The finance industry is one of the largest sectors in most
developed economies and as such offers many opportunities to
build an exciting and rewarding career. One area which
attracts much attention is investment banking. It’s a high
profile part of the industry because of the types of
business that it specialises in – arranging stock market
listings, mega-bond offerings and takeovers for businesses
seeking financing and expansion. It is also one of the most
lucrative areas in finance, commanding six figure salaries
for first year. Accordingly, investment banking is a magnet
for those seeking high flying careers. This article, part
one of a three part series explores the investment banking
industry including the good, the bad and the ugly.
Part one discusses some of the advantages and attractions of
working in investment banking.
It’s in the money! Of course one of the top attractions for
many is the potential money that comes attached to jobs in
the industry. The industry demands a lot from the people
that work in it both in ability and commitment. To attract
top talent, the industry rolls out large pay packets. Bulge
bracket firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and
Merrill Lynch can pay more than six figures for b-school
grads. On top of that, there are sign-on and year-end
bonuses that can double, triple or generate even higher
multiples of base salary. At senior levels the compensation
reaches even higher levels of the stratosphere – managing
directors can expect as much as mid-seven figures in good
Another allure is the fast paced action on offer. There’s
never a dull moment as an investment banker. The work
involved in arranging share sales, bond offerings,
acquisitions and sales of entire businesses is fast paced
and complex where details and variables can change rapidly
with movements in the markets. This presents a huge
challenge for those delivering the goods and ensures that
life is almost always moving quickly.
The prestige factor can also be attractive to some. The
nature of the business often involves working with major
public and private sector organisations, particularly at the
leading investment banks. Deals can include initial public
offerings of major industry players and soon-to-be market
leaders. Depending on the industry and location,
transactions can also be industry changing events such as
privatisations of state controlled entities.
As an investment banker there is always the opportunity to
meet and interact with senior people. Not only is this an
opportunity to better understand how top people in a given
industry think and operate, it can present opportunities at
many points along the career path. On top of private sector
contacts, there may also be interaction with senior
government officials, especially in countries where the
state maintains a high level of investment an industry.
These all important connections can prove useful.
For those that are attracted to leadership and
responsibility, investment banks do not disappoint. The
rapid pace of the industry means that those progressing
through the ranks can be given significant levels of
responsibility. It is quite normal for those in their
mid-thirties to be responsible for entire business units.
Investment banking is a big plus for those that like to be
boss, although it must be noted that there are many levels
of management within the larger banks.
Finally, a career as an investment banker can offer the
opportunity for extensive travel, whether it is between
cities within the country or as is more and more common,
across international borders. As bankers progress through VP
and Managing Director levels, there is the requirement to
spend more time cultivating and developing client
relationships. Often this is done in different cities and
different global locations. It can be exciting as well as
enlightening to experience the different cultures and places
located outside of your doorstep.
And there it is some of the main attractions for signing up
as an investment banker – money, travel, action, prestige,
leadership and high level connections. Listed together these
almost sound like a cliché for the original role of James
Bond and perhaps explains why many ambitious graduates are
so interested in pursuing investment banking careers.
In part two, the flipside is discussed. Yes, there is a
downside. Find out the negatives of life as an investment
banker “Investment Banking Questions II – is it for you?”