Most MBA summer internships ended 3-4 weeks ago and Darden classes started pretty soon after. It’s been great to get back to Charlottesville, reconnect with my friends and learn about their diverse experiences from May – August. The fact that I am learning so much about the firms they interned at during our conversations despite having met many of the same firms on campus got me thinking about doing a blog series covering some of the major industries/sectors in a Q&A format. I hope this will help prospective students and first years considering these different positions. Since it’s easiest to get ball rolling by actually writing the first post myself, I’ll start by sharing some thoughts on my summer at J.P. Morgan (JPM):
What were you doing at JPM at this summer?
I was a Summer Associate in the Private Bank and rotated through the investor desk in the Financial Sponsors group and then the Equity Solutions team. I spent the entire summer in New York although close to half of the 50 associates in the class spent one rotation in a regional office ranging from San Francisco to Miami.
PWM is money management for ultra-high net worth individuals (~$25m+ in investable assets), endowments and foundations. Almost every major bank on Wall Street and several boutique shops provide this service. Some of the larger firms have hundreds of billions of dollars in AUM.
What are the major tracks within PWM and why did you pick the roles you did?
The Strategy and Solutions teams help form and implement the firm’s investment thesis. As mentioned, I spent one rotation in equity solutions that implemented the firm’s views on equity markets. This involved ideation through individual stock research as well as implementation through structures that used a variety of options/derivatives on indexes and stocks.
My other rotation was as an investor in the Financial Sponsors Group that advises private equity clients. An investor provides portfolio management services for clients and requires a breadth of knowledge across all asset classes.
I did not rotate in the third position i.e. the banker role – given my interest in more market-facing work. Bankers are effectively relationship managers and quarterback all relationships with existing clients and are also responsible for bringing in new business to the firm. Banker-Investor pairs then tag team clients once JPM is managing the individual’s funds.
What were your major projects?
Both my teams had long-term projects for me to work on. These ranged from FX analysis to build a portfolio of diversified currencies for clients to top-down analysis of a region with identification of investment opportunities across sectors and asset classes. Besides longer term projects of this nature there were a plethora of day-to-day projects to assist the teams with portfolio construction and asset class research.
However, it was really interesting that the work for my teams only constituted 60% of my deliverables. The summer associates also spent a lot of time on intern projects such as a client investment pitch where we each did a 30 minute presentation to a managing director who pretended to be a client, built a business development proposal to identify new markets the firm could expand into, market drills that tested our knowledge of current issues dominating the news, etc. We were also lucky to be provided with a lot of learning and development opportunities including a four hour weekly class with a Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan and a speaker series where we heard from the heads of almost every group within the bank.
The final piece of the internship that I consider a project in and of itself was networking. I met over 150 employees during my 10 weeks in New York to learn about the different parts of the firm and also demonstrate the soft skills that are essential for success in this business.
In addition to all the work did you get a chance to have a good time?
While the projects described meant that 90-100 hour work weeks were not uncommon, JPM also made sure that the summer associates had an opportunity to get to know each other and senior management in a more relaxed setting outside the office. Some of marquee events for me included a trip to the Hamptons for all the summer associates with a Vice Chairman of the Bank, a reception hosted at a country club by the CEO of the Private Bank, cocktails at the Deputy CEO’s house, an evening at a Mets game (if only the U.S. Open had started while we were working!) and a closing dinner in the executive dining room with a panoramic view of New York City. A couple of pictures that capture some of the fun:
What can I do to develop the relevant skills to work in PWM / asset management?
As you would expect, finance, economics and investing acumen are essential to advice the sophisticated client base that a firm like JPM works with. The courses in Darden’s core curriculum cover a lot of this material but Professor Warnock’s Global Financial Markets is an absolutely essential elective for a successful summer. I had also had the opportunity to complete the CFA program before coming to Darden and it definitely gave me a significant leg up at JPM.
In terms of extra-curricular activities, anyone interested in investment management, PWM, equity research, etc. must get involved in Darden Capital Management at school. I am the Senior Portfolio Manager for one of the five funds in this $8m student run portfolio and the importance of DCM from a learning and development perspective cannot be overstated.
This was a long post but I hope it was helpful. Keep a look out for posts in the coming weeks where I will interview my fellow Darden second years that interned in other sectors ranging from consulting and corporate finance to technology and corporate strategy.