Working in Investment Banking – Guide
Article last updated on 1st April 2020
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 43 seconds

Tier 1 Banks

Investments Banks have a long history for wealth creation (and sometimes the opposite) and the preconcept of the role of Investment banks in the financial markets has gone through a large change in the last 20 years, even more so in the last 2 years. Lets find out who they are, what they do and what careers they offer.

Here is an example of some of the top Investment Banks globally:

  • JP Morgan.
  • Goldman Sachs.
  • Morgan Stanley.
  • Bank of America.
  • Credit Suisse.
  • Barclays.
  • Deutsche Bank.
  • RBC Capital.

What Skills Do I Need to Get a Job in Investment Banking?

There are a vast array of career opportunities within the financial services sector, which will require specific skills depending on the role. However here are some of the essential skills that you will need to be able to compete with the top candidates in this hugely competitive industry:

  • Mathematical Expertise - considering you will mainly be working with numbers and will need to be quick on your feet when it comes to making decisions, having a mathematical mind will prove to be invaluable to you.
  • Decisiveness - you will need to be quick on your feet, being able to make and commit to a decision in this fast paced industry. There is no time to keep weighing up options as in that time you may have lost a client who is waiting for a quick decision or missed a trade in the market.
  • Resilience - there are a lot of high risks and rewards and that quick thinking can lead to huge success or a large loss. You will need to be of the character to be able to quickly get back on their feet and quickly move on to try to counter any losses that you may have incurred for your financial institution or your client. This is not the industry for the ‘snowflake generation’, it is tough but hugely rewarding if you can stand the inevitable tests that will continuously be thrown at you in this industry.
  • Analytical skills - you will be spending large amounts of time watching the different share prices, company data and listening to market announcements which will help you make informed decisions on what you will be investing in, as well as working within credit limits that your institution will set you. These skills will be key for you being able to make calculated market moves and maximising deals.
  • Pursuaviness - being able to bring someone round to your way of thinking is by no means an easy feet, but if this is a skill that you have then you will no doubt be rewarded by your employer, especially if you are in the sales side of the investment banking world where you will be tasked with bringing on new clients. This is clearly something that is not easy to convey on your CV but if you bag yourself an interview then it is a great opportunity to pursue them to hire you for the job. 
  • Good communication skills - these of course are essential for a large number of jobs, as being able to work well with your colleagues and clients is key to success and being able to move along your chosen career path. 

Skills and Abilities Helpful to Careers in Investment Banking

As well as having the above skills which are vital to success, a hunger to learn will be key in this fast paced environment. Due to its complexity there are so many different products and services available to the customer and in house that you will want to be able to understand and learn as much as possible, which will put you ahead of the crowd. 

Educational Requirements for Careers in Investment Banking

Most Investment Banking roles will require you to have a high graded BA or BSc Degree, to even get a foot in the door of this highly competitive and popular industry. Those with degrees in the following subjects will usually get the pick of the job as they have taken subjects that will really help them to get a foot in the door:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Economics
  • Financial Services 

However, each Investment Bank will have a different requirement and some might not require a degree. The old adage of working your way up from the post room no longer stands, as the streams of CV’s flood in from the brightest and best who are clawing their way into the sector ready to make a big impact with big results.

Salary Guide: The Average Salary across all job types is £77K a year.

Salaries will depend on the level/grade that you will be entering the bank and the position that you are applying for. Some banks will pay higher salaries than others but in return they will expect their pound of flesh in return with longer working hours and more pressure.

See below for an example the average salaries in the sector:

  • Analyst - Avg. £68K per year
  • Associate - Avg. £80k per year
  • Vice President - Avg. £96k per year
  • Managing Director - Avg. £96k per year

(Salaries according to https://www.payscale.com/)

How to get a job in Investment Banking?

Outside of having the standard skillset and education, there are other ways to be a strong candidate for this growing market. Here are five things experts recommend to improve your application, whether you're working in the field already or not.

1. If you are a recent graduate, then there are plenty of opportunities out there for you, with many companies having direct links on their website for you to apply through. Research the sector you are interested in and click the links to the internal job pages for graduates. The top rated Alexa companies can be found by searching here - https://app.careersaas.com/portal/company-search.html

2. Find some online courses: there are plenty out there which could end up putting you ahead of another candidate.

3. Research the company and product that you are interviewing for. It might sound like a simple idea but plenty of candidates turn up for job interviews completely unprepared for the recruiter to ask them any questions. Up your game and employability skills but be a step ahead by researching the company and industry fully beforehand and make sure you have some questions you can ask them too. 

4. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Everyone has to start somewhere and the person that shows enthusiasm and drive will inevitably do their job well. The candidate that is working towards the next step up is going to do a great job for the employee so don’t be shy of showing your ambitions.

5. Have a dabble in penny shares yourself so you get the feel of the market and how you can learn yourself to make the right decisions on your portfolio with minimal risk.

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