Tips on succeeding in finance from the Head of EMEA Credit Strategy at JP Morgan
Meet Andreea Talmaciu, an 2014 EDHEC Alumna from the MSc in Financial Engineering – Asset Management track. She is currently the Head of EMEA Credit Strategy at JP Morgan. We had the pleasure to welcome her back to our Nice Campus during the Alumni Insights event - a series where alumni from the MSc in Financial Engineering share their career paths with the actual students of the programme.
Can you share today’s experience with the MSc in Financial Engineering students?
The MSc in Financial Engineering’s students showed great curiosity and enthusiasm about launching their future careers. They were eager to learn about the most effective ways to position themselves for success and create strong applications.
They are aware that it is very competitive, and they are uncertain about the best career path. A common thread in their questions revolved around whether prior experience in trading, asset management or starting with sales could lead them to their desired career goal. It was important to reassure them that at the start of their career, experience is important but mostly being motivated, intelligent, and having the right attitude would ultimately set them apart from the competition.
Most of the conversation revolved around career-related topics, such as entering the company, the internship process, and career progression. I emphasized that internships offer a great opportunity to discover one's preferences. The conversation touched on the importance of choosing a specific team during the internship, but I reassured them that the exact team doesn't matter initially. I shared examples of interns transitioning to different teams within JP Morgan. Other questions focused on career progression, with some wondering about moving between roles. The audience showed forward-thinking and motivation, seeking fast career growth. They were also keen on understanding the distinctions between JP Morgan's different lines of business—investment bank, asset management, and wealth management—and the required skills for each.
Could you share some information about your role as Head of the Credit Strategy at JP Morgan and how you got promoted to this position?
I'm currently Head of JP Morgan Private Bank’s EMEA credit strategy – I am responsible for the European credit market outlook, trade idea generation, investment lists, clients and advisors’ engagement. As part of the Global Investment Strategy Team, we decide broad views across asset classes, regularly publishing and presenting to our advisors. I'm focusing on EMEA abroad advisors, and I am presenting at EMEA wide meetings - our views, our high conviction ideas and ways to position client portfolios from an investment perspective to be best aligned with our views and where we are in the cycle.
I joined JP Morgan upon graduation, and I have been there ever since. Being a student at EDHEC is, I think, what contributed the most to making this possible. My journey involved diverse roles, from starting in the FX and Commodities derivatives team, to transitioning to the Fixed Income team where I had the chance to spearhead the credit derivatives business, culminating in my current role as Head of the EMEA Credit Strategy.
What skills and qualifications make a strong candidate for the role? What type of skills are you looking for?
Since I joined JP Morgan, the finance industry has rapidly evolved into a fast-paced environment. Currently, the most important skill we seek in analyst or juniors joining our team is programming skills. Automation and efficiency are key, allowing us to optimize repetitive tasks and dedicate more time to client services. Back in 2014, programming skills were not highly sought after, today we prioritize candidates who bring complementary skills to enhance our team. We value candidates who can complement us in our skills and in parallel, we are happy to teach them trading, portfolio management, investment, and sales skills.
Second, versatility is key. Students need to embrace change, say yes to new opportunities, because it is only going to make them better. JP Morgan values candidates who have diverse experiences. This is the type of talent that JP Morgan wants to nurture because usually the firm invests a lot in, you as an analyst, and they want to grow you and they see you as the future leaders of the firm. While some changes may be unplanned, your attitude in these types of changes will matter the most.
Additionally, depth of expertise is crucial. Our clients come to JP Morgan because they expect quality and white-glove service. Hence, as you join the company, candidates are not expected to know everything however, they are expected to have a strong desire to learn as much as possible.
How should students prepare for an interview at JP Morgan? What should they expect?
It is very important for students to be themselves during the interviews, especially in private bank where the personal aspect, the ability to connect and build relationships is crucial - being natural and authentic is important.
Prior to the interview, students need to conduct their research about the company to explain why they want to join, share THEIR story and motivation to be part of JP Morgan, and how they plan to contribute to firm’s success from the onset. Demonstrating a sincere desire to contribute to JP Morgan with a long-term career and emphasizing how they can add value to the team will set them apart. Graduation from EDHEC Business School already establishes their intelligence, so focusing on these aspects that will be unique to each of them will greatly benefit them.
What obstacles did you face and how did you surpass them when entering the job and to get where you are?
It is not an easy career by any means. It's rewarding, but it's going to have ups and downs and I think it's good to know from the start that it's not going to be a straight line. Navigating a finance career involves challenges and adjustments, such as adapting to cultural differences, being more assertive than might come natural to some of us, or be more confident in oneself. JP Morgan allowed me to develop and become a better version of myself.
When I transitioned from analyst to associate was another challenging step for me. I learned the significance of managerial support. Know that you are going to connect better with some people rather than others. And it's just life and you just need to be prepared for it and know how to navigate it. Despite initial difficulties, staying true to myself and demonstrating commitment to the firm allowed me to enjoy a steep learning curve and achieve the fast career progression I wanted.
My recommendation: stay true to yourself, work hard, be focused on what you want to achieve, and you'll get there.
How did you get your job at JP Morgan?
EDHEC’s faculty had industry connections. During my year in the MSc in Financial Engineering, one of my professors recommended me for a position at JP Morgan. I was rapidly invited to London for an interview with the hiring manager. I ended up meeting the whole team and by the time my plane landing back in Nice, I had already received a job offer, which I was very happy to accept. I hope my story offers hope for those who might not naturally excel in conventional networking and is an example of how there's more than one way to achieve your goals.
Do you have any tips for the MSc in Financial Engineering students preparing the recruitment processes?
Practice a lot, it is going to pay off. In a highly competitive environment with many applications, aim to present the best version of yourself one the day. The efforts you put into your preparation will show and always remember that recruiters will be screening for your attitude. Beyond your impressive CV, the focus shifts to aspects they cannot assess on paper – your interest to have a long-term career, your motivation, and your hunger for knowledge and to improve – your hunger to make an impact! At JP Morgan, we invest a lot in your training, so we want to make sure you are motivated for the long term.
What is your best memory when you were a student in the MSc in Financial Engineering?
My best memory is my best friend as I met her during my year in the MSc in Financial Engineering. I was her maid of honor and now I am the godmother of her son.
What would you tell your younger self?
Maintaining a better work-life balance, both during school and in my career.