How to Become an Investment Banker

Career Path Guide

Although there are several paths you can take to become an investment banker, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


1. Determine if this profession is suited to your personality and professional interests

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Math, Computer Science or a similar field

3. Get work or internship experience while you're a student

4. Get work as an investment analyst upon graduation

5. Earn an MBA, or accreditation as a CA or CFA

6. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you gain experience


Read on below to learn more about what it takes to become an investment banker!



What experience will I need?

Some investment banks will take on recent grads, whereas some will require bankers with previous corporate accounting/finance/investment banking experience.


Fortunately for new grads that don’t have any work experience (outside of an internship), many investment banks offer in-house training programs wherein newly minted bachelor’s grads are put into analyst roles, and are introduced to principles of accounting, risk, markets, financial statement analysis, and financial modeling. 


Please Note: If you’re able to land such a position, you may be required to earn a graduate degree, a financial or accounting designation, or complete continuing education through your employer, prior to becoming an investment banking associate.



What education will I need?

Entry-level positions such as ‘investment banking analyst’, require a bachelor’s degree, typically in a field such as finance, accounting, economics, mathematics, computer science or physics.


To move into a position as an investment banker however, you will likely need a master’s degree in one of these areas (which can include an MBA), or an accounting or financial designation such as CA or CFA.





Working an internship to gain experience

A good way to gain experience, make professional contacts, and get your foot in the industry before landing a permanent job, is to complete an internship. Investment banks regularly take on undergraduate and graduate interns and provide them with preliminary training and mentorship. 



What is an investment banker?

Investment bankers (also known as “institutional bankers”, “corporate investment bankers” or “investment underwriters”) provide a wide range of financial services to companies, institutions and government bodies. 


For example, they manage strategic financial opportunities including mergers, acquisitions, issuing bonds and shares, lending, privatizations and overseeing initial public offerings (IPO’s).


They are also often involved in leading management buy-outs, raising capital, identifying and securing new deals, as well as providing strategic advice to clients.



What do they do?

Investment bankers are generally responsible for the following:


• Advising clients (companies, organizations and government bodies) regarding how to achieve their financial goals

• Helping clients implement short, medium and long term financial plans

• Assisting in mergers and acquisitions to ensure the client can achieve diversification, safeguard their market position or increase profitability

• Assessing the desirability of a potential deal

• Advising clients on how much capital to raise, as well as when to raise it and how much is needed

• Assisting client with restructuring debt, refinancing debt, and raising new debt

• Carrying out financial modeling followed by presenting to client

• Ensuring all government regulations have been followed properly

• Using financial models to simulate possible outcomes

• Liaising with other professionals, such as accounts, PR representatives and corporate lawyers, to structure and negotiate the detailed terms of a deal





Is this occupation right for me?

If an occupation brings you personal and professional satisfaction, then chances are you’re in the right field. If you have most or all of the following traits and attributes, you’ll likely be a great fit for this occupation:


• You have a strong background in mathematics

• You have self-confidence, drive and determination

• You’re the type of person who’s willing to make your boss say,"thanks, that's great" instead of just “thanks"

• You have interest in a career that involves finance, management, compliance, research, equity, securities, trading, and risk management

• You have an interest in a career that involves building good relationships with corporate clients

• You’re capable of assuming significant levels of responsibility for assignments to be completed within short time frames

• You’re willing to work beyond normal business hours and possibly travel for work



Investment banker salary

Unfortunately, there is no salary information available from reliable sources for investment bankers. We can however, get a general idea of what they could earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations.


Investment Banker Salary - Alberta: According to the The 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Financial and Investment Analysts occupational group earn an average annual salary of $85,565.


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Government of British Columbia, the annual provincial median salary of British Columbians working in the Financial and investment analysts occupational group is $71,947.

Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans working as part of the Financial Analysts occupational group earn a median salary of $85,660 per year. (May, 2018 figures).


Please Note: These figures are for illustrative purposes only. Also, the amount earned by investment banking analysts can vary quite a bit, and can vary based on the following factors:


• Their level of experience and education

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their position  

• The size and type of their employer 

• The region in which they work

• Their pay structure (if it includes salary, bonuses, commissions, etc.)

• Many other factors



Who employs investment bankers?

Investment bankers are typically employed by the following types of organizations:


• International investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley

• Investment banking departments of large commercial banks like RBC, Citigroup, Barclays, TD

• Specialist investment banks like Lazard and Rothschild, PI Financial Corp. and Greenhill



Current job postings

Our job board below has a listing of "Investment Banker" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.



What career advancement opportunities exist?

If you demonstrate a very strong work ethic, the willingness to go above and beyond for clients, and competence in your projects, then a variety of career advancement opportunities should present themselves to you. For example, advancement opportunities might include:


• An increase in pay (salary, bonuses, benefits, commissions, etc.)

• An increase in responsibility, such as becoming a senior investment banker

• Advancement to management or executive positions

• Becoming a specialist in one area of operations, such as 'mergers and acquisitions'

• Becoming a self-employed consultant, such as an 'asset management' consultant


Success Tip: Performing well as an investment banker not only leads to better pay and internal recognition, it also attracts outside attention. Headhunting is common in this profession; high performers are in demand and it is not unusual for individuals to be poached by other banks.



What careers are similar to this one?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Investment Banker”:


Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

• Financial Analyst

• Financial Planner

• Financial Trader

• Investment Analyst

• Investment Banking Analyst

• Quantitative Analyst




What scholarships are there for aspiring investment bankers? 

The “Relevant university majors” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming an investment banker. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Finance Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are millions of dollars worth of scholarship money that goes unused every year due to a lack of applicants in Canada and the United States!



Sources for this career guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Careers: “What does an Investment Banker do?” (n.d.). Retrieved August 1’17, 2017.

• Job Profile: “Corporate investment banker.” AGCAS editors (May, 2016). Retrieved August 1, 2017.

• Explore Careers: “Financial and investment analysts.” (January 24, 2018). WorkBC website. Retrieved February 11, 2020.

• Students: “Careers in Investment Banking.” (n.d.). Canadian Securities Institute. Retrieved August 1’17, 2017.

• Work & Careers “How to Get Into Investment Banking.” Mark King (April 20, 2012). The Guardian. Retrieved August 1, 2017

• Career Guides “How to Become an Investment Banker.” Michael Cheary (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2017



Relevant university majors

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming an investment banker. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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