It's who you know

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Looking for a job in investment banking? Befriend someone already working in the industry.

What with the shortage of mid-ranking investment banking talent, it seems banks are taking matters into their own hands and encouraging existing staff to deliver friends and family (as long as they have a Harvard MBA and solid execution experience) instead of scrabbling for hires on the open market.

We know of one US bulge-bracket bank (naming no names) that has just doubled the amount paid out by its employee referral scheme to around 5k for VPs, creating a solid incentive for existing staff to pass on your CV.

Michael Moran, chief exec of Fairplace, a talent management consultancy which deals in such schemes, says plenty of banks have them: "Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and most other US banks operate referral programmes," he says. "Employees usually receive 2k to 3k for putting someone forward."

According to Moran, the doyenne of referral programmes was Enron, which entered referring employees into a draw to win a BMW X3. "That was one of the more innovative schemes," he says (wistfully).

On a separate note, but one that goes to show that friends count, the Observer recently reported on a book by two American academics which apparently shows that fund managers who went to the same Ivy League collegues as the bosses of the corporates they're investing in generate better returns than those who don't know the bosses of investee companies from Adam. Not only do contacts help you land a job, it seems they help you perform better once you're in it, too.

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