A Springboard to a Career in Finance

After leaving a law career, this Oxford graduate makes London home and dives into investment banking. How he did it, and how he spends a typical day

After receiving a law degree from Montreal's McGill University, I worked as a tax adviser at KPMG. At KPMG I quickly learned that the investment banks drove the deals, because it was the banks' capital at risk. I realized I eventually wanted to become a decision-maker, and not just an adviser. To make a transition to finance, I knew I would have to become more numerate and I would need the prestige of a reputable business school.

Oxford's one-year program was organized quite differently from those at U.S. business schools. My last set of exams followed a graded internship at Macquarie Bank, and after my exams were complete, I accepted a full-time position there. Macquarie focuses primarily on infrastructure assets such as airports, toll roads, and utilities, and I am a tax manager in the investment banking division.

In this role I mediate between external advisers, law and accounting firms, and the analysts who do the financial modeling—the cornerstone of our business. This often involves translating legalese into mathematical functions understood by Excel. About 15% of my time is spent designing fund structures that aggregate capital raised pursuant to private placements (so-called private equity) and from initial public offerings (IPOs, or flotations). I focus the remaining 85% of my time on corporate finance transactions, that is, bids for target assets, reorganizations of assets held by our funds, and divestitures.

A Typical Day

6:30 a.m.—Rise and head for the gym or, weather permitting, go running. The run takes me past St. Paul's Cathedral and along the Victoria Embankment, which follows the Thames River to Parliament in Westminster. Exercise is my antidote to stress.

8:30 a.m.—Arrive at the office, which is two minutes from my front door. To avoid commuting, I live near work in the Square Mile rather than in one of the many picturesque neighborhoods of London. The Tube is both dreadfully congested and prone to breakdowns.

9 a.m.—Read through e-mails over breakfast. When a bid is in progress, I may have more than 100 messages waiting for me in the morning. Managing the flow of information is the most challenging part of my job. I typically work on five to eight deals at a time, so keeping the details separate in my mind can be a challenge...

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