Ali El Bedraoui, a 2nd-year analyst at Greenhill, holds an MPhil in Finance from the University of Cambridge and a BSc in Mathematics & Finance from Kings College London. He was previously a summer analyst in quantitative equities at Aberdeen Standard Investments and interned with Greenhill in the summer of 2019. He speaks to us about his experience at the prestigious firm, why he joined, and some insights on the application process.
Tell us about an average day at Greenhill.
There really is no ‘average’ day at Greenhill; the work is incredibly varied. From the typical financial modelling to market research and meetings with senior professionals across the firm and beyond; no one day is like another.
The work, as a whole, is about building financial presentations which are used to convey a key message or idea to a client. Within that, the job of an analyst is to get those presentations together and liaise with client teams. There’s a lot involved in the process, whether it’s ringing up in-field experts to understand a company or industry, or even building out an entire presentation from scratch!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I think what makes Greenhill is the people; everyone is smart and lovely and there is always such a positive atmosphere. Greenhill is so great at making you feel comfortable with everyone, regardless of their position in the firm.
In terms of the work itself, analysts have a lot of freedom to think strategically as well as looking at the numbers. Thinking about how a company should position itself, or whether they should acquire another company is really fascinating to me and the cool thing about Greenhill is that an analyst’s strategic thinking is very likely to actually end up in front of CEOs.
What non-academic skills or experiences at university best prepared you for your career at Greenhill?
I don’t think that there are any particular skills or experiences that you need to be ‘prepared’ for a career at Greenhill but I think being involved in all sorts of societies on campus can only be beneficial. Attending events organised by your university's finance society can allow you to seriously expand your network while meeting with like-minded people; which can be very helpful in the short, as in the long term.
Why did you pick Greenhill?
From the various internships I have gone through during my years at university, I have managed to paint a good picture in my mind of the kind of companies I wanted to work in. I found that Greenhill satisfied all the key criteria I was looking for in a work environment. From the unmatched level of exposure at the junior level to the smaller, flatter team structures and the people you meet and interact with on a daily basis, Greenhill was the perfect place for me. The culture also played a big role in my decision to apply and ultimately start my career at Greenhill, there is a strong emphasis on ongoing training and people genuinely want to see you learn and adapt quickly in the best environment possible.
Also, the Greenhill London office is around 50 people, which I think is an ideal size because you get to know everyone quickly and become part of the tight-knit team, but it’s still large enough to have your own space and to have all the things you’d want in an office. It’s also right in the middle of Mayfair which is an amazing location to work!
What did the application process involve?
For the internship, the application process is similar to those at other banks. Initially you submit a CV and cover letter, and if successful you’ll have a phone interview and then an in-person interview with Freshminds. Afterwards, you’re invited to an assessment centre at the London office where employees, ranging from analysts to senior MDs, will interview you.
What has surprised you about your role or the firm, since joining Greenhill?
Joining Greenhill as a summer intern gives you a great idea of what the life of a first-year analyst is like in terms of workload, type of work and interactions, so I gained a good sense of the firm.
Two key things which surprised me on the internship, though, were how diverse the work of bankers is and how energising it is to be part of a results-driven industry. First, bankers do everything; their role is a lot more than just looking at numbers. It’s really about understanding clients and their businesses. Second, in this job, the aim is to get to the right answer and ensure that all work is correct. Once seniors are satisfied that the analysis is correct, it gets sent out to clients. It’s great to work in a job where getting stuff right actually matters and where the emphasis is on getting it done and out there, especially compared to university life, where there is general academic pressure but less focus on precision. There is a confidence in banking that there are right and wrong answers to questions and you know very clearly what your purpose is and what your goals are.
What advice would you give to students thinking of applying to Greenhill?
Think about why you’re attracted to M&A as an industry and then why you’re attracted to boutiques versus bulge brackets. There is a stark difference between bulges and boutiques, so it’s important to understand this.