About graduate careers in investment banking and investment
Investment banking has money-making at its core and often attracts those motivated by good career progression and the chance to reap significant financial reward. However, a high pressure working environment and long hours are the flipside of working in this sector.
Roles are typically available with three types of employer: investment management firms, which invest money on behalf of clients; stockbroking firms, which buy and sell stocks and shares and give advice to investors; and investment banks, which deal with securities and assist clients with services. Most major investment banks have headquarters in London.
Working in excess of 12 hours a day is not unusual in investment banks in particular, even at entry level, although demands vary with each employer and role. After all, global financial markets are open 24/7, requiring employees to work at a fast pace and respond to unpredictable market events. Despite this, investment banks can provide a dynamic and stimulating work environment and draw a high number of graduate applicants. Actual starting salaries in this sector are among the highest in any field.
Opportunities for graduates
Investment banks’ graduate programmes include roles in finance, management, compliance, research, HR, investment banking, merchant banking, legal controls, equity, securities, trading, IT and information risk management. It is common for graduates to start in an analyst role on a two-year programme and to follow a relatively fixed line of progression. Becoming an associate is often the next step for successful graduates, who then typically progress to senior levels after three to four years.
Many employers don’t mind what subject your degree is in, although subjects such as business, economics, finance, computing, engineering, maths and physics are preferred by some. A 2.1 is nearly always required by employers in this sector, and graduates need to be comfortable dealing with numbers.
Industry-related work experience is almost essential to securing a job offer and there are increasing numbers of opportunities for first-year students alongside penultimate-year students. The majority of graduate vacancies tend to be filled via work experience routes.
Students interested in investment banking careers...
- were most likely to be studying business/management (including accounting or finance), economics or maths
- expected a salary of £30,561, higher than students in any other sector but still a reasonable expectation according to employer data collected by GTI
- arguably were more prepared to accept a demanding job than students in most other sectors: 40% of students said that they were not averse to a high-pressure career that involved lots of stress
- appeared to value money over an employer’s reputation, as 42% actively agreed with the statement ‘If the salary was right, I would work for a company with a bad image’, the highest proportion of students out of all sectors.