Investment bankers form a specialized group of professionals that assist companies in finding additional capital for growth and expansion. The median earning for someone in this field is just of $71,000 per year, but bonuses often add several tens of thousands to that number. The demand for investment bankers is forecast to be about average for all jobs at around 11% according to the US Department of Labor Statistics. While incomes for successful bankers can be large, the work hours are usually long and stressful. Still if you think that the glamor is appealing then you should consider the following steps to become an investment banker.
The profession is usually filled with people how have sought finance or investment related degrees. These related degrees may also include accounting and law. The more advanced your degree, for example, an MBA over a BA, will enhance your chances of being selected by a potential employer. Needless to say, higher GPA’s are also a positive trait many of the banks look for to help sort through the thousands of applicants. Sitting for certifications such as the Certified Public Accountancy, Management Accountant, or Financial Planner exams is also considered a positive achievement.
Aside from the education and achievements, investment bankers should have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. As an aspiring banker, you should work on honing your public speaking and presentation skill set. Analytical abilities are an important part of investment banking at all levels, and working to develop your ability here will serve you well.
After graduating, most investment bankers join one of the many firms as an analyst. This position will expose you to the many different functions an investment banker performs for their clients. During this time, you can find if one of these specializations is right for you. Some of the specialties include merger and acquisition work, risk management, regulatory issues, investment valuation, and due diligence work. Or you may find you have a particular interest in working on back-office types of functions like internal controls, marketing, or information technology issues.
An example of someone who has followed this career path is James Dondero, currently the president and co-founder of Highlands Capital Management. Dondero graduated with honors from the McIntire School of Commerce, a part of the University of Virginia, with duel degrees in accounting and finance. He has successfully earned the CPA, CMA and CFA certifications.
Dondero’s first job as that of an analyst in the Morgan Guaranty training program. After completing that program, he went to work for American Express being promoted to the position of Portfolio Manager. After American Express, he joined Protective Life to help start their GIC subsidiary. When he left GIC Dondero of jimdondero.com was the Chief Investment Officer and was responsible for managing over two billion dollars in assets.
Highlands Capital was founded in 1993 with Mark Okada. Highlands current manages over $20 billion in assets and has been recognized as a leader in credit innovation including making the Collateralized Loan Obligation (CLO) an viable option for companies seeking to raise capital.