The insider's guide to working in investment banking

 

Are you intelligent, entrepreneurial and interested in how finance fits into the world around us? Then a career in investment banking could be for you.

It’s not all big deals and trading

Investment banks are most well known for their involvement in trading and corporate mergers and acquisitions deals. These are important parts of the business for most investment banks and there are exciting roles for graduates here.

But be aware that there are many other types of job in the industry – for example, you could be monitoring political developments in the eurozone, helping billionaires manage their assets, or working on your bank’s business strategy.

Wherever you’re working, you’ll find investment banking is a competitive industry where you’ll be well-rewarded if you’re prepared to keep learning and to help the business develop and adapt to change.

Egyptologists as well as economics students get jobs here

Having studied a numerate subject at university helps in some roles in investment banking and, unsurprisingly given the international nature of much of the work in the industry, modern languages skills are in demand at the moment. But investment banks need graduates with a wide range of abilities and will teach you anything you need to learn to do your job.

So rather than a particular degree, a strong academic record in just about any subject, committed involvement in some sensible extracurricular activities, and a real interest in finance is what will get investment banks to take a serious look at your application.

Women are welcome

In some areas of investment banking, notably its senior ranks and anything based on a trading floor, you’ll still see considerably more men than women. But most investment banks have recognised the social and economic value of employing a range of different types of person and are keen to recruit female students to even out the current gender imbalance.

Once working at an investment bank as a female graduate, you’re likely to have access to mentoring and networking opportunities designed to help women progress.

Investment banks can be socially responsible

Many investment banks are involved in worthwhile community and environmental projects. As a graduate recruit you might find yourself reading with pupils at an East End school or cleaning out a pond at a wildlife reserve with your colleagues.

Some investment banks are taking things a step further and are using their financial expertise to help out small local businesses or the growing environmental finance sector.

You’ll probably spend a lot of time in the office

In a trading-related role you could be starting at 7am, followed by 10-12 hours of non-stop action until the markets shut and any follow-up work is done. If you’re doing corporate finance-related work, your hours can be just as lengthy, and unpredictable and antisocial to boot – people really do work all through the night at short notice on big deals sometimes.

But after an shocking death last summer, the spotlight is on working lifestyles in investment banking, particularly those of graduates and interns. Many investment banks are setting up initiatives, such as buddy schemes and protected time off, to safeguard the health of their employees, though how much of an effect they’ll have at the coalface is still an open question.

It’s also worth knowing that in some roles in investment banking you’ll work fairly normal office hours.

Investment banks love new technology

Intense competition between investment banks, particularly in the electronic trading field, has led to a technological arms race in the sector. Investment banks have recruited and are growing huge technology teams that are designing and implementing interesting developments in everything from big data to high-speed networks to cybersecurity.

Given the potential technology offers them, investment banks are extremely keen to recruit graduates interested in this area, and once you’re in, you’ll be at the centre of your bank’s plans for the future.

Apply early in your university career

If you decide you’re interested in a career in investment banking, it pays to get going early.

Investment banks recruit most of their graduate joiners from the summer internship programmes they run for penultimate year students, for which you need to apply the previous autumn.

The spring week programmes for first years that most investment banks run are a great way to get fast-tracked for a summer internship and to test out early on whether investment banking is the career for you.

Hannah Langworth is the editor of The Gateway, the business and careers newspaper for students. You can follow The Gateway on Twitter @GatewayOnline

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Developer - Norfolk - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Software Developer - Norf...

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?