Career: Investment Banker
Investment bankers advise their clients on high level issues of financial organization. They manage the issuance of bonds, recommend and execute strategies for taking over and merging with other companies, and handle selling a company’s stock to the public. The work thus involves lots of financial analysis, and a strong background in finance and economics is a necessity. Personal and strategic skills are vital to investment bankers as well, for they serve as strategists for their clients, helping them develop their financial plans as well as implement them. At the profession’s highest level, investment bankers serve as crucial figures in the shaping of the American and world economies, managing mergers of multibillion-dollar corporations and handling the privatization of government assets around the world.
All this is time consuming, and investment bankers work long hours. Work weeks of 70 hours or more are common, and all night sessions before deals close are the rule rather than the exception. Still, the work is extremely interesting, and those who stay in the profession report high levels of job satisfaction. Investment bankers spend large amounts of time traveling, to pitch ideas to prospective and current clients or to examine the facilities of companies being purchased by their clients. In the office, they spend their time developing strategies to pitch to clients, preparing financial analyses and documents, or working with the sales forces of their banks in selling the bonds and stocks which are created by the investment-banking department’s activities.
In general, an M.B.A., requiring two years of post-college study, is required to rise in the field, though entry-level jobs in analyst programs are available to college graduates who want experience in the profession. Analysts perform much of the grunt computer crunching required in preparing financial proposals, though they often travel to sit in on meetings with clients and sessions in which senior bankers pitch ideas to prospective customers. After two years, analysts usually move on, either to business school or to another profession, though a few are offered jobs as associates, the position which investment banks offer to M.B.A. holders. In many banks, this is as far as one can rise without an M.B.A., though there are exceptions, and a few prominent bankers never went to business school.
Most commonly, investment bankers who leave the profession go on to financial jobs in-house with a client of their former banking firm, as financial officers and analysts. It is also not uncommon for bankers to move on to management consulting, a field which demands many similar skills. Some bankers get law degrees and become specialists in financial and corporate law, while lawyers sometimes leave their firms to become investment bankers. Bankers who have become sufficiently established, with clients who trust them and reputations for expertise in their fields, can become entrepreneurs, leaving their firms to set up their own investment banks.