive impact on your forecasts for what might happen in the future.
I am now three years into the job and have been steadily taking on more and more responsibility for producing work directly with the most senior members of my team. I have been given my own portfolio of clients to focus on and am regularly attending client meetings to discuss new ideas and potential transactions. These are all important steps as I move into the next stages of my development.
I’ve found the people at BNP Paribas to be very sociable and most Friday evenings I’ll be in the pub or having dinner, either with my team or with other graduates – it’s great to get to know people socially as well as in a professional environment. Everybody works hard and I’m not going to say that the hours aren’t long if there is a deadline approaching, but the challenging work and people around you make BNP Paribas an exciting and rewarding place to be.
Watch Keija's film profile.
Watch Xiaying's film profile.
Global Equity and Commodity Derivatives, Structuring
BA and MSc, Finance; San Diego State University
I was born in mainland China and moved to Mexico City when I was 10. I went to college in the US and during that period did a one-year exchange programme in Europe. During my Masters, I also spent a semester at the University of Hong Kong as a visiting scholar.
I was seeking various types of jobs but I knew that I wanted to be in investment banking. One of the main reasons why I chose BNP Paribas was because they hire graduates into a direct role instead of joining a rotational programme, where you work in different departments, here they give you responsibility and hands-on experience from day one. You are placed in one particular team where you stay for the length of the programme, and the learning curve is much steeper and much faster. You quickly become very experienced and knowledgeable on the particular topics that your team is responsible for.
When I was interviewing for this programme, I sort of knew what kind of a job it would be and the kind of skills I would be able to learn. The people are also very important – during the assessment and interview process, you get to know the people you’ll be working with and that was one of the most important factors in my decision. The people I work with every day are bright and innovative, and they are also willing to share their knowledge with you. That’s important when it’s your first job – you’re not afraid to ask questions. Many colleagues have become friends and I see them outside work socially as well.
This is my first job and it helped that I’d studied Finance – I could understand some of the jargon people use – however, having a degree in Finance is not essential as the knowledge and skills you will acquire on the job are more important than what you’ve learned at university.
I am in the structuring team, more specifically, regulatory structuring, so my job is largely technical. What we try to achieve day to day is to develop innovative products and solutions to meet the demands of our clients, most of them being institutional investors such as banks and asset management companies. Our clients in turn have their own investors and they have to meet their needs. We try and provide an all-round one-stop solution to meet those needs.
We develop solutions that meet the regulatory constraints we face in each Asian country. It’s definitely not a job where you do the same things every day. You encounter problems that have to be solved with either new or changed solutions. Our solutions are based in different asset classes and payoff structures, which could prove to have many variations, so it really depends on what the client’s needs are, the nature of the client, what country it is located in, and so on. Our work is focused in Asia because the Hong Kong branch is the hub for our Asian operations.
I’ve had to learn how to work under pressure. Some of the products we deal with are very much market-timing sensitive, so we need to be ready and move very quickly if an opportunity has arisen from the market.
My job entails liaison between different teams so managing relationships is important and I think I have developed my interpersonal skills. For instance, I work closely with our legal team and as a result, I feel I have become more diligent: you don’t want to make mistakes!
I definitely think that after a few years, especially as this is my first job, I might be looking to make a change and find some new challenges. Once you are in the industry you learn what the different roles are within it, but I would not want to move from BNP Paribas. I think there are many areas for me to explore within the bank. The culture and the people are what I deeply appreciate and make me want to stay, even though I might in the future end up in a different role.
Structured Finance, Project Finance
Finance, Strategy, HEC Paris African Politics, La Sorbonne Macro Economics, La Sorbonne
I knew that I wanted to work in Finance but wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, so during my time at university I started investigating my options. I didn't want to be 1 of 1,000 graduates, but I did want big deals to work on and international exposure. I talked to a lot of people in the industry and spoke to alumni from HEC Paris, one of whom worked in Project Finance at BNP Paribas. The more I read about a career in Project Finance the more I liked it, so I went for a couple of interviews with BNP Paribas and then accepted a job offer.
When I started I definitely wasn't disappointed, my new colleagues were friendly and always available to explain things but also extremely professional and knowledgeable in what they do. BNP Paribas has a great reputation as an international Project Finance player, and I like the fact that there's hardly a major or significant PF deal in the EMEA region that we're not involved in.
One of the things I really wanted in my job was an international perspective - in the five years I've been here I've been exposed to many large international deals, like the Marafiq US$3bn power and water project in Saudi Arabia, where the Bank acted as structuring bank and mandated lead arranger. Working on this transaction you had a unique opportunity to be dealing with so many people from different countries - I remember one meeting we had in London, in the lawyers' offices, where out of the 25 people in the room there were people from more than 10 different nationalities, Saudi, Belgian, Polish, Indian, Lebanese, Brazilian, Russian, French, Moroccan, British, Australian...
Another thing I love in Project Finance is that you're involved from the very start of the deal; you get a blank sheet of paper and have the opportunity to structure the transaction from scratch and see things all the way through. I have been involved in all stages of a US$10bn petrochemical transaction, from early advisory to establishing a funding plan, approaching the bank market, negotiating finance documentation with the lenders and closing the deal with a 40-banks large lending group.
One of the benefits of being hired straight into a role is that you get involved with real work almost straight away. Three to six months after you start you're going to be meeting clients, taking a lead role on specific parts of a job and having to manage and deliver on the expectations of your supervisor and your clients. I have done internships and worked at other banks and in my opinion you are offered responsibilities and a level of international exposure here that you don't get anywhere else, you're really given a chance to out-perform. At BNP Paribas I have the chance to work for one of the world's leading banks in Project Finance, to be exposed to great clients, huge international deals and to work on projects that really count. I like the people I work with and they like me. So why would I move?!
Fixed Income IT
Electronic and Communications Engineering, Bristol University
My team supports all applications involved in the generation of risk and pnl for all Credit products in Fixed Income. We aggregate and present this risk to the Trading and Operations teams. It can be intense as the market moves every second and we need to make sure the risks for each trade is correctly calculated and updated quickly. For the traders, every second means an opportunity, so we need to react fast.
My team is based across London, Singapore, Paris and New York, which means we work in shifts. Because we work on a global platform, the different teams in different countries take over as the markets open around the world. We also have a local support team in each country, so if there is an issue that needs to be resolved immediately, there is somebody on-hand all the time. It's very efficient.
At BNP Paribas you feel you can make an early contribution and you are not restricted. There is a lot of interaction between teams and it's easy to approach colleagues from different teams and make friends with them. So far, working at the bank has been a great experience.
I came to the UK from China as a teenager to study. I graduated from Bristol University and then had another job, working in a consultancy for a while, but I never felt that it really suited me.
I have an engineering degree so when I joined; I had no IT skills or real business awareness. At university, programming is not part of our course. So not only did I have to try to understand the concepts behind each credit product, I also had to learn different IT languages to write the code. At first, I asked for help from my colleagues and wrote the scripts down on my notes. Then I went on several training courses provided by the bank, which provided useful hands-on learning.
The official language of BNP Paribas is English but there are many languages spoken in our team. I am trying to learn French, Indian and German – and I’m trying to teach my colleagues Chinese. It's sort of a contest to see who has the best ability to learn languages!
I've done lots of IT skills training, learning different languages and programs. I've also had to pick up a fair amount of business knowledge. BNP Paribas runs regular courses but we also have an internal website that provides fundamental knowledge and information on up-to-date issues – a business awareness database. Because we are calculating the risk, often we have to understand what kind of modelling is being applied to different products.
Eventually I might like the opportunity to try different roles within the bank. While it might be easy to find another position in another bank doing the same thing, it would not be easy to find the right colleagues. If I choose to try another role in the future, I would like it to be within BNP Paribas.
Area of work: Fixed Income Technology, eCommerce
Studied: BEng Embedded Engineering; Masters in Advanced Software Engineering, University of Westminster
I work in the Global Markets team, developing applications for the ‘lite customers’ – SMEs, banks, internal clients as well as investors and others. As part of my team, I develop web applications and our team has also been working on apps for the iPad, iPhone and Android.
This is where the future is. Before long, laptops and PCs will be a thing of the past. Everyone will start trading on mobile platforms like iPhones and iPads, and there are already applications out there to do this. Every time we release any new software, we do a press release and it is broadcast all over the world. We’re always competing against other banks, but I think BNP Paribas is out in front.
I started off working for the Global Markets team, handling websites that we ran for research analysts – providing research, publications and commentaries. Then I moved to the credit side of Global Markets as our team expanded where I started dealing with bonds and credit default swaps – when they mature, what the yield will be. My work had a direct impact on the information used by traders for pricing and other activities. As I got to be more in touch with the business so I learned more about the bank. That’s what I enjoy about being here – you’re always learning something new.
I also like the fact that at BNP Paribas you have the opportunity to see the whole software lifecycle; from idea to execution, from specifying the business requirements to development and also engaging with clients. That’s from the techie side. From the business side, I get to know how internal or external clients use what we deliver as a team.
Understanding the client’s needs is the most important thing in any type of business. We did a two-week training course when I first joined the bank and it really opened my eyes to – capital markets, the lifecycle of a trade, and the roles of the different offices: front, middle and back. I also started to understand the particular strengths of BNP Paribas compared to other banks – and how we survived the recession so well.
Since joining, I’ve been on a number of courses to improve my knowledge, for example about Groovy and Grails. These are very new technologies and it’s exciting because we’ve already taken them on board. We are pretty much there with whatever is the next big thing in the software industry.
We went to Paris last week to finish the graduate programme and all the 2010 global graduates gathered from across the world: New York, Milan, Singapore, Indonesia,Korea, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, London, Bahrain and Paris. We’d all met in September last year and we all met up again. It was amazing. I also found out how my work is affecting these people – some of the graduates are using the applications I’ve been working on. It’s great to know that your work is being put to good use.
Equity Derivatives - Flow Sales
BSc in Management / MSc in Finance in ESADE Business School (Barcelona)
I have been passionate about equities from a young age, and decided to work in Capital Markets. Every decision I’ve made has been targeted towards achieving my goal. I did a summer internship with BNP Paribas before joining as a graduate and prior to that, I had the opportunity to take a first approach to the banking industry as an intern in La Caixa (the largest Spanish savings bank).
BNP Paribas is a world-class player in equity derivatives and its quantitative reputation, along with its European culture, made it the perfect choice for me.
During my internship, I worked in Equity Derivatives Strategic Equity Sales, while as a graduate I am in Equity Derivatives Flow Sales. They are similar roles, both in sales on the equity derivatives side, one of the strongest areas within BNP Paribas. However, there are some differences. Strategic Equity targets corporates doing strategic deals (hedging stakes, ESOP etc) so each deal takes some time and needs considerable internal coordination (approvals). However, in Flow, as its name reflects, trades happen quicker, are usually smaller, and our clients are typically financial institutions.
Luckily, my day-to-day work is as varied as I like to make it. Sometimes clients will know what they want, so you will need to request the price to traders, check that you can trade, check that the price is OK and hopefully, trade.
Sometimes clients are happy to listen to ideas. In this case your added value increases, meaning you have to be proficient both in the range of products you know and in your macro/financial knowledge. Sometimes, clients will even call you to ask your view on the situation or on a specific event, and you have to be ready to give it. During all these processes you have to cope with difficulties and potential problems, so you have to be prepared to deal with almost everyone – legal departments, compliance, the stock exchange – and to do so, you need to understand what they do.
Finally, from time-to-time, you have to strengthen the relationship with your clients by visiting and spending time with them.
Luckily enough, you will always have something to learn. I find that this variety is the best thing about my job.
We are the point of contact between the traders and the clients. In sales, you have to be ready to trade from the time the market opens until it closes, so the concentration demand in the role is considerable. Another important skill is precision, as in every single deal there are numerous places where you can make a mistake. Doing 99% of the deal right is not enough.
I am on the trading floor and I am dealing with traders and clients most of the time. I usually work long hours but if you like your job, it's not bad. Fortunately, I work in the continental Europe team, which includes Italians, Germans and Dutch, so as a Spaniard it's easy to fit in. The people I work with are amazing, both personally and professionally. Seeing these talented individuals around you encourages you to be better every day.
Fixed Income, Trading, FX Derivatives and Swaps (Euro, Yen, USD)
Business School, ESCE Paris (Leonardo Da Vinci) Master's in Banking and Finance, Paris University
I wanted to join a strong bank, a bank where I could have great opportunities and a great career. For me, BNP Paribas stood out from all the others as by far the best option.
I've been working for seventeen months now, one year as a trading assistant during my Master's course, where I spent most of my time learning how the system works, the mentality of the trading floor and the way you interact with other people and with the markets. Then everything changed when I actually started trading. I knew how things worked theoretically, but actually facing my computer and making trades and seeing how things moved and changed, I realised that you can never really know what's going to happen - which I found thrilling.
I have always wanted to be a trader, but in many ways it's different to how I imagined it would be. I thought it would be a bit like the business equivalent of a battlefield, lots of shouting and stress and pressure. It's not quite like that though. It can be intense at times, but there's a real team atmosphere; you work closely with Sales and you're their link to the markets. The part I really enjoy is being in tune with the daily revolution of the markets. Every day I get up and I know my day is going to be totally different, because I have no idea what happened in the markets overnight and how it's going to affect my day.
It's amazing the repercussions that you see happen as you trade. You realise how global it is and that everything is inter-linked. If I buy something in Paris I can see how it affects things in New York and in other markets around the world. I was on the graduate training programme for three days and already I missed trading. I miss not being on the trading floor and watching what happens.
Equity Derivatives, Option Trading
BSc Astronomy, Master's in Physics, Hong Kong University
I went straight into trading after completing my degree. I chose BNP Paribas because it was very strong in derivatives and it was also one of the few banks that hire traders.
To be honest, the first few weeks were a bit of a nightmare - everything goes at such a fast pace. However, once you have grasped the basics, it gets better!
My team are responsible for the Asia Index. I work alongside a senior trader helping on the Hong Kong and Korean markets, which are big ones. I also trade on my own, under supervision, in the smaller markets like Australia and Singapore.
Operationally the work consists of taking trades and making money. I observe the market and form the market view; answer price requests from sales or brokers; review the term sheets and verify the trades. I am still learning and the more I learn, the more I find I don't know. The working hours depend on the markets I cover and believe me it is very hard work, but for me it's also fun. When the markets open and you are really getting into your stride, it is interesting and very exciting.
You have to act fast and think on your feet. You need to think quickly and under pressure; you need to give answers to sales people, brokers and internal clients rapidly. You need a reason why you are doing a trade so you have to have the analytical skills as well. You have to think in a logical way, observe things carefully - look at what has happened around you.
I really enjoy it. When you think you've made a good trade, it's a really good feeling. But you have to be physically strong because it can be quite intense. It's the fastest environment in the world, and the pressure is immense: in several seconds, you can make or lose thousands of dollars.
Fixed Income, Trading, FX Interest Rates, FX Hybrids Trading
Masters in Mathematics, PhD in Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University
I had heard that BNP Paribas were specifically looking for a graduate to work in FX hybrid options who had a Maths research background. I studied Maths and Physics to quite a high level, so wanted to work somewhere that I could use my mathematical knowledge, but also I've always been attracted to trading, so this opportunity seemed perfect for me. It has really lived up to my expectations.
Most of my time is spent either pricing trades for customers, or managing the resulting risks. This can be stressful at times but becomes easier with experience, as you start to gain intuition into how options behave and how you need to react to movements in the markets. Since we need to understand the models used to value our book, there is a technical component to the job which I enjoy, both in terms of mathematics and IT. But this is much less important than following the markets and gaining a qualitative understanding of the products we trade.
While the bank does hire people straight from university to work in options trading, a more usual route in, for the sort of thing I do, is through research or structuring. Most of what you learn has to be learnt on the job. It was very difficult for the first couple of months, a bit of a trial by fire, but it got much easier very quickly after that. It's immensely satisfying when things start making sense and you can see yourself contributing to the team.
Our desk focuses on trading emerging market options, from the most basic vanilla options to much more complicated structures with more exotic risk. BNP Paribas has traditionally been strong in structured products, and part of our job is to make sure that we maintain this reputation by showing good prices for as many customer requests as possible. This can mean that the risk management of our book can get very difficult, particularly given the large market volatility we have been experiencing recently, but it is important that we still quote prices even in the most extreme conditions.
The atmosphere at BNP Paribas is relatively relaxed compared to some investment banks, which suits me very well. Working in trading carries a lot of responsibility but is also very enjoyable. I get on well with my team and feel that I have learnt an enormous amount over the past three years.
Equity Derivatives, Stock Flow Trading – Japan, Hong Kong and Australia
BSc Actuarial Science, University of Hong Kong
During my college years, I stayed in the US for one year as an exchange student. I worked as an intern in a couple of companies including an insurance firm, the US Government Congress, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.
I was thinking of working in something related to equity derivatives, partly because of my experience at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley - where I first came cross the subject - and partly because I really love numbers and mathematics. I knew that BNP Paribas was one of the biggest players in this area and I thought it would be a very good breeding ground for me to learn quickly and develop my career.
My training started with a derivatives' boot camp' organised by the bank. During the three- week training, I had the opportunity to learn more about the fixed income side of the market. The lecturer was inspiring and we learned derivatives through both theory and practice in Excel. As an equity derivatives trader, although the knowledge of Fixed Income might not be directly applicable, the way of thinking is analogous - the way to simplify a problem. Now, whenever I come across a complex product, the thing that I always do is try to break it down into simple and familiar cash flows.
During the training, I also made friends with other graduates from different divisions all over the world. Learning from their diversified experience also offered me a macro view of the financial world.
Initially on the first few weeks on the trading floor, I felt a bit uncomfortable due to the intense atmosphere - everyone was shouting and using jargon I didn't understand. At first, I was given some routine tasks such as trade booking and profit and loss (P&L) reporting. Although the tasks themselves were not so interesting, they had to be done correctly without a single error.
Gradually, I was given more responsibility and after a while, I was allowed to get access to the market and was asked to help on the hedging and risk management side. After another two months, I became an option market maker where I could trade stocks and futures, and also trade options and quote prices in the market.
Six months later, a trader returned to Europe and handed over his trading book to me. I was given an Australian trading book to manage and since then, I have learned more trading strategies and risk management techniques.
The main skill that I've developed is to apply what I learned in school to what I'm currently doing. When I first came out of college, my mind was full of mathematical formulae and symbols. But when I was sitting in front of the trading screens, where I saw numbers instead of math equations, it took me some time to get used to it. Also, throughout the first few months, I picked up the traders' jargon, developed a sharper market sense and learned more about the market. Now I can think much more quickly; I'm able to break complex derivatives into simpler components like jigsaw puzzles for pricing and analysis. Currently I enjoy working in BNP Paribas. Eventually I would like to rotate to different trading desks such as warrant, index and exotics, to further build up my knowledge.
Fixed Income Structuring
Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Masters, Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California; MBA, Finance, University of Chicago
My role at BNP Paribas revolves around structurally complex transactions and structuring projects that require a number of groups within the bank to work together. Our activities range from specialised products like Balance Guaranteed Derivatives and Trust Derivatives to new product initiatives and launch of new business initiatives in LATAM and US.
Such projects require a group of people to work together across departments and expertise. I am the lead runner from structuring, acting as a glue and translator between Trading, Sales, Risk, Legal, Tax, Compliance, Back Office, etc. With these departments, we look at legal and regulatory issues, creation of exhaustive term-sheets for transactions and their proper implementation in legal documentation, pricing models, interaction with clients, evaluation of Risk and shepherding the business proposals through internal approval processes. We also devise ways in which existing products can be deployed to a new set of clients, new areas of application or ways in which they can be modified to satisfy a client need.
The European culture is pretty strong within BNP Paribas, which is a great attribute. It balances prudent conservativeness with strong innovation. It’s a very solid institution – one of the very few “AA” rated banks worldwide – highly professional and driven by a desire to constantly deliver great solutions to its clients at reasonable revenues to the bank. Its IT infrastructure is world-class and its business model focuses on combining great professional talent with wide business opportunities, maintaining a strong leash on the risks to which it is exposed. That’s a hallmark of the very best institutions in our field.
There is always a lot to learn from the people around you, if you maintain humility and an open mind to learn. My advice to younger colleagues entering the field is two-fold: First think about your own personality to see which area of finance fits you – are you intellectual and cerebral, so perhaps research is your calling? Do you have the gift of the gab, so you might make a good salesperson? Do you enjoy travelling? Relationship banking. Testosterone-driven, constantly watching market developments? Trading Think about what suits you and your personality. Secondly, talk to as many professionals in various areas as you can– sound them out about opportunities and listen to what they do and what they like, find out about the mistakes they’ve made and things they would change if they had to do things over. There is a lot to glean from such interactions and it will help you make prudent choices. Make a decision based on long-term satisfaction, beyond monetary considerations alone.
My ambition now is to leverage the experience I have garnered and help the bank build new businesses. I’d really like to go to Asia or somewhere in India, either to start something completely new, or replicate the success of the bank in a new geographic area – perhaps expand a client franchise or build the capabilities in a new product. There are blue skies everywhere!
Area of work: Fixed Income, Trading
Studied: BSc Business Mathematics & Statistics, London School of Economics
I did an internship at another bank the summer before my final year so I knew a fair bit about banking. When looking at potential employers I thought BNP Paribas offered a fantastic opportunity – the culture seemed to be great, diversity was taken seriously and the bank seemed to really care about its employees. But what really made me choose BNP Paribas as the place to start my career was the fact that, following initial training, you go straight onto a desk and job rather than wasting time rotating through areas that don’t interest you. That means you take on real responsibility much earlier than you would otherwise. In my case it meant that I was trading within a couple of months.
Working at BNP Paribas, you get to work closely with people at the top of their game with vast experience and expertise. I work in Fixed Income as the trader of Euro denominated Asian credits (corporates and financials). My role involves communicating with our Hong Kong and Tokyo office on a daily basis to trade as effectively as possible.
My typical day involves getting in for 7am – seeing how the market was overnight, reading the news, and checking for any developments on the companies I trade. I then start sending out prices on the products we trade to our clients and begin trading. During the day I will constantly liaise with the sales teams to see what clients are doing and what they think of the market. I also speak to our economists and research teams to check their views on the market and individual companies.
At times, it can become very fast-paced and energetic, which is what I love most about the role. At the end of the day I double-check my positions and risk exposure and think about what I’d like to do the next day.
Trading helps you become more confident and quick-minded. You learn to condense a huge volume of information into a simple view within seconds in order to execute a trade immediately. I’m also currently studying for my CFA qualification to help develop my knowledge of the market and my ability to understand the products and companies I trade.
But it’s not just the trades that can happen quickly. I recently walked into the office on what I thought was a usual Wednesday. My line manager spoke to me at lunchtime and asked if I wanted to go to Hong Kong to trade for two weeks, and two days later I was on a plane to Hong Kong! This highlights the energy and opportunity that lie within the industry and BNP Paribas as a bank. Being given such an opportunity in my first year and the responsibility associated with that was a definite highlight.
Area of work: Fixed Income Trading, Electronic Markets, Business Management
Studied: BSc Banking & International Finance, Cass Business School
I first joined as a Product Analyst in the FX Spot Trading team, fine-tuning and configuring pricing parameters, facilitating our electronic offerings to the market. The role meant working very closely with the Electronic Markets team as well as IT teams to ensure our electronic offerings were competitive, consistent and stable.
After six months, I moved to the FX Spot Algo Autohedging team. In addition to helping with operational tasks on the desk such as fixings and managing client orders, I was responsible for monitoring our "lab" results and communicating the differences and drivers in P&L (profit and loss) to the team. I also worked on a project that aimed to provide us with additional liquidity for hedging by using futures and swaps to create synthetic spot positions.
After that, I moved permanently into the Electronic Markets management team as an eFX Analyst. My role is to ensure the business is heading in the right direction and that we achieve the bank's ambition to be a top-five FX house by end of 2012.
In an analytic role for management, every day is different. The main objective is to carry out thorough analysis to optimise our volumes (i.e. market share) as well as P&L, and recommend appropriate actions. This could involve tightening spreads in a particular currency pair, in a particular size bucket, in a particular time zone for any particular client; or it could be identifying clients with declining activities that we need to actively re-engage.
I’ve definitely been given a lot of responsibility, but a lot of it is up to you. If you’re capable of picking up more responsibility, the bank is happy to give it to you – in fact, you are encouraged and helped to do so.
One particular highlight so far was when one of my pieces of analysis showed the negative impacts of a set of spread changes. I gathered enough evidence to convince traders to reconsider their spread changes. The positive impact was immediate. Experiences like that underline the fact that I’m actually achieving something. I’m not just doing the hours; I go in to work with a purpose.
Area of work: Structured Product Sales, Global Equities & Commodity Derivatives
Studied: BSc Hons Economics, University of Nottingham
It’s a cliché but this business is about people and that’s one of the reasons BNP Paribas really stood out for me.
I interned with BNP Paribas the summer before I graduated and, on the back of that, I was offered a job. Knowing I had a job at the end of my studies helped enormously to ease the pressure in my final year.
I did six weeks of training when I first joined. Of course it was technically useful but the best thing about it from my point of view was the global network of peers that I was able to create. We had around 100 people in my class – from New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, London and Paris. One of the most valuable things for me has been making contacts in different departments and on different desks – knowing the right people to go to and being able to ask them questions when things crop up. I speak to many of my graduate class on a daily basis.
I now work on a desk with eight others, selling structured investment strategies based mainly on equities and commodities. We deal with private banks, pension funds, wealth managers and family offices, as well as some brokers and distributors.
My days are extremely varied but might typically include discussions with trading or structuring, taking feedback from a client, talking to clients and letting them know about new solutions that we’ve developed, launching new products, project management and liaising with different departments.
I joined in September and by Christmas I’d already been given two really big projects to work on. One was to launch some of our products in new markets that we’d never sold to before; the other was developing and launching a new type of product.
I’m really happy about being given this kind of early responsibility, even though it has been a steep learning curve. I’ve made some mistakes along the way – but you learn from them and hope you don’t make them again! Of course, there’s pressure but everyone deals with it slightly differently. I think it just requires you to be organised with your time to keep track of what’s going on. It has been tough but I am enjoying the challenge.
I feel that BNP Paribas was more welcoming than the other banks I looked at, and doesn’t have an aggressive atmosphere. This is more conducive to learning – the people here are very approachable and happy to spend time helping me understand new issues and solve problems.
Overall my experience has been fantastic. I have also been able to visit some of our other global offices, and have been given plenty of training opportunities to further develop. I think one of my highlights was definitely a team-building event when we were taken to Cannes to race yachts for a few days!
Area of work: Coverage Financial Institutions Group
Studied: Masters, Market Finance, ESC Tours, France
During my gap year, I worked for eight months at Edmond De Rothschild Financial Services in Paris and then for four months at the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. At the end of my studies, I joined BNP Paribas as an intern in the Financial Institutions Group in London. I am now a Junior Associate in this same team.
I applied for a role with BNP Paribas because the bank is a leader in Europe and one of the strongest banks in the world. I wanted to start my career in this environment and help contribute to its success. With its international profile, I hope I will have the opportunity to spend time in another one of our offices such as New York.
Since I joined the team, I have been assisting the bankers in their everyday tasks. This involves researching insurance companies and banks– their products, strategy, financial results, geographical presence, ratings, management, and so on. I identify opportunities regarding different institutions’ strategy.
This role is quite technical as you have to understand how things work in an insurance company and a bank. You need to know the business; each client profile, but also their accounts (balance sheet and Profit&Loss) because finance in these organisations is very different from those in a corporate company. And you have to understand the client’s needs and goals, as you have to work closely with the senior bankers to provide solutions for them.
I’ve only just started my graduate programme, but it's already been very helpful and I’ve met people from different backgrounds from all over the world. My graduate class will be my key contacts in the future as I will be working with all business lines so forming my own network is really useful. Having studied in France, it's also been very good for me to have all the courses in English and also to learn the English regulations.
One of my high points so far was to help a banker with an important and private transaction for a core client. It was very exciting as it was a headline in the news and everybody was talking about it. It was very challenging to be part of this deal, even if my contribution was small – and very encouraging for the future.
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BNP.PA 45.485 5/21/2013