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Bank of America

Bank of America

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

Don’t just write, ‘I notice you have won nine awards for innovation and excellence from trade publication Treasury Management International, and I admire that’.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) is the corporate and investment banking division of Bank of America. You’ll be asked at least once during the recruitment process at 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’s graduate training and development

According to BAML, the format and offering of each graduate programme varies by business function but everyone is offered ‘a road map to help manage your career. No matter how you prefer to learn, there are options available from instructor-led learning and web-based training to eBooks, videos and everything in between’.

Research what BAML’s graduates do by looking at the Campus Connect videos on BAML’s YouTube Channel or BAML employee profiles written up and published online. Think about where those employees featured are in their careers and what they do – and then think about your own position. What are the possible gaps in your training and experience? In the process of working for BAML you might enjoy acquiring new skills or honing new ones. What are those skills and why would you enjoy learning them? How might they make you grow as a person? Jot down a list of all those skills in a circle drawn on a piece of paper. Give the circle the heading ‘What I’m motivated to learn/investing in my future’. Next, use those same sources of information – and any other including news reports – to research all of the skills BAML might require to ensure its success in the coming years. Write those in a circle headed ‘Investing in BAML’s future’.

Which skills are in both circles? If the answer is ‘many’ then whittle them down to the one or two you’re most excited about and then, briefly, write a paragraph covering:

  • What the skills are
  • Why you are excited about developing them
  • How that fits in with supporting BAML’s objectives

It may help you to look on BAML’s website for the core competencies that it looks for in its employees. Typically, these skills might include attention to detail, team work, and an ability to take a considered risk.

Career prospects at BAML

BAML has always described career mobility as an important part of its culture. Its internal mobility policy 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 has said: ‘I’m currently working on a Java-based system that formats market data for quantitative analytics.’ Would 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, within corporate and investment banking cross-discipline teams support clients in key industries. For the sake of delivering excellent client service, BAML is keen to function as one big bank. Being able to network and collaborate with colleagues, as well communicate effectively, are essential. Maybe these are among your core qualities and you’re keen to develop them.

A strong client-employee relationship

BAML claims: ‘Our purpose is simple and clear. We are here to make financial lives better. Better by connecting our customers and clients to the financial solutions they need.’ All employees (both junior and senior) are encouraged to build the best working relationships with clients, which can involve travelling abroad for meetings. The bank says: ‘We strive to go the distance to deliver with discipline and passion.’ Maybe you’re a person who wants to excel in serving customers, and seek an employer that does this.


Search online and you’ll find that in recent years BAML has won industry awards for innovations. Is it motivational for you being part of a business that promotes itself as cutting edge in a competitive market place? Don’t just write, ‘I notice you have won nine awards for innovation and excellence from trade publication Treasury Management International, and I admire that’. By itself that can sound false and insubstantial. You’ll also need to say why being part of an innovative environment appeals and at least give brief evidence that you are capable of your own innovative thinking and working.

Chance to gain international experience

Future opportunities may include travel: BAML has branches all over the world from Qatar to Belgium. 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. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is organised within four geographic divisions: Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle East & Africa; Latin America and United States & Canada. 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. How might this affect how you feel about working for the bank?

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 X from investment banking on campus…’.
  • Think of examples from university, work, extracurricular pursuits or elsewhere to support the reasons you give for choosing BAML. Maybe you worked very hard during a 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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