Investment or merchant bankers provide financial services for companies, institutions, government departments and wealthy individuals. They help clients to finance their business activities and get the most out of their investments. There are three main specialist areas: investment analyst, corporate financier, operations.
Investment Analysts - study financial markets throughout the world to enable fund managers to advise their clients on the best possible investment.
Corporate Financiers - provide advice to clients who manage finance for large organisations, including acting on the client's behalf in financing, managing or defending mergers, acquisitions or reconstructions. They also arrange bonds or loans or the issue of shares.
Operations Professionals - manage day-to-day processes, develop new systems, and manage change to gain the maximum efficiency and profitability for the bank. They deal with all incoming queries from clients, resolve incorrect payments and make sure that client details are correct for the payment of funds.
An investment banker's tasks could include:
Investment bankers usually work in teams. They liaise with a range of people including lawyers, accountants and team members. They tend to specialise in a particular sector, such as telecommunications, energy and utility, or retail, or in a particular geographical area such as the Far East. They spend a lot of time doing research and attending meetings, and use computers regularly.
Investment bankers work long and irregular hours to meet deadlines and close deals. They are often at their desks from before 8am until after 6pm. The long hours can seriously affect social life.
They are mainly office based, but experienced bankers may travel extensively in the UK and overseas to visit clients on site.
Smart dress is generally expected.
Starting salaries may be around £30,000 to £35,000 a year. There are usually performance bonuses and generous benefits, including private healthcare, pensions, share options and gym membership.
Prospects for investment bankers are determined by the global economy. When markets are poor, many investment bankers can find themselves out of work. There is considerable movement between banks and headhunting is common, often for successful teams as much as for individuals.
Good salaries and attractive packages make investment banking a very competitive job market, and there are always far more applicants than jobs, even when the global economy is sound.
Investment bankers work either for investment banks or for one of the large High Street banks with a merchant banking division. Most jobs are in London, with some in smaller financial centres such as Edinburgh.
Jobs are advertised in specialist sector publications, in The Times (Thursdays) and with recruitment agencies specialising in financial and banking careers. Job vacancies can also be found on specialist websites such as www.efinancialcareers.com.
Most investment banks recruit people with a 2:1 or first class honours degree. The minimum entry to a degree course is two A levels/three H grades, but banks generally expect graduates to have had at least 300 UCAS points.
While a degree in any discipline is acceptable, many companies prefer related subjects such as accounting, economics, mathematics or statistics. Increasingly, entrants have a second degree such as an MBA or MSc in a related subject. A second language is also useful.
Relevant experience is very important. Taking a summer placement or internship before the last year at university can help entry to a graduate training scheme. Some banks offer jobs to as many as 60 to 95 percent of interns.
It is important to apply early in the final year of a degree course. The selection process is rigorous and could involve a presentation to an interview panel and psychometric and aptitude tests.
Operations divisions sometimes offer training programmes for school leavers with A levels/H grades with passes at degree entry level standard. These schemes last between three and five years. However, graduates can generally expect faster promotion.
Most people start on a graduate training scheme, which provides a complete business overview. They are generally expected to study for qualifications which appear on the appropriate examination list, maintained by the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC).
These qualifications will depend on their specialism, but might include:
Operations - the Securities and Investment Institute (SII) Diploma, Diploma in Investment Compliance or Certificate in Investment Administration.
Corporate finance - SII Diploma, Investment Analyst Qualification (IAQ).
Analysts - the UK Society of Investment Professionals (UKSIP) Investment Management Certificate (IMC).
Many investment bankers then progress to the internationally recognised Chartered Financial Analyst qualification which is administered by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute in the UK. It has three levels, each requiring around 250 hours of study, and takes about three years to complete.
Many employers pay study and exam costs.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Investment bankers need to:
Most investment bankers spend their first three years as analysts. With experience, they can become fund managers at associate level. They can then become vice presidents after a further three years.
Many investment banks have international links providing opportunities for extensive travel.
It is possible to move into related careers such as accountancy, banking or general business management.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute,
10th Floor, One Canada Square,
Canary Wharf, London E14 5DY
Tel: 020 7531 0751
The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS),
Drumsheugh House, 38b Drumsheugh Gardens,
Edinburgh EH3 7SW
Tel: 0131 473 7777
The Financial Services Authority (FSA),
25 The North Colonade, Canary Wharf,
London E14 5HS
Tel: 020 7066 1000
Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC),
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Institute of Financial Services (IFS), IFS House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 762600
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.