How Do I Become an Investment Banker?

If you enjoy working with numbers, make decisions calmly even in high-pressure situations and are a natural salesperson, you might be wondering how to become an investment banker. Investment bankers are the professionals in the world of corporate finance who arrange and oversee investments, acquisitions, mergers and initial public offerings. Investment banks are financial institutions that underwrite and sell stocks and bonds, essentially borrowed money, and seek to make deals between companies. Investment bankers must be good at working with both numbers and people, and they may have the opportunity to spend a good deal of time traveling.

Investment bankers are primarily involved in financial interactions between companies, such as investments, mergers, acquisitions and the initial sale of stocks. Investments happen when investment bankers persuade companies or individuals with money to invest with, or buy stocks or bonds from, other, usually smaller companies that need money to get started or expand their business. Though they aren’t actually selling products or services, investment bankers must have excellent sales skills because they have to convince investors to provide funding to businesses that are in a startup or expansion stage. Investment bankers also orchestrate and oversee mergers, which occur when two or more separate companies join together as one unified company, and acquisitions, in which one company buys another. When a private company first decides to go public by selling stocks, or shares of the company, investment bankers are the professionals who decide the prices of stocks.

To begin preparing for a career as an investment banker, candidates should attend a finance, business, economics or accounting degree program at a college or university. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient for securing an entry-level position in investment banking, but candidates who are serious about advancing in the future should consider earning an advanced degree called a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Students should consider interning with investment banks during their undergraduate college careers in order to network and gain real-world experience in the field. Upon completing their academic education and attaining a job with an investment bank, new investment bankers may have to undergo rigorous on-the-job training as well as taking the required examinations to earn the licenses, registrations and certifications necessary for legally working with specialized types of investments.

Investment banking is typically thought of as a profitable, high-powered career. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that investment bankers and related occupations in the field of securities, commodities and financial services sales collectively earn a median annual salary of $70,190. However, successful investment bankers often earn sizable bonuses. For experienced investment bankers in high-level positions, these bonuses may actually surpass annual salaries.

Do you have a knack for numbers and an interest in the exciting, fast-paced world of corporate finance? Are you a natural salesperson with good instincts and persuasive skills? If so, knowing how to become an investment banker could be your first step toward a lucrative new career in a dynamic industry.

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