How to get into investment banking (plus types of jobs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 October 2022 | Published 27 April 2022

Updated 12 October 2022

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Investment banking is one of the many niche areas within the financial industry. Investment banking offers a wide range of professional opportunities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Investment bankers are financial professionals who can help advise clients on managing investments, mergers, acquisitions and many other financial decisions. In this article, we explain what investment banking is, the different kinds of career paths available and some helpful tips on how to get into investment banking.

What is investment banking?

Investment banking is a specialised service within the financial industry to provide financial advice and guidance to both corporations and governments. This includes help and guidance through various financial decisions such as corporate negotiations, mergers and acquisitions.

In addition to this, investment banking can also provide clients with financial advisors and financial planners to help with a variety of consumer financial decisions and long-term investments. The primary purpose of investment banking is to provide clients with expert financial services and advice.

Related: Commercial banking vs. investment banking differences

Different kinds of investment banking jobs

Although investment banking is a niche within the financial services industry, there are many different jobs available. These positions vary in experience level and allow you to enter the industry whether you're a graduate or an experienced professional. Here are some of the different kinds of investment banking jobs:

1. Investment banking internship

Many companies offer financial internships for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in business and finance. This is an excellent way to learn directly from industry professionals and find out if it's the right career path for you. In addition to being beneficial for students, this is also an effective way for companies to recruit top talent before they formally enter the job market.

Related: What are the different divisions in investment banking?

2. Investment analyst

Investment banking analysts specialise in conducting research into possible investment opportunities for clients. This includes reviewing financial information and comparing them with alternate investments to guide clients in the right direction. Investment banking analysts typically hold a bachelor's degree in business, finance or accounting, with many employers incentivising them to further their formal education with master's degrees or professional certifications.

Related: What to expect from an investment banker degree (and FAQ)

3. Investment banking associate

Investment banking associates are responsible for supervising banking analysts. These financial management professionals ensure that the firm's work aligns with the client's needs as they have a more direct relationship. Investment banking associates tend to have undergraduate degrees in business, finance or accounting along with significant experience within the industry.

Related: Common Investment Banking Interview Questions

4. Merger and acquisitions banker

Merger and acquisitions bankers are industry professionals specialising in providing expert advice to clients considering purchasing another company or merging company branches or departments. These professionals can help do research, create financial models and provide a detailed analysis to help clients make the right decisions. Merger and acquisition bankers typically hold a bachelor's degree in finance, management or economics.

Related: What does an investment analyst do? (With skills and salary)

5. Investment underwriter

Investment underwriters are financial professionals responsible for helping clients raise capital for their respective companies. This can include complex investment structures, private financing and even helping coordinate an initial public offering (IPO). Investment underwriters are professionals that usually have both a bachelor's and master's degree in business, accounting, finance or economics.

Related: 13 low investment business ideas and how to start one

6. Investment banking vice president

Investment banking vice presidents are responsible for lower-level staff, including associates and analysts. This management role handles much of the internal communication between higher management and staff. Being a management role, vice presidents are not as involved in the investment research or modelling done within the company but step in for larger clients. These management professionals typically hold a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting, finance or management and multiple years of professional experience.

Related: How To Write an Investment Banking Cover Letter

7. Investment banking director

Investment banking directors are also known as senior vice presidents. These industry professionals are responsible for business development and conducting market research to expand the firm's client base. These individuals also work closely with the managing director and vice presidents to determine the firm's needs. Directors work their way up with significant experience as analysts, associates and vice presidents.

Related: Investment value vs market value: uses and differences

8. Investment banking managing director

Investment banking managing directors are responsible for overseeing all the firm's operations. The managing director often travels on behalf of the firm to meet clients, assist in negotiations and handle large mergers or acquisitions. Managing directors constantly communicate with directors and vice presidents to help lead the firm. Investment banking managing directors may have a master's degree in finance and around ten years of experience in the investment banking industry.

Related: How Much Does an Investment Banker Make?

How to get into investment banking

The investment banking industry offers a wide range of career paths and opportunities for internal growth. Although this may be a niche within the industry, it's possible to enter the industry as an undergraduate student, graduate or as an experienced professional. Here are some steps to explain how to get into investment banking:

1. Intern as an undergraduate student

You don't have to wait to graduate to prepare yourself for a career in the investment banking industry. Many companies offer internships and training opportunities for exceptional students currently working towards a bachelor's degree in finance, business, accounting or economics. Interning at a bank or financial firm can allow you to learn from industry professionals, gain vital experience to add to your CV and ultimately figure out if it's the right path for your career.

While this opportunity is great for students, it's also an excellent opportunity for companies to recruit talent early. Internships can prove vital to getting your foot in the door, as they allow you to build up your professional network and learn about upcoming job opportunities. Although not all internships pay participants, they can still be a precious experience.

Related: Investment banking Q&A: how do investment banks make money?

2. Consider a graduate program

In addition to hosting internships, many companies also run graduate programmes specifically designed for students that have recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in finance, management, business, accounting or economics. This kind of programme provides you with vital experience to help shape your career path. They can be a great way to enter the investment banking industry as they can lead to job opportunities in the future.

3. Further your skills with a master's degree

Furthering your formal education with a master's degree can help refine your knowledge in a particular area and boost your job prospects within the investment banking industry. Along with experience in the financial sector, a master's degree can help you advance along your career path or transition into a more senior role within the investment banking industry.

Although having a master's degree can help you enter the industry, many companies also encourage their existing analysts and associates to further their studies as they recognise the benefit this can have to the firm. Areas to focus on during your master's study can include wealth management, financial analysis, financial modelling or data analysis. Adding this expertise to your CV can help cement your practical experience with theoretical knowledge and increase your opportunities to grow within the industry.

Related: What is a zero-coupon bond? (Benefits and examples)

4. Align your CV with investment banking

When applying for an internship or job within the investment banking industry, it's essential to tailor your CV to emphasise the financial skills you may have. Emphasising your practical financial skills, such as financial modelling, investment regulations and investment strategies, alongside soft skills such as communication, time management and negotiation, can help make you eligible for various investment banking roles.

You may outline these in your profile, experience or skills section. Pursuing additional certifications and short courses in finance also helps add more depth and experience to your CV.

Related: How to write an investment banking CV (with example)

5. Maintain relationships with industry connections

A career in investment banking requires both education and experience in finance. To help increase your career opportunities, actively participate in networking events and connect with professionals already in the industry. This can help you find possible mentorship and could even lead to greater opportunities.

6. Keep an open mind regarding potential employers

When applying for jobs in the investment banking industry, make sure to apply to as many available positions as possible in your area, around the country and even abroad. It's essential to keep an open mind about where you work, as opportunities can arise anywhere. In some cases, firms offer for you to travel overseas as part of your job. This can be a great way to gain international experience and further your professional career.

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