How to become an investment banker

What is an investment banker?

An investment banker provides financial services to corporate clients, helping them to raise capital required for investments. Investment bankers could spend one day buying and selling securities and the next underwriting deals.

Should I become an investment banker?

Becoming an investment banker in the UK typically requires years of academic study and internships. Commonly, you will head into a graduate role after university, putting in the hours to gain as much experience as possible.

Investment bankers are renowned for working long hours, so you will need to show commitment and enthusiasm early on in your career. You will also need strong financial and commercial awareness, keeping up to date with the latest affairs.

Successful investment bankers usually have a strong background in mathematics, excellent negotiation skills and the ability to work in high-pressure environments.

By working as an investment banker you can expect:

  • High earning potential
  • A competitive work environment
  • Growth and development as a graduate
  • To deal with high-profile transactions.

Steps to becoming an investment banker

To become an investment banker in the UK, there are a few steps you can take to help you pursue an investment banker career:

1) A Level or equivalent

Having strong A Levels can really help you stand out, both when applying for an undergraduate degree and applying for an investment banker role. Subjects such as accounting, business, economics and mathematics can really give you an advantage. You could also study a foundation, such as our Business, Finance and Management Foundation.

2) Undergraduate degree

You will need to achieve at least a 2:1 degree. Investment banks are interested in hiring graduates from all subject areas, not just finance. But certain degrees can help give you key transferable skills and knowledge. Mathematics, economics or business degrees can be a good choice, as can specialist finance degrees such as banking and finance.

3) Internships

One of the best ways to kick-start your career in an investment bank is to gain work experience in the industry through internships. An internship with an investment bank is a valuable asset and will help you with your career.

4) Masters degree

You do not necessarily need a Masters degree to follow an investment banking career, but it can make you a desirable candidate and give you an advantage over others. If you choose to study for a Masters degree, you should look at areas that will be beneficial to potential employers. Areas such as finance, investment management and wealth management are usually sought after, but business administration and computer science can also be fantastic choices. Developing complex quantitative skills can make you highly-employable.

How long does it take to become an investment banker?

Undergraduate degree – 3 years

Internships – during your degree (recommended)

Masters degree – 1 year (recommended)

After you have achieved an undergraduate degree, typically three years, you can go directly into a job in an investment bank. If you have worked hard, achieved good grades and have gained experience through internships, then direct employment is a possibility.

You could also study a Masters degree, which takes one year if you study full time, and can help you jump straight into an investment banker role.

Investment banker job profile

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Understand the day-to-day duties of an investment banker and what skills you need to succeed.

What degree do you need to be an investment banker?

There is no specific degree to become an investment banker, with investment banks hiring graduates from most subject areas.

However, transferable skills from degrees like economics, business, mathematics and finance can give you an advantage.

A Levels

A group of students learning at Bellerbys College

Explore what A Levels you could study at Bellerbys College. 

Foundation

A student from Bellerbys College

Our foundation programmes offer a route to a number of careers.

Career opportunities for investment bankers

A career as an investment banker can allow you to work in different areas of an investment bank. This could be in corporate finance, debt capital markets or equity capital markets.

You will typically start in a junior position such as an analyst or an associate. These two to three year positions will give you the training to progress to associate level.

 With further experience and training you could move onto a senior position, managing both analysts and associates. After 10-15 years of working in the industry, you could be looking to move up to director roles. You will need to show true commitment to the career path to progress to higher roles. Strong performance and a desire to succeed are key to progressing.