Careers in banking and investment

Investment banking and investment management offer a wide range of opportunities, and you’ll find our alumni working in the sector all around the world. They are incredibly popular destinations for LSE graduates.

What is a career in banking and investment?

Investment banking can be broadly split into two sections: corporate finance and advice (M&A, loan finance, capital markets); and markets (trading, sales and research). It is the ‘sell side’ of the financial industry. 

This differs from investment management which is the 'buy' side of finance, and involves deciding where to invest large sums of money on behalf of corporate and individual clients. Investment management, or asset management, includes hedge funds, mutual funds, private equity, venture capital.

Many of these roles also require infrastructure support such as risk management, compliance, finance, IT and operations.

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

Investment banks can be split into the following sub sections.

  • Bulge bracket firms – the biggest firms, with the most profitable investment banking divisions, eg, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. These firms offer a full range of investment banking services.
  • Big deal challengers – stand alongside the bulge bracket but may have slightly smaller offices/deal teams or specialisms/global reach, eg, BNP Paribas and HSBC.
  • Emerging market experts – a select number of investment banks focused on emerging markets, eg, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered.
  • Pure advisory firms – focus on giving advice to their clients, but do not provide access to capital markets or raising funds, eg, Lazard and Rothschild. Often referred to as boutiques.

Many large investment banks also have an investment management arm (eg, asset management and private wealth management). However, there are also many independent investment management firms.

  • Asset management firms – can be stand-alone firms or an arm of an investment bank, eg, Blackrock, Fidelity and JP Morgan Asset Management.
  • Private wealth management – many are smaller groups within larger financial institutions, eg, Bank of America Global Wealth Management, RBC Wealth Management and Bernstein Private Wealth Management
  • Hedge funds – similar to asset managers in that they investment money in various asset classes on behalf of investors. However, they typically utilise a broader range of investment strategies for more sophisticated clients.
  • Private equity firms – perhaps the most sought after of all financial service roles. Also include Sovereign Wealth Funds. Difficult to get into straight after graduation, eg, Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group and Sequoia Capital Partners.

What can I do?

There are numerous different roles in this sector. We’ve outlined some of the major ones with links to where you can find more information. If you can, try and talk to someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in, so you get a real flavour of what it's like. Recruiters look for a clear understanding of the differences between roles.

How can I get there?

It’s important to do your research and apply early. Applications are advertised through employer and industry-specific websites as well as CareerHub. Most investment banks and asset managers require you to have completed a relevant internship prior to securing a full time graduate role.

If you’re looking to gain experience

First years can get a feel for what to expect through the 'spring weeks' offered in the Easter vacation, but the main route in is through a summer internship between your second and final years or following your master's degree. Applications generally open as early as July and close between October and December.

If you’re early on in your career

If you have a relevant master's and/or relevant internship experience in the financial services industry, you may be able to apply directly for graduate analyst roles. Look out for early deadlines as most banking and investment firms convert summer interns into graduate hires, meaning there are a limited number of graduate level roles to apply to.

Many of the smaller and boutique firms recruit year-round, so it is worth looking out for the opportunities on industry-specific websites and on CareerHub.

If you have more experience

The best route for you is likely to be through specialist recruitment agencies and search firms, networking within the sector and applying directly for roles advertised on company websites.

If you’re changing career

The banking and investment sector tends to recruit at graduate level and train up through the organisation, so moving into the sector at a later stage can be tricky. Depending on how large the jump is, it’s often necessary to take some stepping stones to gain relevant experience. This could be an internship or low-level direct entry role. You should also utilise your networks to learn more about the industry and easiest routes in.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in banking and investment?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.


Large firms often hold insight events or offer work experience opportunities that will give introductions to the sector, the organisation and opportunities available alongside the chance to network with the organisation’s employees. Employers are often on campus; it is recommended that you look up campus visit dates on the organisations’ websites.


  • efinancialcareers – jobs and articles on the sector, includes useful student pages.
  • Snippet.Finance – a blog with insights into stocks, macroeconomics, investing and finance.

Jobs and opportunities

  • CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.
  • efinancialcareers – jobs and articles on the sector, includes useful student pages.
  • Targetjobs – graduate jobs, internships and role profiles.
  • Inside Careers – graduate jobs, internships and role profiles.


If you’d like to discuss your options in this sector, or chat through your current plans, please book an appointment with an LSE Careers Consultant.