A Day in the Life of a Private Wealth Management Intern

I promised you all a follow-up to my piece from last week, so here it is. I know this isn’t the first question that pops in your head every morning when you wake up, but please let me answer the question, “What does Salmaan Javed do every day as a Private Wealth Management intern at UBS?” If you have taken an interest in UnderageInvestor’s posts related to investing, this internship and job may be the career choice for you. I do get paid, if that matters to you (which it shouldn’t at this point in your life)!

I get in at 6:30 am and leave at 3:30 pm, because I have to be there for the entirety of the US stock market trading day, which lasts from 9:30 am until 1 pm ET. I work in the Financial District in San Francisco, with a beautiful 360 degree view of San Francisco. Despite the early hours, you can expect to get out of work by 5, unlike the intense hours of Investment Banking, Private Equity, or Equity Research. I receive projects nearly once a day, that span from balancing and updating client portfolios on Excel to filing tax paperwork to researching and pitching an upcoming IPO (initial public offering). An IPO is when a private company has sedimented strong financial growth and fundamental sustenance, and is ready to transition to a publicly-traded company listed on the stock market. The most famous IPO company in the past year or two has to be Facebook (its ticker is FB). Anyways, I luckily got to sit in on a meeting with a mutual fund representative who talked to my boss and myself about the current trends in the fixed income space (the asset class that includes bonds), and where he sees it going in the near future. I bring a notebook everywhere I go because I have needed to jot down important market information on many occasions. Another task I do nearly everyday is listening to firm-wide conference calls that explain the researchers’ and Chief Investment Officer’s positions in the most up-to-date market. On the calls, I take notes on their evaluation of certain asset classes, macroeconomic factors, and specific investments. I am passionate about learning as much as I can about the markets, so I must admit that I take better and more notes than I ever did in school. After listening in on the calls, I write up a memo summarizing what the call covered and send it to the members of my team.

Basically, it’s a GREAT introduction to the world of finance, investing, and financial advising. If you are like I was before this internship and think the entire, trillion-dollar stock exchange market is just people trading stocks of Apple, Google, or Chipotle, please consider interning in PWM to get involved in the huge world of finance. You can find postings of internships from banks on your college internship vault, or you can even just e-mail some local advisors you come across on the firm’s websites. They usually look for college students with some Economics classes and Excel proficiency under their belt, so it’s mostly common for a sophomore summer internship. However, if you have the skills they require, it shouldn’t be difficult to find an internship as a freshman.

If you are interested in the full-time job tasks, here they are…As a private wealth manager you have to manage the stock portfolios of your clients, who tend to be very wealthy. The “wealth” in the title refers to every asset under a client’s name, such as real estate, bank accounts, trusts, wills, etc… It is all managed by a small group of financially-savvy and educated professionals. They are patient, dedicated, and decisive with their financial advising. They also make sure to maintain a very professional, genuine, and close relationship with each and every one of their clients. Advisors must choose from thousands of assets across several asset classes to effectively diversify a client’s portfolio. This is the main task for a PW manager, as it determines their success rate, the client’s wealth accumulation and protection and return on the investments. This is also the most difficult aspect of the job because they must customize the portfolio to fit every need and calm every nerve of the client. Generally, huge risks or bets cannot be afforded, but at the same time, slow and marginal growth is unattractive to clients. Another important task for PW managers is the trading of client’s investments. This is why they get in by 6:30am because they need to track the prices of their client’s stocks throughout the trading day. PW managers set upper and lower limits for their trading and strike prices on options if you have a more complex, hedged portfolio. This means that they set certain prices that are high enough for you to walk away with a good profit from the sale of that investment. It also means that they set a low enough price that triggers a purchase of a certain investment because you or they expect it’s price to rise substantially.

It is a fascinating profession, and I am liking it more and more every day.

Feel free to ask me any questions if you are interested and want to learn more about the internship. Even if you don’t want to do private wealth management later on, it is a great initial internship to have on your resume. You know you want to see the Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the TransAmerica building outside your window every day.

Comments

  1. Anshu Siripurapu:

    Really nice piece man, sounds like you’re doing some very interesting work over there!

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Thanks Anshu! It’s a great experience–not to mention the dozens of resources available for learning everything possible about the markets.

      Reply

  2. Bryan:

    Nice article, just wondering how you found the internship and how you managed to land it (process).

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hey Brian,
      First off, sorry for the late response. I had been in touch with a financial advisor who was a friend of my dad’s and would talk to him every now and then about my portfolio and my finance career aspirations. We were on good terms and I eventually asked if there was an opportunity to intern this summer and sent over my resume. He then invited me for an interview with the team.

      So, I went the route of networking and relationship-building but Private Wealth Management internships can usually be found on your school’s website, depending on what school you attend.

      Hope that helped!

      Reply

  3. Daniel Caballero:

    Greeting Salmaan,
    This sounds like a great experience. I am a sophmore in college and have been interested in interning at a wealth managment firm so this article sums it up very well. I would like to know how you got in contact with the firm and if they have offices in the South Florida area.

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hi Daniel,
      As I was saying in my response to Bryan’s question, I had got in touch with a financial advisor at UBS leveraging the mutual connection we had. Do NOT feel afraid to reach out to private wealth managers that anyone in your family, friend network, or previous colleague network to find someone willing to meet you–and hopefully interview you eventually. After talking to my bosses, they both urge the importance of Grades, Grades, and…Grades to get your foot in the door. Just checked their website and found that they have offices in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Orlando, and Palm Beach…Seems like there are plenty.

      Here is where I found that info: http://www.ubs.com/us/en/wealth/misc/PrivateWealthManagementOffices.html

      Try contacting the offices you’re interested in via e-mail and phone call and be confident in yourself. It’ll do wonders–good luck.

      Reply

  4. Jonathan Marchel:

    Great write up. I will be starting my junior year come fall.

    Reply

  5. Patrick Laurance:

    Salmaan, A neat article you wrote there. I too currently work as a wealth management intern at Morgan Stanley and really enjoy it. I am a sophomore going to school at a community college near USC and and am actually looking to transfer there next year. I would be interested in speaking with you/getting to know you. We should meet up sometime.

    Reply

  6. Lucy Lu:

    Hey Salmaan! I found your articile very insightful – I searched it up as I am doing my research about wealth management for my upcoming interview. You mainly described what the wealth managers do. May I ask do you know what would juniors do as one just step in wealth management?

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hi Lucy,

      To be frank, the majority of intern work consists of cold calling, which the internship is notorious for. However, if you get lucky, like myself, you can land an internship that has boundless resources and value that you can retain for many years. Cold calling consists of calling potential clients from a given list with the hope to contact someone with a real interest in hiring a financial advisor. However, as you could see in this piece, it does not always have to be like this.

      Reply

  7. Michael:

    Hi Salman,
    I have a phone interview with Goldman Sachs for a PWM Summer Analyst Intern position. I was wondering if you had any tips or advise?

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hi Michael,

      Sorry for the late response. First off, congratulations on getting a phone interview with such a great firm. Goldman really excels at all the services they offer. Regarding preparation, I would pore through WSJ, MarketWatch, The Economist to get a sense of what is happening in today’s financial sphere. Definitely know what a bond is, how it relates to rising interest rates, and what the current bond market is like. Bonds are big in private wealth, so I’m sure they’d be impressed to hear some prior knowledge. Commonly mention fixed income (another more finance-y term for bonds) and definitely drop some thoughts about the Fed’s quantitative easing process that is currently winding down. These can all quickly be researched and briefed so it shouldn’t be too bad.

      Best of luck and feel free to let me know how it goes!

      Reply

      • JULIAN BOYKIN:

        Please email me when you have a chance, i would like to ask you some questions about becoming a PWM. Thanks

        Reply

  8. Mikala Barber:

    Thank you so much for your insight Salmaan! I am interested in PWM, but haven’t been able to find a real insider’s viewpoint. It was very helpful!

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      No problem, Mikala. Glad I could help you. I saw what University you attend from the comment and they are well-represented in PWM and finance in general, so you should be fine! One of the advisors I worked for is an alumni of your University. Best of luck!

      Reply

  9. Shane Quinlan:

    Salmaan,

    I found your piece incredibly informative. I just accepted an internship with Merrill Lynch for this summer and was wondering, what is your major, and did you have any classes relevant to wealth management (i.e. portfolio management, futures trading, etc.)? If not, was it difficult to adjust?

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Shane,
      Congratulations on the offer from Merrill! Great to hear the good news. I am an Economics major but your prior studies really have nothing to do with it. If you show genuine interest and knowledge, you should be fine. At the time, I didn’t have a single Econ or Finance related course so it’s completely fine. Maybe some quantitative stuff would help. The work wasn’t that complex so you could be fine without those advanced courses you mentioned. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

      Reply

  10. K.M:

    Hi Salmaan,

    Thanks for the article, very interesting!
    I am currently enrolled in a master’s degree in Finance in France and I am actually looking for an 3 to 6 months internship in PWM in USA. I was wondering if you can give me some tips, advises or websites that could be useful to my research ? I really don’t know where to start …

    Best regards,

    K.M

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hi K.M,
      I appreciate the compliment! Great to hear an international voice on here. I would google “Private Wealth Managers in (whichever state)” and then call/email them via the website. It will 1) show initiative and 2) ensure you’re getting your name out there. Regarding gaining relevant experience…read finance publications, learn about the basics of the stock and bond markets, and be proficient at Excel. Hope this helps!

      Reply

  11. Bonnie:

    Hi Salmaan,

    I found your blog very informative and a great insight into the world of PWM(Thank you!). I’ve been interested in the world of Finance since I started working for Goldman Sachs – though I joined the Tech division. As you replied to some earlier comments – previous degrees don’t matter as much as long as you show genuine interests and passion. I recently sat for the CFA exam purely wanting to educate myself with Financial knowledge, but just wondering what you think the general recruits of PWM ? How much does PWM emphasis on pre-requisite knowledge/background?

    Regards,
    Bonnie

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Hi Bonnie,

      I appreciate the compliment! Congrats on working at GS, one of the best finance firms in the world. Tech is the most interesting group in my opinion, so good call! At the intern level, this holds true, but if you’re already working in PWM and recently took the CFA, my advice may not apply. You are definitely closer to taking your next step to a VP after a CFA as it shows strong financial intelligence, understanding, and ability to manage a client’s portfolio. If you just took one, you should have enough knowledge to do well in PWM and the markets. CFA is heavy stuff that shows you know a lot and can professionally manage other people’s money. Hope this helped.

      Reply

  12. Kaitlyn:

    Hi Salmaan,

    Really enjoyed your article, you seem to have a great start to your career. I recently had an interview at a PWM firm and it went well. They want me to come back in for a skills assessment. What do you think that would entail?
    Cheers,
    Kaitlyn

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Kaitlyn,
      Congrats on the interview! Thanks for the compliment–much appreciated. I can’t speak for the specific firm but I presume a skills assessment would entail an Excel proficiency test of some sort, and maybe some Bloomberg knowledge test but I doubt that if you’re still in college or just graduated. Can’t really think of any other skills assessment aside from those. Best of luck!

      Reply

  13. Christine:

    Hey Salmaan,

    I have a private banking internship with credit suisse group this summer (i think it is the research and investment group). How should I prepare for my internship? What should I expect and what are the different groups in Private banking? Are there a lot of small teams within the groups? Thank you very much for taking time to answer my questions.

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Christine,
      Congratulations! That’s a great firm and a great gig. There are lots of questions here so if you’d like to direct your questions to me in an email, that’d be better. You can find me at salmaanjaved@gmail.com.

      Reply

  14. Patrick:

    Hey Salmaan, can you explain to me what “portfolio analysis” is? You often hear the term thrown around in regard to wealth management internships, yet I do not fully understand what exactly it means. Thanks

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Patrick, good question. Portfolio analysis refers to the strategies one uses to maximize returns for a given amount of risk. At a low level, it requires the diversification of your portfolio into different sectors, asset classes (stocks vs. bonds vs. cash vs. alt. assets), and regions. At a much more complex level, there are very complex mathematical models that PhD’s have been perfecting for years on end. That’s a quick gist of it all. In a wealth management internship situation, you’ll be exposed to a very basic form of portfolio analysis or construction that deals with how much the client has invested in stock A vs. stock B vs. bond A and why. Hope this helps!

      Reply

  15. Rufus Frost:

    Hi Salmaan,

    Great piece of writing… I have been researching what different financial careers have to offer and this is the most polished short I have read yet. I will be entering my junior year in the fall at McGill University in Montreal, QC. Private Wealth Management remains a career interest for me, however I do have a few questions for you regarding both job opportunities and the industry itself. First, I am currently pursuing a major in Psychology with only a minor in management. Will my non-business major hurt me in the application process, especially noting that I will be chasing a junior internship position after no previous internships in the PWM arena (I currently have sales and marketing internship at a start-up)? Secondly, the management consultant industry held some interest for me until I learned of their grueling work schedule (12-16 hour work days scattered with constant travel). What is the work week like for the executives above you at UBS, and is it conducive to an equally successful family life? Finally, as these interviews are not far off from me, what are three things you would best suggest I do in preparation for what lies ahead?

    Thanks in advance for your time and advice,

    Rufus Frost

    Reply

    • Salmaan Javed:

      Rufus,
      McGill is a great school. I don’t doubt you’ll be able to find plenty of opportunities within PWM, finance, and anything else. It would be best to take an intro financial accounting and finance classes to be familiar with the various topics in wealth management and financial statements. Your non-business major will not hurt you so long as you study up on the markets and show a strong, genuine knowledge in the subject. Also, make sure you are proficient at Excel. These are not difficult tasks…they just require some time and focus.

      Management consulting is a solid path and its hours are not too bad…investment banking is where the REAL long hours are. I also think the travel is a big attraction for potential candidates, but that’s just my two cents. Regarding PWM, hours are verrrrrry manageable. You come in about an hour or 30 minutes before the market opens at 9am EST and leave around 6. About 10 hour work days. I can’t speak to a successful family life as I’m only 20 and also don’t know about my bosses’ family lives, but from what I recall, they all had plenty of time to be with family and raise children, etc…

      Prepare by grasping market knowledge, Excel proficiency, and an interest in finance and relationship management.

      Reply

  16. Ian Usher:

    Salmaan, this article was very insightful. I will be beginning college in a month and am double majoring in finance and accounting. In the future I plan to either go into wealth management or corporate finance. This insight into your life as a wealth management intern has been very helpful. Do you have any knowledge of how your experiences compare to those of a corporate finance intern?

    Thanks

    Reply

  17. Sannil:

    Hi Salmaan,
    Excellent insights. I am prepping for an interview with PWM for BA/Project Manager in tech. What would be the key expectations from this role apart in the context of PWM?

    Thanks
    Sannil

    Reply

  18. Jimmy:

    Hey Salmaan, I recently got an offer at a bulge bracket firm in NY within private wealth. What type of excel skills do you need to have when interning in private wealth?
    Thanks

    Reply

  19. Ali:

    Hey man, great blog! Cheers for the write up and tips.

    Reply

  20. Bulge Bracket:

    Hey Salmann,

    Good write up about your experience at UBS. I currently work as an intern at a bulge bracket firm in PWM. I would caution to all readers on the site that PWM is mostly trying to acquire new clients and relatively very little investment management. Some guys in my office have been there 20+ years and are still out there schmoozing with prospects. My vision of WM was that once you acquired a certain level of assets under management that you would spend most of your time working with clients, helping them reach their financial goals, and picking investments. This is not the case, for the most part. You certainly help them reach their goals and guide them towards investments, but the brunt of that is taken on by the research teams in a completely different office. Other than that, it sounds like we have had very similar experiences!

    Reply

  21. Bianca Feijoo:

    Was UBS your first PWM internship experience?

    Reply

  22. Herbert:

    Thanks for the tips, brah

    Reply

  23. Andy:

    Thank you so much for explaining the job and responsibility. I am wondering for a Wealth Management in a big firm such as JP or GS. What skills do we need to have or needed for the daily tasks we do? As an analyst, what we do most every day?

    Thanks very much.

    Reply

  24. Ben Sharma:

    Hey Salmaan,

    I definitely appreciate the article. It was very well written. One quick question: Would you suggest a PWM internship my freshman summer or a study abroad program such as London School of Economics? I am mainly looking to get the best buck for my resume.

    Thanks for your time,
    Ben

    Reply

  25. Joys Alabi:

    Great post. But please I am currently applying for a position to intern in private wealth management at Gold man Sachs and I have my third round interview coming up soon. Please what do I need to know really to ace there interview?

    Reply

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