What does it do?

Merrill Lynch is an investment bank. It manages money for individuals and companies, and gives advice in a range of other financial areas, including investments and insurance. Operations stretch across the globe, with more than 50,000 employees in 36 different countries. The founders, Charles E Merrill and Edmund C Lynch, met at the YMCA in New York in 1907, shared a boarding-house room together, and began a friendship that soon turned into a business partnership. In the 1950s the firm moved across the Atlantic, and opened its first London office. As banking became more sophisticated, internal specialisations developed, and in 2000, London became the centre of the entire fund management side of the business, under the trading name Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM).

Vital statistics

MLIM has £293bn of assets under management worldwide, and among its clients are more than half the UK's top businesses.

The office

The world headquarters are on New York's Broadway, with the UK's head office in the shadow of London's St Paul's. Other UK offices listed, no doubt for strange, tax-related reasons, are Douglas on the Isle of Man and Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Is this you?

Approximately 140 graduates are taken on every year, divided between investment managers, investment banking, global markets, and research and technology divisions. The requirement for all areas is an excellent academic background and a genuine interest in financial markets.

The recruitment process

Applications, via the website ( www.ml.com/careers), start with two online tests (practice samples available) on numeracy and analytical thinking, and move to interviews and an assessment centre. Successful recruits start with a two-month global training and orientation programme in New York, before the first placement, which, for all MLIM recruits in Europe is likely to be in London, after which there may be opportunities to transfer to Milan, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid or Moscow. Training includes an overview of financial markets and an introduction to core business-skills. There's also an intensive computer training course, and one week of preparation for the Financial Services Authority certification exam.

Top dollar?

Despite three web pages on what the firm coyly calls its "benefits" programme, nothing as simple as a starting rate of pay for graduates is mentioned. However, a firm of this prestige is bound to be near the top end of the recruiters when it comes to salaries.

Beam me up Scotty?

The firm makes much of operating an internal meritocracy and boasts that career prospects are unlimited and based solely on performance.

Who's the boss?

Stan O'Neal has been the chief executive and chairman since 2003. Before joining he worked for General Motors.

Little known fact

The bull logo might seem more appropriate for a Spanish red wine, but it has been around for 30 years, to symbolise growth, strength, optimism and confidence.