Investment banking careers are not for the weak or the caffeine-averse. This quick hit article is based on an interview with a former colleague about his experiences in investment banking. As with most finance careers, the following is expected of you, whether it’s stated in the job description as a requirement or not:
- Willingness and ability to work 10 to 20 hours a day
- Willingness and ability to work on weekends
- Willingness and ability to work 24/7. It’s worth repeating. If you’re just starting out in investment banking, you should expect to be working all day, night, and every weekend and holiday. Time off should be treated as an unexpected surprise. Many recent graduates seem to expect to have a lot of personal time. Finance, in general, is not the right field for that, even if you’re a superstar. Even managing directors generally choose to sacrifice much of their personal life.
- Ability to prioritize even if you’re getting assignments from multiple people. One poor soul works for 5 different working groups in different areas of the country, all assigning projects and none communicating with each other. He has to constantly re-prioritize and use his judgment on which tasks are most important, usually with no feedback from any of the 5 groups. Many times projects are assigned at the last minute. That’s the nature of the industry!
- No use of your vacation or sick days, even if you have many of them. This is especially true your first year or so on the job.
- Ability to learn quickly without bugging anyone, taking them away from their own work
- In the same vein as above, ability to figure things out on your own. Google it! Seriously, Google can be your best friend at work. Can’t figure out a piece of VBA? Google it! Have a problem with your vlookups in Excel? Google it! Need help fixing your slide master in PowerPoint? Google it!
- Very high attention to detail-there’s no room for mistakes
As you can see, this can be an extremely demanding career. However, if you are motivated by solving complex problems on your own and making more money than most careers, committed to always putting out “A+” level work, finance and investment banking can be very rewarding.