Former Participant Story: Corporate Finance Competition

Former participant story: Corporate Finance Competition

  • Name: Sebastiaan Siersema

  • Based in: Amsterdam

  • Job title: Associate Corporate Finance 

  • Year joined ABN AMRO: 2020

  • Year attended the Corporate Finance Competition: 2019

If you are interested in and/or curious about a position in investment banking at one of the four Dutch banks (ABN AMRO, ING, Kempen and Rabobank), the Corporate Finance Competition (“CFC”) provides the perfect opportunity to gather experience and to enter this field in the form of an internship or starting position. As a former participant, I experienced that the CFC gave me valuable insights in the cultural differences between the participating banks and the day-to-day tasks that you can expect as an intern, which are tested by means of cases. The CFC combines an ideal mixture of challenging cases, in which you will be challenged to show your potential, whilst the program does not lose sight of the importance of company presentations and informal interactions during drinks and dinner. The latter enables you to get a good understanding of the different cultures of the participating banks. Above all, participating and leaving a good impression in the CFC, will help you to be a step ahead in your application process, for example if you are able to back up stories from people you have spoken during the competition.

The week after the CFC-edition I participated in, I was invited for a coffee at ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam. What followed was a genuine two-way conversation about my studies and my ideas about my future career. Furthermore, I could ask my outstanding questions on the Corporate Finance internship position. The week thereafter, I applied, after which I started the application process. 

For my internship, which took place from November 2020 to February 2021, I joined the Infrastructure Corporate Finance team. The Corporate Finance department of ABN AMRO is  split in multiple sector teams, consisting of c. 8 – 20 people. Through this setup, an intern becomes an integrated member of the team with high levels of responsibility. Now, speaking as an associate, I can say that interns truly assist the team in completing the day-to-day tasks. Furthermore, the flat organisation of ABN AMRO ensures that as an intern you will work together with all levels of seniority throughout your team, which provides a steep learning curve and a determination that really makes you want to outperform. Tasks that I performed during my internship included assisting in the preparation of pitches and other presentations, doing market studies, creating (multiple-based) valuations and even involved project execution. 

After my internship, I applied for the Corporate Finance track within the Corporate and Institutional Banking Talent Programme and signed my contract a week later. ABN AMRO’s Talent Programme truly focuses on learning and developing and includes five weeks of training before you start. During the three Talent Programme years, you will rotate amongst the different Corporate Finance departments, other bank-wide departments (for example Equity Capital Markets or Leveraged Finance) and experience a rotation at one of ABN AMRO’s offices abroad. After successfully completing the programme, you are given the opportunity to join the sector team you liked the most.

If I could give a strong advice to students who are considering a future career in investment banking; I strongly suggest to participate in recruitment events, like the CFC, try to complete at least one but preferably more internships and, most importantly, talk to as many people in this field as possible. These experiences will help you to determine, as good as possible, what company/bank culture suits you best.

Please feel free to reach out to me in case of any further questions. Looking forward meeting you at this year’s CFC.

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