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Buying an internship with London hedge funds

This is interesting:


At the Conservatives' Black and White Party, millionaire Tory supporters paid about £3,000 each for their children to have the golden chance of spending a week or two with a number of top finance companies and banks.
If they do well and win a full-time job, they could join the ranks of City tycoons who earn multi-million-pound bonuses.


Five lucrative City internships were auctioned off for £14,000.

They included Lot 4, a two-week internship at CMC Markets, offering an 'incredible opportunity for a potential young trader to get an inside look at the world of international finance and online trading'.

It promised that 'this much-sought-after experience will furnish the intern's CV with a financial brand that is recognised the world over'. It went for £3,000.

Lot 9 was a week's work experience at Caxton Associates, a Mayfair hedge fund. It went for £2,500. Lot 10 was a week at PR company Bell Pottinger, run by the powerful former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Lord Bell.

Lot 20 was a week at Arbuthnot Latham private bank. The blurb said it would provide 'a perfect insight for a young person interested in entering the financial field in the future'. It went for £3,500.

Lot 30, donated by former Tory Treasurer Michael Spencer, was a week's work experience at his brokerage company ICAP, source of his £1bn fortune. The winning bidder could secure the chance for a student aged 16 to 19 to 'spend time on our dealing floor, interact with our brokers and observe deals being transacted'. It went for £3,000.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
It's this sort of shit that makes people hate banks and the Tory party, and it's a scam anyway.

CMC markets is an OK firm, but not stellar, and a two week internship for someone not smart enough to get one on merit is wholly worthless, possibly even negative.

An internship has three source of value:
1) Your employer may see something in you they want to hire.
That's not applicable here, since if such a chinless fuckwit turned up on most trading floors, people would go out of their way to be mean to him. I actually had such a creature put into my team, he suffered so much that I felt the need to protect him. ICAP are brokers, arguably some of the best brokers on the planet. There is no one I know personally who I hate enough to send him (or worse still her) into their hands in this situation. If I were to read that they ended up in a police cell after being beaten up in a lap dancing joint it would in no way surprise me. I might be a little surprised if he'd been beaten up by a girl, but not very.

2) An internship proves you beat other people.
Getting a good internship means that someone else thinks you're good, Employers like that. In fact they like anything where you beat other people by some combination of hard work and brains. Having you dad drunkenly waste some cash on it doesn't count.

3) You learn something useful.
I was clueless the first time I wandered into a bank, you will be too, though I hope less clueless.
But two weeks isn't enough time to find the cupboard where they keep clues, much less get one of your own.

The PR internships aren't any better.

On top of all that shit, they aren't being paid.

Now if your dad will piss away $10,000 on you, then I guess you don't care about two weeks internship pay.
But being paid is critical to how people treat you, free people are treated like free toilet paper.

Also, I really hate the idea of unpaid internships.
Being a student is horribly expensive, and many people find their career options bounded by how little cash their parents have. Internships represent a way that banks pay students a bit of money to get a good look at their ability.
Rationally a student would do it for free, something that is standard in many industries like media. That means working class kids find it hard to get in.
That's bad.
 
I completely agree with Dominic. As if unpaid internships aren't bad enough, now it will become the norm to have to pay for the experience.

Ridiculous.
 
I think Dominic's analysis and valuation of internships is bang on. What I really think is pathetic here is the companies that allowed these positions to be auctioned off in the first place. They will end up paying in other ways--I don't care how prestigious these companies are, talented and aspiring students will not want to work for companies that display this level of recklessness. The students themselves will gain some sort of marginal benefit by having experience on their resume, but realistically, what does 2 weeks show to a potential employer? Not a lot I suspect. In short, it is both companies and students who lose out when attempts are made to upset the basic meritocratic nature of financial markets.
 
I think Dominic's analysis and valuation of internships is bang on. What I really think is pathetic here is the companies that allowed these positions to be auctioned off in the first place. They will end up paying in other ways--I don't care how prestigious these companies are, talented and aspiring students will not want to work for companies that display this level of recklessness. The students themselves will gain some sort of marginal benefit by having experience on their resume, but realistically, what does 2 weeks show to a potential employer? Not a lot I suspect. In short, it is both companies and students who lose out when attempts are made to upset the basic meritocratic nature of financial markets.

The thing is a scam to raise money for the Tories. The parents doing the buying probably already know the owners/directors of these companies. The companies won't end up worse off: they're doing a favor for the Tory party and in a place like England, where mutual back-scratching is ubiquitous and connections are important, this will come in handy. When the time comes for these youngsters to really look for a job, trust me: a word in the right ear will make all the difference. That's how England operates. There's a veneer of meritocracy to fool the great unwashed.

Some decades back, C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a book titled "In-laws and Outlaws." The assumption is that the reader is an ambitious upstart without family connections and having no particular talent. The solution is to find the right bride -- say the daughter of Viscount Hardcurrency. The viscount will then be obliged to see that the upstart son-in-law is at least placed as a director. The book is of course written tongue-in-cheek but it is at the same time very close to the sordid truth: connections matter in England.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
As a professional "connector" I will agree with the Wolf that connections matter, but in investment banking they matter less than in any other activity of which I am aware, except maybe football. We work in a meritocracy, though I will not claim for a second that it's anything like a perfect one.

If you go into any media organisation you will see very few coloured faces, but in banks that's really not true at all. That's because one has to work unpaid internships, sometimes over a year, sometimes you have to pay for them, often you need connections, so the % of entry level people who get there on pure merit is very very low.
I'm an Essex man, a term that is unknown to most Americans, and the British media regularly run programs on how uncultured we are, because we are "new money", unlike them. Such is the regularity of programs that parody "new money" that because I live in the centroid of the Golden Triangle of such people, I can at any time choose to appear in one of these program, and such is their desperation to get "nouveaus" to agree to be parodied shops near us sometimes have three different adverts asking for victims.

At P&D we do a few "day internships", where we take some deserving students to hideously expensive finance conferences where they learn stuff, and start to make connections of their own. We don't pay them since they do no actual work for us, and they're getting something where the list price is often >$5K, and it's one or two days.

Nick's point is valid, what's happening here is that in a large firm, the cost of a useless intern is completely diluted away, like the legally permissable level of rat piss in your drinking water.
 
I'm an Essex man, a term that is unknown to most Americans, and the British media regularly run programs on how uncultured we are, because we are "new money", unlike them. Such is the regularity of programs that parody "new money" that because I live in the centroid of the Golden Triangle of such people, I can at any time choose to appear in one of these program, and such is their desperation to get "nouveaus" to agree to be parodied shops near us sometimes have three different adverts asking for victims.

If memory serves, Heseltine was made fun of in Tory circles because he bought his own furniture (instead of inheriting it). Essex man and Essex girl have been the butt of jokes for decades -- I've seen books devoted to such jokes. Incidentally, I bought my second house in Tilbury -- where some of the detritus of London's East End ended up after WW2. I also lived for some years in Harlow, another place which took London's overflow. These places -- Tilbury, Harlow, Basildon, Stevenage (which is technically in Herts but may as well be in Essex) -- were where Sun-reading Essex man and Essex girl voted Tory in the '80s and helped keep Thatcher in power. Possibly the epitome of crass new wealth, the plasterer Loadsamoney, was also an Essex man. He probably plastered privatised council houses.

The intricacies of England's class system ....
 
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