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  • Firdaus Maalim

Tips for the application process

by Firdaus Maalim on 21/11/22


Image source: Wix Media


The application process can be daunting with the never-ending list of tips and requirements. You need to have good grades, be commercially aware, have effective communication skills and so much more. We often get questions on how applicants can best demonstrate their commercial awareness. Here are 3 tips that we hope will make it easier for you to show that you have commercial awareness;


1. Commercial Awareness Diary

A commercial awareness diary is like a knowledge bank of recent stories and deals that you can refer to in interviews, assessment centers and even when networking. You do not have to write about every new deal and story, you can pick a few that interest you and note down the specifics and aspects you found interesting. This helps you reach high awareness where you can find the link between stories and establish patterns. Here are a few tips to find stories;

a) Establish what interests you (e.g., hobbies and passions). Can you create a link between the story and your interests?

b) What are you trying to achieve? What is the purpose?

c) Identify gaps. What are the missing parts in your knowledge?

d) Use SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) in trends, issues & solutions.

When reading stories and recent events, think of the parties in the stories as potential clients. This is an especially important extra step; it gives you a deeper insight and allows you to have perspective.


2. Customer Focus

This is about ensuring that the customer is at the focus of every decision being made, afterall, this is how big firms maintain long-term clients. Commercial awareness is about understanding business issues and solutions in regards to the firm you are applying to. Have customer solutions and think of methods that may help customers and give them what they want. You should also try to go beyond the facts given in the scenario. This can be done by using examples of similar businesses and the routes they took. It helps to give a well-rounded and informed response which conveys your ability to think ahead.


3. Commercial Group Exercise

To demonstrate your commercial awareness, it is not a requirement that you have in-depth knowledge of all matters regarding businesses. You should focus on understanding the basics, this will also aid your understanding of current affairs and deals. This includes knowing;

- how companies raise capital, IPO's. loans etc.,

- the difference between shared purchase and asset purchase,

- the meaning of private equity, angel investor, venture capital etc.,

- the basics of an acquisition process (client base, marketing),

- basic contractual mechanisms i.e., warranties and representations.

Moreover, one should focus more on the financial and economic aspects of the case study and less on the legal aspects. Give input on what you think will be the best for the client's finance and cost benefits. It is crucial to uphold your stance and make sure you clearly communicate and discuss your ideas step by step, as this allows the interviewer to see your thought process.


Helpful Links:



These websites are great at keeping you updated on recent business deals and happenings in the finance, legal and many other sectors:

https://www.ft.com/ (you get a free subscription with KCL- their unhedged blog is particualrly good)


To read for finance:

  • Black Box thinking

  • Black Edge

  • The intelligent investor

  • The Radical Candor

  • The Smartest Guys in the Room

  • Barbarians at the Gat

  • Freakonomics (the first one)

  • Thinking fast and Slow

  • Deep Work

  • No Hard Feelings

To Listen:

  • Financial Times News Briefing

  • Bloomberg: Masters in Business

  • Amplify Trading: Market Watch

  • Goldman Sachs: Exchanges

  • The Financial Modeling Podcast

  • Hidden Brain

  • The Andrew Huberman Podcast

  • JP Morgan: Centre for Investment Excellence



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