All About Graduate Jobs in Investment Banking & Management
Q: What is investment banking or investment management all about?
It should go without saying that a career in investment banking or investment management is... well, all about making money. Graduate employers within this industry provide financial services to clients ranging from corporations, institutions, and governments to high net-worth individuals – all with the aim of helping clients maximise their returns.
Amongst other services, investment banks/firms assist clients with raising loans, investing surplus cash, acquiring or merging with other businesses, or floating shares on the stock exchange.
Q: How can I get a graduate job with a bank or investment house?
Investment banking employers actively search for talented graduates to take their businesses forward. Their preferred method of entry for graduate hires tend to be through graduate recruitment schemes.
Many employers within this industry also offer internships or work placements. These programmes are very competitive, but landing yourself a place in one will give you a huge head-start to getting offered a permanent job – whether with the employer you interned with, or elsewhere. In fact, some investment banking or investment employers hire solely through internship conversions!
Q: What qualifications and skills do I need for a graduate job in investment banking and management?
The good news is that investment employers generally aren’t picky about degree programmes – they welcome graduates from all academic disciplines. However, the exception is for roles within technology divisions, where technical degrees or degrees with a significant IT component are an understandable pre-requisite.
The not-so-good news is that most investment employers tend to be very picky about academic performance and work experience! You’ll need to be on track for an honours degree at the very minimum, and a relevant internship (preferably with that employer).
You don’t need to be a mathematical genius, but you do need a genuine interest in financial markets, and you must be comfortable working with numbers.
The ability to learn quickly on the job is essential, as are “soft” skills, such as communication, negotiation, and leadership abilities. Essential skills that investment employers look for typically include:
- Numeracy (a.k.a. the ability to work well with numbers!)
- Analytical and critical-thinking skills
- Communication skills – both verbal and written
- Self-motivation and enthusiasm
- Teamwork skills
- The ability to work and/or stay calm under pressure
- Attention to detail
Q: What does the application process involve? When should I apply?
The majority of investment banking and management employers use online application systems.They may also ask you to complete online psychometric tests to ensure you are really a good fit for a career in this sector. If your application catches an employer’s eye and you’ve done well enough on any required tests, you’ll probably be asked to attend an interview and assessment centre.
For full-time graduate jobs, some investment banking and management employers have rolling applications open all year round. However, you will need to watch out for deadlines that fall before the end of the calendar year – some can even creep up as early as September.
Deadlines for internship applications often fall in the early part of the year, so give yourself a head-start by beginning your research early (before the previous year ends) and getting sufficient practise answering application form questions and online aptitude tests.
Q: What are the starting salaries in investment graduate jobs?
Entry-level jobs in the investment banking and investment management sector tend to pay a bit on the high side. Starting salaries can range from S$40,000 to S$50,000, and there may also be bonuses. Of course, such attractive pay scales don’t come without a cost – which brings us to our next question...
Q: What is working life in this sector like?
As the saying goes: money never sleeps. Much of the work in the investment banking and investment sector spills across global borders and time zones, and employees in this sector are well-known for putting in long hours and intense work as a result. Twelve-hour working days (or more) are not uncommon.
Nonetheless, many graduates in the sector seem to think their working lifestyle is good in spite of the long days and intense workplace culture – though this could actually be due to the kind of personalities that are attracted to this fast-paced industry!
The specific nature of your work in this sector will obviously vary according to the different roles and divisions within the industry. If there’s one constant, though, it’s that most of it will often be fast-paced, demanding, and unpredictable. Communication with colleagues and clients is also often a huge part of the job.
Q: What are the different areas of work?
There’s a wide range of disciplines to choose from within this sector! Here are some of the most common areas of work:
- Specialist markets
- Investment banking
- Investment management
- Risk management
- Structured finance
- Private wealth management
- Inter-dealer broking
Q: How are investment banks and firms structured?
Each bank and investment firm is structured differently, but they will have some things in common. The fee-earning areas of the business – which directly produce revenue – are often referred to as “front office” roles. Jobs in this area are typically client-facing, and include advising on and implementing strategies to help clients’ companies to grow, in addition to trading financial products.
Support functions (also known as “back office” roles) such as finance, human resources, and operations, ensure that the right people and money are in the right place at the right time. The whole organisation is straddled by the technology division, which provides and maintains the necessary systems and infrastructure within which business takes place.
Q: What are the highs and lows?
As mentioned previously, working in investment banking and investment management often involves very long and unpredictable hours, and there can be a lot of stress involved due to a heavy dependence on factors beyond your control.
The upside, however, is that you'll be working in a dynamic environment with high-powered colleagues, excellent salary prospects, and the opportunity to assume responsibility relatively early on in your career.