Investment banks typically recruit undergraduates and MBAs from top "target" schools (Harvard, Wharton, NYU, Princeton, etc...). Bankers are also recruited out of non-target schools but the process is less formal and structured.
While many prospective investment bankers pursue undergraduate degrees in finance, business, economics, and accounting, it is not an application requirement at investment banks. Many hires have liberal arts and engineering degrees, as banks focus on finding bright motivated students that can be trained internally and molded, regardless of prior education.
In fact, it is widely recognized that the primary determinant of whether a candidate will get an interview are GPA, reputation of the undergraduate or MBA program, and past work experience.
The result is that those interviewing for investment banking jobs as well as those eventually landing jobs as incoming analysts (and to some extent associates) have a wide variance in relevant academic backgrounds. Even for those with undergraduate finance concentrations, the academic skill set is not directly applicable; at most schools students never learn how to actually perform the types of analysis or build the types of models they would find themselves building on the job from day one.
Investment Banking Training Programs for New Hires
Some investment banks hire companies like Wall Street Prep to provide rigorous training programs for new hires (some last over 2 months), this variance in skills is mitigated by giving analysts and associates time to ramp up, although even two months is arguably not enough to internalize accounting and finance concepts that need repetition to truly take root .
Smaller investment banks offer either highly abbreviated training programs or none at all.
Wall Street Prep's Self Study Programs for Individuals are available directly to students, new and experienced hires alike and is designed to enhance the skills competitive profile of prospective investment bankers by equipping them with skill set they will use daily on the job.
Investment Banking Education at Universities
At most schools, perhaps with the exception of NYU, Wharton, and the Kelley School of Business in Indiana, finance programs are not very targeted to careers in investment banking, so many students enroll in programs like Wall Street Prep's self study for individuals or attend a Wall Street Prep on-campus seminar to get some hands on skills.
Does enrolling in an investment banking training program help in the recruiting process?
School reputation, GPA, work experience, and networking play the critical roles in getting your resume reviewed, the problem is that most of these attributes (except for networking) are set in stone by the time you begin a career search for investment banking.
What can be done?
Programs like Wall Street Prep's Self Study Programs for Individuals offer a way to gain confidence and succeed in interviews and during the networking process by providing students with an eye opening, step-by-step training in what they would actually be doing on the job.
Those who successfully complete the program receive a Certification in Financial & Valuation Modeling, which students place on their resumes. While some investment banking recruiters do not view the credential as significant resume booster, others believe that it does enhance a student's academic profile.
Before moving on... Download the IB Salary Guide
Use the form below to download our free Investment Banking Salary Guide: