Investment banking has long been considered a lucrative, high-paying field. A fresher investment banker can earn 6 figure sums easily, while senior-level pros bring in money in the millions. However, becoming an investment banker isn’t just a whistlestop journey– it’s an amalgamation of academic prowess, perseverance, good networks and some luck to boot.
Here are the Prerequisites Required to Become a Professional Investment Banker
And not just any degree– it should preferably be in the finance or economics field. Accounting and business degrees also do well. That’s not to say that other majors can’t become Wall Street titans– it just so happens that an individual with a degree from any of the abovementioned fields may find it much easier to transition into the professional sphere.
An MBA or an advanced degree will give you a competitive edge over other candidates who have just one degree to their name. But if you cannot undertake a rigorous advanced degree course, then you can still sign up for an investment banking course that will grill you in the basics and nuances of the field.
Affinity for Numbers
Investment banking is all about the numbers. Basic mathematics can only take you so far into the field– what will truly set you apart is a strong affinity for numbers, statistics, analytics and visual identification of trends. If you can sufficiently use these to make predictions, then you’re golden! Research and analytical skills are just as crucial, because investment bankers are expected to extensively research the market before suggesting or forecasting potential investments.
If your math skills are a little rusty, consider enrolling in an investment banking course for a refresher from the perspective of the industry. This way you’ll brush up on your skills while understanding at the same time how they can be put to use in your future job.
Internships are an aspiring investment banker’s best friend. The more renowned the company you interned at, the higher your chances of being picked out of a crowd. That said, all is not lost if you don’t score a brief stint at a big name company– an excellent performance in a boutique firm or startup can be just as representative of your skills and experience.
Consider doing more than one internship, and try each time for a big firm, such as JP Morgan or Deutsche Bank. The more laurels you collect at internships, the more impressive your CV looks and the more confident you’ll be while walking into your first job or your first megadeal.
In the investment banking field, who you know is just as important as what you know. Good connections and a strong network of leads and contacts are the gateways to kickstarting your career or propelling it towards the higher rungs of the ladder.
Networking for investment bankers is key, not least because it’s the first opportunity they get to practice their selling. It is crucial to make an excellent first impression on people who have the capacity to hire you or can whisper in the ears of someone in the field. Those without solid networks needn’t fret– instead, joining a course that gives you access to an exclusive network of leads and references may just be your ‘get out of jail free’ card.
Do ensure that you’ve obtained or are working towards all the necessary certifications, depending on which country you want to work in. In India, a certification from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University or the Certified Investment Banking Professional Certification can take you a long way towards the job of your dreams. In the US, Chartered Financial Analyst credentials look extra-good on resumes.
You may be able to land a job without these certifications, depending on other factors like internships, academic prowess and experience. However, once in a cosy new job, consider upskilling or working towards these certifications so your CV is not stale when you decide to move to a better job.
Investment banking is a challenging field, often pulling long odd hours of work and involving a dynamic and fluctuating market. To rise to the challenge, all of the above prerequisites are crucial– they’re also a springboard towards getting the investment banking job of your dreams.