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Investment Banking Career Path: Roles, Education and Salaries

Investment banking is one of the highest-paying jobs in the world. The average salary of an investment banker in US is $113,289 per year according to Glassdoor.co.in. But what do you have to do to follow the investment banking career path?

What is investment banking?

Investment banking is a subset of banking that assists individuals and organizations in financial transactions such as capital raising, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), or initial public offerings (IPOs) by providing financial advice. 

What does an investment banker do?

The job profile of an investment banker is wide-ranging. The responsibilities of an investment banker typically include

  1. Issuing loans and selling shares for raising funds.
  2. Managing IPOs and private equity placements.
  3. Finding possible investors and completing transactions with them.
  4. Assisting with corporate restructuring.
  5. Analyzing risk and hence providing the necessary financial advice.

Is the investment banking career path for you?

If you are wondering whether investment banking is the right choice for you, here are some points one should take into account:

  1. The job offers high levels of compensation.
  2. The investment industry is growing as there is an increase in financial products and services.
  3. An investment banker’s primary responsibility is to assist customers.
  4. Possibility of people acquiring impeccable skills after working in the sector for a long period, giving them the ability to become one of the finest in the industry.
  5. The position necessitates developing working ties with high-level clientele.
  6. There are a variety of positions available in investment banking such as analyst, associate, vice president, senior vice president, and then managing director.

How can you become an investment banker?

Investment banking as a career sounds a bit overwhelming, but here are a few tips to easily get follow the investment banking career path:

  • Education: For top candidates, investment bankers prefer MBA finance profiles over other profiles. You may easily get into the sector if you have a CFA charter. Another option to consider would be education in chartered accountancy. The basic minimum education needed, however, is a graduate degree in any domain.
  • Networking: A solid network is one of the most important aspects that might help you break into the industry quickly. Finding relevant people and approaching them personally is the best strategy to get your application acknowledged in investment banking. Contacting associates or vice presidents directly is preferable due to their prominence in the investment banking recruiting process.
  • Work experience: Candidates with work experience or internships tend to have higher chances of getting into the field than those without work experience. 
  • Courses: Taking a few professional courses in a related field can increase the likelihood of your application being accepted. Some courses prepare you to meet the requirements for a broad range of modern career opportunities in sought-after established financial institutions, consulting firms, investment and corporate banks, brokerage firms, financial data providers, rating firms, hedge fund institutes, venture capitalists, insurance companies, etc. Both of these are short, flexible programs for working professionals with subjects that will strengthen your foundation in finance.
    3 such courses are:

    • Global Master of Science in Finance (Global MS in Finance) program from the Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management: It is a program with an integrated curriculum including a capstone course and several courses focused on building a rigorous background in the technical fundamentals of financial analysis and developing critical thinking skills. It is also beneficial for participants who are seeking the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) professional designation and will benefit from the Global MSF program curriculum with concepts that may assist with preparing for the exam. With this program you will be eligible to participate in the US OPT – Optional Practical Training program for F-1 students upon the completion of your MSF degree, allowing you to stay in the US while you start your career in finance.
    • Master of Science in Finance (MS in Finance) program from the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB): This program is for people seeing leadership positions in the field of finance with a focus on risk management, financial engineering, banking, corporate finance and portfolio analysis and management. GWSB MSF qualifies as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) designated program for Optional Practical Training (OPT) purposes, which offers the potential for international students to work in the US for a total of 3 years before transitioning to a work visa (H1-B, etc.)
    • Master of Science in Applied Finance (MSAF) program from the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB): This program provides deep understanding of advanced methods for analyzing financial data in order to work at a global level and Intricately developed skills to execute strategic financial plans. GWSB MSAF qualifies as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) designated program for Optional Practical Training (OPT) purposes, which offers the potential for international students to work in the US for a total of 3 years before transitioning to a work visa (H1-B, etc.)

What is the typical career path in investment banking?

A typical career path in the investment banking industry has two basic entry points: 

  1. Pre-MBA
  2. Post-MBA

Candidates who begin as analysts in the field during their pre-MBA tenure have the most common career path in investment banking.

Post-MBA the typical career path in the investment banking industry looks something like the following:

  1. Candidates fill in the roles of associates after serving as analysts.
  2. After working as an associate, they advance to the position of vice president.
  3. The post of senior vice president follows the position of vice president.
  4. The position of managing director is the highest level of responsibility in the most common investment banking career path which is taken by the candidates after successfully serving as a senior vice president.

What are the salaries of working professionals in investment banking?

Depending on the role, your experience, and the company to which you have applied, the salary for the position differs. Here is the average compensation according to mergersandinquisitions.com for the various roles assumed by the candidates:

  • Average salary in US for a Financial Analyst: $150 – $250k per year
  • Average salary in US for a Financial Associate: $300 – $550k per year 
  • Average salary in US for a Financial Vice president: $500 – $900k per year
  • Average salary in US for a Financial Senior vice president: $800 – $1,200k per year
  • Average salary in US for a Managing director: $1000 – $3000k+ per year

FAQs

  1. What are the key investment banking functions?
    • The investment banking operations are classified into the front office, middle office, and back office. The front office drives revenue creation, the middle office supports revenue generation procedures, and the back office comprises functions that exist regardless of income earned.
  2. How to network as an investment banker?
    • Informational interviewing, cold emailing, and cold calling are just a few of the primary tactics that might help investment bankers build a strong network.
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