Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Authors: Phillip Feng Co-VP Education/ Research, Edward Su Co-VP Education/ Research, Jenny Chen Research Analyst, John Derraugh Research Analyst
Meet Clifford Fang
Clifford Fang is a recent graduate of the Accounting and Finance Program from the University of Waterloo. He is a current Investment Banking Analyst at CIBC World Markets, in the Metals & Mining. Previously, Clifford completed his coop terms at Warbug Pincus and Deal Advisory at KPMG.
Our team interviewed Clifford to gain insight on his experience in investment banking.
What first made you interested in finance?
Before university, I didn’t know what finance was, but I had inspirational professors in school that made me enthusiastic to learn about the topic. I came to realize that events in finance have the potential to impact people’s lives. Reading all the news we see on Bloomberg and CNN every day, the things people do in finance (M&A, Equity financing, private equity transactions) change the world around us. Upon realizing that, I wanted to pursue finance as it will allow me to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
How would you describe a day in the life of an investment banking analyst?
There are two aspects of the role. First is deal work, where we conduct analysis around a current live deal. For example, we may look at an accretion/dilution analysis and consider what will happen to the company’s share price/pro forma ownership if we adjust an input. Second, we have ongoing coverage work which involves doing pitches. The pitches and presentations are on market updates and may involve producing stock charts.
How would you describe the culture at CIBC Metals and Mining?
There is a strong “Work hard play hard” culture. We work together closely as a team in a supportive environment. My associates take responsibility for distributing work evenly and making sure I understand the aspects of my tasks. When we have to work long hours, no one dumps work on other people to leave early; we work together to get through it all.
What are the most challenging aspects of Investment Banking?
Investment banking has quick turnaround times during live deals. At first, it was challenging to manage expectations from my seniors and be prepared to give updates as to my work progress. Another challenge sometimes faced is having limited resources for an analysis that isn’t done very frequently and doesn’t have a lot of reference material. As a co-op, making an excel spreadsheet from scratch for an M&A scenario such as an asset spin-off can be difficult.
How can you make yourself stand out as a co-op student?
Once you’ve landed the job, there are a few things you can do to perform well. One thing you should always ensure is that you have a good attitude as you will be working long hours with your team. You should also always ask for more work if you have capacity; as well as always asking for advice and feedback on all work you complete. Another important thing to do is ensure you pay close attention to detail. All work you produce reflects not only yourself but your firm and may be viewed by executives or clients. It is important to ensure small details such as font size and spacing are always correct and consistent. One final thing to help stand out is trying to exceed expectations and taking initiative in your work. It is key to show progress throughout the term and demonstrate that in take in feedback and improve.
What are some skills students should learn to prepare themselves for the job?
It is important to understand basic finance concepts so you’re in a position to expand your knowledge on the job and have a strong foundation from any relevant courses in school.
Another very important skill on the job is Excel and PowerPoint shortcuts as both programs are used very frequently and knowledge of the shortcuts can help you save a lot of time.
What experiences best prepared you for the job?
I learned a lot by attending case competitions as often the cases presented are challenging and may require you to run a form of analysis that you’ve never seen before. Case competitions are good way to learn new skills and prepare you beyond what you can pick up in the classroom.
What excites you about work every day?
This ties back to the reason I first became interested in finance. My work in Investment Banking has the potential to have a large impact on every industry. It is exciting to see major news such as the Uber IPO and know that my work contributes to those significant market events and affects people’s lives in meaningful ways.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned at your job?
I would say one of the most important things I’ve realized is to not make the same mistake twice as it demonstrates that you don’t take care in your work and you don’t learn from your mistakes.
This connects to what I mentioned earlier about always paying very close attention to detail, no matter how trivial it may seem. Something as insignificant as a slightly different shade of red in a chart will be noticed by someone and will reflect badly on you if you make repeated mistakes of this nature.