Career in Focus: Investment Banking

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What does it take to work in investment banking? Here at Postgrad.ie, we break down the skills and qualifications you need to take on a career in this area. 

This can be a highly remunerated and very rewarding career working alongside some of the world’s biggest and best financial institutions. It can also be demanding and highly competitive. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.

Financial Background

The work of an investment banker is to help both private and state or public organisations raise investment capital in the financial markets. An investment banker also works to provide professional advice in terms of acquisitions, transactions, mergers and other detailed financial processes.

In a normal investment banking environment, there are three distinct apparatus, normally called the front office, middle office and back office. These terminologies have changed over time in many organisations and different names are often used.

Section Roles

The front office typically provides client facing services such as banking and detailed advisory services to customers. Other aspects of the business; such as due diligence, financial reporting and research are also carried out in the front office. The middle office is involved in analysing any risks to the trades being carried out by traders and investment bankers and works to mitigate against any threats in this regard. The back office is concerned with the internal operations of the organisation, such as data analysis, data protection, and revenue protection.

As such, your role in investment banking can be determined by which section of the business you want to work in. As mentioned earlier, different banks, consultancies and organisations have different names for these functions so make sure you do your research in what is involved if there is a particular sector you wish to work in.

Entry Requirements

In terms of entry to the sector, a Level 8 degree is generally required but it doesn’t have to be a financial related degree. Remember, this is a huge area of business, they need people from marketing, technology, scientific and engineering background.  The number of transferable skills that these areas can bring into the business are considerable. If you want to work in the investment banking side of things though, you will need considerable numeracy skills. So if your degree is not finance-related, you will likely need additional qualifications or certifications. A great way of gaining an insight into what is involved in this area is via an internship or work placement. It’s great to get this experience while you are still in college or university so you can get a flavour for this sector and see if it is something that would be of interest to you.

Skills Required

The banking sector, particularly the investment banking sector, is a demanding place to work and you will need to hit the ground running. It’s very much a team-based environment, whether your work is client-facing or based internally. You will need to be highly organised, a quick thinker and a very strong communicator. If you’re on the client-facing side you will also need to be able to explain complex financial processes to those from outside the sector.

The attrition level within junior levels in the investment banking sector can be high, as some find that the sector is not for them. However, if you have the right capabilities and skills then you can progress, with frequent opportunities for promotion and career development. Like any part of the financial sector, you’ll need to develop new skills too, including certifications and courses in new technology, in order to make the most out of what a career in investment banking can offer.

Some more information on this sector can be obtained via www.corporatefinanceinstitute.ie .


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