Four years ago I graduated from my MSc in Accounting & Finance at London School of Economics (LSE) in the UK. At the age of 24 and having spent 6 years in the UK I felt it was time to move back to Stockholm to re-establish a base and re-connect with old friends and family. I was very excited about moving home as living abroad from a relatively young age (17) makes you to somewhat lose your roots.
Having studied Economics and later Finance the preferred career choice for me was to work within the Investment Banking division of a large bank. With the financial crisis close at hands the debt side of corporate finance had gotten my attention and I wanted to better understand how to structure companies’ balance sheet whilst at the same time working in an advisory role for top-tier clients. Thus, applying for a role within leveraged finance at one of the largest financial institutions in Northern Europe was the obvious choice, and fortunately after a few round of interviews I received an offer.
Three years into the job I am not regretting the choice of starting as an Analyst in Nordea IB. Having had the opportunity of being part of large-scale European transactions, undertaken weeks of valuation and legal training in London and met new friends and colleagues, this has been a great experience.
Most recently, as a part of my journey I transferred within Nordea IB from Leveraged Finance in Stockholm to M&A (Advisory) in Copenhagen. It is generally encouraged within Nordea IB for juniors (2-5 years’ experience) to do 6 months to 1 year team rotations within the Investment Bank to ensure that the employees get well-rounded and build the full necessary skill-set for a long-term career within the company. A year ago my superior suggested this as a part of my personal development plan and as I was keen for a new challenge I requested to do my rotation to the M&A (Advisory) team, not in Stockholm but in Copenhagen, and six months later I was to begin my rotation.
The choice of moving country was something I both looked forward to as it really broadens your mind-set and provides you with many new experiences, but also dreaded as moving countries can be a very cumbersome experience. I had done it before when initially moving to the UK and thus expected extensive administrative work. However the process of moving went smoothly and I realised that having a large institution behind you really makes a difference.
Arriving in Copenhagen in August last year, I wasn’t sure of what to expect and many Swedes had warned me of the somewhat different and more direct and less political correct culture of the Danes. Now, six months later I know that this rotation to Copenhagen, which now has resulted in a full-time position, was one of the best choices I could have made. Taking this opportunity has not only allowed me to significantly broaden my skill-set and my internal and external network, but also resulted in many great memories. With social evening events and what we call Analyst & Associates nights out, where we go out in the city and do team events (last time go-cart) and later dinner and drinks has really converted my new colleagues to become real friends. Having a culture where you have fun with your colleagues to me is important as it builds trust so that you support each other when working hours can be challenging.
The work differs somewhat between the DCM (Leveraged Finance) and M&A (Advisory) departments as you within the M&A side aim to look at the clients’ strategic upside, whereas within leveraged finance you aim to somewhat manage the downside whilst still ensuring the best client solution. Both departments require a highly analytical and numerical skill-set and a solid business understanding. The transaction processes are also in many ways similar, especially in relation to the issuance of a listed Euro bond and bringing a company to the equity markets through an IPO, whereas the deal flow within DCM is generally higher than within M&A.
As a conclusion, I would say that the experience I have gotten during my 3 years at Nordea IB is unrivalled as there are very few institutions that could provide you with a similar foundation and experience. Having been able to complete large-scale transactions both within the Leveraged Finance and M&A space is a truly unique experience. It could be argued that Nordea IB, if grabbing the opportunities offered, could be seen as a real-life MBA as it gives you a broad skill-set to build on for a future career both within corporate finance but also within other industries, as you then understand both corporate positioning and strategy, valuation, financing and the fundamental drivers of both the equity and debt capital markets.
Are you interested to start a career within investment banking? Nordea IB in Stockholm are now recruiting for their summer and autumn internships, visit Nordea.com/career to learn more.