Investment Banking Career Paths: Opportunities and Skills Required

Investment Banking Career Paths: Opportunities and Skills Required

Written by Moli Mishra, In finance, Updated On
September 28th, 2023

Undergraduates generally apply to banks with the goal of landing an investment banking analyst position. One must do well and show an interest in direct promotions from analyst to associate without needing you to go back for your MBA (commonly referred to as “A to A” promotions). MBA students usually aim for investment banking associate positions with an eventual goal of working up the ranks to become managing directors one day. You can achieve all this by enrolling in an Investment Banking Certification. In this blog, we will discuss the top investment banking career paths you can follow.

What is Investment Banking?

Investment Banking Career Paths
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Investment banking is an area of finance focused on raising capital for large companies, governments, and investors. Investment banks work to raise capital on behalf of their clients while aiding large corporate transactions like mergers and acquisitions (M&As) or initial public offerings (IPOs). Investment bankers act as key figures within these institutions – connecting buyers and sellers; finding ways to make clients money; performing in-depth research in order to inform investment decisions for both themselves as well as their clients; and ultimately becoming essential members of an institution’s team of financial analysts who help manage clients’ accounts in return for commission.

Investment bankers aren’t the only employees at these banks; other jobs include accountants, actuaries, brokers and investment managers as well as roles that support human resources management, legal management or office administration.

Key Skills Required for Succeeding in Investment Banking M&A

An M&A banker needs a solid knowledge of financial analysis, valuation and due diligence practices as well as negotiation techniques, along with strong interpersonal communication and client business-generating abilities. Negotiation skills become even more critical with increasing seniority at an investment bank as do bringing on clients for negotiations and closing deals. Negotiation becomes even more necessary due to client interactions such as negotiations for client business acquisition; strong negotiation capabilities become even more essential, along with developing client business. Communication abilities must also include effective interactions with potential buyers or sellers along with lawyers, accountants consultants or any potential stakeholders involved – along with tight deadlines being met! Finally, paying close attention to detail is absolutely paramount and meeting tight deadlines can only result in success!

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Specific skill requirements may include:

Financial modelling (valuation, M&A, LBO modelling), valuation (valuation), and general financial analysis typify those well suited for working in investment banking. Some of the traits that distinguish their personalities are: 

  • Entry-level investment bankers have historically been known to call themselves analysts because so much of investment banking involves data analysis and problem-solving.
  • Investment Banking Requires Attention to Detail: Investment banking requires closely analyzing a company’s real finances, so any mistakes in calculations or information could have disastrous repercussions for its assets and revenue streams.
  • Collaboration: Investment bankers need to work closely together as part of an interdependent team in order to meet professional objectives effectively, so any subpar performance from any single member could stymie project momentum,” according to June Jia, an investment banker from GF Securities.
  • Communication: At investment banks, communication is at the core of everything they do – be it explaining a financial model to clients or leading a meeting among teammates.
  • Investment bankers work extremely long days; therefore having the discipline and drive necessary to see them through is vital in order to succeed.
  • Negotiation: Effective communication to reach mutually beneficial agreements between people is one of the core skills necessary in investment banking.
  • Organization: Life at an investment bank involves managing several projects simultaneously, so staying organized is crucial to keeping everything moving smoothly.
  • Time Management: Given the demanding nature of investment banking, professionals in this field often struggle with multiple projects with competing deadlines,” notes Jia. Inadequate time and stress management skills may result in errors while inadequate stress relief techniques might result in mental fatigue under such intensely pressured circumstances.
  • Work Ethic: Being reliable and committed to doing a quality job will set you apart in your manager’s eyes, and is key for being successful in investment banking.
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What Is an Investment Banking Career Path?

Entry-level roles usually require a bachelor’s degree in either finance or economics-focused disciplines; to advance in your investment banking career path further, you may require either an MBA degree or other speciality related to corporate finance.

Many investment bankers start out their careers with an internship at an investment banking firm, after which they may gain full-time offers and become analysts after graduation. But an internship isn’t always necessary and entry-level analyst positions can still be obtained even without one.

Beyond education or internships, success in investment banking requires having core investment banking skills like financial modelling and business valuation methods such as discounted cash flow analysis (DCF analysis). Furthermore, soft skills that will distinguish you include communication and analytic thinking abilities.

Titles and levels may differ by company, but an investment banking career typically encompasses:

Interns –

Since an internship provides opportunities to learn and gain experience, interns typically follow analysts or associates around as they perform daily duties and support them when required. Some interns may assist analysts by creating presentations or financial models jointly.

Analysts –

An analyst typically handles presentation and Excel work to assist their superiors with client acquisition and deal closure efforts. Most analysts typically remain in this role for two to three years before either being promoted within investment banking or finding other forms of employment elsewhere in finance or industry.

Associate –

Associate has similar responsibilities as analysts but with additional responsibility and stress levels to make everything run efficiently. Associates should pursue getting their master of business administration (MBA), so they’re better poised for advancement or shifting into niche areas of finance.

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Vice Presidents (VPs) –

Vice presidents have more responsibilities and client interactions. They must balance time spent pitching new clients while overseeing analysts and associates under them as well as pitching potential ones and managing deals. After three to four years of outstanding performance, a Vice President can be promoted or headhunted into more specialized financial fields like hedge fund management.

Managing Directors (MDs) –

MDs serve as the head of their teams and have one goal in mind – earning as much revenue for both themselves and their clients as possible. Each day is spent finding clients, convincing them of its benefits, and maintaining existing client relationships. Furthermore, managing directors delegate work among lower positions under them while making sure everything runs smoothly to keep clients content.


Investment banking can be an ideal career path if you have an enthusiasm and drive for finance and are willing to put in the hard work required. Not only will you earn good money but you will gain invaluable skills as well as connect with real decision-makers. Even though the field itself can be competitive; all it requires to get going are two things – an MBA degree and the proper knowledge base, which you can gain by enrolling in an Investment Banking Course in finance to begin working within it.

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