Investment Banking: Graduate Area of Work
Investment bankers (and by extension, investment banks) are in essence corporate advisors who manage and advise various entities on their financial activities. Their roles can include the issuance of securities, overseeing mergers and acquisitions (M&A), providing financial analysis, managing initial public offerings (IPOs), and managing investments for corporate pension funds, charities, or high net-worth private clients.
For instance, an investment banking team may advise a corporation on the acquisition of another. They would carry out financial and strategic analyses, assess the price and worth of the acquisition, and advise on how to bid and pay for the company as well as communicate the acquisition to the public markets.
Should an investment banking team become trusted enough, they may even be given autonomy by clients to deliver and execute their deals for them. As such, investment bankers must be client-focused communicators offering valuable financial expertise, with the aim of becoming a client’s most valued advisor.
Most graduates start out in this field as analysts. Employers will typically organise structured training programmes lasting a month or so, to help provide newcomers with the necessary key skills.
You will also likely be assigned to a senior mentor, who will provide you with the required guidance. Be prepared for a steep learning curve at beginning as you work towards building an understanding of the industry.
Once you have gained enough experience, you may be promoted to the position of a junior investment banker. Your duties may include performing financial analyses, condensing and collating data for your clients, as well as liaising with clients.
As you rise in seniority within your team, you may then be tasked with managing and overseeing the execution of projects and deals.
In most companies, you will be grouped into teams based on your specialisation, but will have to work with members from other specialised teams while executing a deal. Expect plenty of interaction across teams and departments in this line of work.
The recent economic shake-up has, however, changed the landscape of this sector. Investors are now moving away from the more high-risk ventures, placing greater emphasis on risk management and raising capital as opposed to M&As.
There are a variety of roles within investment banking, and applications are usually welcome from a range of degree disciplines. A financial degree isn’t a pre-requisite, but you will need to demonstrate an interest in business and financial markets.
The chief requirement for working in this field is a good understanding of the financial markets, as well as the ability to think laterally and discern trends and patterns within the markets. Excellent client-handling skills are a must, as is the energy and readiness to deal with many different people while providing the best customer service possible.
Ups and downs
Be prepared to perform under stress in this line of work, as you will often be working under heavy pressure for extended periods of time. 12-hour work days are commonplace in this industry, as is working on weekends.
Yet, while working in investment banking is often a huge commitment, this is a line of work that can be very rewarding in terms of early responsibility, financial rewards, and exciting work.
After all, not many other industries offer you the chance to work on deals that fill the pages of the Wall Street Journal, or put you in touch with the CEOs of large corporations even at a relatively early stage of your career!