Nicholas recently locked down a position in J.P Morgan’s prestigious Treasury Services department after completing a Summer Internship. We chatted to him about the application process and what he learned.
What drew you to this role?
The pay in the finance sector is always a draw, but banking also offers a diversity that is hard to match in other careers. If you compare working in, say, markets and banking – the latter lets you change much more often, whether in terms of role or geography, and I am someone who likes to do new things.
I actually went for a few different firms, submitting 42 internship applications overall. I had been told before by a finance HR director that the key is to submit as many applications as possible – although you always want them to be high quality you also need enough to guarantee a lot of first round interviews and assessment centres. As for why J.P Morgan, they're a household name with a great reputation.
Treasury Services is quite a niche division and a very stable one. It’s a core business for big banks, as multinationals need to have money in their accounts at all times. The constant revenue stream means it’s quite predictable terms of what it brings in. You’re therefore less likely to lose your job, though bonuses are also smaller.
Talk us through the application process
Oddly for the industry, it didn’t involve any online tests at the start. I submitted my CV along with answers to the sort of questions that would go in a cover letters, such as your motivation for Treasury Services.
The first round interview was competency-based, with the interviewers holding a copy of your CV and application form. It was a non-responsive interview, they asked the questions, you answered and they moved on to the next.
The second round was more of the same with two interviewers asking you four competency questions of a fairly standard type – for example, about thinking critically or strategically.
There was also a group exercise; four of us had to give a presentation to two senior staff. We had five minutes to divide up roles, five minutes to develop our arguments, then five minutes to present them. They were looking for teamwork skills, since Treasury Services is very team based and collaborative, and also making sure you can talk precisely.
The hardest thing was showcasing skills relevant to Treasury Services and qualifying my motivation. It’s quite a hard sector to find information on, which I realised when I had to write an article about something I had read which related to J.P Morgan. I had to work out what someone in the industry would be thinking about, and decide what route to take.
What do you feel you gained from the process?
By the time I got to JP Morgan it was my fifth assessment centre so I knew better what questions to expect. You only become proficient at interviews, online tests and cover letters by practicing a lot.
Remember, every piece of information that you present will be analysed, whether it’s your CV, your answers on paper or the way you speak. Be clear and precise; nothing is worse than someone who can’t articulate a point of view clearly.
Likewise make sure your CV is inch perfect; a single typo or extra space, or wrong font may cost you a first round interview – if you can't present your CV how can you present to a client.
Finally, when you sit online tests do the calculations in Excel rather than on a calculator – this enables you to very quickly work out multiple different answers and gives you more flexibility and speed. By the end I was managing a 23 minute test in about 12 minutes.