Each year, we see a number of Nordic candidates make the move to London to begin investment banking internships with global banks. Usually, the main aim is to strengthen their CV and gain foreign experience at an international bank.
There is merit in this, however it’s important to understand the opportunity available within your reach a little closer to home. As a junior candidate exploring career options, it’s important to identify which location would be best suited for you, the Nordics or London, and this is typically based on how you’re looking to align the experience with your future career aspirations.
Every bank has its own unique culture, values, and working style, which you should consider when making your decision and this is further impacted by cultural differences. Without having the benefit of experience, what information can you use to figure out where you might be best suited?
International cultures within the team
Embedding diversity into the international banks in London has become a major focus area in recent years, with most aiming to have a range of languages and nationalities within every team. Meaning as a Nordic in London, your team is likely to be multinational, but you’re likely to be the only Nordic speaker in your team. If you’re looking to develop an international network and strengthen your English, this could be a positive. Whereas in the Nordic banks, you’ll likely be working alongside similar nationalities and operate in a shared work culture, speaking the Nordic languages internally but largely practicing in English through working material. Working in a Nordic investment bank means you’ll build a strong network of connections within your home country as well as other close by Nordic countries, whereas in London your strongest network connections will most likely remain in mainland Europe.
In London, you work your way up the pecking order in a uniform fashion, two to three years as an Analyst and three to four years as an Associate; however, this isn’t to say high performers can’t take on early responsibility. In the Nordic banks this is entirely different. Although they have well-structured teams with designated responsibilities depending on level of experience, they don’t use official titles. If you decide to gain experience in the Nordic region throughout your career, it’s something to consider if you want to move abroad and gain foreign experience at some stage. As the structure isn’t clear outside of the Nordic region, this may mean your assumed level doesn’t accurately reflect your experience.
Generalist vs. sector team
Junior Analysts in London tend to join specific teams such as TMT, industrials, healthcare or consumer, meaning they gain a deep understanding of specific industries early on in their career with the opportunity of rotating into other teams over time. The decision of which sector team you end up in initially is largely out of your control and there is a risk of ending up in a team whose focus area don’t match up to your interests. In the event of this happening, unfortunately you’ll end up having to be part of that team for some time or until you finish the rotation.
Given the smaller size of the Nordics, most Analysts work in generalist roles covering deals across a variety of sectors for the first few years in their career and eventually specialise in specific sectors as they rise through the ranks.
This means you’re able to take the time to understand where your interests lie before committing to a specific sector team. Both options offer benefits; understanding early on whether you have clarity around your areas of interest will help you to decide which of these will best suit you.
The deals sizes between the two regions are substantially different in the Nordics, you’ll work on some of the biggest deals in the region and gain the experience of working with the ‘Nordic angle’. But as a Junior Analyst in London, you’ll experience first-hand what it’s like to work on the largest deals within Europe and gain strong exposure which will really add value early on in your career.
There are pros and cons to working in both regions and ultimately, it boils down to what you’re looking to get out of your career. Whether you’re wanting to begin your career in investment banking within the Nordic region or London, we have specialists who cover both. Or if you’re still unsure in which direction you’d like go, feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss your options.