20 Skills Every Aspiring Investment Banker Must Have
Investment banking is one of the most difficult paths to take for your career. Needless to say, it’s not for everyone.
To be a successful investment banker, you must have the guts to take on the challenges.
More importantly, you will need specific skills.
What exactly do you need for an investment banking career? This article lists 20 of the most needed investment banking skills for every aspiring investment banker.
Let’s start with one of the most important ones – entrepreneurial skills.
Investment banking is a business. You will be, at some point, a salesperson. And as part of your company’s sales force, your end goal is to earn for your investment bank.
You must understand that each transaction's revenues must always be greater than the costs.
How to improve entrepreneurial skills?
Read books about salesmanship or entrepreneurship.
If you have a family business, try being involved in daily operations. It doesn’t matter if the firm is in the finance industry or not.
What is important is you will get a sense of achieving the primary objective of business – profit.
#2. Relationship Building
A part of your investment job description will involve building relationships with clients. Don’t expect you can sell your firm's services without the need for good customer relationships. After all, your counterparties are human too. Humans are social in nature.
From time to time, you get to meet investors or corporate investment bankers alike.
Building healthy relationships with them, even if you still have no business with them, could prove beneficial.
How to improve your relationship-building ability?
Try to win more friends than you have right now. Try talking with people you don’t usually speak up with.
Try listening more about their interests or problems. Be more personal with them.
Every time you go to a store, observe how employees treat their customers.
From time to time, you’ll be able to get juicy hints on how you can be more efficient in building good relationships with clients.
Intellectual capability is undoubtedly one of the most sought skills for investment bankers. It ignites thinking out-of-box - a very much-needed skill when looking for unseen opportunities.
The investment banker must also be a quick thinker.
Just imagine when you are at an important business meeting deal, and the investor asks you a question about an investment you are unfamiliar with.
You must be ready to reply wittingly. Seasoned investors can easily spot if you know your thing or not.
If you answer nicely, you’ll probably get the deal.
How to improve intellectual capabilities?
Intellectual capabilities are enhanced by reading a lot.
The more you know, the more intelligent you get; this applies especially to corporate finance services. Since you are into Investment Banking, reading books about finance, accounting and economics will help you greatly.
Investment banking jobs are usually stressful. These posts will make you work long hours and under tight deadlines.
Due to stress, there would be a lot of temptations for you to stop working and enjoy a leisurely life.
If you are someone without enough discipline, you will quickly give up on a job in the financial services industry. That’s why recruiters look for individuals that are disciplined enough to get their work done.
How to improve discipline?
Discipline can be developed through real-life exercises. Try accomplishing tasks on time and on a consistent basis. Once this becomes a habit, you’ll improve your discipline.
In your interview, you might be asked, “How did you study during your college days?”.
This question is to determine how disciplined you are as a student. You must answer what your study routines are.
Be sure to mention that these routines are consistently done so that you can prove your claim that you are disciplined enough for the job.
Perhaps, the best proof of your discipline would be high grades.
#5. Global Outlook
There are only a handful of rouge countries nowadays. Chances are you will be employed by a multinational firm.
You will be exposed to a lot of transactions that are done on a global scale. You might also meet other professionals from foreign lands.
Nevertheless, even if employed by a local firm, it’s inevitable that you will be exposed to global transactions as well.
Besides, all countries are connected in one way or another.
How to improve your global outlook?
Reading these types of publications will improve your knowledge of the news and expose you to more advanced techniques your foreign colleagues might employ.
You can use those strategies to further enhance your efficiency at work.
Remember, you cannot excel just by being like everyone else; you must be ahead of them.
In an investment banking job, you will be asked many complicated questions.
To answer these questions, you need to see every angle of the scenario. Not all people can accomplish this.
Why? Because not everyone has enough analytical skills.
Analytical skills are crucial to breaking down clients’ problems or creating different financial models.
How to improve your analytical skills?
Solve at least one puzzle a day. It could be a crossword, Sudoku, or even Rubik’s cube. You can also play mind games like Chess.
One of the best things you can do is answer one business case daily.
It would be nice if that case would have a suggested answer so that you can compare it with your conclusions.
#7. Presentation Skills
As an investment banker, don’t expect your job to end with the financial model's finalization.
You will still have to present it to clients or your team. The trickiest part of being a presenter is the fact that you are going to face a lot of different people.
How to improve your presentation ability?
Always be eager to volunteer as the presenter in your classroom or office. Watching Youtube videos like this one will also help you out.
In every meeting or conference, sit in the front row. This will greatly boost your confidence once it’s time for you to face a broad audience.
#8. Communication Skills
Communication skills are closely related to presentation skills. Usually, if you have good communication skills, it translates to excellent presentation skills.
Learning to communicate with professionals takes time. It’s different when talking to your friends or family.
Talking with colleagues requires a warm but professional approach.
How to improve your communication skills?
There’s no better way than to talk regularly with people. Not just everyone, though.
Talk with professionals. Watch movies like Wall Street so that you’ll be more acquainted with the environment of a financial institution.
#9. Leadership Skills
You wouldn’t like to be an associate all your life. You must aim to climb the corporate ladder when you're already an investment professional.
Besides, financial institutions don’t like pessimistic individuals. They like associates who are assertive and who are aggressive about going to the top.
How to improve your leadership ability?
Be an active volunteer in group discussions.
You need not be the leader; you just have to show how eager you are to help out the team. If you’re consistent with this method, eventually, you’ll be seen as a leader and will always be voted as such.
Take inspiration from famous investment bankers.
There are a lot of people you’ll meet in your career. Most of them can give you help in one way or another in the future.
It’s good if you’ll accumulate relationships and increase the list through networking.
How to improve your networking ability?
Increase your friends by asking them to introduce you to their other friends. This will train you in networking.
You can also use social media here. After all, social media is about networking.
Try reaching out to professionals who you think will help you achieve a career in investment banking.
Introduce yourself to them in a nice way. After some talk, you can try asking them for tips or even recommendations about your career.
This is not just about being good at English.
Some investment banks are looking for individuals who can speak languages other than English. Because of globalization, there has been an increase in demand for investment bankers who are capable of speaking more than one language.
How to improve your linguistic expertise?
Study English first. You must at least be at the conversational level. Afterward, you can study more languages online through websites like this.
Today's most in-demand third languages are Spanish, Chinese, German, and French.
But, take note that investment banks have a preference for those who are native speakers of those languages.
If you want to pursue a career using a third language, you must have something more to offer than native speakers.
You wouldn’t be given ready-made data for solving financial problems in the real corporate world. At times, you won’t even know that there’s a problem!
Being creative lets you see the situation from a bigger perspective. You will see angles others won’t.
You’ll be more valued by your company if you can perceive problems or solutions average bankers can’t.
How to improve your creative expertise?
Painting or instrument-playing will surely improve your creative skills, but you are not in the arts field. You are in the finance industry, so your needs differ from artists.
Try picking out daily one finance-related issue from the News. From your perspective, write a plan on how you think this problem will be solved.
It doesn’t matter if you are always right or not. What is important is that, over time, you’ll be developed into someone who can take a creative approach to real-life business problems.
#13. Innovative Skills
Due to the advent of technology, process routines don’t stagnate.
Managers always expect their associates to be innovative in doing their responsibilities; that is, they must always come up with new methods that are more efficient and more efficient.
How to improve your innovative expertise?
Reading unique feature articles about investment banking will hone your innovative skills. Try reading articles about new technologies or processes.
You can also use the present problems to improve your innovative skills. For example, you can find a better way to solve a current investment banking problem.
Throughout your career, you’ll be facing a lot of criticism from your bosses or your colleagues.
Sometimes you think you already have the best idea, but later on, it will turn out a bad one when you hear your colleagues’ comments.
Don’t be too sensitive. Take their comments as learning points. You’ll grow faster if you are resilient.
How to improve your resilience?
In your everyday life, you would, of course, receive criticism. Take them. Don’t be angry with those people who mock you.
Be professional. Be more positive. Reflect on yourself if you receive criticisms like this.
You must learn how to project authority over others. Don’t be too assertive, though.
Often, people associate authority with intelligence and morality. Try improving these two things in your life.
How to improve your authority?
If you think you are right, don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs. Let them know that you know what you are talking about.
Refuse to go down without putting up a reasonable fight. Be more assertive.
#16. Math Skills
No doubt you need math skills. As an investment banker, you’ll be dealing with numbers. You better always be ready with your math skills.
How to improve your math expertise?
Answer business mathematics questions. If you like only a particular field of business mathematics, so be it.
#17. Accounting Skills
Accounting skills are needed, especially when you are interpreting financial statements. It will also prove useful if you create adjustments on the FSs, in preparation for your financial models.
How to improve your accounting expertise?
Grab a financial statement at least once a week. Interpret the whole set of financial statements. If there are unfamiliar terms to you, research them over the Internet.
This way, you’ll be able to understand more about accounting and business administration and how it could help in your future career.
#18. Bluffing and Interpersonal Skills
You will encounter a lot of individuals who are too good at taking advantage of their knowledge of psychology.
During a meeting, they will try to make you behave or answer the way they want you to.
Bluffing can help you shield yourself from these types of people. If, for example, you don’t know the right way to react, bluffing will make them guess what you think while giving you more time to think.
How to improve your bluffing expertise?
During some of your class discussions (or meetings), don’t show reactions whenever others suggest ideas.
Think of it as your real-life practice. Don’t do this always, though.
Or maybe, you can play poker.
#19. Influencing Skills
There will be times you need to influence others to follow your idea. This is particularly the case if you think your solution is the best one.
Furthermore, if you are promoted to a higher position, you need to influence your subordinates.
You also need influencing skills when making recommendations to clients or investors.
How to improve your influencing expertise?
Take on leadership roles. If you can make others follow you or create successful projects, you are making significant strides in developing your influencing skills.
#20. Ability to Negotiate
You wouldn’t like to just accept everybody’s terms.
You might end up in a situation wherein your costs are far greater than your expected benefits. What’s worse is when it will give your company a negative value rather than a positive one.
How to improve your negotiation expertise?
You can start by evaluating every responsibility given to you by your classmates or colleagues. Does your responsibility represent a fair share?
If not, try explaining to them that you should take fewer or more responsibilities for one reason or another.
Key Takeaway: Investment Banking Skills
Create a list of all 20 Skills mentioned above. Use this as a self-assessment tool. On a scale of 1 to 5, five being the highest, rate how well you are at each skill.
Afterward, get the average of your scores.
If your average is at 4 to 5, you are on the right track. Never stop learning; try always to find something you can improve on.
If your score is 3-3.9, you need quite a lot of improvement. Assess your weaknesses and find a way how you can overcome them.
If your average is less than 3, rethink if Investment Banking is the career path you want.
If you answered yes, then be serious about following the improvement suggestions stated for each skill.
Having a low average is not the end; it just indicates that you need to work more for your dreams.
Be the best investment banker you can ever be!