Investment Banking & Investment Management

All About Graduate Jobs in Investment Banking and Investment Management

Find answers to most of your key questions about investment banking and investment management here!
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The gradsingapore Team
The gradsingapore Team
All About Graduate Jobs in Investment Banking and Investment Management

So you decided to look into landing a graduate job in investment banking or investment management. But the moment you Googled about it, you got swamped with an endless amount of articles, forum discussions and book excerpts.

Despite your initial enthusiasm, seeing so much in one go left you pretty overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be, because we’ve compiled a list of common questions graduates might ask when considering the investment banking and investment management industry!

Q: What's investment banking and investment management all about?

A: At its core, investment banking and investment management is all about making money work to make more money. To do this, firms (investment banks, fund houses, asset management companies, etc.) provide clients that range from high net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) to institutions, and corporations to governments with financial services that aim to help them maximise their returns.

Put simply, investment bankers provide clients with strategies to raise money, while investment managers allocate assets and make investing decisions on the client’s behalf, all to increase capital through the strategies the bankers deploy.

For a full look at the investment banking and investment management sector, you can check out this article.

Tip: Other financial services typically include merging and acquiring (M&A) of competitors or other businesses, estate planning and posting shares on the stock exchange.

Q: How can I get a graduate job with an investment bank or investment management fund house?

A: Investment banking and investment management employers are always on the lookout for talented, ambitious graduates who can take their businesses forward in a positive way. Most of the time, they prefer to onboard new graduates through graduate recruitment schemes.

Other employers, like Barclays, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, also convert graduates on internships and work placements to full-time staff. Although getting an internship is an intensely competitive process, landing one will give you a huge headstart when you begin looking for a spot in graduate recruitment schemes if you haven’t managed a conversion.

Tip: Most investment banking and investment management employers will only take on fresh graduates who’ve completed at least one internship in another investment bank or fund house!

Q: What qualifications do I need to enter the investment banking and investment management industry?

A: Due to their wide range of clients, investment banking and investment management employers generally aren’t picky about the degree programme you pursued in university – in fact, they welcome graduates from all academic disciplines.

The sole exception to this are technology-related roles, such as software development and web design. In these cases, recruiters require candidates to either have a technical degree – like a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering – or degrees with significant information technology (IT) components, such as a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

But while they’re generally accepting of most degrees, the flipside is that employers are very picky about your academic performance and work experience! Most of the time, just to beat out the competition, you may need to show that you earned an honours degree, as well as completed a relevant internship.

Tip: No matter your academic background, so long as you’re willing to learn, employers in the investment banking and investment management sector will send you for the required training to build the hard skills needed for the industry.

Q: What about skills?

A: You don’t need to be a mathematics whiz, but you must be comfortable working with numbers. Moreover, you’ll need a genuine interest in the global financial markets.

The ability to learn quickly on-the-job is also essential, as are other soft skills like interpersonal and communication skills and leadership skills, as you need to nurture long-term working relationships with clients. Other skills employers also look for are an eye for detail, analytical skills, teamworking skills and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, for preparing proposals for clients that are both in the interests of the investment bank or fund, as well as the client.

Because work is demanding, successful candidates tend to be driven and self-motivated. The high pressure environment and long working hours also mean that recruiters prefer applicants who exhibit good stress management and time management skills, as well. The international nature of the job requires a degree of cultural awareness and sensitivity, too, since you might find yourself dealing with foreign clients.

Tip: Some unique skills employers look for include innovation and resilience. For a longer list, click here to find out what else they want in the ideal candidate!

Q: What does the application process involve?

A: The majority of investment banking and investment management employers use online application systems. They may also ask you to complete online psychometric tests to ensure you’re really a good fit for both the industry and firm.

If your resume gets through the application tracking system (ATS), and you’ve done well enough on the required tests, you’ll likely be called down to attend an interview. If you pass that, you’ll be invited to spend a day at an assessment centre.

Tip: During the application process, be sure to be the right amount of confident and assertive!

Q: When should I apply?

A: For full-time positions, some investment banking and investment management employers, like Goldman Sachs, recruit on a rolling basis all year-round, though they also have their own deadlines for applications. However, most companies (UBS, Credit Suisse, Citi, Morgan Stanley) only hold one large recruitment event per year.

If your dream employers are in the latter category, be sure to watch out for deadlines. For example, J.P. Morgan closes their application period in October, while Standard Chartered keeps them open till December. On the other hand, applications for Bank of America Merrill Lynch close as early as September.

Summer internship applications also tend to fall in the latter half of the year, close to those of full-time positions. One notable exception, however, is Societe Generale, which closes applications for internship positions in early May.

Tip: Give yourself a headstart by starting your research into potential employers in the earlier half of the year. Use this time to get sufficient practice for application form questions, psychometric tests and aptitude tests, too.

Q: What are the starting salaries in investment graduate jobs?

A: One of the main draws of the investment banking and investment management sector is the high salary employees can command, even in entry-level roles. Starting pay can range from S$40,000 to S$50,000 per year, and there are usually bonuses, too.

Tip: Although you’ll likely end up working long hours in the investment banking and investment management sector, you’ll be compensated with high monetary and non-monetary benefits.

Q: What's working life in this sector like?

A: Work in the investment banking and investment management industry usually spans across global borders and timezones. Because of this, investment bankers and investment managers are (in)famous for putting in long hours and intense work. In fact, twelve-hour working days, or more, aren’t uncommon!

Nonetheless, investment bankers and investment managers typically enjoy the work and their fast-paced lifestyle – though this may be due to their personalities! Generally, people who are extroverted and have an enterprising streak do well in investment banking and investment management’s highly-communicative, fast-paced environment.

Tip: Although duties and responsibilities vary widely with roles, there’s one constant! The nature of the industry means that, no matter your job, it’ll be demanding and unpredictable.

Q: What are the different areas of work?

A: There’s a wide range of disciplines to choose from within this sector! Some of the most popular areas of work include structured finance, risk management, specialist markets, inter-dealer broking and private wealth management.

If you want to enter the industry, but not in a finance-related role, you can consider human resources (HR), operations, software engineering and testing, as well as cybersecurity and web development.

Tip: No matter the area of work you choose, your work will be exciting, with many opportunities and possibilities to explore!

Q: How are investment banks and investment management firms structured?

A: Although each firm is structured differently, they do have some things in common, such as the front, middle and back office.

Front office roles directly produce revenue. Jobs tend to be client-facing, and typically include advising on, and implementing, strategies to help clients grow their investments. Examples of these jobs include investment banker, asset manager, financial trader and commodity broker.

Literally in the middle of the front and back office, roles in the middle office support those in the front office. Most of the time, this is where you’ll find risk managers, compliance officers and IT professionals. These professionals calculate risk, profit and loss and ensure deals negotiated in the front office are compliant, as well as accurately pushed through the firm’s databases.

Lastly, the back office consists of administration and support personnel. Although seemingly invisible, they’re in charge of HR, operations, accounting and records maintenance. In other words, they’re the ones who enable the front and middle office to go about their duties seamlessly, by making sure the right people and money are in the right places at the right times.

Tip: Even though the middle and back office don’t directly produce revenue, they’re still essential to a firm’s infrastructure.

Q: What are the highs and lows?

A: Working in the investment banking and investment management sector often involves very long and unpredictable hours. Moreover, heavy dependence on factors beyond your control – much like an unforeseen market crash, causing you to potentially lose client money – means that there’s a lot of stress involved.

On the upside, you’ll have the chance to work in a dynamic environment with high-powered, highly-driven colleagues, excellent salary prospects, as well as the opportunity to assume responsibility relatively early on in your career.

Tip: If you’re in a client-facing role, you might even get the chance to network with global leaders fairly early when you start shadowing your team!

Although this list of questions and answers aren’t exhaustive, we hope they’ve helped you get a clearer picture and reaffirmed your interest in the investment banking and investment management industry!