Becoming an Investment Banker requires more than scoring good grades. Investment Banks recruit multi-talented students with both analytical and interpersonal skills. Even though some jobs lean more towards one skill than another, the skills and talent listed below are commonly shared between Investment Bankers.
A crucial factor in investment banking is teamwork. Being able to pull together persons to make a presentation for a client is a challenge. It is important to communicate well with your fellow team players in order to work effectively as a team.
Further advancement in investment banking is based on how well you can negotiate with clients and close deals. In addition, professionals wishing to move beyond mid level positions should understand political changes, macroeconomic variables, and market trends that all affect deal outcomes.
Investment bankers need to be effective team players with excellent communication skills in order to avoid disconnections and wasted efforts. Investment bankers also often communicate with external parties such as clients, accountants, consultants and lawyers. Furthermore, many client representatives tend to be extremely scrutinizing, well-respected and often short-tempered, and you'll need to know how to deal with them in order to get deals done.
Many graduates start in investment banking in analyst positions. To succeed in these positions you need to be extremely dedicated, have good spreadsheet skills and be analytically fluent. Your next step will be to become an associate. Same skills, just raise the volume. To succeed in an analyst position it is also important to have the ability to analyse accounting figures critically.
Besides analytical and accounting skills, math ability is a plus. Some jobs in investment call for strong mathematical proficiency. If you are good at math, obtaining a graduate degree in stochastic calculus, differential equations, or other mathematical fields and taking classes in advanced financial theory like bond valuation and options pricing, could increase your competitiveness in job opportunities.
Ability to synthesize
As an investment banker you need to be detail oriented; flipping every page of a pitchbook and checking a model by hand. Ask "Is this reasonable?" and "So what?" and pay attention to interesting and alarming details.
You have to be self-confident and creative. You will need the self esteem to assess and understand the clients' needs and the creativity to find the right solution in order to exceed expectations.
Starting off in an Investment Bank, you are usually responsible for getting projects done well and on-time, whether it be writing reports, running spreadsheets, trading, doing research or coding programs. Once you get involved with clients and ideas for generating revenue, you will be rewarded greatly if you can bring in business. At higher levels (usually Director, Managing Director and up) you are exposed to much greater risks. At this level, people are often fired for non-performance, whereas at lower levels you may not be scrutinized as closely.
Investment banking is a hard work, high risk, high reward profession. When you start your career, hours will typically be long, but the work is exciting. As a starting - level employee your hours will be filled with writing reports, doing research, handling trades, running spreadsheets and coding programmes. It is important to be fast, accurate and complete. As a starting investment banker, you are usually responsible for getting projects done well and on time, so don't be averse to long working hours. In the first 2 years you will probably work around 50-80 hours per week.
Applicants with true passion for finance, markets and organisational analysis should apply for investment banking roles, conduct self study on finance, business, management and leadership, and should apply for the International Banking Cycle this year! They should also differentiate themselves by volunteering in projects or leading groups and network with current or former investment bankers. If you're an energetic professional with strong valuation skills and have the ability to interact with others, this challenging and rewarding job may be just what you're looking for.