I think I’ve found one nice thing about the 18:03 out of London – the sunset. The sky is on fire outside west London and it has the train’s undivided attention. Is this some sort of metaphor? Is the sun setting on my constant back and forth from the big smoke? Has a new chapter begun?
You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you. No no, I’m still here. Don’t you fret.
Currently heading back from my final interview with FactSet. How did it go? Well, I think it went quite well. Have I been offered a job? We shall wait and see.
I arrived at FactSet’s offices at 1 o’clock. The day would consist of an interview with two consultant managers, a shadowing of a consultant, a brief demo of FactSet’s proprietary software, and finally an interview with an IM and an IB manager. The last of which would require me to give a short presentation (I was instructed of its topic when they invited me for the second interview).
The first interview was standard. I had answered all the questions in other interviews and my answers were starting to flow more smoothly. Questions on my CV, the economy (standard “What have you been reading about?”), and the company (what does it do, how does it do it, what an IB’r would use FactSet for, what an IM’r would use it for, what makes a good consultant). I would estimate it lasted about 45 minutes. My advice to you here, take them up on their offer of a drink! They ask a lot of questions and the body chooses to respond in the most unhelpful of ways.
After the interview finished up I was introduced to a Consultant at his workstation. Now, I learned a lot here about the difference between a starting position at FactSet, and a starting position at Bloomberg. At FactSet, you’re given responsibility. At Bloomberg, you’re not. At FactSet, you interact with the customer through the power of speech. At Bloomberg, you are an anonymous entity hidden from the customer, without ever speaking to them or giving them your name. This is actually how FactSet’s client service differs from Bloomberg. The MAIN difference. The reason why FactSet is renowned for its customer service and Bloomberg… you’d think, was not. The one company has a voice, a face. The other is mute and faceless.
My new Consultant friend, Harry, told me about his background, why he joined FactSet, and what he liked about the job. He seemed like an honest guy so I took his word. He noted how he had come from the big swinging **** world of investment banking (this blog isn’t anonymous enough for tongue-in-cheek stereotypes I’m afraid; the recruiting eyes are watching…). And that surprisingly, he had more responsibility from the start at FactSet. “In IB, you succeed by doing what you’re told, and doing a lot of it over and over again. There is no analysis going on, you just gather information. If you like money, and doing the same thing over and over again, then do IB. But if you want to actually think on your own two feet and contribute, do anything but.”
I do like money….
I don’t know the extent of this responsibility, but after joining the company last May, Harry already had an extensive list of clients he and his associate looked after. We were meant to take some calls, but surprisingly, no one called whilst I was there.
Next up came the software demo with James, who had interviewed me in the first round last week. He showed me a couple functions, and asked me a couple questions on what I would do if yada yada yada. Should have been paying more attention here because I was then given a list of 10 things to do with the software. Only had 10 minutes to do it, and I wasn’t able to complete it all. But James assured me that it wasn’t meant to be finished within the time frame. Fair enough.
I guess we finished earlier than expected because we found ourselves with half an hour to kill before my final interview. So we just kicked back and spoke candidly about the company, the current job market and my time in Manchester. Needless to say, there was some banter. I found myself quite relaxed by the time the next interviewers came in. But asked for another drink, just in case.
Louie and Alex were two managers from IB and IM. Never met anyone in the UK besides my granddad named Louie! It just sounded odd, in a good way though. Louie is a fun name to pronounce. I hesitated putting on a Brooklyn accent for the rest of the interview. Alas….
What can I say about this interview? It was pretty much the exact same as all the others. It was more relaxed though I found. There was a healthy amount of laughing. I only lost my train of thought once during a “brief” explanation of my dissertation on Bear Stearns.
As Louie was the guy who made the eventual hiring decisions, his main concern was if I actually wanted to work for FactSet. As I’ve said before, the potential killer of any interview. I think I handled it better this time though. He understood that graduates had to apply to more than one type of job, but he underscored that I wasn’t applying to a financial company, I was applying to a software company. So I tried to explain that overall career goals were more important to me than where that career took place. If I could be working with capital markets, all the better. Although FactSet was really a software company, I was able to stay within my zone of interest, and to boot, this software company was robust, and that offered job security.
I was then asked to present what I had been asked to prepare. In no more than 5 minutes, answer the following:
- Describe the role of a FactSet Consultant
- Give skills that you possess that you think would make make you a good FactSet Consultant
- Give two practical experiences you have had that you feel demonstrates these skills
- Tell us why you want to be a FactSet Consultant.
Preparing for this was tough. I got the call for the interview Monday morning on my way to Bloomberg for an interview. And they wanted me in early Tuesday afternoon. I could have done it on my train ride back on Monday, but then you very appreciated readers wouldn’t have been able to read about that experience. I didn’t get home till about 9:30pm and after eating, when straight to bed. So I had to write this presentation on the train ride in today. Remember that prior lesson we learnt about preparation? Well, I wish someone had reminded me here.
I spent the better part of the journey writing up my answers on my laptop. With about 30 minutes left I started summarizing that on note cards. As I began to write, my Morgan Stanley pen died on me (I’ll remember that). And it was my only pen. So I ran to the other end of the train to try and buy one from the catering coach. No dice. Went back to my seat and decided I had no choice but to break the cardinal rule of the English rail transport – Don’t Talk to Anyone.
Well I threw caution to the wind and asked the lady opposite me if I could borrow a pen. Thank the good lord! Quickly scribbled out the remainder of my notes with seconds to go. I was in a rush because I had planned my train journey without allowing for a normal coffee break before my regular 2pm interviews. This interview was at 1pm, and there was no way I was going to retire exhausted to my bed on Monday and have to wake up at 5am to make the earlier train in.
Lesson #6: If you’re going to be late, call ahead.
I wasn’t too worried though because I had emailed Gary before I left that a highly plausible train delay could make me 10 minutes late. No worries though, made it in on time (I think there’s a lesson on posturing in there somewhere if one looks hard enough).
So in summary, I think I stand a good chance at a job offer. But they want me to start by November 1st. And my current living situation (ie. not living in London) makes that kind of difficult. London is not a fun place to need to move to at this current moment in time. The supply for the less financially fortunate is at its worst. Students, and recent graduates (with jobs) have gobbled up all there is.
Should hear back within the next couple days if I got the job or not.
We’ll let you know.