Careers in investment banking
Careers in investment banking
24th March 2020
Find out about careers in investment banking - see some of the roles you could do, the skills you need, and how to start your career, with our quick guide.
What is investment banking?
Investment banks connect people, businesses and governments who need money to grow, with investors or businesses who have money to invest.
Top investment banks include Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Some investment banks also have a retail or personal banking division with branches on the high street.
What roles are there in investment banking?
There are lots of different roles in investment banking. They can be divided into roles that help make money for the bank (such as bankers and traders) and those which help the bank function (such as software developers or lawyers).
Examples of departments at investment banks include:
Traders buy and sell assets (an item of value which can be turned into cash) in the financial markets to try and make a profit. Many traders buy and sell stocks and shares on the stock market. Shares are a way of sharing the ownership of a company and can be held by individuals or other companies. Traders also trade in commodities (including oil, gas, and cocoa!) and foreign exchange currencies (the Pound Sterling or the Euro, for example).
Compliance teams ensure that banks follow the rules set by government or the Financial Conduct Authority. This helps make the financial markets fair and efficient, and reduces risk and financial crime.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
A merger is when two companies combine or join together to create a new company. An acquisition is when one company buys another. People who work in mergers and acquisitions look after this process.
Liquidity teams make sure banks have enough cash or liquid assets (things likes shares and bonds which can be easily turned into cash). This is to make sure that banks don’t run out of money.
A big part of investment banking involves developing and maintaining technology to make the bank work. This varies from software development and cyber-security, through to new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
Corporate and social responsibility (CSR)
CSR teams support the wider community. This includes things such as sponsorship for museums, galleries and charities or organising staff community volunteering.
Skills and personal qualities
- team work
- ability to work in a fast-paced environment with a variety of people
- strong communication skills
- for graduate roles, high grades often within any degree
Getting into investment banking
There are different routes into investment banking, depending on the role and bank.
The degree route
If you are studying for a degree and think investment banking might be for you, look out for spring programmes and summer internships. These give you the chance to discover what it’s like to work in an investment bank and to find out about different roles. These are sometimes the route to graduate schemes (so you may need to complete a spring programme in order to apply for an internship, and to complete an internship in order to apply for a graduate scheme).
Entry to graduate schemes is very competitive. “Work hard and get some great grades but try to make yourself stand out in other ways,” advises Louisa, who works in Bank of America’s treasury division. “It might be volunteering, it might be charity work, it might be captain of a sports team, it might be music or arts – you need to make yourself stand out from other candidates.”
Natasha, who started her career on a graduate scheme, found exploring different options really helpful. “The main thing I found when I was at university was that the more networking events that I went to the more I could rule out different options or find new options that I hadn’t previously thought about,” she explains.
Some investment banks run apprenticeship schemes. Others advertise for a wide range of entry-level roles. Take a look at banks’ websites or job sites for an idea of opportunities and requirements.
Watch videos about careers in investment banking
Yvonne, Managing Director, Global Banking & Markets
"I knew what I liked but I had no idea what I wanted to do."Watch now
Selina, Technology Architect
"I think if you’re passionate about what you do it’s very easy to be motivated."Watch now
Robyn, Assistant Vice President, Treasury
A chance conversation with someone on a train led Robyn to explore a career in finance.Watch now
Find out more
- The careers section of investment banks’ websites is a great place to start
- Your college or university careers service is also likely to have details about opportunities and introductory programmes open to you