Lee Jackson ’12 led a panel Thursday evening with four other Stanford students, each with experience working for Wall Street firms such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, to provide insight into the financial industry for career hopefuls.
The event, titled “Recruiting in the Financial Crisis,” was held in a packed room in the Nitery with more than 50 students in attendance.
After a brief discussion of the causes and effects of the financial crisis, the panel opened up to questions from the audience, hoping to inform audience members about how to apply for various internships in the financial field.
Several students questioned whether the low hiring and bonus rates of banking firms worry the panelists for the future.
“You do need banking services, despite what Occupy Wall Street says,” said Miles Penn ’12, a member of the panel who worked at Goldman Sachs in investment banking.
“They generally protect analysts, too,” Jackson said, as Penn agreed.
According to the panel, because new analysts’ salaries are typically much lower than those of executives in the company, a new analyst would be unlikely to be fired.
The panel offered advice about interviews and how to select the right financial firm.
“Everything gets noted, and everything gets evaluated,” Penn said in response to a question about which part of the interview is most important.
“You can walk into a first-round interview and already have a second-round interview if you network right. They’re hiring people they like,” he added.
Continuing to stress the importance of personality and interview skills, Penn downplayed the importance of academic skills.
“We wanted a mix of people from different banks, different offices and different divisions,” said Misha Nasrollahzadeh ’13, director of external marketing for Stanford Women in Business (SWIB), which sponsored the event.
Neither Nasrollahzadeh nor Jackson said they have seen any effects on campus from the Occupy Wall Street movement or the nationwide backlash against investment banking. Both said they have not had difficulty promoting business or financing.
Causes of the crisis
According to Jackson, the main problem of the financial crisis was debt. Caused by low interest rates and American spending culture, by 2007 the U.S. savings rate was negative, meaning people were spending more than they were making.
Using a metaphor of “debt” as a virus, Jackson said the country had two options to deal with the crisis. The first was to go to the government, a “doctor” who could give a specific prescription based on a unique set of problems – in this case through cash infusions and/or buyouts.
Alternatively, one could go to a central bank, the Federal Reserve – described by Jackson as a “pharmacist” with only the power to distribute aspirin. The Federal Reserve was only capable of loaning money, which it did generously in the crisis; however this failed to address the serious problems.
As any doctor would tell you, Jackson continued, occasionally they catch the same virus as their patients. The debt was transferred to the government, which happened in the United States and, in a more disastrous way, to European countries, such as Greece.
The Federal Reserve, however, was left largely unharmed, according to Jackson. Central banks have begun lending money to these governments, similar to “doctors taking aspirin,” he said.
“That being said, I think finance is a great industry to get into,” Jackson said to laughter from the audience.
“It was nice to hear the panelists,” said Adrian Rosas Villegas, a graduate student in management science and engineering. “It gave me a good idea of investment banking.”
“I thought it was well put on, and it was the right mix of introductory lecture-style talk with questions and answers to delve more deeply into what people’s concerns are,” said Sam Paglia ’13 of the event.
Jackson said he plans on holding similar presentations about newsworthy issues every Sunday starting Jan. 29.