We recently took some time with Laura who joined Commerzbank in July last year after studying Economics in Italy and a Masters in Finance at Reading. Laura works in Commerzbank's Corporate and Markets division. Here she talks about her role and why she picked this investment bank.
What stood out to you about Commerzbank when you first applied?
I was looking for an investment banking role and I knew a couple of people at uni who were doing an internship at Commerzbank. I heard from them that it was a great place to work.
The main reason I applied is connected to the role itself as I was looking for a job in markets. When I initially read a description for the Primary Market Derivatives desk I was interested. My role involves providing hedging and pre-hedging solutions for corporates and financial institutions connected to the primary market business. When a corporate wants to issue a new bond you provide the hedging advice. We then execute the swap which is a financial instrument – an agreement between two parties to exchange cash flows.
Did you have any expectations about the internship and how did your experience compare?
I had many expectations! I expected to develop my skills and grow my knowledge from university especially as I didn’t have much practical experience. I also wanted to understand better the processes within an investment bank - how it works, how the different teams interact with each other and how the different business areas and products work. I expected the internship to be challenging.
When I started I realised it isn’t hierarchical at all and interns and junior roles matter. I could speak to senior people regularly and my opinion was always respected. I imagined that there would be more men than women in the industry as I was the only woman in the office during a previous internship prior to working at Commerzbank. However, in my current role within Debt Capital Markets there are plenty of other brilliant women.
The role deals with highly confidential information which we are regulated heavily on to ensure that nothing is shared with the trading floor. We therefore have to work closely with compliance teams.
How much did your internship prepare you for your graduate role?
I started my internship in July 2015 and moved to my graduate role in April 2016. My internship lasted 9 months and taught me a lot. There has been change between the roles, as I have much more involvement with clients and carry a great deal more responsibility. I'm also increasingly involved in pricing of the swaps.
Can you give us an example of a project you worked on?
I worked on a project recently which I came up with myself – one of the best things about this role is that I work on a small and relatively new desk – so I am able to take the initiative and actively participate in creating new projects. I worked on how pricing of swaps varies based on macroeconomic factors, economic news and other influences. I am now evolving my project and building a model to show the changes in pricing and trends over the last five years. I will be presenting this to clients which shows how far my project has grown.
What do you enjoy most about working at Commerzbank?
There are many things I love about Commerzbank. It’s a great place to start your career as it has a really supportive culture - we have many training sessions and I had the opportunity to participate in them to learn about other divisions. I’m also able to choose the training I want to attend including a language course.
Commerzbank is not very hierarchical so I can network with many people and have met colleagues which helps in the everyday business. I like the fact that if you do well then you are rewarded. For example, I love working with clients and my manager knows this so I am given more opportunities.
What have your main challenges been?
My main challenge was that I had a lack of confidence as I was in a new place with new people and I had to learn so much in a short period of time. I had to do three exams in order to talk to clients - timing and prioritisation were my main challenges. I got over this by accepting the challenge and doing the best I could as well as always saying yes to opportunities.
Finally, what tips do you have for our members who might want to consider a role in investment banking?
Say yes, take five minutes – breathe and then get on with it!