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From Hotels to Finance: A different way into Investment Banking

I work as an Analyst at Lazard in London. You might assume that I must have an undergraduate degree in a finance-related subject or internship experience in the industry, but actually my route into Lazard and investment banking wasn’t so predictable. I studied Hotel Management in Switzerland as an undergraduate and then worked in hotel real estate in London for around a year. After that, I decided to go back to university, where I completed my Master’s in Finance in Spain – it was during that time that I applied to join Lazard as an analyst in London.

It was the company’s reputation that attracted me. If you open any newspaper, at some point, you read about one of Lazard’s ongoing deals – especially in the hotel industry. I remember being particularly interested in the acquisition of Starwood by Marriott, and wanted to find out about the mechanics behind such a large merger.

So, with the company already at the forefront of my mind, it made my decision to apply extremely easy. In this profile, I’ll cover my experience of Lazard’s Analyst Training Programme and why I’d recommend it, even if you come from a non-finance background.

Getting qualified, experience and exposure – what to expect from the training programme
Before starting work in the London office and getting involved in client projects, the Analyst programme began with six weeks of training. The first week was for the new London analysts and helped us prepare for regulatory exams, also held that week.

For the following five weeks, we were joined by Analysts from across Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The training involved daily classes on accounting, methods of valuation, financial modelling etc., and we were immersed in the company’s small team culture. Not only did it allow me to get to know my colleagues and the ins and outs of the business, it helped me understand exactly what being an Analyst at Lazard entails.

At the end of the training , we were given a case study of a company to value and offer recommendations. It was a real-life example, a case Lazard had worked on a few years ago, which made it all the more exciting. We then had to pitch and present to a panel of bankers, after which one of the bankers who had worked on the deal revealed the actual outcome. It was really interesting to hear directly from someone who’d worked on the deal and find out how close we got to the actual valuation / recommendations made by Lazard a few years back.

Supported to succeed

The support I received during the training was one of the best things about the programme. Trainers were on hand and happy to help throughout the entire process. From pointing out best practices to explaining the bank’s processes on collecting data and organising information, they offered guidance on a theoretical level and in other areas like presentation skills. That, to me, was the perfect start to my career as it set me up with the crucial skills needed to become an Analyst.