Interviews – Financial – Adrian Cornwall

Adrian Cornwall, 24, is a graduate trainee institutional stockbroker with private UK bank Robert Fleming & Co. He works in their European Equity Sales team. The bank is in the throes of change with US banking giant Chase Manhattan in the process of consolidating a takeover

What is morale like at Fleming at the moment?
It’s not too bad actually. There was so much speculation it is actually a relief the bank is going to Chase Manhattan, a quality American bank.

Chase has a massive reputation and is also committed to spending a lot of money on training. However, Fleming has one of the highest cost-to-income ratios in the banking world, so there may be quite a few redundancies. The American banks are three or four times more productive.

How did you get into banking?
I graduated from Bristol University with a 2:1 in archaeology. I then took some time off to go abroad and traveled in India for about half a year. I then thought I should get some experience and did some temping work for Goldman Sachs in their operations department. I then went to Japan on the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) programme and had a fantastic time teaching English to Japanese children.

When I came back I applied to Fleming. They gave me a series of three interviews, starting off on general themes and getting more and more specific. I also had to do a numeracy test and answer some tricky number questions.

What does your job involve?
At present I’m getting ready for my SFA exams (Securities and Futures Authority). Once I’ve done those I will be a full member of the European equity sales, which means you deal with fund managers buying or selling shares for other institutions.

What is the money like?
Very good. I’m starting on 7,000, but that goes up pretty rapidly.

What most excites you about your job?
Undoubtedly, meeting up with clients. I cannot do that until I have passed my SFA exams, but it is the reason I took this job. I haven’t had the time to find the 70 odd hours to do the background work required to pass them, and doing the course (usually an eight day intensive course sponsored by your company). You need to revise outside work hours. However I will be doing them as soon as possible.

Building relationships with clients, getting results for them, and taking on commissions is what makes this an enjoyable job. There will be a lot of taking clients out, chatting them up over lunch, and having a good time.

What is the hardest part of the job?
The hours. Here at Fleming I come in at about 7.15am. So, you cannot really afford to go out during the week. Also, a lot of your work is based on the commissions you manage to get, which makes for quite a tough working environment.

This used to come with a great deal of prestige, but that has largely diminished now because analysts have taken a more recognized and central role in the investment banks. They make the informed decisions, and to a large degree brokers are now simply following their guidelines, becoming more and more like account managers.

Will you stay in broking?
Only for a couple of years. I don’t exactly know what I’ll do after that, but I am interested in going into marketing. A lot of people become trapped in their job by the pay. It is difficult when you have been used to 5,000 a year to go off and start doing something different for 4,000. You need to be brave.

What advice would you give to graduates?
Don’t worry if you miss the milkround graduate trainee scheme offers. Banks recruit all year round.

Also, the range of universities and degrees being examined by big investment banks is becoming more and more broad. Do not be put off – anyone from any background can get in and with a lot of people joining Internet start-ups and a huge amount of banking business at present, there are plenty of jobs to fill.

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