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Starting Out in Corporate Finance as part of our Investment Banking

Interview with Jean-Christophe Drauge, an intern at Commerzbank in the Debt Capital Markets Loans department

A tailored solution for every financial need: SAF (Strategic Asset Finance) provides advisory and financial services for complex and tailor-made financing solutions – from first financing discussion with clients to Financial Close and repayment. The Department focuses on infrastructure, primarily covering the Energy & Utility, Aircraft Finance, Transport and general Industries across Europe.

The SAF-Portfolio Group assumes responsibility for the financings of the Department after Financial Close and continues until repayment. An appealing opportunity for students who wish to gain practical experience in this environment, as explained by Dr. Friedrich Droste, Head of SAF-Portfolio Group: “Thanks to the variety of our projects, interns are able to gain an excellent introduction to complex financing in investment banking. They become an integral part of the work process and have to handle rating reviews, cash flow modelling, due diligence reports (covering inter alia market, technical, financial and legal aspects of a transaction), provide annual reports for the credit department and handle waiver requests.”

Jean-Christophe Drauge (23), a French economics student at Audencia Nantes School of Management specializing in Corporate Finance, seized this opportunity with both hands: After a six-month internship in a dual-language environment (German/English) at Commerzbank, he completed his Masters degree. “It was a pleasure having Jean-Christophe work alongside us as an intern and to be able to support him in his professional career by challenging him to use his theoretical expertise for concrete credit decision making,” says Dr. Droste.

Dr. Friedrich Droste with Jean-Christophe Drauge in Commerzbank’s trading room
High Potential entering Investmentbanking via Strategic Asset Finance: Dr. Friedrich Droste with Jean-Christophe Drauge in Commerzbank’s trading room in Frankfurt.

How did Jean-Christophe Drauge experience his time as a Commerzbank intern? We spoke with him about his placement in the Strategic Asset Finance department:

What advice can you give students who haven‘t done an internship before?

Before joining Commerzbank, I had already completed two six-month internships in the banking sector and, in particular, one in investment banking. Thanks to my different experiences, I have learned how important it is to get a clear view of how an internship can help you to improve your market position. The more information you have, the better your chances are of finding adequate internships and convincing the employer to hire you.

What motivated you to do an internship at Commerzbank?

During my third internship, I wanted to gain some more advanced financial knowledge. I knew that working with structured financings was a good way to enhance my technical capabilities. As a student from France, I was also looking for international experience and Commerzbank, as one of the leading banks in Germany, was exactly what I was looking for.

What were the main learning experiences you had during your time in the Strategic Asset Finance department?

On the one hand, I enhanced my analytical skills a lot through cash flow modeling and rating analysis. Both my work with the origination team and with the portfolio management team contributed to my knowledge of the business and the deals in general. I also learned that there is a substantial difference between working as a student and applying the things you learned at University. Even if you have a solid background in finance, it is a challenge to apply it in concrete practical situations.

As an intern, I was involved in the earliest stages of financings. I learned a lot about the deal process and all the preliminary work needed before approving a transaction.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that this internship has enabled me to grasp a better understanding of different businesses and risks. Today, I am in a much better position to develop a risk profile for a deal, calculate its profitability for the bank, prepare a vote for the decision maker and describe what steps are required after receiving a credit approval.

What would you say your successor can look forward to in this particular internship?

It is a great opportunity to evolve in a very demanding work environment broadly open on the economy. The team deals with broad sectors such as energy and utilities, media and telecommunication and even aviation. Not only the sectors are broad; the range of tasks is diverse as well. The intern is involved in all stages of transactions from the origination phase to the monitoring phase.

Teamwork is another essential dimension of this position. You will meet and work with a range of people from diverse backgrounds. Personally, I learned a lot from these interaction7s.

Thank you for the interview!

Would you also like to explore the world of investment banking at Commerzbank for yourself? Then follow in Jean-Christophe Drauge’s footsteps and apply for an internship in the Strategic Asset Finance department.