Careers in Banking and Investment

 

In brief

Banking and investment offers a wide range of opportunities, and you’ll find our alumni working in the sector all around the world. Popular areas include investment banking and asset management.

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). Asset management involves deciding where to invest large sums of money for corporate and individual clients.

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

Where can you work?

Investment banks can be split into the following sub sections.

  • Bulge bracket firms – the biggest firms, with the most profitable investment banking divisions, e.g. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.
  • Big deal challengers – stand alongside the bulge bracket but may have slightly smaller offices/deal teams or particular specialisms/global reach, e.g. BNP Paribas and HSBC.
  • Emerging market experts – a select number of investment banks focused on emerging markets, e.g. 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, e.g. Lazard and Rothschild. Often referred to as ‘boutiques’.
  • Asset management firms & Hedge Funds – can be stand-alone firms or an arm of an investment bank, e.g. Blackrock, Fidelity and JP Morgan Asset Management.
  • 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, e.g. Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group and Sequoia Capital Partners.
  • Private Wealth Management – many are smaller groups within larger financial institutions, e.g. Bank of America Global Wealth Management, RBC Wealth Management and Bernstein Private Wealth Management

What’s changing in the sector?

Banking and investment has seen considerable change and will continue to do so. Advances in technology continue to streamline many manual processes and have made a real impact on trading and sales roles.

Following the 2008 financial crisis there have been more regulatory changes, which can impact on profit. The future landscape of the financial industry may look slightly different, with smaller, more nimble organisations, fintechs and regtechs being able to disrupt the market.

Useful Websites

CareerHub - jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.

efinancialcareers – jobs and articles on the sector, includes useful student pages.

thegateway – good articles and insight into what banking and investment is.

Targetjobs – graduate jobs, internships and role profiles.

Inside Careers – graduate jobs, internships and role profiles.

Vault guides – detailed descriptions on sector, organisations and application process. Scroll down to ‘Vault: Career Insider’ and click on the link to log in.

Useful Information

Routes in

Introduction

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 1-2 week 'spring weeks' offered in the Easter vacation, but the main route in is through a summer internship between your 2nd and final years, or following your Master's degree. Applications generally open as early as July and close from end October to 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 gradate 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 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.

Not sure what to do next?

We're here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn't matter what stage you're at, so don't feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.

Job roles

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.

  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) – advises clients on large corporate transactions, e.g. the sale and purchase of other businesses or parts of businesses, from strategy, through evaluation to exchange. The Gateway's Mergers and acquisitions business profile is a useful resource.
  • Loan Finance – advises clients on how to raise money from banks or other lenders. Specialised areas include leveraged finance (acquiring a target company) and project finance (funding an infrastructure project).
  • Capital Markets – advises clients on the best way to raise money on the public markets through issuing equity, shares or bonds. The Gateway's Capital markets business profile provides further details.
  • Trading – executes all the trades, usually specialising in a particular kind of asset such as commodities, options and futures. The ability to analyse vast amounts of information and react quickly are key skills. The Gateway's Trading business profile, and the Prospects' Financial trader job profile provide more information.
  • Sales – first point of contact for clients interested in using the bank’s trading services, usually specialising in a particular industry/geography. Studies reports from research teams to develop expertise and advise clients.
  • Research – analyses data, forms opinions and produces reports for use by the rest of the bank. Usually focusing on one industry/geography. Mainly used by sales team but also used by traders, investment banking side and sometimes clients. Check out the Gateway profile, Reporting on research.
  • Risk Management – ensures that trading risks taken are in line with the organisation's risk appetite. Runs reports, analyses risks and talks to traders about risk exposure. Visit the Prospects Financial risk analyst job profile and the TARGETjobs overview of Risk management and control to find out more.
  • Compliance – ensures a company complies with its external regulatory requirements and internal policies. The Inside Careers Compliance officer role description and the Prospects Compliance officer job profile are useful resources.
  • Operations – ensures the vast quantities of information, money and products are flowing correctly and transactions are processed every day. The TARGETjobs overview of Operations and the Prospects Operational investment banker job profile provide further details.
  • IT – provides all the IT services used by the many business areas. Check out the TARGETjobs overview of IT and technology in investment banking.            
  • Asset Management/Investment Management/Hedge Funds – manages money by investing it in a variety of asset classes including equities (or shares) and bonds. Takes care of large sums of money for corporate and individual clients. Ensures portfolios are well managed and investment opportunities are highlighted. Candidates often move onto hedge funds once they’ve gained experience. The Prospects Investment analyst job profile will tell you more.
  • Private Wealth Management – provides high net worth clients with professional advice and services that help them manage their finances as efficiently as possible. This can include financial planning, investment management and advice on tax, pensions and inheritance. The TARGETjobs overview of Private wealth management provides further details.
  • Private Equity – specialises in buying companies, reshaping them and selling them on for a profit. People tend to join PE once they have some experience at an Investment bank as they use many of these services to raise capital.