How to Get Started in Investment Banking

5 proven tactics that will help you not just survive but thrive in investment banking.

Never-ending workweeks, late nights, high competition, demanding projects, and the constant need to stay updated. Welcome to the world of investment banking. Most people think that getting into an investment bank is the hardest part. But the real battle lies ahead and only the well-prepared and agile can survive it.

To succeed in investment banking, you would need way more than interest, passion, or drive. While these are commendable, they won’t help you stand out. Beyond the ability to buy and sell, you would need to have exceptional communication, networking, and interpersonal skills to make your mark in this highly competitive world.

In this guide, we will discover some proven tactics that will help you not just survive but thrive in investment banking.

Tip 1: Follow the markets

This might seem like an obvious suggestion but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. To stand out from the crowd, the first thing you have to do is follow the markets. Along with the broad trends, you should also be interested in the sectors that your team or investment bank would be working on.

You could select two or three reliable newsfeeds and opt for their premium subscription and daily news emails. This will help you keep track of the daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual movements in Nasdaq, NYSE, and other exchanges. You will also know who’s the top performer of the day and understand why it happened.

Tip 2: Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Just because you’re out of college doesn’t mean your learning has come to an end. In fact, in investment banking, the first few years should be devoted to educating yourself on new ideas and strategies. No matter how much theoretical knowledge you might have, nothing can substitute the learnings from the real world out there. 

Always think beyond your current responsibilities. It can be difficult to think about adding more work to your plate but if a senior in your investment bank offers you an opportunity to work on a project, agree to it. Either you will do well or you will learn from your mistakes. Both are favorable outcomes when you’re starting out. And in the process, you would also get to know new people.

Learn more about some of the behavioral benefits of being comfortable being uncomfortable in this article by Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. 

Tip 3: Build your internal network

Once you’re through with the training program in your investment bank, you might be tempted to think that they would give you a grace period. But the reality is that you will have to start performing from day one. If you find any particular task difficult, you can always ask for help. You can ask your team members, immediate juniors in other teams, or even those in administration.

You should know by now that the quality of your network will decide how many job opportunities come your way, how many projects you will be invited to, the pace with which you grow, and your salary and perks. But for that, you need to start actively networking both inside and outside your investment bank.

Begin with alumni from your college and school. Are there people you can reach out to for advice? Another source is your peer group. The focus should always be on building relationships. Be ready to help if you sense that somebody needs it. Importantly, understand that building a high-quality network takes time.

Tip 4: Create a career plan

Your career shouldn’t happen to you, you should make it happen. The way to do that is by drawing up a career plan as early as possible. This is one of the most common traits in those who do exceptionally well in investment banking.

Figure out where you want to be in three, five, and ten years. Look at the careers of successful people in your investment banking and the industry. Go through their LinkedIn profiles and chart a career path that works for you. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. The world of investment banking rewards those who know what they want and go after it.

Here is a great template from Post Grad Environments. 

Tip 5: Learn the tools

Nobody has to tell you that technology will increasingly play a crucial role in investment banking. It’s important to understand that there are two aspects to it. The first one is that you should know the broad technological trends in the economy. What apps and platforms are becoming popular and in what demographics? Which industries are facing threats from technology and which ones are adapting fast?

Secondly, learn what technological tools are being used in investment banking. Which functions are getting automated through AI and what are the key trends in your sector? Which apps and platforms will make your job easier? These are some of the questions you should be interested in.

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In short

Success doesn’t happen on its own in investment banking. With these survival tips for investment bankers, it should be easier for you to develop an actionable plan. To make it truly effective, you also need to constantly analyze your efforts and see what needs to be improved.

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