What is an Investment Banker? An investment banker is an individual who works in a financial institution that is in the business primarily of raising capital for companies, governments and other entities, or who works in a large bank's division that is involved with these activities, often called an investment bank. Investment bankers may also provide other services to their clients such as mergers and acquisition advice, or advice on specific transactions, such as a spin-off or reorganization. In smaller organizations that do not have a specific investment banking arm, corporate finance staff may fulfill the duties of investment bankers.
How to Become an Investment Banker. Here are the 4 Ways to Become an Investment Banker.
Method 1: While You Are in College
1. Choose a banking related major. There is no investment banking major, so an individual must pick from an investment banking-related major such as finance, economics, business or accounting. Any of those majors should be fine. Having said that, increasingly banks accept and look to attract students with a mathematics or engineering background. The assumption is that students comfortable with quantitative sciences will find finance relatively easy to grasp.
2. While you are taking your classes, brush up on your spreadsheet and presentation skills. Investment banking is about being smooth with numbers. The right classes are great practice.
- Make sure you are creating presentations with spreadsheets attached.
- Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint are mainstream. Don't spend as much time with alternate programs.
- Try for the big investment banking firms such as well known firms in New York or London. Getting an internship at a smaller investment bank is really just about as good. These firms are called “Boutique Investment Banks” and exist in many cities.
- There are many reasons why a smaller bank may be easier to get an internship at. It may be in your town. There may also be a firm that is more specialized to what you have done. (For example, say you have interned at an airline. There are a couple boutique firms that pretty exclusively lease aircraft.) There may also be less competition. Lots of students haven't heard of the boutique firms.
- You can also get a summer internship at a regular bank (not an investment bank). That is not quite as good, but would still give you a huge leg up.
- Join the investment banking club at your school, if there is one. That is a great way to network with potential employers.
- Join Linkedin groups for investment banking.
- Talk to alumni from your school that have recently joined investment banks. You can contact them via Linkedin or Readyforce or even Facebook. Ask them to lunch (if you are local) or a phone call if you are remote.
- Don’t be afraid to travel to another city to meet people, if it will help you find better leads.
- The dress is classy, formal, and relatively old-school. It's not, however, out on the leading edge of fashion.
- If you are from California, say, and going to New York, dress up. Read up on business formal dress for both men and women.
- Several popular websites and blogs cater to investment bankers. The language used is specifically aimed at finance professionals and reading gives you a better idea of the banker mindset.
- Websites are a vital source of daily information for various finance professionals, including investment bankers. Blogs like give you insight into the life of a deal maker.
1. Know that if you are in MBA school, the task of becoming an investment banker is easier. Many banks will come to your school to recruit. Make sure you network like crazy when the banks come visiting your school. Get business cards and follow up.
2. Search out boutique banks. Smaller banks are often not visiting your school. Seek them out via your favorite social network site. Remember, there is a sales element to investment banking, so they respect and admire if you have the guts to call them up.
3. If you are in graduate school that is not an MBA program, understand you can still do it! Investment banks love smart people from other disciplines.
- Make sure you contact the career center people at the business school of your university and use them as a resource! They can help you find the right career nights.
- Realize you need to prove your business smarts and look the part. If you are in social sciences, prepare to show you can use a spreadsheet like a wiz.
1. Know that normally, the banks don't hire someone out of school. It is tough to get a job as an investment banker if you are not in school, but you can do it.
2. Spin your education story. If you are coming from an entirely different background, a nighttime or part-time MBA might be helpful. Normally, banks don't like part-time MBAs, but you can use it to tell your story about how committed you are to this career change.
3. Apply for or offer to have an internship. That may sound funny, but investment banks like hiring people with internships from school, and it can work for a mid career person as well.
4. Assertively network. Call up investment bankers - friends of friends? - and ask them to lunch and get their advice.
Method 4: After Joining an Investment Bank
1. Know that investment banks usually will have intense training classes to start. Study hard and impress! Depending on what job you aspire to at the bank, you will have to pass some exams. You want to get an investment banking license. Look at FINRA for more information.
- The series 79 exam. The series 79 is for people who want to do company buyouts, refinancing and more.
- The series 7 exam. The series 7 exam is required for stockbrokers. Series 7 is a very intensive, 6 hour exam.