There’s no doubt getting into investment banking is hard primarily because it is the most prestigious job in the Financial Services Industry. Traditionally, companies hire from elite universities and colleges for their entry-level position, but things are changing as banks understand the need for diversity and different backgrounds. Here are some of the usual, and unusual paths, to an Investment Banking career and some tips on how to secure that lucrative job.
Entry Level Analyst Investment Banking Opportunity
This is when you join an Investment Bank after finishing your undergraduate degree. Most Bulge Bracket investment banks will take part in the placement rounds at various colleges. The problem with this approach is that unless you go to these colleges being part of these placement rounds is quite tough, especially since many boutique banks do not hire in large numbers.
Even if you are not part of a college where an Investment Bank comes to hire, nothing stops you from sending in your resume. And in the event that doesn’t work, you should consider joining a large financial institution in a different role like corporate banking or even a broking firm. This work experience will set you up for a good MBA which can then help you secure a job in the field.
Entry Level Associate Investment banking Opportunity
This is perhaps one of the most popular ways to get into an investment bank and usually involves joining them as an associate after a few years of experience and an MBA with a specialization in Finance. The great part about this route is that even if you didn’t go to an ivy league college, your MBA will now stand you in good stead since most Investment Banks prefer this route over most. Most bulge bracket and boutique banks are part of placement rounds in well-recognized MBA schools globally and in India.
Lateral Roles Investment Banking Opportunity
While the bulk of Investment Banking roles get filled at Associate level through MBA placements, many roles are filled via lateral movements from different professions in various industries.
- Lateral move from industry: Finance professionals working in the corporate field can often join an investment bank a few years into their career by way of bringing their sector and domain expertise to the job. This works especially well in boutique investment banks that specialise in verticals like Pharma, Consumer goods, E-commerce etc and require extensive domain expertise to help secure clients.
- Lateral move from other areas: Finance professionals from the Private Equity field sometimes move to Investment Banking, even though the reverse is more common. However, there are instances where corporate bankers with excellent client relationships manage to get a foothold in the firms Investment Banking unit
Corporate Investment Banking Unit
Many aspirants tend to forget about the route, but if it is experience and role that’s important, this is perhaps as good as working in an Investment Bank with respect to responsibilities and role without having to do business development or secure clients. The caveat lies in the fact that it is a support function and perhaps won’t have the dynamism and scope of working on the sell side since you will be restricted by your firms' corporate strategy and sectors your company wants to focus on investing in. While salaries are good, they might not be on par with working in a pure play Investment Bank.
As you can see there are many Investment Banking Opportunities, it is all a question of being prepared when the opportunity comes knocking at your door. As they say, luck is nothing but preparation meeting opportunity.
Related Article: How to Become an Investment Banker