Among the various options for careers in finance, investment banking is one that is highly aspired for. Investment banking is concerned with creating capital for governments, companies and other entities, by underwriting securities, aiding in their sale, and helping to facilitate mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations and broker trades.
A successful investment banker tends to be a high-flier making good money and getting exposure to the higher echelons of management at a diverse set of clients. This makes a career in investment banking an aspired and often preferred choice. Before picking on this option, though, it is advised to consider the following factors:
What makes it attractive
From the financial crisis in the late 2000s, investment banking has made a strong recovery. It may not be at its peak, but it certainly is well-placed for strong growth in the years ahead. The lessons of the crisis include the fact that the sector, a staple of the economy, is strong and is likely to come out well from the ups and downs that most industries go through, providing attractive career opportunities for a long time.
International exposure is a key attraction. Money and its spending is common to all countries, even with different currencies, and countries will always invest in and trade with each other, making investment banking a global field. Opportunities for travel and foreign exposure do come by, ever so often.
When and how to apply
The typical hiring period for banks is January-February. Thus, candidates must begin their homework in November-December, by researching firms, developing their network, and sending out their resumes. These actions help to stay ahead of other applicants and possibly connect with the bank you wish to work for. Of course, given the fact that there are multiple aspirants, persistence remains key to landing the right opportunity.
Quantitative aptitude is a key element that is tested when evaluating a candidate. From evaluating a financial statement to a test of problem-solving skills in a high-pressure situation with a seemingly irrelevant question, this could take different forms. Being strong with your basics helps for sure, as does a clear thought process that you can explain logically. When tackling a brain teaser, for instance, the correctness of the answer is often less important than the logic and the attitude of answering the question.
What to be prepared for
An aspiring investment banker must be aware of the happenings in the sector. Banks have seen a lot of consolidation and a resultant adjustment in their structures in recent years. These changes and the resultant challenges could create opportunities for entry-level candidates as well as those looking to diversify their finance skills.
Financial acumen is of course important for people working in this field. A recognized investment banking certification is a useful attestation of a candidate’s skills in the field. A finance degree, however, is not always required, with the increasing technology focus of the industry meaning that banks are looking for candidates who have studied computer science or are experienced in coding. Such opportunities can only go up, which is a good thing to keep in mind when looking to work in the sector.
Last, but certainly not the least, get the right first job. Regularly switching jobs is viewed unfavorably by firms, who prefer loyal and hardworking candidates. Finding the right fit and getting in some years at one place sets you up well to make a move a few years down the line.