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A Guide To Gaining A Graduate Position In An Investment Bank

Updated on October 15, 2013

Starting a career in Investment Banking

With starting salaries in the region of £40,000 and beyond, it is little wonder that places on investment banking graduate programmes are so oversubscribed.

Here are a few pieces of advice to clinching your place from a graduate about to embark on his own investment banking career.

Trainee Trader
Trainee Trader

A Graduate's Guide To An Investment Banking Career

So you have decided to pursue a career in investment banking? Who could blame you? With exciting, fast paced work, starting salaries in the region of £40,000 and a chance to live and work in the big city it is little wonder places on investment banking graduate programmes are the most oversubscribed in the country.

With in excess of 200 applicants for every single vacancy, it is essential your application stands out from the crowd. Here are a few words of advice from a graduate about to embark on his very own career in investment banking.

1. Get an internship

Whilst still extremely competitive, it is slightly easier to get a place on an internship with an investment bank than it is a graduate programme. Even if you are in your final year at university, some banks will still allow you to join their summer internship programme.

Once on an internship you'll really be able to get a feel for what it takes to work in investment banking. You'll receive high quality training and may even be given access to the bank's very own trader training programmes.

Not only will you gain some incredibly valuable experience, you'll get a chance to network with some of the biggest names in banking. Investment banks pump a lot of resources into their internship schemes as they are keen to attract the very best from universities across the world.

Moreover, most banks use internships as a form of extended interview. If you perform well there is a great chance the bank will offer you a job once you have finished your degree.

2. Apply early

The applications open in early September for most graduate schemes. Apply as soon as you can. Banks do not wait until the closing dates before making offers and so the earlier you get in, the more chance you have of clinching a graduate position.

3. Research, research, research

Before every single application, make sure you know exactly who and what you are applying for. Each bank has their own ethos, their own leading business areas and their own community projects. Google won't suffice, think about subscribing to a newspaper like the Financial Times to really scrub up on your financial knowledge.

Moreover, you need to understand the role you are applying for as there are many within investment banking. Trader training programs, for example, are a great idea for someone looking to enter into a trading position but less so for someone hoping to work in IT.

Learn as much as you possible can about the financial industry, particularly any asset classes that interest you in order to be able to talk about it at ease. Throughout your interview process you'll be able to drop in references to current legislation and issues facing the bank you are applying for, which will impress your interviewers.

4. Get involved at university

Investment banks are not just looking for the cleverest students. Whilst a first from LSE will certainly increase your chances, the big banks are looking for well rounded individuals. Throughout my internship I met dozens of sports captains, charity leaders and exceptional athletes. Your CV needs to stand out from the crowd and anything to show that you are a natural leader and team player will do this.

5. Practise your interview skills

The interview process for investment banks can be particularly challenging and slightly unusual when compared to other graduate assessments centres. Every bank is different and each will conjure up their own inventive ways to test and stretch you.

To prepare, make sure you speak clearly and slowly. Be confident, but not arrogant and always be willing to listen to other people. Your one-to-one interview is your time to really sell yourself, so prepare some back stories for the typical competency based questions.

Otherwise, demonstrate your ability to plan, lead and also listen.

Good luck!


Top Ten Alternative Investments

If your stock and share portfolio has taken a battering in recent years, or you have spare cash and wonder if you should keep it in the bank or invest it, consider alternative investments. Many advisors point out that things like art, coins, stamps and some collectibles are well worth considering.

Art: Fine art prices can go up and down, but these fluctuations are not tied to the rise and fall of the stock markets. Instead, they can be influenced by trends and other buys. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s Japanese investors spent a massive amount of money on art and this led to an increase in prices. If you are interested in getting into art, read first and speak to experts about what is popular and what investments will last and grow in value over time.

As for buying, galleries are one of the most expensive places to go to, because they must also cover their own running costs and other overheads. Instead, you should start by going to auction houses or looking in private catalogues. These things usually reflect the real market prices of art. Many auction houses will say that your purchase must value at least $10,000 before you can begin. But this is in fact not true. You can find small pieces or undiscovered artists for much less money. Don’t forget too to consider investing in sculptures and other mediums such as fabrics and rugs.

Coins: People have been investing in coins for as long as human beings have been making them. There are two types of coins that you can invest in. The first one is bullion, which are minted by national governments and are usually made in gold. Examples include the Australian nougat, the South African Krugerrand, and the American Gold Eagle. However, it is important to remember that these coins do not derive their value from being scarce. People buy them because they are a reputable investment and can be sold through dealers for a price that is close to the commodity price of gold. The cost of this kind of coin is marked up when you buy it and dealers need to make their profits when you sell. So you will need to own this kind of coin for quite some time in order to make money on your investment.

The next type of coin that you can invest in is called numismatic. These coins are valued not for their precious metal or their weight in precious metal, but for because of their scarcity. In the United States, coins that are worth collecting include some Buffalo Nickels and Liberty half dollars. In parts of Europe ancient Roman coins are rare. In some years coins had fewer minting is so therefore they are rarer and worth tracking.

Stamps: In recent years and particularly since the global financial crash in 2007, more investors have been looking at stamps as an alternative investment. However, there is a debate about whether or not stamps are a hobby or an investment. Some major investment houses say that spending thousands of pounds on a stamp today does not mean it will be worth more in future years. Conversely, a few major stamp houses say stamps are an investment and should grow in value. Clearly then, there is a mixed picture out there.

Serious stamp collectors do view their interest as a hobby. They say they find stamps attractive and interesting and that they learn a lot about history and different parts of the world. And today, in the age of digital communications, stamps hark back to a bygone age where physical mail and post were the only means of formal communication. Perhaps on that note then stamps should be given second consideration by investment houses.

Real Estate: Property has always been a popular investment. Even when markets have suffered from dramatic falls, investors have looked upon real estate to increase in price and turn a profit. If you want to get involved in both the development and management of this type of investment, consider looking at residential lettings software to help with this work. For other types of property there are alternatives to residential lettings software that can be used to track inventory, occupancy rates and all the admin work attached to this kind of investment. If you have less capital, consider looking at a property investment group or fund. Your money will be part of an overall fund invested in property development.

What gets your vote?

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