8 Ways to Survive Investment Banking Career of the Future

Investment banking career outlook

If you seriously want an investment banking career, first read the JPMorgan report.

The report landscapes the complete banking outlook.

Banking has always offered a volatile career. If investment banking is your choice, how long-term are you seeing? Do you want it to last till prime 30s and then move on to other financial verticals? Are you able to view and understand the challenges facing every investment banking employee 5 to 10 years down the line?

The JPMorgan report draws some assumptions impacting the investment banking industry. If you want to survive, you need to know what they are and how to survive the odds packed against you and fit in the investment banking career of the future.

8 Ways to Fit in the Investment Banking Career of the Future

Here they are:

1) Learn to Code

The truth is upon us; there’s no escape. If you want to survive in investment banking, you have to know technology. The investment banking future lies in technology.

The CEO of Barclays, Anthony Jenkins, admits the whole banking industry is undergoing a sort of ‘technical revolution’. Banks like Barclays, UBS and HSBC are automating various investments banking processes and setting up its own fintech accelerator to utilize the fintech sector.

It’s no wonder that many fintech start-ups have risen in the last five years.

2) No Impatience for Success

In the last couple of years, getting promotions have become harder. Senior-level investment banking staff is stuck in Director and VP jobs, while the mid-level bankers are stuck being analysts and associates for endless years. The success stair isn't moving, it’s stuck in between.

Various HR recruiters comment that only 4-5 people out of 40-50 director classes receive promotion and others who want to rise up the career ladder, hoping to make big money are suck.

It’s possible that your investment banking career will see years of stagnancy till your mid-30s or late 30s. Are you ready to take the challenge? Or, does switching portfolios sound a better option?

3) Build External Relationships & Understand Internal Politics

You can’t escape from internal politics. In the last couple of years, banking has become political. Previously, the career graph of an employee and growth of revenues determined the career path but now, success comes more or less by politicking the system. It’s practically impossible to elbow your way to success, you have to play with the bureaucracy.

Forget about raising the career ladder high. If you want to even survive, you have to learn how to build external relationships with client. You can’t offer impartial advice to clients. You have to cross-sell and the primary responsibility is to sell the financial capabilities of the bank.

4) Commitments to Banking Career

Often, investment banking career seekers become frustrated and indecisive due to their lack of 100% commitment towards the job.

Banking is considered as safe and secure profession where you earn a monthly pay for the rest of your life without any trouble.

You will see many people with MBA in Finance joining the banking industry with this dream in their eyes. Give them a few years and they are utterly frustrated with how their career shaped up because the primary reason is they didn't even know what they wanted.

Rethink your investment banking career goals if you aren't committed and sure about it.

5) Become a “Culture Carrier”

In 2014, the HR division of Deutsche Bank released a report highlighting the importance of being a “culture carrier”.

Its official: banking is all about “talking the talk”.

In the HR report, the CEO warns employees against committing vulgarities. A new culture is sweeping the bank corridors entrusting the bank senior staff to become culture carriers. Part of the culture carrier job will be to understand and accept new culture values enveloping the investment banking firm. This new culture will be different in every investment bank but the moot point is you have to ride high on the wave and accept the change with open arms.

6) Don’t try to be a Superstar

Earlier, every investment bank department had a superstar; a person who would win premium deals with clients, who was a smooth talker, who could charm everyone and banks tolerated them because this person brought revenue to the bank.

This doesn't apply anymore. Investment banks don’t need superstars and neither are they willing to entertain such a person.

A maverick employee these days is one who doesn't ruffle feathers, who keep their heads down and work, and who play politics to climb high on investment banking career.

7) Learn NOT to be Replaceable

Besides investment banks adopting technology for various processes, there is also a trend among big bracket investment banking firms like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to outsource certain processes to ‘low cost center’ where the cost of operation and cost of hiring employees is significantly less than the main centers.

Investment banks increasingly prefer to off-shore or near-shore certain banking processes.

For instance, Deutsche Bank will have a 250+ people trading floor in Birmingham. The purpose is to maintain contact with ‘low touch customers’ without spending a lot on maintenance. This trend is increasingly being seen with small investment banking firms too as they want to reduce overall costs.

Don’t become a replaceable asset (or liability) of the investment bank. Look into the current profile and find out skills that can’t be off-shored and cultivate that skill/s to maintain a permanent position with the investment banking firm.

8) Don’t Feel Entitled

Earlier, star players in the bank used to feel ‘entitled’ to receive hefty bonus checks and promotions because they brought in revenue. This doesn't happen anymore as banks increasingly prefer hard working individuals than star players.

Banks spend a lot of banking controls and regulations, and as such the front office banking individuals need to realize the contribution of banking infrastructure in their overall contribution. Therefore, don’t expect bonuses and promotions feeling entitled to receive them. The ideology doesn’t and won’t work anymore.

Endnote

The whole investment banking scenario is changing. You need to mould yourself in the new culture and trends sweeping the industry. You not only have to prove capability but relevancy too in times of off-shoring trends. Pay heed to these 8 tips and improve your investment banking career.

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