Investment Banker

Investment Banker


Los Angeles, CA

Male, 35

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

As a liberal arts grad with mountains of debt and molehills of direction, I took an analyst job at a top NYC investment bank. Neck-deep in spreadsheets and working around the clock, I fought to keep my head above water in a sea of brilliant, khaki-clad sociopaths. While the money and education were great, I quickly learned how the finance world really works... and I wanted no part of it. After 9/11, I left for good.

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64 Questions


Last Answer on November 20, 2014

Best Rated

When did you know banking wasn't for you?

Asked by June44 over 9 years ago

Three distinct moments come to mind:

1) Day 1, Minute 1. As first-year analysts, we began with a one-month orientation in a midtown Manhattan hotel. I arrived on the first day a few minutes before start-time, taking the long escalator ride down to the banquet room. Once downstairs, I cracked the huge door open, only to see an ocean of khaki, blue shirts, and severely parted hair. It was business-casual's ninth circle of hell, and to make matters worse, the small-talk consisted exclusively of year-end bonus predictions. Orientation hadn't even begun yet. These were clearly not my people.

2) About 4-5 months into the job, I was pulling an all-nighter. At 5am, I found myself sitting in my chair, looking upward as two greasy-haired senior associates stood over me, fighting with one another over who was going to "get me" from 5-8am. Naive as it sounds, it was in that moment that I realized I was a resource, not a person. Between my delirium and the sheer absurdity of the situation, all I could do was laugh. The associates didn't share in the humor.

3) I usually roll my eyes when anyone talks about 9/11 as if it were their own personal, private experience, but indulge me for a moment. I was living 15 blocks north of the Twin Towers when 9/11 occurred. I watched from my doorstep as the buildings fell. And like everyone in Manhattan and the world over, I was stunned and confused and altogether mindfucked. When the carnage ended, a zombified me trudged back up to my apartment and sat silently on my couch trying to process what had just happened. Then my landline rang. It was one of my senior associates, insisting I get to the office. For the first time in my tenure, I said no. I told him I would not be coming in because holy-fucking-fuck three thousand people just died less than a mile away in the worst terrorist massacre in history. His response: "Yes, but you can still work." It was at that point that I realized life is too short, every day is a goddamn gift, and I couldn't give my life to an industry that was so aggressively indifferent toward people's well-being.

How much money do investment bankers make in a year?

Asked by GsR33 over 9 years ago

Nowadays, a first-year analyst (age 22, right out of college) will make $70-75K in base salary, with bonuses up to $55K. Ratchet that up ~20% for a second-year analyst. Associates can pull in anywhere from $200-375K, depending on performance and seniority. VP’s/Directors/Managing Directors … those salaries can soar into the stratosphere ($500K-$10M). Obviously there are outliers that can fall well above or below these ranges, but they’re decent rules of thumb.

I've heard some pretty crazy stories about bankers and traders partying. What's the craziest banker party you've ever seen?

Asked by slim bones almost 10 years ago

The craziest things typically involved excessive shows of money, ill-advised sexual encounters, high-end drugs, or some combination thereof. For example …

– I once saw a junior banker lose a game of credit card roulette and get stuck with a $3,400 restaurant bill. The steak was good, but for that kind of money he should've been receiving oral under the table.

– At least once a week, co-workers would be discovered mid-coitus in offices, on-site showers, and even janitorial closets. It became so common that after a certain point, it hardly raised an eyebrow. I suppose that when you're in your early 20's and stuck in an office 24/7, you’ve gotta improvise.

– Cocaine was typically the drug of choice and made its way not only into banker nightlife, but also into the offices as well. While the use of cocaine may not seem SO crazy in itself, keep in mind that the vast majority of these young bankers came from straight-laced backgrounds and top schools, and it’s a pretty abrupt change to go from white-hat keggers to white-shoe coke binges in a matter of months.

But if I had to choose one specific crazy story to rule them all, it had to be the time when an extremely high-ranking department head – conservative as they come – threw a high-end S&M party, for no other apparent reason than “he could.” Somehow a handful of pictures emerged afterwards, showing quite a few high-ranking bankers dressed like The Gimp and in all kinds of compromising positions. I didn’t attend so I can’t say just how far things went that night, but it was pretty funny to see them all back in civilian clothing discussing leveraged buy-outs on Monday morning.

Are all bankers just a bunch of greedy scumbags?

Asked by Shogun-1 almost 10 years ago

The quick answer is no. But the stereotype exists for a reason, and there are certainly many who fit the bill. Let's tease apart "greedy" and "scumbag."

Are investment bankers greedy? It's never a good idea to generalize, but I think it's a safe bet that most people's decision to go into investment banking is financially motivated. Why else would someone subject themselves to such enslavement and pressure? Sure, some people are passionate about financial markets and business dealings, but there are other lower-paying, less intense jobs that would satiate those interests. In investment banking, the understanding is that if you make it your career, you give up most of your 20's and 30's in exchange for a sure-fire path to wealth, without risking any of your own money. There aren't many other jobs that offer that. And while that may sound like a greedy prospect to some, it may not to others. I worked with several non-flashy, family-oriented bankers who sought wealth primarily for the benefit of their loved ones. But just as often, there were sociopathic maniacs who simply wanted more, and more, and more.

Are investment bankers scumbags? Assuming you mean people who will lie/cheat/steal to screw others over for their own benefit – sure, they exist, as they do in any industry. But investment banking scumbags are a bit more subtle. For example, they'll insist that a client pursue a high-fee transaction that won't actually be beneficial, and they'll create seemingly irrefutable analysis to support it. Many maximize their personal gain by exploiting every possible tax loophole, bending the rules as far as possible without actually breaking them. And many simply see co-workers and subordinates as pawns in the game, working them around the clock simply because they can. Yeah, there are scumbags.

When all is said and done, consider who gravitates toward these jobs: Type-A, highly educated, highly ambitious, risk-averse people who are generally indifferent regarding what value, if any, they bring to the economy. This makes it a lecherous business by nature, and on average, attracts those types of people. That said, since the economic crash of 2008, investment banking has lost some its luster due to its ailing reputation, especially among young people. If you're interested in learning more about that, check out Kevin Roose's book, "Young Money", which chronicles the journeys of eight young, ambivalent bankers who began their jobs shortly after the crash.


My banker friends never shut up about working insane hours. How rough is the workweek really?

Asked by RRR111 almost 10 years ago

There’s a wide variance, but for a junior level banker (analysts & associates), 60-80 hour weeks are typical. During slow periods, that can dip as low as 40, and then in the heat of a live deal, it can reach up to 100. Senior bankers (VP’s and above) typically have more manageable schedules, though in the thick of a major transaction, all bets are off, regardless of rank.

What do investment bankers DO all day?

Asked by nosey012 almost 10 years ago

Move piles of money around, collect fees, and high-five other rich white guys. I hope you're not waiting for a j/k.

At the junior level, the days are composed of quantitative and administrative grunt-work. Lots of Excel, Powerpoint, and document processing. Bankers are staffed on transactions, and there are financial analyses, pitch materials, research, and other documentation required. The junior banker is responsible for all of the aforementioned and more. There’s also an inordinate amount of time spent dealing with the bank’s print-shop and document processing departments, which are 24/7 services that help bring fancy meeting materials to life. Working with them can be mind-numbingly frustrating because you’re literally sitting around for hours waiting for materials to be printed and collated, and once they’re finished, you must manually page through each copy to make sure everything was done correctly. Mistakes are frequent, and a single upside-down page or typo can send a managing director into hysterics. So you have no choice but to wait it out, go through each page (often 20+ pitchbooks ranging from 20-50 pages each), and then negotiate with the print-shop employees to fix any mistakes immediately. And that last part – it’s usually taking place between 2-4am with some understandably ornery people who get shit on all day by bankers half their age.

As bankers rise through the ranks, though, they become less responsible for the above and more involved in sourcing new business and negotiating deals.

All in all, the actual work isn’t rocket science. There’s just lots of it, and virtually no tolerance for errors. As one former banking colleague once said to me, “We’re not getting paid to be brilliant. We’re getting paid to be available 24/7 and have great attention to detail.”

How is a 100-hour week even possible? I call bullshit.

Asked by sensitivewut almost 10 years ago

When a deal goes live and there are millions (even billions) at stake, it requires the attention of a small army of bankers and lawyers to close the transaction. I worked on one particular ten-figure transaction where there were at least 30 people involved who barely left the office in the two months before it closed. One guy got divorced a month after the deal was completed.

But I’ll say this … there’s a lot of inflation in the weekly hours claims of many bankers. For reasons I never quite understood, early 20-something bankers tend to see “hours worked” as some sort of status symbol. Listen to a casual conversation among young bankers and they’ll one-up each other ad nauseum about who’s taken the worst beating in any given week. While there are no doubt some very, very bad weeks, these numbers tend to get very exaggerated. For example, the banker who typically clocks 60 hrs/wk but then has one awful 100-hr week … that “100” becomes his number in future conversations. And one thing that’s rarely talked about is that for every banker who’s getting crushed, quite a few others are quietly coasting by with little or no work on their plates. The former is very vocal about how much they’re working. The latter keeps their mouths shut. And oftentimes, those less-busy bankers put in extra face-time to create the illusion that they’re hard at work, with hopes of not getting staffed on additional projects. (The classic move was to leave one's desk lamp on, place a jacket over the back of the desk chair, disable the computer's screensaver, and leave a complex looking spreadsheet on the screen, all to give the illusion of "still at work.") Sad but true, and this creates some grossly unfair imbalances.

What kinds of people do investment bankers marry?

Asked by j_s_b about 10 years ago

I love this question. Indeed, who DO these douches choose as lifemates? And who chooses them??? I'll do my best to answer, with one disclaimer: I can only speak in regard to male bankers, because I didn't meet enough spouses of female bankers to observe any trends.

Male bankers who I worked with tended to have spouses who fell into one of two categories:

1) TROPHY WIVES. No surprises here. Many bankers, especially more senior guys (age 35+) were quick to trot out their blonde, statuesque wives to company parties, where the latter would smile brightly and say virtually nothing. Think Betty Draper. I wish I were exaggerating, given how cliched that sounds. I was naturally curious when observing this, and with a little digging and selective eavesdropping, learned that most of the trophies were housewives whose responsibilities included raising the children (with the help of an army of nannies), working out, and looking perfect in public. I got the impression (again, keeping my ears open during many backroom conversations) that these bankers simply wanted an "easy" spouse – someone who would take care of everything on the home-front and not give her husband too much grief during non-working hours. I guess for some men, the idea of a happy marriage is "I work 80+ hours a week and make us rich, so just shut up and look pretty." (The great irony, of course, is that these guys were some of the biggest adulterers imaginable. But I digress.)

2) HIGH ACHIEVERS. On the other hand, many bankers (usually the younger ones), went to a different extreme. Rather than looking for a Stepford wife, they married women who were also high achievers, e.g. doctors, lawyers, executives, or even other bankers. For these men, it was less about finding the perfect-looking wife, but rather, someone who was also highly ambitious, intellectually stimulating, and empathetic to the husband's crazy work schedule (because hers was crazy, too). The downside to these types of marriages, though, was that often these people would go days/weeks barely seeing one another.

Obviously there were exceptions, but those were the most prominent categories of banker spouses I observed. It was rare to meet a spouse who was just "regular." I never met a banker's spouse who went to Ohio State and was a schoolteacher in Westchester. They almost always fell into either the "beauty" or "ambition" extremes.

Bankers must have a ton of health problems, no?

Asked by Stellamykind almost 10 years ago

Great question.

The most common health problems I observed were those born from the sedentary working life. Sitting at a desk for 14-18 hours daily will do that. Severe weight gain was common among new bankers, as were high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Ulcers were also very common, which wasn't surprising given the steady diet of coffee and aspirin needed to get through the typical work week.

Finally, given the sleep-deprivation, immune systems were practically nonexistent. No hiding from colds, flus, and so on. If one analyst came down with something, the dominoes would fall... but god help the analyst who attempts to use a sick day.

All in all, there wasn't a disproportionate amount of SERIOUS ailments (e.g. heart attacks, pneuomnia), but rather, a steady stream of low- to mid-risk ailments due primarily to the demanding work environment. Lots of potbellied, prematurely balding 20-somethings with year-round colds. Any time I'd get together with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, the first words out of his or her mouth were: "You look like shit."

Why do investment bankers work so much? Why not just hire more people to divvy up the workload?

Asked by frillyblouse55 almost 10 years ago

If only it were that simple. Believe me, I asked. But there are two primary reasons why banks don’t simply increase the workforce to combat the workload:

1) Having more bankers doesn’t necessarily mean less work per banker. For example: if I’m building a financial model that requires 10 hours of work, the presence of an additional banker does not mean that this task can be accomplished in five hours. Building a model is a solitary activity, because two people can't really work within the same spreadsheet simultaneously (and even if you technically could through Google Docs or something similar, the two would be crashing into each other so much that it would become counterproductive). Yes, there are certain activities (like reviewing pitchbooks) where an extra head could be helpful, but for the most part, the tasks are solo-oriented.

2) They don’t have to. Despite the well-known misery and poor health this job can create – not to mention all of the banking scandals recently brought to light – recent grads are still killing themselves to get a foot in the door. And if the banks can still attract top talent willing to work around-the-clock, they have little incentive to add more heads to the payroll.

Aside from money, what are the positives?

Asked by 5yards about 10 years ago

As harsh as I am on banking, I have to admit that it can provide a breadth of business knowledge and can be a stepping stone into almost anything in the business world. Many of my former colleagues have gone on to hedge funds, consumer goods/services companies, or started companies of their own. Banking teaches you how money and financial instruments really work and how deals actually get done. I had a number of opportunities to be a fly on the wall while gazillionaires negotiated massive mergers and buyouts, and it was fascinating (in good ways and bad).

Then there are the pragmatic reasons. It’s a lucrative position at a time when you’re (most likely) staring at a profane amount of college debt. It allows you to handle the costs of living in a major city. And it also provides you with a huge social circle instantaneously – most first-year analyst classes number in the hundreds, and you bond tremendously while in the trenches with one another.

Or in cases like mine, it’s a surefire means of figuring out what you DON’T want to do very early in your career :)

What should I major in if I want to go into investment banking? Can someone without a Finance degree still hack it?

Asked by goinfor2 about 10 years ago

If you know early on that you want to go into investment banking (or any kind of corporate finance, for that matter), the best majors are Finance and/or Accounting. In my experience, the finance jocks (mainly from Wharton and Michigan) had a huge leg up and required far less hand-holding. The senior bankers loved these guys – understandably – because they were well up the learning curve from the get-go. Engineering, Applied Mathematics, and Computer Science majors also tend to do well as analysts, given their proficiency with numbers and Excel.

That said, liberal arts majors can do just fine in banking, it just takes them longer to get up the learning curve. It's all about having good mentors, maintaining the right attitude, asking the right questions, and really absorbing the answers. I had a liberal arts degree, which basically meant zilch in terms of vocational expertise. But I had solid quantitative skills, so I got by.

When all is said and done, your major won't make or break you in becoming a banker (or, frankly, any other profession). If you're 100% sure that corporate finance is what you want to do with the rest of your life, then a Finance or Accounting degree makes sense. But very few people have that kind of certainty while still in college, so my recommendation would be to major in whatever interests you most, independent of post-college vocation.

Is there anything FUN about being a banker?

Asked by Paulene almost 10 years ago

Fun? It's all in how you define it.

On a micro level, the luxuries and trappings of "being a banker" can make for fun situations, right out of the gate. Consider the life of a first-year analyst, fresh out of college. In a matter of months, he's gone from Natty Light to Dom Perignon, ramen to caviar, and bicycles to chauffeured town cars. I'm exaggerating (though not by much), but the point is that becoming endowed with such luxuries so abruptly and at such a young age, it's hard not become very intoxicated with all of it.

On a more macro level, some people really, really enjoy participating in large transactions. They may not enjoy the grunt-work and long hours, but they love the prestige and adrenaline that comes with high-profile deals. It makes them feel important, gives them fodder for cocktail party conversation, and can make for great learning experiences. And in some rare instances, the transaction could actually help (gasp!) the companies involved.

What kind of social life can bankers maintain keep with such crazy workweeks?

Asked by tracyM almost 10 years ago

An unplannable, wildly inconsistent one. The difficulty in maintaining a social life while holding a banking job isn’t necessarily due to the sheer number of working hours, but rather, the unpredictability of schedule. For example, I may only work 60 hours per week on average, but I have almost no idea how those 60 hours will be distributed. This leads to quite a few cancelled dates and get-togethers, so you really have to make sure your friends and loved ones are fully aware of the nature of the job if you want them to tough it out with you.

Cliched as it sounds, bankers definitely subscribe to a “work hard, play hard” mentality. Even after a 16-hour day, if a 1-2 hour window presents itself, the bankers will forgo sleep for much-needed tequila shots. They’re pent up from the office lockdown and they’ve got money to blow.

I'm a finance major with a 3.9 GPA and really want to get into I-banking. The problem is that I'm coming from a so-so state school. Can I get an investment banking job without an Ivy League degree?

Asked by Andrew about 10 years ago

While I'd love to say, "Absolutely!", the truth is, it's tough. Not impossible, but tough.

Investment banks look for the smartest and most hardworking candidates, and, rightly or wrongly, education pedigree is a big part of that screening. The majority of analysts come from top-tier private schools, as well as a handful from top-tier public institutions with good finance programs such as UVA, Michigan, and UNC. Assuming that your school doesn't fall into the categories above, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting in the door.

The first step is obvious: identify the banks you're interested in and apply as anyone else would. Contact (and be especially nice to) their HR/Recruiting departments, and submit your resume for consideration. This is just a baseline measure to get yourself on file, but you may also gain an ally or two in HR along the way. Keep in mind that while the halls of investment banks are wallpapered with Ivy League diplomas, the HR/Recruiting departments are typically more down-to-earth in that regard. And besides, everyone loves an underdog :)

Second, another obvious point: use the HELL out of your alumni network. I don't care if you go to Southeast Podunk State U., SOMEONE from your school has taken the path you're interested in. Identify these people through your alumni directory or career services office and don't be afraid to ask for help. Chances are they were in a similar predicament as you not too long ago, and while they may not ALL come to your aid, the odds are that at least one will offer a hand in getting your resume in the right pile.

Lastly - and this one's a biggie - don't limit yourself to just the big-name banks. It's easy to get sucked into chasing the Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanleys, and J.P. Morgans of the world, but there are quite a few smaller, boutique banks where you'll get every bit as good (and possibly better) of an experience. The big banks have so many employees that it's easy to become a very small cog in a big machine. Where at a smaller bank, you're less likely to be pigeonholed, more likely to get exposure to company leaders, and far more likely to take on greater responsibility. And once you've learned the ropes, after 2-3 years you'll have hurdled the school biases and become just as qualified as anyone to work at any bank, big or small.

When all is said and done, the hardest part is getting into the industry. But once you can show – even at a smaller bank – that you're every bit as capable as the next guy, you're on (or damn close to) equal footing going forward. Fwiw, during my time in banking, an employee's effectiveness and school reputation were highly UNcorrelated. I met plenty of morons from Harvard and rock stars from Penn State.

When do investment bankers retire?

Asked by Xanax FTW about 10 years ago

This varies widely. But on average, the oldest full-time execs I saw were in their early to mid-50s.

A banker's retirement age (much like that of any profession) really depends on what his motivations are. Some get into the field thinking they'll work their tails off for 20-25 years, accumulate a ton of money, and retire relatively young. But the problem is, many of those same people continually upgrade their lifestyles, and those lifestyles require that they keep working.

In other cases, some simply get addicted to the money and stay on as long as the banks will have them. Once you reach the most senior ranks, the day-to-day "work" is pretty low-impact. Most senior bankers are really more figureheads than anything else -- they attend some meetings, and occasionally they'll be brought in as a respected voice in deal conversation. But they can generally come and go as they please, remaining well-tanned and well-rested throughout the year. Some also become consultant/advisory types who make millions to come in and opine a few times a month on new deal opportunities. Nice work if you can get it.

What do you mean when you say that you disliked your job so much that you "lived in fear day-to-day"?

Asked by bobby1980 about 10 years ago

Every time my desk phone rang, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. Any one of those calls could mean I would be chained to my desk all night. New projects frequently surfaced late in the day. If your phone rang at 6pm, it was often a staffer calling about an "emergency" project that needed to get done that night, come hell or high water. And you had zero say in the matter. So, at the risk of beating a dead horse, the real "fear" all goes back to the unpredictability of schedule. Don't get me wrong, everyone in every job at every company has bad days at work, but typically they can at least gauge when their day is likely to end. But imagine having NO idea when your day would actually end, with the very real possibility that it wouldn't. Terrifying to say the least.

I don't care how brilliant someone is – his work quality must go to hell after 20 hours straight. Are investment banks doing anything to combat the sweat-shop mentality?

Asked by BHarkins almost 10 years ago

I’ve been out of the game for awhile, but to the best of my knowledge, there haven’t been any real movements toward taming the schedules of junior bankers. I always thought one seemingly obvious solution (or partial solution) would be to allow junior bankers to arrive at the office later than the typical 9am start-time. Perhaps 12 noon. The reason being – the majority of meetings among senior bankers (where most of the work originates) happen over the course of the day. So it’s typical that new marching orders aren’t handed down to the junior bankers until mid- to late-afternoon, and often that work can take until the wee hours to complete. If you’re in the office until 3am, and need to be back by an arbitrary 9am “just because,” that’s a colossal waste of sleep and/or personal time. I cannot even begin to explain how much of the morning/early afternoon office time is spent twiddling thumbs.

EDIT: I recently read that in the wake of several banker deaths/suicides, certain banks are attempting to curb the hours of junior bankers. This includes mandatory Saturdays off and logging/monitoring hours to alert senior bankers which employees are in the "red zone." That said, my understanding from further reading (and friends still in the industry) is that while these policies sound great on paper, they're difficult to enforce. If the work needs to get done, it needs to get done, and early 20-somethings don't have enough leverage to point to the fine print.

More on recent investment banker suicides and deaths:


I've worked for a prominent advertising / marketing firm for about two years and want to transition to i banking, despite a liberal arts degree. I currently work in inbound / outbound marketing w/ a focus on tech startups. What are some next steps?

Asked by EPDNY about 10 years ago

It's funny – one can major in underwater basket-weaving in college and get an investment banking job after graduation, but if someone's a few years removed from college and has no finance background, it's significantly tougher. The advice I typically give to those with no finance background looking to make a career-switch into finance is to consider business school. It can be an expensive proposition, but it does legitimately qualify you for an entirely new line of work (in this case, banking/finance). Furthermore, you can intern during your time in school and get a better sense of whether the transition is for you.

How do investment bankers dress?

Asked by curioso... about 10 years ago

They start by putting on their underwear, then pants, followed by socks...

I kid I kid. Assuming you're asking how they bankers dress for work, the quick answer is the higher end of "business casual." Slacks, button-down shirts, nice shoes. An important client meeting might require a suit and/or tie.

That said, up until about 2000-2001, ALL bankers had to wear suits and ties every day. But that requirement was loosened during the dot-com boom. When the boom hit, investment banks were looking for ways to attract and retain top talent, many of whom were defecting to the shorts-and-sandals world of Silicon Valley. That need to compete, coupled with the increasingly vocalized absurdity of wearing a suit for a 12-20 hour workday, finally gave way to more comfortable everyday attire.

(That said, not a week went by when we wouldn't overhear some silver-haired old-school banker grumbling about how they needed to, "Get ties back on those damn kids.")

What kind of exit opportunities are there for junior bankers who don't love their jobs? Let's say I became a banker but with no intention to do it long term...what kind of opportunities will I have after 3 years at a bulge bracket bank?

Asked by Exit Sign almost 10 years ago

After 2-3 years as a junior banker, you've got the skill set to get into innumerable lines of business outside of banking. The following are the most common "exit paths" I've seen over the years:

– Move to the operating side. For example, if you were in the Technology arm of your investment bank, you could easily transition into Corporate Development, M&A, Finance, or Strategy at a tech company. The same goes for any other area of focus (e.g. Media, Manufacturing, Financial Institutions).

– Other areas of finance. If you still like finance but don't like banking, you could transition to a hedge fund, asset management, and the like.

– Consulting. Bankers and business consultants are cut from similar cloth, so many bankers who enjoy analyzing businesses but crave a more manageable lifestyle switch to consulting.

– Business school. One of the most common exits is to get an MBA. This gives the ex-banker a two-year stint to sharpen his or her skills and test the waters of other possible career paths.

– Get out of finance/business entirely. I've seen this one more than one might think. Sometimes a couple of years in banking fresh out of college is exactly what an early 20-something needs to figure out what he *doesn't* want to do. In that case, he can either start from the bottom rung of a completely unrelated industry, or find a non-finance focused job where his skill set is still of value.

Keep in mind, most people faced with this decision are still very young – 24 or 25. So even if they want to make a move to a completely different industry or function, the fact that they've done their banking tour-of-duty sends the following signals to a would-be employer:

– This kid is probably very smart.

– This kid will work his ass off.

– Even if he doesn't have direct experience for the job in question, he's probably capable of figuring it out.

Point being, if you've got a track record of being smart and diligent by age 25, you're a viable candidate almost anywhere else.

How do investment bankers stay awake?

Asked by brikhaus almost 10 years ago

First, the obvious: coffee, soda, and energy drinks. It's safe to say that we were all heavily caffeinated from 9pm onward.

That said, caffeine alone can't always get you through multiple all-nighters; having company helps. There are usually at least a handful of other analysts burning the midnight oil simultaneously, so there were always people with whom you could take breaks and blow off steam. Recharging through commiseration, I suppose.

Lastly, fear is a hell of a motivator. If you know that your ass is on the line for a 9:00am deliverable, the sheer terror will keep you from dozing off. And if you absolutely had to steal a nap, doing so under a desk was quite common. A balled up shirt makes for a surprisingly decent pillow.

First of, thanks so much for doing this. I graduated a year ago from a good school with a finance degree but haven't been able to get a job in that industry. Do you have any advice? I've been looking for analyst & advisor jobs but have had no luck

Asked by Robert almost 10 years ago

I'd recommend looking into smaller boutique firms. They may not have the brand appeal of the big guys, but the learning experience will be just as good, if not better. You'll have more exposure to upper management and will be given more responsibility than typical sweat-shop analysts. After 2-3 years, you'll be more than qualified to transition to any bank, big or small.

Does taking an internship for ibanking in college count as your first year as being an analyst? Also, after two years do you just become an ibanking associate or do you need to apply to a new job somewhere else?

Asked by Alyssa almost 10 years ago

An internship does not count as your first year, though it certainly helps your prospects as an applicant after college. My friends and I used to joke about how it was harder to get an investment banking internship than an actual job, simply because there were far fewer internship spots available.

After an analyst has completed her two-year stint – and assuming she wants to remain at the bank – one of three things will happen:

1) The bank will offer her a position as a third-year analyst, which usually indicates that it sees promise in the employee but she isn't *quite* ready to become an associate.

2) In some cases, the bank will offer a direct promotion into an associate position. These instances are rare, though, as an associate takes on some managerial duties and even the best analysts aren't usually ready for that.

More commonly, though, the analyst heads elsewhere at the end of the two-year boot camp. They may attend business school, or find a senior analyst position at another type of financial services firm (private equity, venture capital, hedge funds).

Hi, I got 12 years experience working as a software engineer in a IT company.
At this point of time, would it possible to make swtich to Finance and become an investment banker?

Asked by Vikas_dreamer almost 10 years ago

If you're interested in a career-switch to banking, business school is a good way to do this. In two years you can absorb the skill set to qualify for finance positions. Your experience as a software engineer can work in your favor, especially if you're interested in doing finance in tech-related fields. If a banker also has first-hand tech knowledge, that's a significant value-add in his analysis of tech-related transactions.

Hi what undergraduate degrees are most popular in order to gain a place as an analyst at an investment bank. Non mathematically based also please.

Asked by Zac about 10 years ago

Check out my earlier answer on this:

Long story short, the obvious quantitative degrees (Finance, Accounting, Economics, etc) can help, but many liberal arts majors can be just as successful. It's just a steeper learning curve for the latter.

Can you send me your job resume? I don't know if this is asking for too much. But, i want to know where to start. Thanks!

Asked by Tomas almost 10 years ago

Apologies for the delay. Unfortunately I cannot send my resume, but this looks like a good reference:


As a recent college graduate from the non-target private school in Finance, I have no work experience in ibanking and been in an wealth management internship for 1.5 year. What are some steps I can take to break into the field or can I not?

Asked by dons9214 over 9 years ago

I hate to sound dismissive, but I've answered quite a few similar questions throughout this Q&A. They may not *exactly* resemble your situation, but should provide ample guidance. Please have a look and if you're not satisfied, let me know.

can my ethnicity be the biggest obstacle I face in the investment world? I am Indian and been in US 1.5 years. Majoring in economics. Live in San Francisco. My family says, the hire rate for Indians in IB is close to nil?!?! Is that true?

Asked by CrazyX almost 10 years ago

I don't know the exact numbers, but in my experience, that was not at all true. I'd venture to guess that nearly 10-12% of my analyst class was of Indian decent, and several were among the best analysts by far.

How important are social skills to being successful as an analyst? I have aspergers and I'm afraid I won't be able to survive in a banking environment.

Asked by Julio almost 10 years ago

Social skills help in virtually any profession (unless you're a mime, I suppose), and amiability always helps in an interview. But at the analyst level... they're not quite as important. More than anything, banks want analysts who are smart and ridiculously hardworking. Social skills are icing on the cake.

That said, social skills become increasingly important as one moves up the ranks. Whereas analysts are primarily behind-the-scenes workers, higher-ranking bankers are responsible for bringing in new business, and even the most sociopathic know how to schmooze with the best of 'em.

When going into the office what were some of the best cars you see?

Asked by alexhewer about 10 years ago

I worked in NYC, so there were no cars or parking lots. That said, I did once hear our department head shout to one of his underlings. "Hey Dave, cancel your lunch and come watch me buy a Bentley!" I wish I was kidding.

As an investment banker can you work from home at all or is this a job that you must be in the office?

Asked by Steve almost 10 years ago

Some work can be done from home, but anything requiring tangible deliverables generally requires you to be in the office. If, for example, you're overseeing the creation of a pitchbook to be distributed at a 10am meeting the following morning, you'll need to wait until the Printing Department cranks them out so you can check for quality assurance. If they finish at 2am and you find errors (which you undoubtedly will), you'll have time to correct them and re-run the job through the Printers. If you'd gone home, only to discover the error at 9am the next morning, you'd be screwed – the Printers can't fix it that quickly.

Hello. I am a 27 year old male. I studied biological sciences as an undergrad and now I have a masters in Molecular Biology. NO FINANCE EXPERIENCE. Is it too late to find a career in finance? If not, how do I find one at this stage in the game?

Asked by Sean Hennessey about 10 years ago

If you're interested in a career-switch to finance, business school is a good way to do this. In two years you can absorb the skill set to qualify for finance positions. In fact, you can use your biology background to your advantage, especially if you're interested in doing finance in healthcare-related fields. For example, I worked with an investment banking associate who'd completed medical school, and naturally his focus was on healthcare transactions.

Hello, I am a sophomore Majoring in Finance and Minoring in Economics and have a 3.2 from non-target. If I know people in the industry, how difficult will it be to land an Investment Banking internship.

Asked by Jim over 9 years ago

Hi Jim. Don't mean to be short, but I've responded to many similar questions above, and I suspect you could draw guidance from those answers. Please have a look around and if you're still left wondering, let me know. Thanks.

I'm currently a sophomore at a non-target school with a 3.8 GPA majoring in finance. I have done informational interviews and have been like by the bankers but none offer internships at their firm. What next steps should I take this semester/summer?

Asked by james00 about 10 years ago

Breathe easy – unless your last name is Buffett, there are virtually no banking internships available to anyone until after his or her JUNIOR year. And even after junior year, there are very few internship spots available. My firm, for example, hired 10-12 summer interns (all of whom had just completed junior year) and 150 1st-year analysts. This ratio was common across Wall Street.

That said, you can still make this summer count by pursuing internships with smaller, boutique banks and financial services. Don't worry if they're not "big name" firms – having any financial services exposure, even a small investment firm in your hometown – is like catnip to investment banks. I'd also recommend looking into internships with companies in the sector you'd be most interested in focusing on when you DO go into banking. For example, if you're interested in tech, doing an internship with a tech company would be extremely relevant to your banking career as it would develop your industry expertise and focus.

Does taking certifications such as CFA help you stand out from other investment banker candidates?

Asked by Jerjer almost 10 years ago

It's a plus, but probably won't make or break one's candidacy. Obviously a CFA is more likely to have financial fluency than a non-CFA, but speaking from my own experience, I saw very few CFA's in banking. Saw far more CFA's in sales & trading, compliance, accounting, etc.

Im separating from the military and intend to go to school to eventually become a Investment Banking Analyst. Any tips and/or suggestions?

Asked by Antoine almost 10 years ago

Interestingly enough, there were a handful of ex-military analysts in my class. And as you might imagine, most were great analysts because they could handle the workload without complaint. That said, most were from top schools (West Point, etc.), so I'm sure that played a part in their recruitment. I'm not sure what school/program you're coming from, but as with any applicant, a concentration in finance, business, engineering, and/or computer science will increase your chances. I'd also recommend tracking down current bankers who went through the same military program as you – I can't imagine they wouldn't at least put your resume in the right hands.

What kind of internship would you recommend after freshman year of college or even sophmore?
I know that ibanking internships are limited after fresman and sophmore year so what would be the best alternate options?

Asked by Alyssa almost 10 years ago

The truth is that after freshman/sophomore year, your internships don't matter THAT much in terms of career direction. It's what happens after junior year and graduation that counts. Of my college friends who went into banking, the majority did traditional "summer jobs" after freshman/sophomore year (e.g. camp counselors, lifeguards, waiters). But, if you're 100% sure you want to go into banking, internships at local financial institutions of any kind – commercial banks, investment firms, stock brokerages – are a good move.

In your early question, you said that you have worked New Year's Eve and Christmas Day in the past. Does this mean that the office is never closed? Is it always open? Who locks it up at night and switches off the lights or computers?

Asked by sultanoflondon over 9 years ago

As far as I know, the office was never technically closed. As is common for large, NYC business buildings, they're shared among several companies and at a minimum, members of the security and maintenance crews are present.


I am 20 years old and have saved up a little over 10k throughout my life. I would like to put this away in some sort of fund with compound interest. As a banker, do you have any advice.


Asked by Nick over 9 years ago

Good for you for having saved $10K at 20 years old! You're doing better than many people twice your age. That said, you'll want to speak to a financial advisor or commercial banker for that kind of advice. Investment bankers deal more with transactions between companies, as opposed to personal investing. Congrats again and best of luck.

Hi I have a degree in Biochemistry and just finishing up second degree (bachelor's) in Finance from a so -so school with GPA ~3.6. I am 27. How should I go about getting into I-Banking? Does the age and being a female make a difference? Thanks

Asked by ss almost 10 years ago

I've answered similar questions elsewhere in this thread, so please feel free to poke around a bit.

Re: age... assuming you want to enter an analyst program, it *could* be an issue. Obviously employers can't legally discriminate on the basis of age, but with rare exceptions, analysts start at 22, right out of college. I guess I just haven't seen enough examples similar to your situation to be able to suggest otherwise.

Gender: not an issue. It might even work in your favor, as banks look to level the playing field.

The so-so school part can definitely be a sticking point, at least for the bulge-bracket banks. But as I said to another question-asker coming from a "meh" school, you should (a) consider starting with smaller, boutique banks (arguably a better working experience, less particular about diplomas, and can act as a springboard), and (b) connect with alumni from your school who have gone the banking route.

Business school may also be an option. B-school graduates who go into banking immediately assume associate positions, so you could side-step the analyst programs altogether.

Is 39 years too old to get into banking ?

Asked by Shambles over 9 years ago

Personally I don't think anyone's too old to get into any profession, though at 39 I doubt you'll be cast as a child actor any time soon.

As for banking, it's less about age than it is experience. If you have a quantitative/analytical background working in a particular industry, you could be a candidate to work in a banking group dedicated to that industry. For example, a classmate of mine who worked in the accounting departments of several tech firms is now working as a venture capitalist.

If, however, your career thus far has been completely devoid of analytics and relevant industry expertise, I'd say business school is your best bet to transition into financial industries (including banking).

What is the holiday system in Investment Banking? Do you get a certain number of days? Are you allowed to take them whenever you want to?

Asked by sultanoflondon over 9 years ago

I honestly can't even remember what we were technically entitled to in terms of holidays/vacation, because it was really irrelevant. There was probably some company literature that said we were allowed two weeks' vacation and federal holidays off, but that's not how it worked in practice. If there was work to be done, we were to be in the office. I've worked Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve, and I was not alone.

That said, some analysts attempted to take vacations, but it was rare that they'd truly untether from the office – the calls, emails, and work would need to be handled remotely if possible, or the vacations would end early if on-site work was necessary. Furthermore, taking vacation was dangerous, because it signaled superiors that you weren't busy enough. So when you returned, the avalanche was unfathomable.

Obviously this changes as one moves up the ranks, and admittedly, at age 22-23 my fellow analysts and I were reluctant to assert ourselves in this regard. But generally speaking, our understanding was that "work" owned us, and free time could not be pre-planned.

Which would be better for breaking in to IB/S&T: chemistry at a target school or maths/finance at a non-target/semi-target?

Asked by LJ over 9 years ago

Rightly or wrongly, banks tend to care more about the school than the major. The Harvard English major has a far better shot than the Mississippi St. finance major. That doesn't mean the latter isn't qualified or has no shot, but the target-schooler has a better chance of getting a foot in the door.

Firstly, thanks for doing this. Despite the extremely long, unpredictable hours, do you have breaks, lunch etc.? Or are you eating and drinking at your desk for 10-20 hours a day? Thanks!

Asked by sultanoflondon over 9 years ago

It depends on the day. On the more hectic days, you're more or less chained to your desk given the volume of work and deadlines. On other, slower days, you might be able to sneak away for lunch/dinner/coffee. Keep in mind that long days (12+ hrs) aren't necessarily dense, because quite a bit of that time you might be waiting idly for feedback from superiors, responses from clients, or output from the document processing center.

In short, breaks/meals aren't institutionalized in the way that they are at more traditional, 9-to-5 jobs, but they're not altogether absent. Bankers grab food or take a breather if/when time permits.

I am currently doing my Btech in Accounting Science: CTA Stream and would like to know what must I study from now if I want to become an Investment Banker?

Asked by Kedumetse almost 6 years ago


Hi there, I am currently studying physics at UCL and wish to go into investment banking after I finish my masters. Is this possible? How realistic are my chances since its not a finance degree.

Asked by Jay over 8 years ago


Hi thank you for your time. I'm an 18 year old planning to do investment banking and then private equity if able to. My question is how long does it take to get to the director level and does it put you back down in the ladder if you switch fields?

Asked by Manav over 9 years ago


What usually happens to a bank stock after the bank's bailout?

Asked by Ian over 6 years ago


Regarding the IPO process: Is it normal for the founders of the company to step down from their managerial positions at the request of the invest. bk.? Would this effect the IPO in a positive or negative way?

Asked by over 9 years ago


Are female investment bankers good looking?

Asked by Alice about 8 years ago


Hi I just want to I appreciate what you are doing here . Im a freshman in college & i was wondering how much does working at a boutique bank differ from a bulge ? Are the hour less at a boutique since the pay is lower ?

Asked by Lilton over 8 years ago


How are minorities looked upon in investment banking?
Specifically more about how are Hispanic men looked upon? Any advice?

Asked by JR over 9 years ago


Given your answer to the last question, are you still in banking?
And if you are, what changed the most for your job post-2008/2009?

Asked by Lisa Black almost 8 years ago


I want to get job in bank, but no luck sofar. What are key skills required? And how important is resume? Should I higher professional resume writer? Firend recommended What do you think about this kind of services?

Asked by uberwoman over 8 years ago


Suppose that your company hold shares in a another company whose future profitability you think is likely to decline, but you see that these shares are still being recommended for purchase in the financial press and Stock Brokers. What would you do as a Finance Manager?

Asked by king almost 9 years ago


I am a Junior in high school, and at the moment, my heart is set on the world of finance and banking. College is right around the corner and I don't know if I should pursue a degree in accounting, economics, finance, or mathematics. Thoughts?

Asked by jkp over 8 years ago


Did your personal social life suffer when you went into banking?

Asked by John over 9 years ago


How do you break into investment banking? Is Harvard or bust true in this field?

Asked by Pat over 9 years ago


I was assigned a research paper about a place that I had interest. I chose wall street and have a question about upcoming finance majors? Does addiction to money contribute to corruption in Wall Street? Thank you

Asked by Derek Sturm almost 8 years ago


Im a New York college student. Im infatuated with becoming an executive in a company and living that lifestyle (for the love of god, i swore to myself ide own a penthouse one day) and i really DO love business. But my question is, are bsns men happy?

Asked by Avon about 9 years ago


Best skills you will need ? What is the best way to improve them ?

Asked by Syrymflash over 9 years ago


3 part question: What is a good starting entry position to become a hedge fund manager, can financial advisors easily transfer into hedge fund management, is it worth it as a hedge fund manager, and have you ever seen anyone from Texas A&M become it

Asked by Brandon D over 6 years ago


hey... how difficult is it for a fresh new immigrant to become an investment banker are the immigrants eligible to take the tests regarding the investment banking and do we need a citizenship to take the test or is the study visa enough? The F1?

Asked by Pranav Reddy over 6 years ago