If your school doesn't customarily receive recruitment visits from financial companies, you should be prepared to start sending in resumes for full-time employment early in the first semester of your senior year, if not earlier. Recruiters target certain schools because they've had success there before--so getting out in front of the human resources department early in the game is key to calling attention to yourself and your desire to work in private wealth management.
It's important to note that since many firms hire full-time employees from their summer internship programs, there are less opportunities available in the fall of one's senior year of college or last year of graduate business school. Thus, ideally, candidates for full-time positions should consider a private banking summer internship during the summer after their junior year in college, or the summer after their first year in business school, in the hopes of getting a full-time offer that starts after they graduate.
Typically, the full-time and summer intern recruiting cycle for the largest firms in the industry is as follows:
- November to December after junior year of college or first year of graduate business school: Candidates for summer internships attend information sessions and other recruiting events to get information about the division(s) they're interested in.
- December to March: Interview for a summer position.
- June to August: Summer internship.
- August to September: Those who didn't receive an offer from the firm where they interned, or those who want to explore options at other firms, attend recruiting events and start applying for other full-time positions.
- October to December: Interview for a full-time job that starts after graduation.
Unlike the more institutionalized sales and trading desks at most banks and investment companies, private banking is somewhat easier to break into using contacts that may already be working in the industry, especially in smaller firms. Private bankers often pride themselves on being good judges of people, and if you already know someone within a firm (and they like you), they may readily put in a good word for you.
Private wealth management branches within a larger Wall Street firm or money-center bank can sometimes recruit from other parts of the company, especially for the more specialized positions. For example, an equity strategist within the research department or asset management arm of a major firm could move to the private bank.
Traders can sometimes seek to move into private wealth management. It's generally perceived to be less stressful than working the trading desk, and can still have an entrepreneurial streak. The PWM firms, however, will be very careful to ensure that the trader has the judgment and interpersonal skills necessary to hand-hold their high-net-worth clients.
At most firms, the human resources department brings in the entry-level people, both graduate and undergraduate. Most firms will have vice presidents signing off on associate-level hires, especially if they'll be working closely together in a regional office.
As with most Wall Street jobs, private wealth management firms are aggressive on-campus recruiters. At the undergraduate level, this takes place during the first semester of the school year, with recruiters conducting interviews right on campus for full-time and summer intern positions. The second round of interviews, if the student is selected for one, usually occurs soon afterward, and happens at the firm's home office.