Millennials on Wall Street are smarter and more sophisticated than their predecessors

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Wall Street interns, nowadays, are getting younger and smarter. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

As the founder and CEO of Training the Street, Scott Rostan has been teaching financial training courses to interns and analysts at Wall Street firms as diverse as Credit Suisse, UBS, and the Blackstone Group for more than 15 years.

Before that, he was a new hire himself on Merrill Lynch’s investment banking team.

So he’s got a lot of insight on who the banks are hiring these days, and how the demographic has changed.

Rostan shared some of his observations about this year’s crop of Wall Street interns with Business Insider.

They’re smarter.

Most notably, Rostan said, “the students are definitely getting more sophisticated.”

They’re coming in with much more capital markets knowledge and corporate valuation knowledge than they did 10 or 20 years ago.

Rostan attributes that “dramatic shift” to the proliferation of news and information available to young people wanting to learn about finance.

When he graduated from college in 1995, he said, new Wall Street recruits came in cold. Now, he said, new interns are fully aware of important companies, deals, and market-moving news. Often, they already have an opinion on it, too.

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Now, rising juniors are starting to intern on Wall Street, in addition to rising seniors. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Rostan said a lot of financial news relates to technologies that young people use in their every day lives, which helps to boost their interest. Plus, he said, the dotcom boom in the late 1990s really brought investing to Main Street and into the mindsets of young people.

While the new interns and analysts may not have persepctive, Rostan added, that’s something they will pick up from experience. And in the meantime, they’re consuming tons of financial news and increasingly learning the practical skills in school.

They’re younger.

Traditionally, students head to Wall Street for internships in the summer before their senior year of college.

But now, Rostan said, there is a growing percentage of students in each intern class who are only entering their junior year of college.

He said there’s been a “noticeable uptick” in younger interns in the classes he teaches.

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Intern classes still consist, predominantly, of white males. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

There are more of them.

He said that Wall Street banks, pretty much across the board, hired more interns this year than last year. For some, the numbers are up as much as 15%.

That, he said, is a sign of the uptick in capital markets we’ve been seeing, from M&A to IPO to leveraged finance activity.

“There’s a lot of deals, so therefore they need al ot of juniors to be able to handle the client executions,” he said.

“It is still predominantly a lot of white males.”

Rostan says interns remain mostly white and male. But this deficit of diversity is not for lack of trying, Rostan said. The banks, he said, “would like to become more diverse” and are actively trying to recruit more women and minorities.

He did say there are more women these days in the intern classes than in previous years, but still, “not as much as there should be.”

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