‘Why BAML?’ How graduates and students should answer this question

BAML is keen to function as one big bank as opposed to four separate but amalgamated divisions.

You’ll be asked at least once during the recruitment process at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML), ‘Why have you decided to apply to us?’ Recruiters and interviewers will be keen to find out why you’ve chosen BAML over other banks, and a considered response will be expected. We’ve provided some suggestions to get you thinking.

BAML is the corporate and investment banking division of Bank of America. Your motivation for joining could be…

BAML’s graduate training programme

Graduates are put on a formal and structured training programme that typically involves classroom training followed by four rotations (six months each over the two-year placement) across different business lines. This will enable graduates to develop a good understanding of the services at BAML.

Think about how the programme at BAML compares to graduate schemes at other banks. For instance, how many rotations do other employers offer and over what timescale? For graduate schemes in Citi’s institutional clients group, for example, graduates will usually spend their first year rotating across three to four different products and desks.  

Training for non-finance graduates

If you graduated with a degree in something other than finance, the thorough training could be your motivation for joining. Past graduate recruits with non-finance degrees have received comprehensive training on the different financial products and systems within the different lines of business across the bank. This has included bi-weekly sessions delivered by experts from the particular divisions.

Career prospects at BAML

BAML describes career mobility as ‘an important part of our culture’ on its website. Its internal mobility programme is intended to help ambitious employees progress within the organisation; these can be moves both across and within different lines of the business. An employee who has worked in eight different teams at BAML to date commented: ‘You could literally pursue hundreds of different career options within the bank.’ Are you a go-getter looking for opportunities to thrive?

Opportunities for IT and technical graduates

BAML says that it’s ‘revolutionising the technical possibilities of an entire industry’. IT and technology graduates will be part of this drive. A trainee tech developer at BAML is quoted on the bank’s website: ‘I’m currently working on developing a Java-based system that formats market data for quantitative analytics.’ Do projects such as this one excite you? Or maybe you’re a computer science graduate who wants a tech job with a commercial twist.

Collaboration across divisions

There’s a lot of collaboration across divisions at BAML – even internationally. For example, the equity department will work with fixed income on a credit transaction for a client. For the sake of delivering excellent client service, BAML is keen to function as one big bank as opposed to four separate but amalgamated divisions. Being able to network and collaborate with colleagues, as well communicate effectively, are essential here. Maybe these are among your core qualities and you’re keen to exercise and develop them.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are central to BAML’s values (see the ‘working here’ section of its website). The bank has a broad range of employee networks that it hopes will foster and sustain diversity, such as the Military Support Group, Parents and Caregivers Network, and Asian Leadership Network. Perhaps you want to work for an organisation that values diversity and upholds a meritocratic system when it comes to advancement in the workplace.

A strong client-employee relationship

BAML claims that the team ‘shares a passion for serving the financial needs of people, companies and institutional investors’. All employees (both junior and senior) are encouraged to build good working relationships with clients, which can involve travelling abroad for meetings. The bank says: ‘We stand apart by building and maintaining solid partnerships with clients.’ Maybe you’re a people person who wants to build solid partnerships with contacts, and seek an employer that does this.


BAML’s aim to revolutionise the banking tech space will inevitably result in it trying to be the best in technology, which drives innovation. But this isn’t the only area of the bank where BAML will look to originate new and better ways to do things. In October 2013, the organisation was recognised as the ‘Most Innovative Investment Bank of the Year’ in The Banker's Investment Banking Awards. Perhaps you’d like to be part of a cutting-edge business.

Chance to gain international experience

The graduate programme includes six weeks of working in New York. Future opportunities may include more travel; one employee worked in various global centres, including the US, UK, India and Ghana. Employees are encouraged to explore new opportunities outside their current group or region, so if travel excites you this could be a great reason to cite.

BAML’s global scale and reach

BAML has offices in 32 cities across 23 countries and on three continents, which influences the make-up of its workforce. BAML has an international team that comprises individuals who have worked across several countries and even continents. Does the opportunity to work with and learn from colleagues with rich and far-reaching experiences appeal to you?

Vast product and service range at BAML

BAML offers a range of different products and services to meet the needs of its client base – you can get an idea of what it offers by visiting its corporate website. Think about the effect this has on BAML’s position within the market. Perhaps you want to work for a bank that offers many products and services and is well positioned to compete with rivals.   

What you should do now

It’s essential that you don’t just take the above points and regurgitate them during the recruitment process. They’re intended to stimulate your imagination and give you some areas to think about when you’re researching the organisation in preparation for the application form, interviews and assessment centre. So if, for example, you’ve chosen BAML because of the career prospects, you should now:

  • Do further research into this. Visit its graduate and corporate website, watch its careers videos on YouTube, seize opportunities to meet BAML on campus or at its open days, and liaise with current and former colleagues. This will help you build on your own knowledge and enable you to communicate the reasons for your interest in a genuine and natural way.  
  • Note down how you found out about the opportunities for career progression at BAML. For instance, maybe you spoke with current employees during a careers fair. Then you’ll be able to back up your response with something like, ‘After speaking with Linda Truman from investment banking on campus…’
  • Have examples from university, work, extracurricular pursuits or elsewhere to support the reasons you give for choosing BAML. Maybe you worked very hard during a supermarket job while at university and was promoted to supervisor or given extra responsibility. This will show that you are driven and genuinely attracted to the career prospects at BAML.   
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