Networking to Get an Investment Banking Job
Investment bankers are renowned for working long hours in high pressure situations. They are rewarded with professional respect and enviable compensation packages. In fact, investment banking represents one of the most lucrative career options in the financial services sector. This is what makes competition for investment banking jobs fierce. But if these bankers are working much more than “bankers hours” how can someone take advantage of investment banking networking opportunities?
Back to basics
An investment banking career has unique working conditions and, hence, unique requirements. Education credentials are very important. Most investment banking firms specify the minimum qualification as a bachelor’s degree from a prestigious school and you must be top of your class. An MBA from a top-notch business school will get your foot in the door, however, a degree from a esteemed institution, such as Harvard, Stanford or MIT, greatly increases the probability of you getting an interview call, but is not a prerequisite.
You could get your foot into the door through an internship without yet having completed your bachelor’s degree. Although traditional routes, such as campus recruiting, remain popular among leading investment banks, like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, an increasing number of people are successful due to their contacts. In addition to education, investment banking firms emphasize on personality fit. So, building relationships is key to getting an investment banking job. This is where the importance of networking comes into play.
Networking is important for both employers and job seekers in the investment banking industry. Investment banking firms require people who are talented professionals, with good quantitative and analytical abilities and a fit for their culture. Most hiring managers prefer to hire people who have been recommended by somebody they trust. This is why professional networking is such a powerful part of the job search process.
Speak the language
Awareness of investment banking activities and vocabulary plays an important role in successful networking. Investment banking is a complex industry, involving a number of activities ranging from raising funds through debt or equity to making public issue offerings. Bulge bracket firms, such as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, also provide advisory services related to mergers and acquisitions and asset management services to their clients. So, if you are eyeing an investment banking job, you need to be aware of the financial and technical terms used in these jobs.
You should be familiar with terms like Clearing House, American Depositary Receipt, ROCE (return on capital employed) and LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate). There are numerous sites, such as Bloomberg and Investopedia, that can help you brush up on your knowledge of investment banking terms.
Deep industry knowledge will always put you in an advantageous position. So, learn as much as you can about the industry. If you are a specialist in any domain you have an edge over other candidates. If you have in-depth knowledge about a particular industry and can capitalize on your insight into making investment decisions within that industry, be sure to highlight that advantage in your conversations.
Stay abreast of the current financial events. Awareness of the latest M&A deals being negotiated and the movement of various investment banks in the league table, will help you communicate effectively. The Wall Street Journal is an excellent news source and you will benefit by getting into the habit of reading it everyday.
Six places to start networking
The starting point in your networking exercise should be getting in touch with your friends and acquaintances in the financial services industry. If you have worked even for a short period in the financial services industry, you would certainly have made some contacts there. Make a conscious effort to rekindle meaningful relationships with them. You could send an email to your contacts in the investment banking industry, explaining that you are interested in the field and wish to seek their advice and learn something from their experiences. People generally do not mind advising others and often extend their help readily. This could be a starting point for a strong relationship to leverage in the hiring process.
The Internet is an excellent place to build your network. Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, help immensely, as there sites get together people from common interest groups. Look for online communities of investment bankers on networking sites and blogs and start building your connections.
Build relationships with your school alumni. Having graduated from the same university or business school, a bond already exists. Leverage this bond to create new introductions. Most universities have online career networks. Many times, these networks use the services of professionals from investment banks like Citi, Bank of America, Piper Jaffrey and Barclays Capital to advise their members (another networking opportunity).
Some of your friends may not be in the investment banking industry, but may know someone who is. LinkedIn identifies these relationships for you. You could request your friend for an introduction and continue on the journey of building a solid network.
Attend seminars organized by industry associations and investment banks. Investment banking firms, like JP Morgan and Credit Suisse, regularly host events that offer excellent educational and networking opportunities.
Keep in touch with executive recruiters in the investment banking industry. This could play a significant role in landing you an investment banking job. Several executive recruiters offer career advice for people looking for an investment banking job. Key to your search should be the niche online job sites such as Investment Banking Job Digest to focus your search on the most relevant investment banking job opportunities.
Because of the competition, you need to be driven to get an investment banking job. It is very difficult to break into the industry if you are switching careers or have no prior experience. Look for networking opportunities at both the personal and professional level and take advantage of every networking opportunity you can in the job search process.
If you would like to find an investment banking job opportunity, you could look at the numerous investment banking jobs available. You can do this by browsing sites like Job Search Digest. You can also get in touch with leading executive search consultants for details of current vacancies. www.JobSearchDigest.com provides its members with a database of niche investment banking recruiters.