One of the most important things that you will need to demonstrate in your Investment Banking application and interview is your interest in finance. You can have the best resume and marks imaginable and be the most well rounded applicant but if you can’t demonstrate your interest in finance no assessor is going to be interested in you.
Getting Involved in Finance Early is the next step in my 7 steps to Getting a Job in Investment Banking (after Getting good grades). Although it is preferable to start this process early, luckily it is one that can be picked up later in your university or college life as well.
Why is an interest in finance important?
Investment banks know that one of the major reasons they attract so many students is that they pay an incredible amount of money to people very early in their career. However, they also know that first year analysts are probably a net cost to them (given their general lack of ability and the training costs associated with them) – for a more detailed look at this have a look at my post on The Investment Banking Hierarchy: The Analysts.
Investment banks therefore want their junior staff to stay until at least their second year and if possible their third year as well. Most junior staff find that they are incredibly attracted to the pay that investment banking offers at the start but it is simply not enough to keep them there doing the long hours for very long. So what keeps you working at the Investment Bank while you are working all those hours? Investment Banks hope it is an interest in finance and really enjoying what you do.
As such, this is part of the application process that can make or break you. Failing to demonstrate an interest in finance will get you cut almost immediately (I once had an applicant tell me during an interview that finance wasn’t really their thing…they were an immediate no!). However, conversely, if you can demonstrate an interest in finance that goes back a few years then this definitely raises you up a level in assessors’ eyes.
How do you demonstrate an interest in finance?
It is actually incredibly easy to demonstrate an interest in finance but it is surprising how few students actually do these basic steps. Here are some ideas that you should all be doing early on
Read the financial press:
Make sure you are subscribing to the financial press in your country. Whether it is the Wall Street Journal in the US, The Financial Times in the UK or the Australian Financial Review in Australia, make sure you have a relevant subscription and make sure you read it every day. You will actually find that you know what is going on in the markets and it is the base level of financial interest that most investment banks look for
Join the finance societies at your college or university:
Again this is such an easy thing to do and demonstrate you are interested in finance. The finance societies also offer great networking opportunities and also occasionally have events with investment banks which are not open to students that are not in the society
Get involved in finance competitions, especially those run by investment banks:
Over the last 10 years or so Investment Banks have started to run investment banking competitions. Not all of them do it but if it is open to everyone make sure you participate. It is not even that important that you win these competitions (although it certainly looks good if you do) but participating is demonstrating your interest in the sector.
Invest in a few stocks:
This one may seem a bit counter-intuitive as investment bankers actually are not investing in stocks as part of their jobs but at every single interview I went to for investment banks, I was asked whether I invested in stocks, what stocks I invested in, how I did my research and what the rationale for my investment was. You don’t need to be a superstar trader or even have a lot invested. Just make sure you have one or two investments (that you actually own) that you can talk about.
There are many other ways you can get involved in finance early at university which can help you demonstrate an interest in finance and I encourage you to do them all. Not only will you be able to demonstrate to people looking at your application and interviewing you that this is what you actually want to do but it is also good for you. Knowing that you are interested in finance and what parts of finance get you going is an incredibly good thing and you should start this sooner or later.
What do you do to get involved in finance? Have you done anything yet? Want to know whether what you are doing qualifies? Write a comment below and I’ll let you know
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