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Banking & Private Debt: How To Set Yourself Up For Success

To recover from the impact of the Great Recession, banks have needed to find new ways to produce profits. In light of this, hedge funds, asset managers, insurers, and private equity firms have increasingly turned their efforts to alternative investments with banks to maximize yield in a low-interest environment.

With a move to more alternative investments, namely private debt, the rising interest in this space has translated into an increase in job opportunities for finance professionals! “Over the past two years, financial institutions have found an increased need for candidates with experience in operations, bank debt, and collateralized loan obligation products,” says Paul Herman, Senior Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services team.

Whether you have leverage finance/investment or buy side experience and are looking to break into an emerging market, here are 3 things you need to focus on:

  1. Increasing your marketability

Whether you’ve been focused on equities, fixed income, or derivatives, it can be easy to become complacent with the types of products you specialize in. However, today’s financial institutions are most interested in your product knowledge, including your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities that can emphasize the specifics of what you know. “Finance professionals looking to transition to the private debt space should find ways to support different desks at your current employer to build your product knowledge,” recommends Paul. “This will not only diversify your product knowledge and make you a more marketable candidate, but it may also give you greater flexibility to make a career transition in the future.”

  1. Keeping an open mind

If you are serious about transitioning into a new role, it’s important that you remain open to new opportunities. “I’ve found that candidates are more apprehensive to entertain these newer private debt opportunities because they aren’t as educated on many of the responsibilities or benefits of these roles,” notes Paul.

For example, there is a large number of buy side firms that have much flatter structures than the big banks (i.e., Analyst, Associate, Senior Associate, etc.), so it can be tempting to get caught up in the title of the role rather than the opportunity. “If you aren’t willing to look past a title, for example, you could be doing your job search more harm than good.” Job titles can vary by company, so don’t overlook an opportunity because the title is different from what you were originally looking for. Instead, continue to do your due diligence by evaluating the responsibilities and keep an open mind about different opportunities.

  1. Knowing your worth

As you embark on any job search, it’s important to know your worth. This will ensure that you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to leverage your technical and soft skills to get what you deserve. “If you’re looking for ways to stand out against competition, emphasize any modeling skills you possess or highlight any private credit or Mezzanine experience,” says Paul. “Understanding just how important these skills are to prospective employers can go a long way in negotiating the right terms for yourself.”