Investment bankers are responsible for heavy corporate transactions like mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, fundraising, and investment advisory. A career in investment banking is demanding, highly competitive and challenging. The right skillset, however, can help you build a successful career in investment banking by making the job easier and more efficient. In this article, we will explore the rare skills that top global investment banks are looking for.
Financial skills (hard skills)
Investment bankers must be proficient with the fundamentals of corporate finance, company valuation and different valuation methods. Investment bankers perform their jobs efficiently when they possess strong financial skills, especially in economics, mathematics, and accounting. Moreover, along with these core financial competencies, curiosity about finance and the economy, in general, helps investment bankers solve complex problems and grow in their careers.
Top financial skills required as an investment banker include:
- Financial modelling
- Financial and statistical analysis
- Company valuation
- Data interpretation and knowledge about economic indicators
- Risk analysis and management
- Knowledge about regulatory policies and procedures for the financial sector (depends on the job profile)
- Business analysis, competitive analysis
- Basic awareness about investment products and advisory services.
Discipline and time management
Managing time, being productive and staying disciplined are other requirements for success in the investment banking industry. Today, time is the most valuable asset for any organisation and has a huge impact on its profitability. Companies that have effective time management controls in practice are more efficient, which allows them to generate more revenue at a relatively lower cost. Investment banks look for candidates who possess these traits so that they can blend well with the organisation’s culture.
The use of planners, notes, journals, and reminders can help you keep track of time and tasks. You can use the following tips to start managing your time effectively:
- Set goals: Establishing clear goals saves you from falling off track and motivates you to work towards them. You can also follow the SMART method of setting goals.
- Plan: Planning ahead saves you time and avoids the unnecessary stress that follows. Ensure that you make to-do lists in the evening for the next day.
- Prioritise: Prioritise each item on your to-do list. This helps you to stay focussed and accomplish tasks in tandem with deadlines.
The finance industry is no stranger to technology. Over the last few years, investment banks have shown interest in hiring engineers and candidates with a tech background, moving away from hiring only MBA students. Being the largest contributor to the GDP of the most developed nations, IB is the third most tech-savvy industry.
Finance professionals should be broad-minded and willing to learn and adapt to new technology. Even if you don’t possess tech knowledge you must be open to learning. Regardless of the department, an investment banker works in, he/she will need computer skills and the ability to pick up new programs quickly. AI, big data and ML are increasingly becoming common on the trading floor.
The importance of effective communication in investment banking can’t be overstated. Recruiters from the industry often test the ability of candidates to communicate effectively during the interview.
One of the most crucial aspects of investment banking is the ability to cater to clients, superiors and corporates. A finance professional must be able to explain the impact of a proposed decision to their client to establish trust and form a long-term relationship. Presenting an idea requires comprehensive communication and presentation skills, which include spreadsheets, documents, and slideshows. Communication skills are also required within the office. An investment banker must be able to distil the core points and effectively convey them to the management to close a deal.
In order to improve your communication, you can talk with industry professionals and people in business. For a better understanding of the financial markets, you can also listen to podcasts and interviews.
Investment banking is a very competitive industry, and it is difficult to break into due to a required combination of relevant soft skills such as communication skills, along with the hard skills. The good news is that many of these skills can be learned and improved over time. Excellent communication, managing time well, being disciplined and the required financial knowledge are vital for a career in investment banking.