R.A.I.N. Conference Call Series - March 19th Highlights

On Thursday March 19th, R.A.I.N. Career Institute was joined by Rohan Chen on our bi-weekly conference call. Since graduating from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University his career in finance has led him to work as an Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley’s Toronto office before moving to New York to join a large-cap private equity fund. Highlights of our conversation with Rohan are below for those who were unable to tune-in: 

How did you overcome the language barrier?
“Co-op really helped. Working fulltime in an environment where you are forced to speak and explain yourself really forces you to find ways to communicate. Another important thing is to not lose patience. It is not something you can solve in a few days. Just wake up and try again and it will improve over time. The language barrier is something that you will need to overcome. It does not have to be perfect but you need to be confident when you are speaking and do not doubt yourself.”
Are there any general pieces of advice you would give to students, or specifically international students, trying to break into finance or specifically investment banking?
“I would say ‘just do it’ and don’t be afraid of messing up. The person you are networking with will most likely forget about that mistake in 24 hours so just push yourself out of your comfort zone and do it. After you put yourself though the process a few times, it becomes easier. It’s more of a numbers play: maybe you send out 10 emails, receive 5 replies and you convert that into 2 coffee chats. The best advice is to just put yourself out there, do it, reflect, and do it again. Networking and actually learning about the job helps as you will be able to speak to it during the interview.”
Outside of work or school, is there anything (activities, clubs, etc.) you would suggest a student engage in to become more well-rounded?
“There are several things. Obviously, finance clubs and stock pitch competitions are great and are more specific to the industry. Outside of finance though, it is important to have a hobby you can chat about. A lot of people like to talk about sports. Some people are great violin players, skiers, or have done sky diving.” 
Was there a culture shock when you started working in finance? How did you adjust to it?
“There are 2 types of shocks. One stems from you coming from another country. For example in China, it is not very polite to look someone in the eye for too long. However in North America, eye contact is important and you are expected to give people a firm handshake. The other culture shock is working in a finance environment. There is always an adjustment with how bankers or other finance professionals network or act with each other. Things like small talk to make connections and “corporate talk” when talking business.”
Transitioning from investment banking to private equity, how have you found the change and what do you feel investment banking taught you that you use in your current role?
“I think it has been extremely helpful to be able to look at businesses and understand their business model. However, in banking you are working for the client so you do not want to challenge and upset them. But in PE, you can question things because you are more about getting to the bottom of things and not about creating materials for clients.”
Did your computer science degree help with your position with Morgan Stanley?
“In Canada, it is typical to have a business background whereas in the States it’s more open ended. You don’t need the computer science degree to get that job but I was able to show that my quantitative skills were more than enough to compensate for my shortcomings. A candidate is seen as a whole package. If you have shortcomings in one area, you should try to make it up in another.”
What is your typical day like?
“Every day is a bit different. You tend to get into the office around 9:00-9:30, depending on if you are working on a live deal. If you are not on a live deal, you are usually working on projects and building models. Particularly in PE, we read and do a lot of research. This includes reading a lot of research reports, sifting through to get the important information, and summarizing it for the team. We also have a lot of ‘expert calls’ where we connect with industry experts and ask them questions to help us better understand the various industries. Overall, the hours can pretty long. In IB you go home from 10-midnight and same in PE.”

That concludes the R.A.I.N. Career Institute Bi-Weekly Industry Calls for this term. Please stay tuned for new content and calls next term.
We hope everyone will have a safe and happy rest of the term!