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Investment Banking Career Path

The career of an investment banker progresses along a fairly standard path

Last Updated November 20, 2023

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Investment Banker Positions: Junior to Senior Progression

The career of an investment banker progresses along a fairly standard path. Investment banking positions from junior to senior:

  • Analyst (grunt)
  • Associate (glorified grunt)
  • VP (account manager)
  • Director (senior account manager, rainmaker in training)
  • Managing Director (rainmaker)

Some banks call certain investment banker positions different names or have added levels of hierarchy. For example, sometimes banks separate Senior Vice President from Vice President. Other times, Director is split up into Director and Executive Director (more senior). However, regardless of the names, the general job functions of each relative position tend to be consistent bank to bank.

If you are an undergraduate, you are applying to banks with the aim of landing an investment banking analyst position. Assuming you do well, have an interest in staying, and there is a need, some banks offer direct promotions from analyst to associate instead of requiring that you go back and get your MBA (typically called “A to A”). If you are an MBA student, you are applying to banks with the aim of landing an investment banking associate position and aspire to work up the ranks to Managing Director one day.

Learn More → Investment Banking Primer

Investment Banking Analyst

Investment banking analysts are typically men and women directly out of undergraduate institutions who join an investment bank for a two-year program.

Analysts are the lowest in the hierarchy chain and therefore do the majority of the work. The work includes three primary tasks: presentations, analysis, and administrative.

After two years of working for the investment bank, top performing analysts are often offered the chance to stay for a third year, and the most successful analysts can be promoted after three years to investment banking associate.

Analysts are the lowest in the hierarchy chain and therefore do the majority of the work.

The work includes three primary tasks:

  • Building Presentations
  • Financial and Valuation Analysis
  • Administrative Tasks

Investment banking analysts spend a lot of time putting together PowerPoint presentations called pitch books. These pitch books  get printed in color and are bound with professional looking covers (usually in-house at the bulge brackets) for meetings with clients and prospective clients. The process is very formatting intensive, attention to detail is critical, and many analysts find this part of the job to be the most mundane and frustrating.

The second task of an analyst is analytical work. Pretty much anything done in Excel is considered “analytical work.”  Examples include entering historic company data from public documents, financial statement modeling, valuation, credit analysis, etc.

The third main task is administrative work. Such a task involves scheduling, setting up conference calls and meetings, making travel arrangements and keeping an up-to-date working group list of deal team members.

Lastly, if you are the sole analyst on the deal and it is sell-side (you’re advising a client on selling its business), you may have control of the virtual data room and will need to keep it organized so all parties have access to the information.

It is an interesting experience in that there are several data room providers and many times they will try to win business by offering free sports tickets, etc.

It gives you a chance to feel how your clients feel as you try to win their business.

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Investment Banking Associate

Investment banking associates are usually recruited directly out of MBA programs or analysts that have been promoted.

Typically, bankers will be at the associate level for three and a half years before they are promoted to Vice President. Associates are also categorized into class years (i.e. First Year, Second Year and Third Year or say, Class of ‘05, ‘06 and ‘07).

The number of years it takes for Associates to get promoted actually depends on the bank. Sometimes it could be more than three and a half years if there is not a need for another Vice President.

At that point, an associate should evaluate whether it makes sense to stay at the bank or try to move elsewhere to receive a promotion.

The investment banking associate’s role is similar to the analyst’s role, with the additional responsibility of serving as a liaison between junior and senior bankers, and in some instances, to work directly with clients.

How Analysts and Associates Work Together

Analysts and associates work very closely together.  Associates check the work of analysts and assign them tasks.

Checks could be in-depth where the Associate literally looks through models and checks inputs with filings or it could be much more high level where the Associate looks at an output and determines whether the numbers make sense.

Senior Bankers (VPs and MDs)

Senior bankers primarily source deals and maintain relationships. Senior bankers have a wide variety of past backgrounds ranging from investment banking to corporate executive management.

Aside from relationships, senior bankers often understand their industry landscape at a very detailed level and can anticipate deals in the sector. As economic environments shift, they anticipate when companies will need to raise capital or when strategic discussions (M&A, LBO) are necessary.

By anticipating such needs, Managing Directors can start crafting appropriate pitches early-on to clients with the aim of turning these pitches into live deals.

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hajar
February 1, 2021 1:44 pm

I’m a finance student and I want to know more about investement banking jobs and which job as a starter I can focus on after my graduation? and can I learn stg that could help me later like a software or a skill besides my studies because I have some… Read more »

rajendra
June 22, 2018 8:01 am

hi sir,
I have completed b.com and pursuing distance MBA finance from ICFAI university I m deaf with both side. I cannot communicate well. I have no experience. after my MBA am I eligible for investment bank associate jobs because I can’t oral communicate . plz reply me soon…..

Haseeb Chowdhry
July 26, 2018 9:31 pm
Reply to  rajendra

Rajendra,

You definitely have opportunities as companies understand the need for diversity and will accomodate individuals from diverse backgrounds – I would say you definitely have a chance – good luck!

Jake
July 27, 2020 12:05 pm

I’m 22 and recently graduated from an in-state university with a Finance & Business Econ dbl major. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and I don’t have IB/PE experience (late bloomer that never had an IB/PE internship).. I’m hoping to get in the door but all I’ve really done… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
July 27, 2020 3:02 pm
Reply to  Jake

Jake:

The best way is to network like crazy… find some alumni from your school that went into banking and see if they can help.

Best,
Jeff

rajnish
August 15, 2019 10:26 am

for Past 13 years I have tried to run my own business. I am getting some international patent for my inventions. I find that running a business is very difficult and it takes you down the road of extreame frustation until it becomes success. I might get some success. But… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
August 15, 2019 10:38 am
Reply to  rajnish

Rajnish:

It will definitely be difficult without an MBA from a top school. See if you can find a network given your background and where you are from and reach out to them for advice and/or recommendations.

Best,
Jeff

rajnish
August 15, 2019 12:09 pm
Reply to  Jeff Schmidt

Which MBA to go for a normal one or an EMBA. And what B-school to target

Jeff Schmidt
August 15, 2019 8:11 pm
Reply to  rajnish

Rajnish:

Honestly you would need to target a top 20 B-school and I would avoid EMBAs. You can still get an investment banking job outside of the top 20 but it just makes it a little harder, especially considering your background and age.

I wish you luck!
Jeff

Ismail Elkhatib
May 31, 2019 5:32 am

I’m a 19 year old, dreaming of becoming a investment banker I’m in college trying to finish with a BBA; Concentration in finance. Any tips you could give me to help me figure some stuff out in the future?

Jeff Schmidt
June 2, 2019 12:55 am

Ismail: – Get awesome grades – Read vociferously about the markets – Understand GAAP/IFRS/Acctual Accounting concepts, Financial Statement Analysis, how to interpret footnotes and how to do M&A and/or understand M&A tax accounting – Really understand how to apply Finance topics to analyzing businesses. NPV or IRR the everything you… Read more »

Ismail
June 2, 2019 2:16 am
Reply to  Jeff Schmidt

Thank you so much. I really appreciate the help

Jeff Schmidt
June 2, 2019 8:31 am
Reply to  Ismail

Ismail:

Great! Glad to hear it.

Cheers,
Jeff

Mihir rajyaguru
January 8, 2018 2:03 am

Hi,
Currently I am working with a private bank in india into retail branch banking with 11years of experience. Currently I am handling branch of 8 resources.
I want to further build my career as an investment banker.
Kindly suggest.

Haseeb Chowdhry
January 8, 2018 10:59 am

Mihir,

The best ways to get into investment banking are to get an MBA or pursue graduate studies, particularly if you have had extensive experience in one field. Happy to provide additional feedback if necessary – thanks.

Best,
Haseeb

Zakariye
August 15, 2019 11:01 am

Iam engineering graduate need to be financial analyst any idea you have for me i. e which courses is helpful for me

Jeff Schmidt
August 15, 2019 8:36 pm
Reply to  Zakariye

Zakariye:

Take as many finance and accounting electives as possible and network like crazy.

Best,
Jeff

Danny D
July 4, 2019 10:02 pm

Hi Haseeb and Jeff, My situation is rather unusual – I graduated in 2012 from a regular university in Russia. We spend 5 years, getting a degree which is the equivalent of Master’s Degree here in the US and Canada. I was studying Economics and Management. I went to Asia… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
July 6, 2019 5:42 pm
Reply to  Danny D

Danny:

Network as much as you can with current and former investment bankers that you may have a connection with. A lot of jobs are about who you know versus what you know.

Best,
Jeff

Paul Pinto
May 11, 2019 11:59 am

As an recent graduate how can I get a job in IB in Mumbai ?

Jeff Schmidt
May 12, 2019 2:17 pm
Reply to  Paul Pinto

Paul:

It definitely requires a solid amount of networking with people in the field, and you also have to have a very good idea of the opportunities in the local market you are targeting.

Best,
Jeff

Thylambal
October 15, 2018 3:01 am

Morning Sir,

I have completed my MBA in Investment Banking (Distance) from ICFAI university. I have no working experience. Is it possible to build my career in investment banking.

Haseeb Chowdhry
October 15, 2018 1:07 pm
Reply to  Thylambal

Thylambal, Hope all is well! I think you can definitely build a career in IBD. What specific questions do you have about the process? It definitely requires a solid amount of networking with people in the field, and you also have to have a very good idea of the opportunities… Read more »

Dwayne McKelvey
July 30, 2018 5:49 pm

Hello,
I spent 16 plus years of career in accounting and the previous five years in finance, I’m year away from completing my MBA and wanted to understand are their opportunities to make the transition into investment banking.

Jeff Schmidt
March 7, 2019 6:28 pm

Dwayne:

There are always opportunities just be aware that you are likely to be more senior/have more work experience than many of your colleagues (and maybe even your boss!). As always your best bet is to network like crazy, beginning with alumni.

Best,
Jeff

Ganesh
July 17, 2018 2:14 pm

Hi Sir
I am graduated from Accounting and finance course..in current year only.n I also doing a (Investment banking course from institute).it is possible to build my career in Investment banking

Haseeb Chowdhry
July 26, 2018 9:32 pm
Reply to  Ganesh

Ganesh – definitely – get to networking! Good luck!

Srikanth
March 25, 2018 1:48 am

Hi, I am pursuing my pgdm in the field of finance from Hyderabad. I want to become a vice president in an investment bank. So what additional courses should I do, like CFA, to get that position and can you tell me about the career path. Your suggestion will be… Read more »

Haseeb Chowdhry
April 1, 2018 9:14 pm
Reply to  Srikanth

Shrikanth, What is the PGDM designation? Normally, to become a VP at an investment bank, you need to have been an Associate, which is typically the rank you get hired at after an MBA. As an associate, it might take between 3-5 years to get promoted up to Vice President.… Read more »

Ranjan
March 14, 2018 2:01 pm

Dear Haseeb Greetings ! This post was quite insightful and I found it useful for my research. I’m eagerly interested to learn finance and build a career in the financial services industry. I currently live in India and hold a bachelor’s degree in commerce. I also have an experience of… Read more »

Haseeb Chowdhry
April 2, 2018 2:22 pm
Reply to  Ranjan

Ranjan, 1) Yes – if you are going for an MBA and specializing in Finance and/or Accounting 2) It would be helpful to obtain transferable work experience in finance/accounting roles (Corporate Strategy, FP&A), or at a financial services firm 3) Yes – but, you need to probably get into a… Read more »

Ranjan
April 12, 2018 11:07 am

Hi Haseeb,

Thanks for the reply !!

Indeed these answers help make a lot more sense in addressing the questions I had in mind.

Thanks
Ranjan

ROHINI
November 13, 2017 1:21 am

HI,
Please suggest me i have done MBA in marketing and i want to start my career in investment banking so is it possible for me to start through doing a certification course in investment banking for 2 month.

Haseeb Chowdhry
November 15, 2017 5:39 pm
Reply to  ROHINI

Rohini,

Good question – where are you trying to enter the investment banking profession? The US, Canada, or Europe? Would love to provide more targeted advice – thanks.

Haseeb

A.rakesh singh
October 31, 2017 7:45 am

Hi., Can you please advise me how to start my career in investment banking as mine age is 29 and I had 3 year experience in MNC company (genpact).As a investment banker in kyc process.please help me off. Thanks

Haseeb Chowdhry
November 2, 2017 10:18 am
Reply to  A.rakesh singh

Rakesh, Do you have an MBA? That is typically a solid way into entering an IBD program, but it depends on the market. I cannot comment on international markets, but for the US, Canada and Europe, the typical process is either to obtain an MBA or Master’s in Finance, and… Read more »

saksham
April 19, 2019 7:25 am

how to get the information of recruiting cycle or how to get the opportunities to get an interview

Jeff Schmidt
April 20, 2019 9:29 pm
Reply to  saksham

Per Haseeb’s comments, you would ideally be in school and would be able to get that information from your university. If not in school (i.e., you would be an experienced hire), there isn’t typically a traditional recruiting cycle in my experience. You would need to apply to jobs as they… Read more »

sumit soni
August 3, 2017 2:15 am

Dear sir/mam, I am a qualified Chartered Accountant from India. I want to build my career in Investment banking. I want to know whether by pursuing Executive MBA ( i.e PGXPM) down the line after five/six years will help me to boost my designation to the top hierarchy or not.… Read more »

Haseeb Chowdhry
August 18, 2017 11:32 pm
Reply to  sumit soni

Sumit,

An executive MBA is rare for a banker, but it may be possible at higher levels (i.e. Director level)…typically bankers do full time MBAs and join as Associates. Hope I answered your question – thanks!

David Wu
March 2, 2023 1:11 pm

Hi, I’m currently in a 3 year rotational program in a chemical company, and my next rotation is finance department. I have a master degree in management and did material science in undergrad. Had an internship in a VC (Hard tech focus). Do you have any suggestions if I want… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by David Wu
Brad Barlow
March 5, 2023 9:25 pm
Reply to  David Wu

Hi, David, Great question. First, embrace your finance rotation and if possible, see if you can work with the folks who work on M&A deals for the company (usually called corporate development), to learn what they do. These skills would be valued by IB and PE firms. Then you’ll probably… Read more »

Venkatajalam
January 17, 2022 12:14 pm

Hi currently i am doing a investment banking course, with this course can i become a equity research analyst. If not, I what should i do become an equity research analyst

Jeff Schmidt
January 17, 2022 1:48 pm
Reply to  Venkatajalam

Yes, this will help you learn the type of modeling for investment banking and equity research.

Best,
Jeff

sherry
December 18, 2021 2:14 am

I got an offer for MSc Financial Analysis and Fund Management. I look forward to working in Investment Banking as I have been working on financial models in an undergraduate program. Is this program the right one for me?

Jeff Schmidt
December 18, 2021 1:32 pm
Reply to  sherry

Sherry:

That’s really up to you!

Best,
Jeff

Aduragbemi
October 11, 2021 11:27 am

Hello I’m a recent graduate of Economics and have interest in investment banking, I did some courses that’s related to IB, along the line I discovered I have to get more knowledge about accounting before going into my career, i want to know if registering for ICAN is not a… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
October 11, 2021 11:37 am
Reply to  Aduragbemi

Aduragbemi:

I’m not familiar with ICAN but learning more accounting will definitely help you in your career!

Best,
Jeff

Sujitha Nirmal
September 1, 2021 9:39 am

What master’s degree can I as a fresher do to get into IBD ( excluding MBA)

Jeff Schmidt
September 1, 2021 7:08 pm
Reply to  Sujitha Nirmal

Sujitha:

Possibly a Masters in Finance.

Best,
Jeff

ruchika
May 19, 2020 5:46 am

hi, I have done my MBA in finance(distance learning) and after that, I start working for an insurance company as a marketing associate. I want to switch my career into finance as an Investment Banker also I don’t have any degree in investment banking. please suggest me how should I… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
May 19, 2020 9:40 am
Reply to  ruchika

Ruchika:

Network as much as you can with current and former investment bankers that you may have a connection with. A lot of jobs are about who you know versus what you know.

Best,
Jeff

Ella Clarke
April 22, 2020 4:26 am

I understand investment banking is a very competitive industry but would it be better to get a more prestigious degree (Economics at oxford uni) or to go somewhere like bath which a allows me to travel the world between term and do a work placement year abroad??- I know this… Read more »

Jeff Schmidt
April 22, 2020 10:33 am
Reply to  Ella Clarke

Ella:

At the end of the day, that’s personal preference, but a prestigious university will always give you a “foot in the door.”

Best,
Jeff

Teja
May 21, 2018 7:12 am

I have academics in 65 + I want to get into investment banking. With lower scores how can I make it happen? Does a good gpa in B school compensate low academic scores for I banking? What are the other ways I can improve my profile?

Haseeb Chowdhry
May 21, 2018 2:00 pm
Reply to  Teja

Teja, I’m sorry – are you planning on going back to school for an MBA? I’m not sure I fully understand the question. In general, yes, strong academics is key, but there are ways to get your foot in the door after an MBA. And yes, you need to do… Read more »

Teja
May 22, 2018 5:32 am

Yes I would likely to go for mba. If I get good grades in mba do I have chance to get into i banking?

Haseeb Chowdhry
May 22, 2018 9:30 am
Reply to  Teja

Definitely – that is a solid route!

Teja
May 22, 2018 10:24 am

What about Indian investment banks? Even they require good academic scores?

Haseeb Chowdhry
May 22, 2018 10:51 am
Reply to  Teja

Teja,

I’m not an expert within the Indian market, so I cannot comment on this – apologies.

Best,
Haseeb

Fatima
April 15, 2024 7:41 am

I am graduate student I wanna become an investment banking analyst how to achieve this career

Brad Barlow
April 15, 2024 8:14 pm
Reply to  Fatima

Hi, Fatima, Beginning by studying our material is a good start, and you can put this on your CV. However, you will also need a path, which is usually through recruitment at a school. If you are a business school student and want to be an i-banker, talk immediately to… Read more »

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