Investment Banks Seek Health Care Specialists

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Investment banking firms are staffing up in their health care groups, signaling a shift in a market where hiring has lagged in recent years.

"The health care investment banking arena is becoming a very active space, especially for those with a banking background or for someone who has worked as an analyst or associate in another area in investment banking," says John Mazzei, managing director of Rand Thompson Consultants, a New York-based recruiter.

For those with the right credentials, some firms may be willing to invest the time necessary to groom them for the position. People with a specific expertise in biotech, managed care, pharmaceuticals, medical devices or health care consulting might fit that bill. "If they know the space very well, and have the required finance skills but no investment banking experience, they could still get a foot in the door," says Mazzei. "The investment banks also look at those in equity research because of their financial skills. They may not necessarily have the deal-making skills, but they can help them on that end."

Industry analysts typically hold a minimum of an undergraduate degree in business or accounting from a well-known school, and will work for a minimum of three or so years before advancing to an associate's job. After an additional three or more years, they can move up the ranks to vice president, and then on to managing director after another three or more years.

As the health care investment-banking field grows, so will compensation. Mazzei notes that bonuses are directly based on the number of deals done, and are strictly tied to performance.

Financial professionals who want to make the jump into health care investment banking need to be network oriented, says Debra Feldman, a networking expert and executive talent agent based in Connecticut. "It helps to get yourself in front of a decision maker and to make a positive impression on that specific individual, if you want a job," she says.

Feldman recommends identifying and researching the investment banks with a health care practice, as well as their senior personnel in the sector. "I call this the art of networking purposefully," she says.

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