Students Explore Finance on Bicoastal Treks

Felipe Gonzalez enjoys NYC pre-trek

Felipe Gonzalez, MBA 14, devoted one week in October to his future in finance, participating in two Haas School treks: the Wall Street trek to New York for investment banking, organized by Steve Willis and Mor Ben Efraim, both MBA 14, of the Haas Finance Club; and the LA trek for investment management, organized by Investment Club Co-Presidents Chao Zhang and Matt Therian, both MBA 13.

Gonzalez, who previously worked as a portfolio manager in Santiago, Chile, describes his career as “quant focused” and is pursuing his MBA to strengthen management and leadership skills. While he is now focused on investment management, Gonzalez participated in both treks. “When else do you get this kind of opportunity to network and explore such a wide variety of finance roles?”

Here are notes from his East/West, IB/IM experience:

Why he went: “To learn about the different jobs an MBA could do in the financial industry. And to compare New York and LA to San Francisco to see if I could picture myself living in either place.”

Culture matters: Gonzalez, who chose Haas for its culture, says he was “amazed” by the differences among the banks. “The cultures and ways of expressing themselves were very different. You could almost feel J.P. Morgan being the large ‘number 1 bank;’ how the rapid growth of a relatively new investment banking business has affected Wells Fargo; and the culture of utmost high achievement at Goldman Sachs.”

Fourteen hours a day with whom? “Almost every bank and investment management firm stressed a ‘no jerks’ (another word was sometimes chosen) policy. This definitely breaks the Hollywood personification of the Wall Street banker and even my own previous perceptions. These are long days and you’d better have nice people working with you.”

Candid views of the IB landscape: Bill Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs for the finance faculty group, says the Wall Street trek provides students with exposure to the global finance capital and the headquarters for most firms. Students meet with  alumni and other professionals working in product groups and industry coverage groups that may not be represented in West Coast offices.  “We even got to meet with the co-head of investment banking at one firm, an alum who shared a very objective and candid high-level view of the IB landscape and outlook,” says Rindfuss.  “San Francisco is home to some very appealing activity within IB, including tech and healthcare coverage, M&A, and IPOs. But it is also eye-opening for students to see the scale and variety of opportunities in the finance capital.”

Wall Street trekkers between banks

Big Deals in the Big Apple:Gonzalez agrees and further rounded out his Wall Street experience by meeting with the Latin American fixed-income desk at Deutsche Bank. He also grabbed a quick lunch with a preoccupied friend from J.P. Morgan’s Latin American M&A team, who, it turns out, was in the middle of this $2.6 billion deal.

 LA Celeb Spotting–Finance Style: “We visited three companies, one of them being PIMCO. Founder Bill Gross is a huge fixed income guru and some of us saw him walk by when we visited the trading floor,” says Gonzalez. “I’ve been reading his market comments for the last six years and seeing him was incredible!” (Read more about the LA trek here.)

What now: “The treks definitely helped me make up my mind on where to look for a summer internship,” Gonzales says. “Now, I continue networking and keep working on my thank-you emails.”

LA trekkers at PIMCO


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