Breaking into Investment Banking from Financial KPO: A Complete Guide

Many financial analysts and associates working in the financial KPO industry wish breaking into investment banking as the next logical step in career growth.

Though a lot of literature is available on breaking into investment banking, transitioning from financial KPO sector is not covered widely.

Cutting all the information overload aside, this article is targeted only for those financial KPO analysts and associates willing to break into the investment banking sector.

Indian Investment Banking Sector: A Brief

Before 1992, investment banking remained confined to merchant banking services for more than three decades, with Citibank and Grindlays Bank being primary front-runners.

The establishment of separate merchant banking structure separate from commercial banking to offer advisory services and manage investments began in 1970’s.

The advent of SEBI in 1992 gave a major boost to the industry. However, post-1992, market fluctuations saw a decline in the interest of investment bankers.

Presently, Indian youth has a bright future in the investment banking sector.

The scope of growth is high as the market has not been fully utilized, giving advisory firms and pure merchant banks to convert into full service investment banks.

The market will broaden and give rise to employment opportunities and an introduction of varied investment services.

Breaking into Investment Banking from Financial KPO: 8 Steps Guide

You are not a fresher and at this stage of finance career, you have the necessary educational qualification to break into investment banking. Further guidance is not required here. Secondly, even when the experience years were not gained working in investment banking sector per se, they still remain relevant to make the transition.

In short, education and experience have you covered.

What is needed are resourceful guidance tips to help with the transition, which is what the guide is all about. You can also check out this short guide to investment banking career.

Step 1. Improve Knowledge before breaking into Investment Banking

Strong knowledge of happenings and developments in the Indian Investment Banking sector is imminent to display industrial authority and interest. Subscribe to magazines like Business World, Business Week and Forbes India to brush up knowledge. This is crucial to convince the interviewer of skills and credibility, and maintaining a regular reading habit helps in long-term exposure and industry networking.

Step 2. Develop Skills

Successful investment bankers display a perfect mix of professional and interpersonal skills.

Strong interpersonal skills and analytical bent of mind is the perfect combination preferred by investment bankers.

There is a high requirement of investment bankers with analytical skills, people skills, sales skills, communication skills, and the desire to take initiatives and display creative abilities. All these skills cannot be taught through any course. You have to be a self-learner.

Moreover, investment bankers spend a typical of 50 to 90 hours per week on the job. The field is one of “high work, high risk, and high reward” profession.

In mid-career years, success as a banker will depend on communication to get deals done.

Read about the roles and responsibilities of an investment banker.

Rewarding understanding of market trends, deal mechanic and macroeconomic environment is necessary. Though finesse will come with expertise, make the humble beginning to acquire expertise now.

Step 3. Learn Financial Modeling

If you haven’t learned it already, it’s the perfect time to learn financial modeling before getting started with contacting investment bankers and banking institutions. The ability to create abstract representations of real-world financial situations is an essential quality for breaking into investment banking.

Taking a short course is fruitful and we recommend the Breaking into Wall Street (BIWS) course designed for the benefit of investment banking and private equity industry. It is a comprehensive course teaching everything about investment banking and is one of the world’s most reputed courses. Check out our review of BIWS and their special course on Excel, an important asset of the investment banking world.

At this stage, you have:

  • educational qualifications
  • financial KPO experience
  • investment banking knowledge
  • necessary skills
  • learned to develop financial models

Before the odds were stacked against you but now, you have a bright chance breaking into investment banking from financial KPO.

The next stage is all about establishing precious contacts, getting interviews and the offer letter. Let’s continue.

Step 4. Modifying Covering Letter & Resume

A generic covering letter and resume will be a massive fail.

Modify the resume to suit the sensibilities of an investment banker.

The resume should be achievements-centric, talk in business lingo and convey clarity towards career goals.

You have about 30-seconds to positively impress the intended banker, how can it be done?

Check out the Bing search thread on investment banking sample resumes and our guide on writing effective investment banking resumes. Browse through the templates and emulate one.

Focus on crafting a minimalist cover letter because investment bankers rarely give the letters more than a glance. A minimalist covering letter containing the vital details do get read and get better responses.

Step 5. Networking is Nectar

It is crucial to engage in networking to develop important contacts because of three reasons: (1) there is no scope for campus placements; (2) important contacts get your investment banking interview calls and (3) networking is the way to long-term career success in this field.

Though breaking into investment banking sector is shining, the number of work opportunities falls short of the number of applications received for every post. Moreover, rejections due to lack of knowledge and skill are common too.

Therefore, use an existing network to improve connections with those functioning in the investment banking sector. You can look into alumni list or use professional social networks like LinkedIn to expand reach Simple Google searches help a lot too.

Good connections get pre-interview calls – an undeniable fact of the trade.

Step 6. Approach Investment Banks Directly

Sometimes the best way is the direct way. Here is a list of investment banks in India.

Visit the bank websites and check their career options.

If a suitable opening is not given, take the initiative to contact their HR representative by phone or email. Talk about your present career profile and why do you think moving over to investment banking from financial KPO will be suitable for future career and how will you contribute towards the particular investment banking establishment.

A good conversation with the HR can get prompt interview calls.

Step 7. Cold Calling and Emailing

If everything fails, cold calling and emailing is the ace up your sleeve. It’s similar to chatting up with the HR personnel, as mentioned in the previous point, but it’s largely impersonal.

Be ready for endless rejections but do not give up hope. Create a database of investment banking companies or well-connected people to call. The purpose is to introduce your profile succinctly and inquire about vacant positions. Out of every 100 calls made, about 5 investment bankers will be interested to talk to you, translating to about 1 interview call out of every 100! Be prepared. You can learn more about cold calling and networking from the BIWS networking toolkit program.

Step 8. Clearing Interview

This is the last stage for breaking into investment banking from financial KPO. Treat every successful interview call as one big opportunity. Be well prepared. Use your skills, financial learning, experience, and education to impress the interviewer.

‘Why do you want to enter investment banking will be the commonest of questions. No one can teach you the answer to this. Do self-preparation and learning. Make it a point to display financial analysis knowledge and understanding.

You have to cross multi-stage interview processes to get selected. Every investment banking company has their own policies. Here is our guide to prepare for the investment banking interview and cracking it.

Last but not the least; make the effort to know about the investment banking company calling you for an interview. Know about its history, market position, and employee growth possibilities. Every detail is available on their websites mostly. Read this resource on investment banking questions and answers to prepare for the interview.

Endnote

Investment banking is a lucrative field. The hours are tiring but create an excellent finance profile.

Moving on from financial KPOs and breaking into investment banking will be the perfect choice to give your finance career a massive boost. Ask a question, share opinions and add your experiences below.

Breaking into Investment Banking from Financial KPO: A Complete Guide 1
Breaking into Investment Banking from Financial KPO: A Complete Guide 2
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4 thoughts on “Breaking into Investment Banking from Financial KPO: A Complete Guide”

  1. Hi sir,

    After Reading the above article I have a doubt,
    How is the growth if I have started my career in a mid size IT Company as accountant and after that if I have joined a investment bank for KYC Department.
    Please let me know the future opportunities to grow

    • Dear Ram,

      KYC Department is a back-office work. Please check whether you want to work in front or middle office or back-office in Investment Banks.

      I suggest you enrol for CFA and learn investment banking skills simultaneously and then move to core investment banking jobs.

  2. If someone’ve got a poor GPA…..then will it be a good move by having 3-4 yrs experience in KPO and then moving to some boutique or middle-market investment banking firm as an associate,Given that that person have a MBA Finance degree from any low profile State university;as the Investment Banks demand for a good academic records.

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