Nomura is a financial holding company. It, along with its broker-dealer, banking and other financial services and subsidiaries, provides investment, financing and related services to individual, institutional and government customers on a global basis with an emphasis on securities businesses. Advait Shankar, a 4th year undergraduate of Metallurgy and Materials science has done an internship at this mammoth financial services company. Here is an excerpt from his interview.   

Could you describe your work culture? How do you find it?

Nomura is an investment bank. The working hours are hectic. You need to work for around 12-14 hours a day. If you are ready to put in that much amount of effort, then it’s a good place to be as the exposure you get at Nomura is much better as compared to other banks which take interns from IIT. For example, my main project involved working under the global head of my desk and that kind of exposure is something you experience very rarely. The work culture is demanding and you have to put in hours but the office environment is amazing and the people are really helpful. So if you are an intern looking to learn stuff, it’s a good place to be and the learning curve is also great.

Why did you apply for this intern?

My interests lie in finance and supply chain. These are the two places I had been looking for and even am now, for my placements. Considering this and the fact that I am from metallurgy, the only good companies which were open to me were Nomura (the only finance company which came,  DB didn’t come last year) and P&G. I didn’t want to take coding or analytics oriented internships. So I went for Nomura.

One good thing that you will have here is that the profile is strictly finance (global market) unlike other finance companies which have more internships inclined towards analytics. The work that you do will not involve analytics at all. It will mostly be centered around finance, so you need to have proper knowledge in the world of finance. You can develop it over your intern as well but mostly they expect you to have a basic knowledge before you start.

Did you have any background before you went there?

What to know when you are trying for such an internship is that you need to be very strong in your quant skills because they will test your puzzle-solving and quant skills. Finance knowledge helps, but they don’t expect you to be well versed in everything, however a basic knowledge is appreciated. I used to go through Khan academy courses before my intern which actually helped. Basic knowledge on options, derivatives etc will do but you need to be strong in quant.

Finance knowledge helps, but they don’t expect you to be well versed in everything.

 

What was the selection procedure ?

For Nomura, they had a resume shortlist first and then they had a GD(group discussion). They came for two profiles last year, one was global markets and structuring, while the other was wholesale strategies. I put my first preference as global markets and structuring and only got shortlisted for that. The GD can be on any topic, mine was ‘For India to win olympic medals, do you think the corporate companies should take more initiatives or should it be the government?’ In GD you don’t need to have in depth knowledge, just reading the newspaper regularly is sufficient. You don’t need to know the subject, you can wait for others to speak and then build on it.

After that, they had 3 rounds of interview, 2 technical and 1 HR. For my first technical interview, I was questioned on 3-5 puzzles out of which I was able to answer around 2 questions and since I had a financial markets course from coursera on my resume, they asked me a few questions of finance. “Make sure you have a certificate when you put something on your resume”. I was questioned on the pay off diagrams, options like when do you go for a call option, put option etc.The second technical interview had more to do with quant. They asked me aptitude questions and 2 guesstimates (Eg. how will you figure out the number of credit cards users in a state), so you just need to come up with a rough approximation, (you can throw in some figures, it just needs to be approximately correct, what they look for is your logical flow). It’s the train of thought that they look for, your numbers need not be accurate but there has to be a logical flow in your set of thoughts. HR interview wasn’t so difficult. There was one question that I still remember, “What would be your mom’s first answer when asked about you or the first statement that she would say?”. One tip that I can give you for the HR interview is (this was where I cupped during my P&G interview), never connect your family with your answers. Don’t be too emotional. I did that once or twice, that could have been a blackmark. In HR, you should come out as a very strong person. Make sure you are confident about whatever you put in your resume. They will definitely question your second year internship if you have had any. I did my industrial intern in Wheels India and they investigated that and my internship at Ernst & Young. So make sure your resume is compact, you need to be able to answer whatever questions come out of it. Apart from that I don’t think resume shortlist was an issue with Nomura. If your resume has some good points, they will shortlist it. Then it is upto you to clear your GD and your interview.   

Why do you think you got selected?

I think I was chosen because of my proficiency in quant. My first interview wasn’t that great. Out of 5 puzzles, I answered just 2 but my finance section was on the mark. My second interview went really well. My aptitude was strong. So I guess that counts.

Typical day at your intern?

It depends. For example if you are working with London desk, you go in at around 10a.m. as the London market opens at around 1.00p.m. If you are working with the Asia or Hong Kong desk for that matter, you need to reach there by 8 in the morning because it opens at 6.30 but people do come in at around 7-7.30. I used to go in at around 10.00-10.30 and come back around midnight, but not everyday. There are the days when you have a lot of work, but some days when you finish a project the day isn’t so busy and you can go back early. On my floor, 60% of the people were IITians, I think there were at least 4 people from IIT madras, 2-3 from IIT Kharagpur, 2 from IIT Bombay and 1 from IIT Delhi.

What did you work on exactly?

It was a nine week intern. I did 4-5 projects. My main project was to create a trading strategy and momentum filter. My other project was to track the ETF (exchange-traded fund) flows. There are some stocks which rise rapidly and my task was to create a filter to filter out such stocks from a huge database.The ETF project was to create a tool which basically tracks the flow in ETFs and underlines volume trends and securities. Another project I did, was on delta hedging. If your stock price moves, something built on your stock price will also change, that’s your delta. So every trader wants to be delta neutral as he doesn’t want any risk on his plate,hence the need to hedge. These were the three projects I did in my first team.

My second team did more work on automation. I had two projects there which were completely based on automation. My main project was trading strategies which I enjoyed a lot. I worked on it for two and half weeks and now they are implementing it.

I worked with my first team for five weeks and with the second for four weeks. The first project was to create a momentum filter. That was two-three days worth of work. After that they gave me the ETF project and it took a week or so. Then I started with the trading strategy, that took around three weeks. In the last week I worked on delta hedging. After that, I moved to the second team. I spent the first week just to learn, the team basically worked on index structuring.  Nomura has a lot of strategies that they build, publish and sell to the clients.  They build an index based on some asset classes, say, commodities, strategy, style etc.They need to present reports of their performance every week, because every week a new signal comes. So I had to learn what those strategies and indices were. During the second and third week, I did the report creation automation. In the final week, I had to present my entire work in front of VPs, EDs of the company.

Any fun/ memories, like out of workplace/ in workplace?

If you enjoy your work, you will find the place pleasant. If not, I would say don’t go there, because you have to put in almost 12-14 hours a day (12 hours is the average for interns). But, if you enjoy the work that you do, which I did in the initial part of my intern, then you would look forward to go to the office. The people are really friendly. My manager used to take me out a lot. And I made good friends with the other interns as well. My intern was at Powai, Bombay, so the place is also great.I had a lot of fun. I am mentioning it again, if you like your work, you will enjoy the place. The people there are also like that. They work when they have to work, and after that they themselves take you out to places around, and you will have fun, for sure. Bombay is a good place to hang out.

Any learning / take away from your intern?

Yes, definitely. The exposure was great. In my third week, I was on a call with the global head of my desk who is an MD sitting in Hong Kong. I was explaining to him why I chose the signals I did, what the rationale behind it was. I explained the map to him. Such kind of exposure is great, you indeed learn a lot, like I did in each and every part of my project. When I did delta hedging, I got to know about Greeks and how they work. During my trading strategy, I got to know the styles of trading. ETF was something new to me, I had never heard of it, but I was able to build a tool for that. The learning curve is steep, I definitely learnt a lot.

If you are a person who is ready to put in the hours, you’ll like it there because you’ll learn a lot.

Would you want to share any message with the students?

If you are a person who is ready to put in the hours, you’ll like it there because you’ll learn a lot, that is for sure. I would say, choose your intern wisely, because, your intern in your third year summer actually matters a lot, contrary to what people say. So, if you like it, very good, even if you don’t like it, go through with it and you will at the least learn something, it won’t go to waste. You just have to be strong on your aptitude and quant and some basic finance knowledge is more than enough. For the resume shortlist, I think they selected around 140 people last time. So resume shortlist wouldn’t be an issue. If you want to do a finance intern, then it’s a good place to be. But if you are not interested then I would say refrain from it and try for other options. But make a good choice because this intern actually matters.

Authors: Sahithi Yamala (DD-CH ’21) & Sanjana Paraz (BT-CE ’19)

This article is part of the series – The Intern Guru. To get regular updates, follow us on facebook at facebook.com/chennai36.