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What is Investment Banking2024-07-11T12:09:45+00:00

Investment Banking – A Detailed Guide

You may have often heard about large-ticket mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world. Doesn’t that leave you wondering about how do these companies know when and where to invest these huge amounts of money and reap good returns on them at the same time? This is where the importance of investment banking comes in.

Read all about Investment banking – definition, operations, job roles, skills required & how to become a successful investment banker.

What is Investment Banking?

Investment Banking (IB) is a specialized sector within banking operations, overseeing substantial transactions for corporations, governments, and other entities. It encompasses a broad range of services beyond debt financing and equity issuance, including advisory roles in mergers and acquisitions. Investment banks engage in proprietary trading, brokering trades, leverage finance, security sales, and stock placement. They also advise on restructuring, reorganization, and initial public offerings (IPOs).

Importance and Relevance Of Investment Banking in the Finance Industry

Investment banking is pivotal in finance for various reasons:

  • Capital Raising: Investment banks assist companies in raising funds through stock and bond issuance, vital for business growth and new projects.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): They advise on M&A deals, facilitating negotiations and ensuring beneficial outcomes for all parties.
  • Financial Advisory: Providing strategic guidance on corporate restructuring, debt financing, and risk management enhances financial performance.
  • Market Research and Analysis: Investment banks conduct in-depth research, aiding investors and businesses in making informed decisions.
  • Facilitating Economic Growth: By enabling capital formation and corporate transactions, investment banks drive innovation, job creation, and economic prosperity.

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Understanding Investment Banking

Sometimes, there’s confusion between an investment bank and the investment banking division (IBD) of a bank. Full-service investment banks provide a wide array of services including underwriting, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), sales and trading, equity research, asset management, commercial banking, and retail banking. On the other hand, the investment banking division of a bank focuses solely on underwriting and M&A advisory services.

Classification of Banks

Banks are a familiar concept to many, typically associated with commercial banking. However, there exists another category known as investment banks, which serve larger entities such as corporations and governments.

Banks can be categorized into two main types: commercial banks and investment banks. The key difference lies in their operations and client base. Commercial banks primarily serve individual customers and small businesses, while investment banks cater to larger entities like corporate firms, governments, and other significant organizations.

Commercial Banks vs Investment Banks

Aspect Commercial Banks Investment Banks
Focus and Services Traditional banking services like lending, deposit-taking, etc. Financial and investment advisory services including trading, underwriting, M&A, and raising capital through securities offerings.
Client Base Diverse, including government entities, businesses, and individuals Institutional clients, high-net-worth individuals, and corporations seeking expertise in capital markets.
Risk Orientation Risk-averse approach, prioritizing the safety of deposits Engage in riskier investment and trading activities, focusing on corporate finance and capital markets.
Market Activities Limited involvement in capital market activities Heavily involved in capital market activities like trading, often acting as market makers.
Regulations Subject to extensive regulations due to handling retail deposits Subject to regulations regarding activities, but may have more flexibility in operations.
Income Generation Interest on loans and deposits forms the primary income Earn commissions for raising capital through debt or equity issuance and compensation for facilitating mergers and acquisitions deals.

While commercial banks like HDFC, SBI, ICICI, and Axis Bank focus on traditional banking services and cater to a diverse clientele, investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase specialize in financial advisory services for institutional clients and engage in riskier investment activities to generate income.

Also Read – Investment Banking vs. Commercial Banking: Understanding the Differences

Functions and Clients of Investment Banks

Investment banks are pivotal in aiding companies to raise capital through stock and bond issuance, offering expertise in pricing financial instruments and regulatory compliance. They also provide essential guidance in financial strategies, including mergers and acquisitions. Apart from underwriting securities, investment banks offer diverse services like research, trading, and asset and wealth management. While their name suggests a focus on investment, their scope often encompasses a wide range of financial activities. Catering to a diverse clientele including corporations, financial institutions, and governments, the most successful investment banks typically have extensive global connections and a broad market reach.

Core Activities of Investment Banks

  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): Investment banks provide advice to firms regarding purchasing, selling, or merging with other organizations, facilitating negotiations and transactions.
  • Capital Raising: They assist companies in raising capital by issuing bonds or stocks to investors, supporting business growth and expansion.
  • Underwriting: Investment banks underwrite securities, assuming financial responsibility for them, which aids entities in accessing capital markets.
  • Asset Management: Many investment banks manage assets for high-net-worth and institutional clients, optimizing investment portfolios.
  • Financial Advisory: They offer valuable financial advice on various issues such as risk management, valuation, and restructuring.
  • Trading and Sales: Investment banks trade securities, provide liquidity to the market, and sell financial products to clients.
  • Research: Conducting extensive financial research, offering recommendations and insights on various industries and securities.
  • Risk Management: Providing mitigation and risk evaluation strategies for clients, helping them navigate the complexities of financial markets.
  • Market Making: Acting as market makers by buying and selling financial instruments to maintain market liquidity.
  • IPOs (Initial Public Offerings): Assisting firms in going public by managing the issuing and distribution of shares to the public.

These essential functions collectively contribute to the efficient operation of the global financial system, fostering economic development and growth.

Services Provided by Investment Banks

  • Underwriting: Investment banks assist clients in raising capital from investors through equity and debt securities. This process involves planning, timing and demand assessment, and issue structure decisions.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A): Investment banking facilitates company consolidation through transactions like acquisitions and mergers. This includes obtaining approval from boards of directors and shareholders for combinations or acquisitions.
  • Sales & Trading: Salespeople present investment opportunities to institutional investors, while traders execute orders and advise clients on financial positions.
  • Equity Research: Investment banking analysts analyze investment opportunities and provide reports with recommendations for clients.
  • Asset Management: Investment banks manage investment funds by investing in various financial instruments tailored to clients’ needs.

Types of Investment Banks

  • Bulge Bracket Investment Banks: Largest international firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and others offer a comprehensive range of services catering to Fortune 500 companies with multibillion-dollar M&A projects and smaller deals. Often referred to as full-service banks, they specialize in various services and have extensive employee bases.
  • Elite Investment Banks: Companies like Lazard LLC, Evercore Group LLC, and Moelis & Company operate globally, handling transactions over $1 billion with a smaller workforce. They excel in specific areas like M&A, restructuring, and asset management, often starting as regional boutique firms.
  • Middle Market Investment Banks: Bridging the gap between large bulge bracket institutions and smaller regional banks, they offer a range of services specializing in areas like M&A. Deal sizes range from $50 million to $500 million, with notable banks including Spark Capital and William Blair Co.
  • Regional Investment Banks: These smaller banks focus on specific regional markets, specializing in one or two areas like M&A. With limited staff and smaller deal sizes of up to $100 million, examples include MAPE and Avendus Capital.

Top-notch Investment Banks

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, and CitiBank are leading global financial institutions offering a wide array of services, including investment banking, asset management, and commercial banking, with operations spanning across multiple countries.

Divisions of Investment Banks

Investment Bank Division (IBD):

  • Central to investment banking, focusing on M&A deals and capital raising through debt or equity.
  • In M&A, bankers advise on transactions and conduct financial modelling, valuations, and due diligence.
  • IBD raises capital by negotiating loans or selling shares.
  • Expanded to include diverse divisions with distinct roles.

Wealth Management:

  • Tailored financial services for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) by investment banks.
  • Services include investment, tax, estate, and retirement planning.
  • Clients access managed, discretionary, and brokerage accounts for trading.

Trading and Brokerage:

  • Revenue is generated through proprietary trading and trading for clients.
  • Proprietary trading uses bank capital to trade financial instruments.
  • Trading for clients involves executing trades using clients’ funds and stocks.


  • Provides insights to clients through various research teams.
  • Equity research analyzes the stock market for trading opportunities.
  • Commodity research covers precious metals and agricultural products.
  • Currency research tracks global events, advising on market trends.
  • Credit research offers investment recommendations on derivatives.

Investment Banking Roles

Investment banking encompasses a diverse range of roles and responsibilities, typically categorized into three main divisions:

  • Front Office: Focuses on revenue generation and client interaction, including M&A and capital raising.
  • Middle Office: Provides support for deals, handling due diligence, risk management, and compliance.
  • Back Office: Manages administrative tasks and support functions without client interaction.

Each division has distinct responsibilities, collectively contributing to the efficiency and success of investment banking operations.

Also Read – Essential skills for a successful Career In Investment Banking

Investment Banking Salaries

Investment banker salaries in India range from ₹7L to ₹20L per year, with an average base pay of ₹11,00,000 per year.


  • The average base salary: is ₹17,25,767 per year.
  • Average additional cash compensation: ₹8,69,011 per year.
  • Additional cash compensation range: ₹8,32,032 – ₹9,05,990 per year.


  • The average annual salary is ₹14.8 Lakhs
  • Estimated take-home salary range: ₹72,177 – ₹74,038.

Vice President:

  • The average annual salary is ₹40.7 Lakhs.
  • Estimated take-home salary range: ₹2.1 Lakhs – ₹2.2 Lakhs.

Managing Director:

  • The average annual salary is ₹1.4 Crore.
  • Estimated take-home salary range: ₹6.8 Lakhs – ₹7 Lakhs.

Eligibility typically requires over ten years of service in the company.

Also Read – Highest, Average & Lowest Investment Banking Salaries In India

Factors Influencing Salary in Investment Banking

  • Skills: Proficiency in Financial Analysis, Modeling, and M&A, along with expertise in Microsoft Excel, can lead to up to 24% higher salaries.
  • Experience: More experienced candidates usually command more attractive starting salaries.
  • Company Reputation and Size: Prestigious and larger firms like IBM, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs offer competitive salaries and job security.
  • Location: Salary packages vary by location, with cities like Mumbai offering higher salaries due to greater demand for investment bankers compared to smaller towns.

Why Are Investment Banking Profiles Paid So Well?

Myth Reality
High Demand for Specialized Skills Investment banking requires specialized skills such as financial analysis, modelling, and deal structuring, which are scarce and in high demand. Professionals possessing these skills command higher compensation.
The Complexity of Work Investment bankers handle complex financial transactions, mergers, acquisitions, and capital-raising activities. The level of expertise and attention to detail required justifies the higher compensation.
Long Hours and Stressful Environment Investment banking roles are demanding, with long hours and high-stress levels. The compensation reflects the commitment and dedication required to excel in such an environment.
Revenue Generation Investment bankers facilitate deals and transactions that generate significant revenue for clients and the firm. The financial impact of successful deals justifies the higher salaries.
Market Competition Top investment banks compete for the best talent by offering competitive salary packages and bonuses.
Education and Experience Investment bankers typically have advanced degrees and extensive experience in finance or related fields. Their qualifications and expertise command higher salaries.
Global Economic Impact Investment banking activities significantly impact the global economy, driving economic growth and stability. Professionals involved in these activities are compensated accordingly.

How to Become an Investment Banker?

Aspiring to enter investment banking? Follow this concise 6-step plan:

  1. Education: Pursue any undergraduate major, but consider an MBA with a finance focus for deeper insight.
  2. Skill Development: Master financial modelling, valuation techniques, Excel, and market knowledge.
  3. Specialized Training: Enroll in reputable investment banking courses for in-depth knowledge.
  4. Job Search: Apply for entry-level roles in investment banks and finance firms.
  5. Interview Preparation: Study common questions, practice case studies, and showcase your skills.
  6. Persistence: Stay proactive, network, and adapt to industry changes for success.

Industry Trends and Challenges

Despite global uncertainties, Indian investment banking shows promise, driven by technological innovations, adaptable strategies, and changing consumer expectations. Key trends and forecasts include:

  • Embracing Technology: Investment banks are adopting innovations to boost efficiency and service quality.
  • Strategic Adaptation: Firms adjust business models to stay competitive and seize emerging opportunities.
  • Yield Growth: Expected higher returns with adjusted business models.
  • Client-Centric Focus: Investment in customer-centric solutions to meet evolving needs.
  • Financial Stability: Despite fluctuations, investment banking maintains liquidity and attracts investments.
  • M&A Activity: Boutique firms drive M&A deals, fostering market expansion.
  • Economic Growth: India’s growing economy and market liberalization efforts attract investment.
  • Opportunities: Growth potential in M&A and IPOs as Indian firms seek expansion.
  • Resilience: Investment banks are poised to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities.

Overall, investment banking in India is poised for growth, supported by innovation, adaptability, and favourable economic conditions.

Also Read – CFA Exam and Investment Banking. How to become an investment banker.

Global vs. Local Career Opportunities

Global Career Opportunities Local Career Opportunities
Investment Banking Analyst (Global Markets) Investment Banking Analyst (Regional Markets)
– Analyze market trends – Specialize in analyzing local industries
– Execute trades – Conduct market research
– Assist in structuring complex financial transactions – Support capital-raising initiatives for domestic clients
– Gain exposure to diverse markets – Develop expertise in specific sectors
– Navigate various currencies and regulatory environments – Build relationships with local stakeholders
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Associate Corporate Banking Relationship Manager
– Work on cross-border transactions – Cultivate and manage relationships with local businesses
– Conduct financial due diligence – Offer tailored financial solutions to local enterprises
– Perform financial modeling – Support the growth and financial health of local businesses
– Collaborate with international teams
– Facilitate mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures
Corporate Finance Manager (International Division) Private Equity Associate (Regional Focus)
– Oversee capital-raising activities – Evaluate investment opportunities in local businesses
– Manage cross-border investments – Conduct financial due diligence
– Assess strategic opportunities for global expansion – Structure equity investments
– Liaise with multinational corporations – Collaborate with local management teams
– Optimize financial structures and operations – Drive operational improvements and value creation
Global Wealth Management Advisor Retail Banking Branch Manager
– Cater to high-net-worth clients with global portfolios – Oversee local bank branch operations
– Provide personalized financial advice – Manage customer relationships
– Offer portfolio management services – Drive business growth through retail lending
– Implement wealth preservation strategies – Gather deposits and cross-sell financial products
– Tailor services to international objectives – Ensure delivery of high-quality banking services

Enrolling in a PG in an Investment Banking Operations Program

IMS Proschool presents an unparalleled opportunity to enter the realm of investment banking operations (IBO) with its PG in Investment Banking Operations Course. Tailored for final-year undergraduates or professionals with 0-3 years of experience, this 1-year program offers a gateway to lucrative career prospects.

Students can anticipate average packages ranging from 3 to 9 LPA, placement-oriented case studies, expert faculty guidance, and comprehensive skill training covering Excel, financial markets, forex, derivatives, and more—all condensed into just 120 hours.

Upon completion, students receive certificates from IMS Proschool.


Yes, investment banking offers rewarding opportunities for individuals with strong analytical skills and a penchant for finance. It provides exposure to high-profile deals, lucrative compensation, and potential for career advancement.

Investment banks generate revenue through fees from financial services like underwriting, mergers and acquisitions advisory, securities trading, and asset management. They also earn interest on loans, commissions from brokerage services, and investment returns.

To enter investment banking, pursue a relevant degree in finance or related fields, gain experience through internships, develop analytical skills, and network with industry professionals.

While a degree in finance, economics, or business can be beneficial, there’s no specific requirement. Consider certifications like CFA or FRM to enhance your credentials.

While senior bankers at top firms can earn substantial salaries and bonuses, entry-level professionals typically don’t make millions. However, successful bankers can achieve significant earnings over time through career progression and performance.

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