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Investment Banking Career: Skill Needs & Academic Eligibility

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Investment banking is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative and promising career options for finance graduates and students with a degree in a finance-related subject discipline. Not only the said industry sector pays handsomely but offers a great opportunity to grow professionally. The investment banking sector primarily deals with managing the money of rich and wealthy clients (corporations and high-net-worth individuals). The reason behind rich clients of investment banks showcasing trust in their financial advisory is because of the expertise investment bankers possess in generating high ROIs on big investments. US is the largest financial market in the world with revenue generations in 2019 recorded as high as USD 2,070.7 billion, as per Statista.

How Young Aspirants Can Break Into the Investment Banking Sector?

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Market share of revenue of top global investment banks (2020)

Source: Statista

The top firms such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays, among a few others hire for entry-level roles by visiting top-tier business schools. But, if you are not from a premier business school, don’t lose hope, there are other ways to get employed at a top investment bank in your country, however, these will fall under the category of ‘uphill tasks’ but surely, not impossible. Internships, professional networking, and industry-relevant investment banking certifications are some of the alternate ways to help you get your foot in the door.

Academic Eligibility to Break into Investment Banking

The competition is intense for front-level investment banking roles. And therefore, if you are aiming for the same, do plan your academics accordingly.

A-Levels

Conventionally, you should have opted for related A-level subjects such as economics, accounting, business, applied mathematics, maths, or a related subject discipline. Strong grades at A-level are much vital compared to the specific subjects. Customizing your choice while opting for a subject at A-levels will provide you with a better chance of getting your preferred college/university degree course later in your academic life. While not being a mandatory requirement, proficiency in a second language will certainly offer you a distinct competitive edge.
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Pay of investment bankers in the US by experience levels

Source: Payscale

Undergraduate

Investment banking graduate jobs require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in their name, with top firms demanding 2:1 or more. Job applications are invited from all degree disciplines, however, a finance qualification will help get you preferential treatment, especially for front office job roles.

There exist universities/colleges that offer industry-specific finance degree courses. So, if you have already decided what industry you would like to work for, post-graduation, you can opt for such degree programs to attain a long-term career benefit. Examples of such universities would include the University of Reading that has a degree program namely ‘BSc in Finance and Investment Banking’. The second such institute would be ‘The London Institute of Banking and Finance’ that offers ‘BSc in Finance, Investment, and Risk’ and ‘BSc in Banking and Finance’.

To bag the back-office job roles in the investment banking domain, you will be needed to opt for a degree program in finance with a major in a subject of your choice such as marketing, technology, IT, among many others.

Postgraduation

The biggest benefit of getting a master’s degree in finance, or a related subject discipline, is that you can be considered for an associate role in the investment banking industry right at the beginning of your career.  It straightaway means a fast-tracked banking career by up to three years as you will not be required to work as an ‘Analyst’ and complete the training associated with it.

Skill Requisites for a Progressive Investment Banking Career

The exact skill set you need to acquire depends on the sub-domain of investment banking that you choose to work into. For instance, a trader working in a front-office role will require a different skill set compared to a professional employed in a back-office job position. To find out what specific skill set you need to acquire, you should study the job description of your prospective job role in the banking sector, and prepare accordingly. 

Although, a few investment banking skills are needed in all job positions associated with the said industry. These are:

Analytical Skillset: As an investment banker, you will be required to perform quantitative and numerical analysis to explain varied kinds of investment plans before the team leader or higher management.
Time management tactics: Meeting tight deadlines will be a big part of your day-to-day work at the bank. Besides, there will be extensive work pressure that you will be expected to handle effectively.

Communication & Conversation Skills: To convey complex data in simple terms demands great communication skills. And that’s why, you will see successful investment bankers being great at explaining things to their teams, or to the top management, in a language that is easy to absorb and understand.

Confidence & Resilience: As a potential investment banker, you need to have faith in your abilities and a strong standing towards the decisions taken by you. Resilience is another trait that you will need to develop while being an investment banker as the industry is highly dynamic, and things change fast here. You must have the ability to bounce back from a big misfortune.

Dedication & Commitment towards Work: The banking sector forces you to work long hours in a high-pressure environment. And therefore, sheer dedication and commitment towards finishing your work becomes of paramount importance. At the beginning of your investment banking career, you may need to extend your work hours on a daily basis, alongside working on the weekends.

Networking: If you want your career to fly off in the said sector, you will have to showcase your networking and communication skills right from the start of your career. You will certainly be rewarded in the long-term for having the ability to crack new business deals with high-profile clients.

To Conclude…

Investment banking jobs being considered among the most coveted in the corporate world, attracts fierce competition, especially for entry-level roles. Besides, the pay is handsome, and you do get opportunities of international travel while at work. All such factors make things even more competitive in job markets. And hence, you need to be highly committed to your aspirations in the investment banking sector if you want to join it.

Skillset plays a critical role in deciding your future in the banking sector. Hence, it’s highly advisable to grow your banking skillset being an aspirant. Enroll in industry-relevant certifications online, acquire professional credentials in investment banking, and thereby, make your resume powerful to gain a competitive edge.

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