How to get a job in investment banking
Many investment banking graduate job vacancies are open during the autumn; some close as early as October or November. You may find something that interests you above, or if not, try widening your search to include employers with a smaller graduate intake. If you're considering postgraduate study in banking and investment, we've got advice on deciding if it's the right choice for you.
Investment banking interviews
Once you've applied for a job or graduate scheme at an investment bank, it's time to start preparing for your interview. We've got advice on what to expect and common types of questions that you may be asked.
It's also worth bearing in mind why you applied to that organisation, as your interviewers will want you to show them you understand their company values. Even for spring weeks and internships, do your research in advance to decide which ones you would like to apply to. Commercial awareness is essential for banking and investment careers; this means not only knowledge of the organisation you're applying to, but awareness of how it fits into the finance sector as a whole.
Top skills to get a job in investment banking
Work at an investment bank is fast-paced and intellectually challenging, requiring a host of different skills. One minute you could be analysing a market, the next presenting your results to managers or clients. To succeed in this sector you need to be:
- Resilient – you’ve got to be able to deal with the long working hours and the demand to meet deadlines
- Intellectual – you’ll need to process a lot of information on markets to help your team make sensible investments
- A good communicator – you’ll have to communicate complex information to managers, members of your team and possibly even clients, each of whom will need a different approach.
Investment banking jobs and internships
Investment banks rely heavily on their work experience pipeline, meaning that a very high percentage of those who go on to fill graduate schemes will have completed a placement with the bank they are applying to. Furthermore, students who perform well in their internships are likely to be offered a place on an investment bank’s graduate scheme without the need for a further interview.
Whether you go for a graduate job or a graduate scheme, networking with recruiters and employers (by attending careers fairs or approaching recruiters directly) will pay dividends. Not only will it help you get to know the recruiters, and vice versa, but it can expand your job search and open up potential employment options. It’ll also show initiative on your part (something that banking employers like to see).
Investment banking insight weeks
Work experience is vital to securing a job in investment banking, but being accepted for an internship can be as difficult as getting onto a graduate scheme. You can improve your chances of securing an internship by first gaining some shorter-term experience through an insight week, also known as a spring week. These placements are open to students in the first year of a three-year degree or the second year of a four-year degree. Spring weeks can last between a few days and two weeks and give students a taste of working life.
Making a good impression on an employer during an insight week can also earn you fast-track access to a full internship in the same way that impressing on an internship can secure you a place on a graduate scheme. It’s not unheard of for recruits to have used this work experience pipeline to secure their first job in investment banking. Deadlines for spring week applications typically fall in January.
What is it like working in investment banking?
Working in this sector, especially in front-office roles, will mean regularly working 12-hour days. The long days don’t just start once you’re managing a team with a few years’ experience under your belt – from your first internship onwards you’ll find yourself putting in more hours than most graduates in any other sector. However, your hard work won’t go unrewarded – graduates in investment banking earn some of the highest salaries, with some employers offering graduates starting salaries of £40,000 with the potential to reach six-figures in five to six years.
Getting into banking and investment without a numerical degree
You don’t need to have a degree in economics or finance for a career in investment banking. A 2.1 degree from a good university is generally all you need to satisfy an employer’s academic requirements; however, good grades alone won’t get you a job at an investment bank. Banking employers want to see if you can demonstrate an interest in and knowledge of the industry. To do this you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the sector, which means knowing all about your chosen employer and how the market is behaving. It also means having some level of work experience at an investment bank, preferably an internship.