The “Know Your Audience” series on the HBS Recruiting Blog highlights trends in recruiting for various industries. Learn more about student interest, effective recruiting strategies, and best practices from HBS staff dedicated to your industry.

Meet the Team

Kurt Piemonte – Corporate Relations Director and Career Coach

Renee Pappastratis – Recruiting Relations Manager

Kurt and Renee work closely with students interested in banking and assist investment banks with their recruiting strategy. They bring a combined 18 years of experience working in Career & Professional Development and are committed to helping students and banks connect and succeed.

Trends in Student Interest

Over the past five years, Kurt and Renee have found student interest in investment banking has been steady. In terms of a specific candidate profile, Kurt has found that “investment banking has been particularly appealing for students who come from the armed forces and nontraditional business backgrounds who are seeking to build technical skills.” Banks offer excellent training opportunities for motivated students who bring valuable leadership experience and want to transition their career into finance.

In addition, Kurt notes that students he coaches are consistently drawn to banks with a strong HBS alumni presence. “Banks that show HBS alumni retention over one, two, and three years tend to get high response (in terms of interest and applications.) Showcasing retention numbers is key and shows students where people can thrive in the culture.” This is the case for both the bulge bracket banks with significant brand recognition on campus and the boutique banks. Students see the value of experience in both types of organizations and are actively looking for a culture and work environment where they can grow.

It is important to recognize the reality of investment banking recruiting with regards to location. While students interested in specific geographic areas have been drawn to roles across the US and internationally, recruiting can be more challenging for regional banks outside of New York, and increasingly, the Bay Area. Of the 6% of the Class of 2018 who went into banking directly after graduation, most took roles in the Northeast.

Recruiting Events for Banking that Work

Renee works directly with banks as they plan their events and knows what events work well, and which fall flat.

She advises banks that “Students want more networking events as opposed to formal presentations. They like the interpersonal connections they can form in the 1:1 or small group interactions.” Specifically when recruiters can connect students with HBS alumni, or alumni from other top business schools, in different groups at the bank, students have a better sense of how they could contribute as a new employee or intern. Individual relationships go a long way in the recruiting process.

This is not to say that recruiting presentations for the banking industry have gone away. When done well, meaning the presentation includes engaging speakers and rich content that can’t be found on the company website, presentations can still be a great way to connect with students.

If you would like to hold a presentation, Renee encourages banks to explore different venues outside of traditional off-campus options they have used in the past. One possible venue is on the HBS campus, which makes it easy for students and for your recruiting team. Or you can explore holding a presentation or networking event at different venues in the Harvard Square area. “There are multiple firms doing the same types of events, so keeping the locale fresh makes you stand out to students.”

Telling Students What’s Next

While it may seem counterintuitive to spend time in recruiting talking about opportunities students can pursue after working at your company, this has proven to be a highly effective way for banks to attract top talent and set themselves apart.

Kurt and Renee site a particular banking presentation in which a company showcased their retention, but also discussed what former employees were doing now and how they used their banking experience to pivot in their careers later on. “This bank was successful in their recruiting by showing students how they could thrive in their culture, while also recognizing that banking experience is valuable elsewhere. When a banker leaves their firm they could be a potential customer in an operating company down the road,” notes Kurt.

“We encourage banks to talk about exit opportunities more” Renee adds. “Banks have historically done a great job communicating with students, but adding in this element can help set them apart.”

Work with the Finance Club

Lastly, Kurt and Renee stress the value of working with the Finance Club on campus.

As one of the largest HBS student clubs, the Finance Club promotes finance-related activities and careers to students with a wide variety of finance-related interests, including investment banking. Banks can partner with the club for events and publicize their opportunities through their newsletter. Connecting with the Finance Club is a highly recommended best practice for banks recruiting at HBS to reach a targeted group of potential applicants.

Connect with Renee and Kurt

To discuss your recruiting strategy, contact Renee and Kurt. They will be happy to help you plan for a successful year of investment banking recruiting at HBS.