Mergers and Acquisitions
Courtesy of Guillaume Cadour - M&A Junior Analyst - Intern
How did you prepare for your interviews?
In Corporate Finance M&A interviews, there are two main things you have to prepare for: technical questions and questions relating to your fit with the organisation. The technical side relates to topics such as valuation methods and the fit deals with explaining your qualities and how they match the company that you’re interviewing with and your motivations for joining them.
I took a lot of time during the summer to work on my technical skills including spending about two to three weeks using a platform that provides excellent training in technical areas. In addition, I searched online for all sorts of fit questions and prepared short notes on how I would answer each of these questions if asked in an interview. That was just the first part of the work.
Regarding the technical aspect, I would break everything down to simple accounting questions such as how does an increase of 100 Euros in D&A (Depreciation and Amortisation) impact the different financial statements for example. Those types of questions are the ones you simply can’t afford to get wrong.
Also, you need to understand DCF to the point where you can explain not only what a DCF model is and how it works but why it works in that way. You have to be able to talk through different components of data well enough to be able to understand factors that are specific to the market overall and factors that affect the company solely. The sum of those allows you to analyse a given company within a specific market at any point in time. So, take the time to understand each and every single formula that you’re bound to talk about during the interviews.
It’s important to also mention that the moments where you’re learning the most about interviews is during interviews. Make sure that after every interview you do, you take the time to note down key things such as what you did right and what you wrong, what you should have done and not done.
For example, I remember struggling with LBOs (Leveraged Buyouts) early on in the interview process. In partaking in more interviews, I began to understand more about the key points within the buyout process such as the pivotal role of how much debt has been reimbursed during the holding period plays in the success of an LBO.
How did you effectively manage your applications while working full-time?
Two things: logistics and mindset.
When applying to M&A roles, there’s a lot of preparation involved because you have to study for it and know what you’re talking about during interviews. At the same time, you have to complete all the applications for the companies that you’re interested in working for which takes time.
I knew from my personality that I would need to work more on enhancing my technical skills than on being able to showcase my cultural fit with a company. So, I spent my summer holiday outside of work developing those skills. When I returned to London for work, I allocated my nights to work on my applications. Plus, every time I received an email regarding my applications, irrespective of when it was sent, I would always reply to it instantly. Always! The reason being that I can guarantee you that if I was being reached out to, there were dozens of other students who received the exact same email. It’s about being proactive as well as reactive and also having a good mindset, which might be the most important thing I say during this interview.
When you have a job that you know isn’t where you want to be in the long-term, the best thing to ask yourself is how important your current position is to you now and where you want to be in your future. That will play a role in whether you decide to spend that extra hour at work or go home to prepare your recommendation letters and for upcoming interviews. The early stage of your career is where you probably have to prioritise yourself the most. The day you’re set in your career is where what I stated above is completely irrelevant. However, when you’re in the process of building foundations for a long-term future while working for a firm that you know is only short-term, be realistic and understand the true value of your experience.
What convinced you M&A was for you?
It was a long-term process over the years in trying to decide whether M&A was really what I wanted to do. As a result, I had spent a lot of time over the years learning about the industry and reading about deals that were being done as well as companies raising finances. Even though I love the start-up ecosystem including tracking which start-ups were receiving funding and which ones were doing well in their market amongst other things, I felt an advisory role would suit me best, especially early on in my career.
Secondly, I believe M&A will teach me a lot not just about the right things to do and wrong actions to avoid when dealing with fundraising for clients, but it will also help me with my technical skills as well. When I have fully developed my analytical skills, acquired expertise in given sectors and built up relationships, I will then have the credibility of a valuable investor to approach CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) of start-ups.
What goals have you set for yourself for the internship?
What I have realised is that among a given team of interns working in the same division, there’s always going to be one or two that will be considered as top performers by the manager(s). In effect, it’s about putting in the work and being rigorous while also maintaining a good pace that allows me to pay more attention to detail in everything that I do.
One thing I would also personally love to do is see through an equity fundraise from start to finish and work closely with the clients on all the things that make up the process including helping to create their equity story and facilitate strong relationships with external partners.
In the end, my final goal is to get a full-time offer.
Do you have any advice for students seeking an internship in finance?
There’s absolutely no hierarchy in the process whereby because one company rejects you you cannot secure an internship in another company. I’ve managed to get interviews in prestigious firms and got rejected from less prestigious ones right from the start. Just keep in mind that each application should be considered on a one by one basis.
Also, have a lot of perseverance and make sure you always follow up on all your applications including spontaneous ones. Think about the days you’re sending your email and whether it’s going to be at the bottom or at the top when the employer opens their inbox. Furthermore, track your progress. I have an excel file that has the name of the company I applied to, the dates I applied, any relevant people from the companies that I applied to, what sector they work in and any other comments necessary. Trust me there are dozens and dozens of people on there and it took a lot of work to do. In the end, it helped keep me organised by showing, for example, the companies which I applied to in the last two weeks who didn’t respond. Once I did that, I would see a handful of people who I can send the same drafted email to with minor changes, so I don’t lose time.
Also, stop worrying because your best friends have internships and you still don’t have one. That’s one of the stupidest things that anyone can do, and I’m speaking from personal experience. I remember a close friend of mine got an internship for a firm we both applied to and for an entire weekend I was completely depressed because I hadn’t even been called up for an interview. The following Monday I received an invitation for an interview from that same firm!
There’s also nothing wrong with asking questions with your group of friends, but cancel out the noise and focus on yourself when the time arises. Trust me when I say that everybody else is thinking about themselves in using what they see others do and applying it to their own application process without getting influenced negatively by what they see.
Courtesy of Guillaume Cadour - M&A Junior Analyst - Intern