A 5-step plan to starting your investment banking career

There is a lot of money to be made when you’re making a lot of money for other people. That’s the sum total of the investment banking industry in one sentence. Figuring out how to get into this field, however, is going to take a few more paragraphs. 

A calling card as an investment advisor is the dream for many financial hopefuls. The investment business is one of the most lucrative and exciting fields, where career opportunities are in abundance. So what does it take to become an investment professional? You need the financial finesse, professional knowledge and a deep understanding of exactly how the financial markets operate. You also require the appropriate qualifications to get an edge over other potential candidates. A CFA course can help you tip the scales in your favour. Investment banking is a competitive career choice, so you have to give it everything you’ve got. 

What exactly is investment banking?

Even if you have never made an investment in your life, you’ve probably read a few newspapers. Every day, the financial headlines scream about mergers, acquisitions, Sensex, stocks and bonds, share prices and other such familiar terminology. Bears and bulls run rampant in the concrete jungle. Corporate India needs an influx of capital to grow and develop into a global powerhouse. Hardworking citizens need a strong investment portfolio to reach their retirement goals or enable their lifestyle choices. This is where investment professionals step in and do their magic. They know what ordinary people do not. They understand the complexities and intricacies of the financial markets. They can wield their considerable knowledge to improve the fiscal health of their clients. It’s not an easy job. It comes equipped with a high-pressure environment and stiff competition. If you are up to the challenge, it can be a highly fulfilling career. All you need is a perfect balance of skills, qualifications and a little know-how to get going. 

Let’s delve deeper into how you can become a part of this illustrious industry. 

Step 1: Your qualifications 

Education is vital when you want to get into this field. While the requirements are not set in stone, a degree in finance or commerce, or an MBA is useful. A CFA certification enhances your chances of getting hired. You get an advantage as the course offers a detailed curriculum about investment services. A data science course can also help since most investment services are now moving to a digital space. There is no shortage of eager applicants trying to get their foot in the door of investment banks and financial firms. Good educational background rooted in investment banking is a sure-fire way to ensure you get noticed. 

Step 2: Work on your set of skills 

Once you have a handle on the technical knowledge, start sharpening your skillset. This industry is not just about the numbers but also about the people. How well you work with your clients and your colleagues is equally important. It takes a well-rounded person to be a successful investment professional. 

  • You need persuasion skills to convince people and large corporations to invest their money 
  • You have to be aware about the latest financial information, and that probably ends up changing every day 
  • Your Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint skills should be at an advanced level 
  • It helps to have taken a course in financial modelling or are a CFA professional
  • Good analytic skills will help you investigate the stock market or find ways to raise capital
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills are essential to make an impact on your clients, fellow team member or your superiors at work.

Step 3: Figure out what you are good at 

There are many interesting job profiles in investment banking. You need to pick the one that excites you the most. Take stock of your skills and interests before making that choice. Look at each job description carefully to understand what it entails. 

For instance, do you think you have the insightful mind to help clients choose the right stocks for their investments? You may have the makings of a good portfolio manager. If you love the thrill of identifying potential investment risks, sign up to become a risk analyst. If you are particularly intrigued by research and financial data, check the box on the application that states ‘equity research analyst’. If you are taking CFA classes, your professors can help you make your decision quicker. Since all the job positions are within investment services, they will have overlapping features. You could even move between profiles when the opportunity arises. However, it is best if you discover where your expertise lies before you go job hunting.

To know more about the profiles in the investment industry, check out this blog post (link to earlier post) 

Step 4: Prepare your resume. And for your interview

Recruiters are busy professionals who don’t have time to decipher overwritten, jargon-heavy resumes. Ensure you use clean, crisp language. List your strengths and qualifications efficiently as you should sound professional and capable. 

Also, you need to look the part when you head out for your interview. How you present yourself — your knowledge, awareness, speech and clarity of thought— will make a difference in the way the interviewer sees you. 

Want to impress a potential boss? Do your homework. Research the company, memorise the important facts and connect the data to the exciting market trends. You can never be too prepared. Yet, you don’t want to come across as arrogant either. Be respectful, listen carefully when others are speaking and answer when it’s your turn. These little details can go a long way in making you memorable to the recruiter.

Step 5: Network for internships 

As a fresher, you need to hustle. The jobs are few and the applicants are many. So get your A-game on and start hunting. Look up company websites regularly to see if they post any internships. Some firms have campus recruitment or off-site recruitment events. Keep track of where and when they are held.

If you know anyone in the investment industry, get them to introduce you to viable employers by attending events or seminars with them. There will be lots of people here with whom you can network. A two-minute introduction could get you potential job leads. 

If you don’t know anyone, that’s okay. Social media is your new best friend. Set up a LinkedIn profile and connect with people in the business. Facebook and Twitter can also be useful when looking for leads. 

You can register with head hunters and job sites too. Ensure you have explored enough avenues and your resume has found its way to several prospective employers. All of them won’t call you in, but a few interested recruiters might. 

If you are a CFA professional, you have an insider’s advantage. You can log on to the official website and look for job listings or register yourself as a potential hire. The website is a treasure trove of information so make the most of it. 

In conclusion 

It might seem like an uphill task when you’re trying to get a foothold in investment banking services. It is normal to feel nervous or uncertain. But if you do the work, you will see the benefits. It helps to have a CFA qualification, as the course prepares you for the road ahead. 

So stay calm, be positive and follow our five-step plan. You will find yourself handing out business cards in no time.