The Forbidden Mistakes in the Career of an Investment Banker

Progression of an Investment Banker’s career happens on a fairly standard path:

  • Analyst
  • Associate
  • Vice President
  • Director
  • Managing Director

It may have different names for the positions in different banks or may have extra layers in the hierarchy. However, the job and functions remain the same for each relative position.

Irrespective of your position, the job of an investment banker is usually very hectic and demands 100 working hours a week. Since it’s a high paying job with high profile work, the competition for the position is intense.

So, the job is suited if your personality has the following traits:

  • Highly ambitious
  • Competitive
  • Detail oriented
  • Quantitative
  • Polished and presentable

Now here’s a caution point: Irrespective of how highly skilled you are, there are few mistakes that are ABSOLUTELY forbidden in the career of an Investment banker (Yes, we are shouting it loud, ABSOLUTELY forbidden).

Here, let’s take a quick peek into 10don’ts that we think are more important:

  1.    Comparing your pay

Do not ever try and compare or even discuss your pay package or bonuses with your colleagues. There is no surety that they will tell you the truth. In simple words, tête-à-tête about your bonus/salary with your colleague will give you more stress and make you unhappier. And definitely, you will have enough pressure to handle on your work front.

  1.    Threatening for better pay

That rarely works in the investment banking industry. Unless and until, you are at the top of your game, have a very unique and rare skills and your company is desperate to retain you, do not ever try that stunt.

  1.    Late for the morning meeting

Morning market briefing sessions are the most crucial. Do not ever reach late for that.

Well, other than the list as mentioned above, you should forbid yourself from lying, front running, cheating, leaking, mis-selling, money laundering and things like that. Work hard and do well!


  1. Don’t upset your MD

Even if he is re-writing your presentation! However, remember that if he is doing so, it doesn’t make you stupid. It is just two different ways of thinking. And no matter how good you are doing at work now, he has a long memory. Remember: People tend to remember what you did wrong more than what you did right. So, do not mess with him.

  1.    Not playing clean

Work hard to climb up the ladder, and not by playing politics at the workplace. Starting to run, before you know how to walk will definitely make you fall. So, build up your experience, upgrade your skills and get promoted for your abilities, because eventually the lies don’t remain buried in the coffin for long.

  1.    Never miss a typo

It’s a pervasive mistake, but you cannot afford to have one. Get your work proofread by your colleague or partner or friend until you have climbed up a couple of steps on your career ladder. Your typos give an impression of you not being trustworthy for the assignment.

  1.    Not so respectful to your subordinates or juniors

Treat your colleagues well, irrespective of their designation in the firm. You never know when you may need their help to achieve your personal work goals. Or if the time is unfortunate, you may also get knocked off and be back among your juniors. Also, investment banking works with team support so, do not burn your bridges.

  1.    Believing your own hype

Boosting about yourself to your friends saying that you are the most significant thing the market has ever seen and actually bringing the same thought at the workplace is a sure way to court disaster. Knowing about your capabilities is good, but being overconfident is not.

  1.    Insider Trading

If you look at the year 2018, many traders lost their jobs due to insider trading. Insider trading is a big NO NO and can only lead to the end of your corporate career.

  1.    Confidentiality breach

We have reserved the most forbidden mistake for the last. Yes, writing wrong client name in the email, spilling out a secret project to your friends, misusing internal data, compliance breach, etc. can put you in jeopardy. And, the magnitude of this mistake most of the times is getting a pink slip.