It is surprising how many people ask me this question- I mean, isn’t this what Google is for? However, we live a world where we get swamped with too much news and too many things to digest. So here are a couple of tips and tricks I personally found useful.
- Read the firm’s quarterly/annual reports– or more specifically, the Chairman/Senior Partner/ Director/ etc’s message
In the report, they will always state the major achievements the firm has achieved during that period. Hence, it is a perfect summary! You can then Google for more specific information.
I am going to use PwC’s Chairman’s message as an example:
- Our revenues grew by 5% to £2.8bn, a strong performance that reflects demand for our services across a broad client range.
- In 2014, we encouraged a broad spectrum of people to contribute their views on tax regulations and systems under the concept ‘Paying for Tomorrow’.
- In total, we have invested more than £750m during this period in growing and transforming our business. In 2014, we have continued to build a balanced and sustainable business with further direct investment of over £200m.
- During the year, the PwC network acquired Strategy& (formerly Booz & Co), which sees us combine one of the leading international strategy and deal consulting businesses…
- We also acquired Mokum, a leading technology consultancy, and Geotraceability, a business providing assurance over supply chains.
- Their Values
It is important to align yourself to the values the firm endorses. Hence, take a look at their values and try to draft your cover letter/competency questions to ‘fit’ the firm.
- Use Google effectively.
Example of how you can use this during your firm research:
Site:ft.com ~success “JP Morgan” 2010..2014
Find out more on how you can use Google effectively then play around! Most news websites also have their own built-in search engines you can use.
- Last but not least, read general news! It is important to know (at least in general) what is happening in the world right now and the current ‘big debates’ in the financial industry such as ‘Are interest rates going to rise or fall?’ This is very important for interviews! Many people use BBC for general news. For more specific news, most people read The Financial Times, The Economist, Foreign Policy, and Accountancy Age.
Networking/ Face-to-face interaction
LSE Careers and career-orientated societies in LSE often provide you with numerous opportunities to meet and exchange communication with firm representatives. For instance, the Finance Society and Business Society regularly conduct such events. If you pay their membership fee, you will immediately get access to their newsletter which informs you of all the events they are organizing and how to apply for them. This includes case studies, coffee drop-ins, and company presentations. On the other hand, LSE Careers conducts many Career Fairs such as the Consulting Fair and Internship Fair. For more information, click here.
A lot of people also get stumped on ‘what should I ask’?
The whole point of meeting them is to get to know the industry and the firm better. Some of the questions which generally gain more insight into these topics are:
- How was your career progression and what did you find challenging?
- What projects are you currently working on/ worked on in the past?
- What did you do earlier today?
You sometimes get really interesting insights into their work. I for one found out that Switzerland has something called the Swiss Secrecy Law and Deutsche Bank had assisted the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards while speaking to representatives during networking events.
I hope this helps and good luck for applications!
PS: For more information on how to write cover letters and support you can receive from LSE Careers, click here.