How to become an Investment Banker
Working as an investment banker, you will spend much of your time analysing financial data, managing investment risk, and working on financial models to ensure that any investment your bank makes is valuable to the client you are working with. As you move higher up in the industry, there is more focus on building relationships with clients and attracting new clients in order to broaden your bank’s portfolio of business.
Investment banking is a very lucrative industry to work in with lots of opportunities to travel and fairly quick career progression, but it is also very competitive and can involve extremely long hours. It is a challenging career path that is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but the rewards can be great.
What subjects do you need?
To become an investment banker you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. Whilst investment banks look for a diverse skill-base in their workforce, there is a particular focus on mathematical reasoning and ability. This means that at school level Maths (if not Further Maths) are almost always necessary. Other mathematical subjects such as Physics and Computer Science can also be helpful. Being an investment banker involves a good deal of economic principle so getting to grips with Economics early at school level can be a good starting point for your future career.
How do I get there?
The two starting positions at an investment bank are Analysts and Associates, with the latter being a more senior position than the former. In order to enter the bank at Associate level, you need a masters degree or higher. The most common master’s degree with investment bankers is a Master of Business Administration, although a graduate law degree or accountancy qualification can be equally desirable as these fields have a considerable crossover with the corporate banking world.
To enter at Analyst level, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. While a finance degree can prove useful in the application process, banks tend to employ graduates from a wide variety of disciplines. Maths and the sciences are particularly common but you’re not unlikely to find graduates of anything from Music to English Literature working at an investment bank. As long as you have a secure mathematical understanding, either from school or from your degree, then you have a chance to become an investment banker. However, having the right skills and qualifications is only the first hurdle, and landing your first job in investment banking can be a big challenge. In a highly competitive industry, it is very difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Almost all large banks offer summer internships to students still at university and this can be an excellent way into a graduate role. If the banks are happy with your performance over the summer they will often offer you a conditional job offer before you begin your final year of study. Some banks have even gone a step further than this and offer so-called ‘Spring Weeks’ where a first or second-year university student can come and gain some work experience with them in the Easter vacation. This can then lead to a summer internship which, in turn, can lead to a graduate placement opportunity! As competition grows for internships, Spring Weeks are becoming increasingly popular as a way to stand out from the crowd and break into this highly competitive industry.