Graduate jobs in investment banking

How to get a job in investment banking?

You don’t need to have a degree in economics or finance for a career in investment banking. Employers in this sector look for candidates from well-respected universities with strong academic qualifications (usually a 2.1 and above) in any subject. Your chances of getting a graduate job in investment banking will be much higher if you’ve previously done a banking internship.

Jobs vs schemes in investment banking

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).

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 in order help your team make sensible investments
  • A good communicator – you’ll have lots of information to process and you’ll have to communicate it to managers, members of your team and possibly even clients, each of whom will need a different approach.

What is it like working in investment banking?

Working in this sector, especially in front-office roles, will mean regularly putting in 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 unrewardedgraduates 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.

Other degrees welcome or not?

Very much so. 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.

Mathematical degrees, such as economics and finance, are only really required in fields such as the financial institutions group of a bank or in the development of specialised products. An increasingly popular degree choice in front office roles, such as mergers and acquisitions, is foreign languages, due to the international nature of the industry.

Insight weeks

Work experience is vital in investment banking, but securing 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. Spring weeks can last between a few days and two weeks and give students a taste of working life.

During an insight week employers typically provide advice on gaining further internships and employment by:

  • Hosting presentations and seminars on the employer and its recruitment process
  • Running networking events
  • Providing work-shadowing opportunities.

These placements are open to students in the first year of a three-year degree or the second year of a four-year degree so it’s important that you start planning your placements early on in your first year of university.

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).


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