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Careers in finance can be extremely rewarding, exciting and lucrative, but also very stressful, demanding and nerve-racking. Due to the confluence of emotional and mental aspects required for these careers, investment firms often look for specific skills and characteristics in potential employees. There are various roles in investment firms, but one of the most prominent and sought after is investment banking. Investment bankers facilitate transactions between two firms (such as mergers or acquisitions) or between the firm and the market (think IPOs), or within a firm (by helping to establish business plans). ‘business).These varied roles influence the types of skills investment bankers must possess – many of which are tangible and measurable, but some of which are intangible.

Investment bankers facilitate transactions between two firms (such as mergers or acquisitions) or between the firm and the market (think IPOs), or within a firm (by helping to establish business plans). ‘business).

The five best skills

Many characteristics that companies look for in potential employees are obvious, but others are surprising; within each there are nuances that are difficult to quantify that may make a person more geared towards a career in investment banking than someone with similar skills. We have compiled a list of the top five skills that an investment banker should characterize and areas of study that can help in the acquisition of the skills.

  1. Intellect: This is perhaps the most obvious feature. Strong intelligence with particular emphasis on analysis, math, finance, and economics goes a long way toward fulfilling many job requirements. But it goes beyond these basic skills. Investment banking also requires such intellectual curiosity that not only do you perform and understand your work in silos, but branch out to understand how a colleague’s work or other factors fit into the overall puzzle. Investment bankers have a desire to solve complex problems and create new and innovative solutions. Fields of study that often boost intellectual skills and propel this type of problem solving and curiosity tend to focus on math, science, such as physics, economics, engineering, and finance / accounting, as well as graduate certificate programs such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
  2. Discipline: News organizations often report the high salaries of investment bankers, but little is said about the long hours, hard work, diligence and self-discipline that go into these high rewards. Investment bankers, from junior analyst to high-level CEO, work in a pressure cooker environment and, because of this, must be able to operate under intense control and demands. These traits are often innate, but can also be learned throughout life in many ways, for example by enrolling and completing a demanding task, such as earning a law or medical degree, or through athletic achievements like play on a college sports team.
  3. Entrepreneurial: Interestingly, with all the rigor and structure of investment banking, the ability to be creative and innovative is a skill that is highly valued. The most successful bankers are able to approach a task or deliver a solution in a way that may be new, paving the way for products and services. There is an intangible characteristic that forces individuals to approach a situation from a different angle, and while this can be reinforced by academics, it is often instinctive. University courses, such as entrepreneurship courses, as well as some science and social science courses, can provide a basis for more innovative thinking.
  4. Global: We know the world is more globally connected and that business is no different. Open-mindedness, which opens the door to a deeper understanding of culture and societies, expands the ability to work with and for international companies. Combining this knowledge and understanding with an ability to communicate in more than one language is an additional and sought-after skill in investment banking. Academics focusing on sociology, anthropology and supplemented with advanced language skills (i.e. fluent in a second language like German or Mandarin) are desired skills. A good example is participation in study abroad programs, which promote these types of skills.
  5. Relationship building: The latter skill is perhaps the most intangible but considered one of the most important, especially as investment bankers move up the career ladder. Social and relationship skills, such as the ability to deal with difficult people in extreme situations, great energy and a positive attitude that exudes power but also an “I understand your needs” attitude and developing and maintaining relationships with customers are characteristics that bankers must possess in order to be successful. Ultimately, investment banks make money based on the amount of fees paid by clients. Thus, a strong set of interpersonal skills greatly contributes to customer acquisition and retention.

Top 5 Skills an Investment Banker Needs

The bottom line

Investment banking requires a certain personality and set of specific skills – much of which can be taught and learned in universities, but some of which are intangible and / or inherent. In addition to these learned and natural skills, the investment bank takes someone who is striving, committed and eager to learn and perform at the highest level in a stimulating environment.

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