Are you passionate about investment banking, have read every blog there is out there and have you then come to the sinking realisation that given the competition in the industry your grades are simply not going to stack up? Well I may have some good news for you. Although grades are important when it comes to getting an interview for an investment bank…they are less important than you may first think.
If you have just landed on this blog and are interested in getting into investment banking have a look at my 7 Steps to Getting into Investment Banking. The second step in that process (after going to the right college or university) is to get good grades.
So why are grades important?
This may be stating the obvious but investment banks are trying to hire the best possible graduates and given the level of demand for the relatively few positions they have to offer, they can afford to be picky.
Honestly investment banking is not the most intellectually challenging industry. In fact perseverance, attention to detail and an ability to prioritise are much more important attributes than intelligence. However in a world where banks can afford to be picky about who they choose they try and get the best possible candidate and invariably this is one who is well rounded and who has great grades.
Investment banks do not have a set minimum grade
Whenever I have gone onto other investment banking blogs or onto forums where people have been discussing investment banking I have seen minimum grades discussed. That is you often see people stressed out because their GPA or average grade (depending on where you are from) is below a certain number.
I was involved in recruiting for all the time I was in banking and I can tell you that we were never given a minimum grade as a cut off. I thought it may have been a US centric thing but when I asked a few US investment banking friends they said there was nothing set in stone there either.
The problem with minimum grades is that it doesn’t account for marking and course difficulty differences between different universities and colleges. It is one of the reasons that Investment Banks prefer to recruit from target schools.
Marks are less important than you may think…but you still need decent marks
Although there is no minimum grade required for Investment Banking and bankers actually have to review every single application that comes in (i.e. there is no filtering process around marks) the fact is that you still need decent marks. As I said above, bankers are trying to get the best possible candidates when they are hiring so effectively you will still need decent marks.
Marks are not the “be all and the end all” of investment banking recruiting. If you are a really well rounded individual you can probably get away with having lower marks than someone who does nothing other than study. There is no formula to this – however generally speaking if you can catch an assessors attention with something other than your marks you can get away with having lower marks (although as I said above…they still need to be decent)
So what are decent marks?
I’m probably going to frustrate you here but there is no answer. Stop listening to everyone who says there is. Every single assessor has a different view of what is acceptable, what is preferred and what is a home run.
But I know you want some solid number so I’m going to tell you what I looked for when I was assessing resumes in Australia. As long as someone’s average grade was above 70% I’d consider them…but they would need to be really impressive and well rounded. If they did nothing but study then they would need to be pushing an 85% average grade to catch my attention. There was no science to this approach and everyone looked at it differently.
Don’t give up because your marks aren’t stunning. Submit your application. It will get read and you never know how you will go.
Some final tips around marks
Here are some final tips around marks which should help you with your resume:
- Make your average grade easy to find: If your grade is good you should not be annoying the assessor by not including it or including your whole transcript without a summary number. If your finance grades are particularly good then call this out separately. That’s what they are going to be looking at anyway.
- Don’t get fancy with rounding: As I said above, marks are less important to the assessor than they are to you. Don’t get into a situation where you have been caught out lying. There is no way of getting out of that hole
- Your marks will only get you the interview: There is a misconception that a great resume and transcript will automatically land you the job. It won’t. It will get you the interview. You need to be able to show and demonstrate your interest in finance after this point in order to land that elusive job offer
Have any questions about marks? Write some comments below or send me an email. Note that I get to comments much quicker than I do to emails (and I find they can help others as well).
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