Skill Sets of Investment Bankers

At the entry level, Investment Bankers deal day in and day out with numbers and work extremely long hours.Yes, Investment Bankers do make a successful career with highly lucrative salaries, however, apart from practical knowledge, Investment Bankers must posses the following key skill sets –

  1. Strong analytical and reasoning skills: Most bankers have proven academic track records. Interviews often focus on puzzles and high school math problems.
  2. Knowledge of financial statements and their analysis: Big bulge bracket banks conduct their own training programs and teach their incoming batches everything from scratch. However, during lateral hiring or in case of boutique IBs that don’t have training resources, a candidate that knows the basics of financial analysis would definitely have an edge over others.
  3. Attention to detail : A quote used often in the industry is: “if the banker can’t even use correct punctuation, how do I trust him/her with my money?” Senior bankers are serious nitpickers and any entry-level banker has to be accurate to the point of being obsessive!
  4. Diligence and work ethic: The workflow is highly unpredictable, demands accuracy each time and is always urgent. Long hours are the norm rather than the exception. Only the really hard working and efficient bankers can survive these stressful conditions.
  5. Multitasking: This skill is key because one would most likely work on several projects at a time. This is especially true for smaller banks.
  6. Excellent communication skills: An I Banker must communicate well, in both written and oral forms. As he/she climbs up the ladder, communication skills and leadership abilities take centre-stage.

This industry is not for someone who would like a predictable, regular office routine. However, if you like challenges, nothing can beat this. The merits of working in a fast paced industry with high profile colleagues is the steepest learning platform you can hope for and a tremendous adrenaline rush!

There are two ways of getting into IB in India for fresh graduates with no Investment Banking experience:

  • Make it to the top tier B schools – meaning the IIMs A, B, C or ISB or other institutes in this league. Bulge bracket IBs visit these campuses to select analysts either for internships or directly for their global IB program
  • Graduate from the next tier of MBA institutes (MDI, IIFT, IIT SOMs etc.), or complete Chartered Accountancy, or pass out of top undergrad institutes like the IITs, Stephen’s, Xavier’s, etc. (economics or related subjects preferred). This route could take you to the offshored IB outfits within these big banks, which usually feeds into their global analyst program. The only hitch being you need to work in the offshored role for some time before you make the cut to the front-end client-facing role. Still, it is a great way to finally get to front end IB (More and more banks are recruiting from undergrad colleges for these offshore entities)

Boutique investment banks often recruit laterally based on experience and skills. It may serve you well to know a bit of financial analytics and modeling. A CFA would be a good qualification to have to prove your focus and knowledge in this area.

To sum up, an MBA in finance is beneficial, but not essential. A CFA or similar finance certification may stand in good stead. However, an undergraduate from a top tier institute with a great resume stands as good a chance to get a foot in the door of an IB as a post graduate.

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