How to Become an Investment Banker
As the world slowly climbs out of an economic crisis, the demand for new Investment Bankers is steadily rising once more. The competition is fierce though, so if you want to land one of these coveted positions it's going to take something extra special.
Billions of dollars are invested and recruiters are looking for hard-working, proactive and intelligent job applicants to fill their empty positions. It starts with a solid academic career but beyond that, they need to be convinced that you can continue to learn and keep up with the ever changing market and regulations.
Investment Banking recruiters are first and foremost going to be looking at your academic history and they expect it to be top-notch. An Investment Banker is expected to have stellar grades, and show an aptitude for analytical and intuitive thinking. It's not enough just to memorise facts though, you should be able to interpret and draw conclusions. Critical thinking skills are just as important as maths and finance knowledge when it comes to Investment Banking.
- Attend the best university you can get into. There is no major specific to investment banking so choose a related field such as finance, economics, business or accounting. If you are looking for a job at a top rated firm then an Ivy League school or similar is best.
- Study your top choices for future employers and know their educational requirements. Many require a master's degree and no matter if they do or not, it's a great idea for any hopeful applicant. You will want to go for an MBA (Master of Business Administration) in order to complete your degree seeking education.
- Read and interpret the financial press as often as you can. Make it a habit to stay informed and practice your analytical thinking skills. Do not just read and absorb, but predict and analyse what you are reading and study your results.
- Join professional organisations and university clubs related to finances and banking. This will help you gain valuable connections and contacts you might need later. It is also great for brushing up on your interpersonal skills as many investment bankers work in teams.
- Obtain an internship at the bank of your choice. Many recruiters hire directly out of business school from their pool of interns. Interns will get little to no pay but earn valuable experience and could possibly land their very first job!
- Apply for jobs and interview. Remember at your interview to relax and be yourself. If you are comfortable and confident then you will be memorable. Try to demonstrate your ability to work well with both peers and superiors in a team or project based situation.
- Once you get your first job you will spend the first several months training. There is a lot to learn and a great big test to study for before you can once and for all be considered an Investment Banker. Investment Bankers often work 80 hours a week, nights and weekends, so make sure this is a commitment you are ready for!
- Remember that you're going to be responsible for buying and selling securities for your clients as well as for advising them on their financial future. This is heavy responsibility and so there is a license you must obtain. In the US, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has a 6 hour test you must sit for and pass before you move on to that final step in launching your career.
At last you have arrived! Keep your skills sharp by engaging in continuing education and professional organisations and publications. Becoming an Investment Banker is no cakewalk, but with a lot of effort and hard work it can be done!
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