How to Break Into Investment Banking

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Investopedia defines investment banking as…

“…a segment of banking that helps individuals or organizations raise financing for their activities and get financial consultancy services”.

Investment bankers deal with corporations and governments rather than individual investors. They…

  • assist clients in raising money in the capital markets,
  • support mergers and acquisitions activities, and
  • provide other financial advice.

These corporate financial advisors have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or business administration, and other business disciplines as a minimum educational qualification. They also have to be certified and obtain licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA). 

investment bankingHow to Break Into Investment Banking

No background in finance? No problem.

While a quantitative background in business disciplines such as Finance can help stack the odds for getting into investment banking, it does not necessarily mean that it is a strict requirement. Other skills are required for success in any profession, such as:

  • problem-solving,
  • communication, and
  • time-management.

In a post from Morgan Stanley, financial firms recruit from a broad academic pool, not only those who have majored in finance but they can extend as far as musicians and language majors. The reason is that they are keen to build and sustain a diverse workforce. Though business graduates are essential, other graduates from the non-finance sector can offer a different perspective that could be put to good use.

The following are steps you can take to prove your worth as an aspiring investment banker and to be successful in the finance industry. 

1) Expand Your Horizons

Nothing beats acquiring knowledge in finance to expand your horizons to grow and discover. If you graduated with a different degree, you could take related courses with an emphasis in finance or business.

For undergraduates, optional courses are:

  • economics,
  • accounting, or
  • financial analysis.

Post-graduates, on the other hand, can go for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). It levels the playing field between non-finance and finance graduates. 

2) Learn The Financial Lingo 

To best understand the field of investment banking, it pays to learn financial jargon. There is no excuse for not knowing the difference between treasury bonds and convertible bonds, or emergency fund and a savings account.

As Sun Tzu’s Art of War said,

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war”

It is crucial to know the facts through research. You need to give your best chance possible to get the position you are aiming for because there is only one winner. The winner is not always the one who is most qualified, but the one who has presented themselves to be the best applicant to fill in the position. 

3) Expand Your Knowledge  

Enroll in finance-specific courses that train you to use spreadsheets in building financial models to represent…

  • transactions,
  • operations,
  • mergers and acquisitions, and
  • general account information.

This should help you analyze how a change in one variable affects the final return, and make a decision based on the given information.

There are boot camps and crash courses you can enroll in that can teach you valuable skills, such as financial modeling and spreadsheet techniques. These can significantly close the gap between you and a finance major.

Financial Models and Math

financial modeling course also offers Excel spreadsheet techniques and provides recognition of your training with certifications that you can include in your resume, which could help you land a job in an investment banking institution.

A quick search online will expose you to a lot of tutorials about creating financial models. If you’re still a beginner, most of these will look gibberish. Find yourself a course that not only offers the basic know-how of investment banking, but also modeling of various sectors such as:

  • capital goods,
  • banking sectors,
  • metals and mining,
  • consumer goods, and more.

You should also be able to learn practical job-ready skills from an experienced practitioner.

There is no denying that having a strong grasp of mathematics goes a long way when trying to start a career in finance. However, if mathematics isn’t one of your strengths, you can still do well as long as you understand arithmetic concepts and quantitative analytic skills. You can master Excel and use the program to evaluate a company’s financial standing, create merger models, and build leveraged buyout units.  

4) Link Up With a Financial Mentor

To jump-start a career in finance, it is recommended to get guidance from a mentor. A mentor can be anyone who thinks highly of your capabilities and is willing to help you achieve your career goals.

This could be a

  • family friend,
  • your supervisor, or a
  • money management coach,

…as long as they can help you pursue your career in investment banking. 

Pursuing Investment Banking – The Bottom Line

Breaking into the world of investment banking will likely pose a challenge for a majority of non-finance degree holders. However, learning the required knowledge and skills will greatly improve your chances of launching a financial career.

What do you think? Will you pursue the career of investment banking?

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Investing Money

LaTia Longuemire

AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire

My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.

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