Age and Investment Banking: How Old Is Too Old to Break In?

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HourglassThere’s no issue more sensitive than age.

Ok, maybe the CFA, GPA rounding, and Brazil come close.

But I’ve gotten many panicked “How old is too old to break in?” questions over the years.

Rather than skirting around this issue yet again, let’s jump in and see:

  • Why the problem is not your age at all
  • Why some experiences make you “older” than others
  • Why banks like less experienced and capable recruits
  • What to do if you are “too old”


The question “How old is too old to break into finance?” is a misguided one: in the US it’s not even legal to ask for your age when applying for jobs.

Internationally, this is not true and in some countries they will ask for your age, photos, and other information that would result in lawsuits in the US.

Still, most large banks are US-based and have standardized recruiting processes – so even if you apply in another region they’re not likely to ask explicitly how old you are.

Which means that most of the time, banks cannot measure your age precisely.

Or Can They?

Instead, they assess your “age” by looking at how much full-time work experience you’ve had after graduating from university.

Chances are that 10 years of full-time work experience makes you at least 30 – unless you were a child prodigy and graduated university at age 15, but then you wouldn’t be doing finance anyway.

And when banks see those 10 years of experience they mentally switch into “Too old / experienced to be an analyst” mode.

This has some interesting implications:

  • If you’ve done military service, worked full-time, or done something else full-time for a few years in between high school and college, this won’t necessarily “count against you.”

So even if you’re slightly older than a 22-year old college graduate, banks won’t say “You’re 3 years too old for this job! Go away!”

If you’re a recent graduate, you’ll be placed in the same category as everyone else – unless you have a really unusual situation (you started a business when you were 18, ran it for 10 years, then sold it and started college at age 28).

Yes, finance is the only industry where experience can actually count against you.

This applies to both Analysts and Associates – it’s tough to do something else for a few years after business school and then move into banking.

  • Full-time experience after university makes you “older” than full-time experience during or before university.

So if you’re tempted to take a year off and become a ski bum or do volunteer work or anything else “full-time,” then taking a leave of absence from school and returning once you’re done is a better idea.

This isn’t logical in the slightest, but nothing in finance is.


In the FAQ I gave 30 as the upper limit for Analyst-level hires and 40 as the limit for Associate-level hires.

Those were both under the assumption that you graduate around age 22-25.

And those guidelines are mostly correct, but it’s not because of your age itself – it’s because of how much experience you’ll have by then.

  • Analyst-Level: Banks rarely hire anyone at the Analyst level with more than 2-3 years of full-time experience.
  • Associate-Level: If you’ve done an MBA banks usually want 3-5 years of experience but not more than 10.

For Associates, it’s less about the years worked and more about the level you’ve attained.

Someone at the mid-level could potentially come in as an Associate, but a top executive will not take a pay cut and start correcting spelling mistakes in pitch books 100 hours a week.

Keep in mind that these are guidelines rather than absolute laws.

I’ve seen relatively senior people join banks as Associates, despite having more than 10 years of experience – if you find the right group and tell the right story it’s doable.

…But Realistically

On the other hand, no, you will not be hired as an investment banking analyst if you are 50 and have 25 years of work experience.

You won’t even get hired as an Associate with that kind of background.

Yes, you can break in coming from very random backgrounds, but there’s a limit when it comes to years of work experience rather than the experience itself.

Why Do They Do It This Way?

If you’re in this category you might now be asking, “Why? Shouldn’t they want people with more experience who are better leaders and problem solvers?”

And I agree with you – it’s silly to be this rigid.

But banks don’t see it that way – they have 2 main concerns with more experienced candidates:

  1. You can’t prioritize work above all else and be on-call 24/7.
  2. You won’t do whatever senior bankers ask you to without questioning orders.

Concern#1 applies mostly to Associates.

Banks assume that if you’re older you might have a family and actual responsibilities outside work, reducing your willingness to stay at the office until midnight all the time.

Concern #2 applies to everyone – banks know that only less experienced hires are likely to follow instructions all the time without pushing back.

This is why it’s difficult to break in if you’ve started a company or done something off the beaten path that required a lot of independent thought – you might not be able to follow orders.

No, not everyone in the industry thinks like this.

But it is a numbers game, and bankers want to maximize their chances of finding workhorse Analysts and Associates – so they target people in very specific categories.

So What Do You Do If You’re “Too Old”?

It might be difficult to break into investment banking if you have too much experience, but there are other options:

And if you’re frustrated with the rigidity, find a less structured industry.

As bankers might say, “It is what it is.”

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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563 Comments to “Age and Investment Banking: How Old Is Too Old to Break In?”


  1. Rganini says

    Hi, I am now 27 – have beachlor’s and master of city planning (from ivy), now in the city planning PhD program (at an ivy) which will be completed in 2 years. I will be 29 by then.

    I want to switch to finance sector and possibly get a job in IB or Real estate IB. I am now doing the fieldwork (collecting data) for my dissertation in Vietnam… I have a bit of time in my hand to work on my profile. There are a couple of options I am thinking.

    -Do a MBA program with a concentration in Finance at the University of London (by distance learning)
    -Take CFA Level 1
    -Get a summer analyst position at a PE firm in Ho-Chi-Min City (where I do my research)

    Do I even have a chance at IB? What would be the best course of action for me? Could you please help me prioritize my options? (Not sure I will have time to do all 3 next year as I wish)

    I want to start working by 2015. Thanks for your help in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You have a chance though you’ll be competing against people who’ve had experience in the industry so you’ll have to demonstrate that you can add more value vs them

      I think the summer analyst position is the best course of action for you.

      CFA –

      MBA – you already have a PhD. Distance learning at the MBA program may not necessarily help because you need to network on the ground and attend info sessions to increase your chances.

  2. Arthur says

    Hi, I’m considering doing 4 years in the British Army as an officer once I finish Uni, but ultimately want to be in banking. I was wondering whether you knew anything about whether this is still a viable career move, as I know it used to be very acceptable in the 80s and 90s, especially as there is a strong Army-City of London network?
    Thanks very much,

  3. FARHAN says

    Nicole and Team: AMAZING SITE!

    my background:I will be 33 this year in Nov 2013.
    Bachelors: 2004 – Computer Info Systems
    Masters: 2008 January – Management Information Systems

    Employers: CONSULTING FIRMS like Accenture, Deloitte and others where my main focus was Financial Clients and Healthcare clients.

    Currently working for HSBC Bank in the IT Strategy department.


    1. I have limited exposure to Financial Modeling and I am considering to take a class to break into the field along with everything else I read on this site.

    On a scale of 1-10; what do you think are my chances?

    2. I am networking, investing with my own money in the markets and investing has just been a sincere passion I have picked up at this age. I would have killed to be in this space if ONLY someone guided me but then again God has a plan for everyone. IS my approach something that can have a glimmer of hope?

    3. I am taking classes via IBI(investing banking institute ) who help with CV’s and jobs – your thoughts?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. A bit below 5…but take this with a grain of salt
      2. Yes there is, be persistent and network a lot
      3. We don’t work with them so I can’t comment.

  4. vikas says

    hi sir ,i am 22 recently completed graduation in
    engineering ,i want to shift my career to investment banker through getting into a ivy b schools
    my question is

    will the investment banker need any experience ?
    if i completed post graduation (mba) in ivy bschools like hardvard ,stansford

    plz reply me and help me out

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you’ll need work experience to stand out, even if you graduate from schools like HBS and GSB. However, most people who go to HBS and GSB already have experience so that shouldn’t be an issue

      • vikas says

        thank you sir for replying me

        can u figure it out what kind of experience
        and how many years required ?.
        is family business enough ?

        it is necessary for an i.b to need experience of other industry

        i am passionate man

        i already decided my future plan
        fistly becomeing an investment banker after that into private equity firm and after having own a private equity firm and after extending my business to other wings of business
        and many other thing to explain my passion in addition with gmat 780 and i believe these thing will surely help me in placing in bschools (ivy )

        my future plan might seem simple and common to you ,but i decided this kind of strategy
        living in a small undeveloped town

        please help me out sir plzzzzzzz

    • Harry says

      Investment banking is extremely competitive and extremely difficult to break into. Additionally, you need to be extremely creative and have superb analytical to survive in this field. You say you have an engineering degree. That alone doesn’t give you a competitive edge. ( A lot of people seem to think so) Additionally, you need to improve your verbal and writing skills, which you clearly lack. IB attracts some of the best in the world, so unless you really have the edge, don’t waste your time.

  5. Yomi says


    Thanks for this article and recommended books to read.

    I think it’s quite different in the UK to what obtains in the US . In UK age and years of experience isn’t the barrier and they don’t care bout your qualifications from top schools but the fact that you’ve been in the industry matters most.

    Well I’m 36 with an MBA ACCA chartered accountant postgraduate in financial risk and years of experience in finance with CFA in view with no luck yet getting into any bank or financial services firm for a financial reporting accounting role in IB.

    Any thought on breaking through in the UK market?


  6. mike says


    I’m 36 now. I graduated with BS in mechanical engineering 5 years ago and have been working as a mechanical engineer since graduation. I am a senior engineer now. I want to get into an MFE program next year and work as a quant later on. Can you give some advice if I should go for it or not?

  7. mohamed says

    I am 30 and few months now,
    i am at amiddle mangement level in a securities services dept (custody services) in a multinational bank, and i passed CFA level 2

    do you think i can switch into an investment bank?


    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you haven’t had much experience in IB, it will be challenging for you to move into a FO role at an IB, especially at your level – they’re looking for people who can potentially originate deals (i.e. rolodex of clients) and can execute deals (i.e. have deal experience). However, for MO/BO roles at IBs, yes I think your chances are higher

      • mohamed says

        thank you for the advice, a little bit depressing but its ok :) , do you think i should continue in earning the CFE L3, or i will be wasting money and time, also do you think i am having the same weak chance in breaking into portfolio manegment industry? thank you

  8. al says

    Hey guys, great site. I’ve recently completed two years in IB and I was looking at a number potential exit options including doing a short 6-month stint in non-profit abroad.

    I was just wondering, if I were to go ahead with this plan, would my chances of re-entering the industry either continuing in an IB role, or potentially moving to the buy side be adversely affected?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • says

      It would be harder to go back to either of those, yes, but you could still do it. It would be tougher to get back into IB because they would be suspicious of a move like that.

  9. ANS says


    I hold a bachelors in Engineering as well as Law. I am licenced to practice in India. I am 33 years of age now but my full-time work experience is only 2 years. A lot of years were lost in un-paid volunteer work for social causes & preparing myself for that engineering degree.

    I am preparing for the CFA Level 1 now. What do you think are my chances of breaking into the world of finance, especially the bond & the commodities trading scene?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You may be older than most candidates. I think networking a lot would really help in your case. Perhaps you may also want to start trading your own portfolio if you haven’t already done so to demonstrate your passion

  10. Chak says

    I am 24 and have two years of work experience in strategy and negotiations in retail/consumer products. My background is finance and marketing from top university. How can I switch to IB analyst position?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Perhaps you can explore consumer coverage groups. This maybe the most straightforward way though the competition can be keen and you’ll have to demonstrate your finance knowledge.

  11. Julian says


    I’m 19 years old and graduated in Germany beeing 17 years old. After graduation I did one year voluntary work in sports and after that year I started a year abroad in Canada. During this year I’m actually working fulltime in a skiresort.

    I’m interested in break in into the IB. Therefore I want to figure out which my best way would be:

    Starting out as a trainee bank clerk at a german federal state bank for 2 years and start studying at an university afterwards.
    Or otherwise start to study directly when I come back to Germany with the age of 20. The Bachelor degree will take me about 3 years.
    In both ways I’m not sure, which subject of study I should choose.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes studying at a target school in Germany, perhaps majoring in Finance and Accounting, can potentially help you. Quite a lot of financiers ski, so you maybe able to strike up a few conversations with bankers and network there.

  12. Rob says

    I am 25 and just started as an analyst in corporate banking at a BB. I have a BBA in Finance and graduated in 2011. I most recently worked in a small commercial bank for 1 year and held other finance related roles before that. After working for a year in this department would I be able to lateral into IB at the same bank?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes though you may have to network extensively internally and prove that you have knowledge in IB and the drive to succeed

  13. MIchael says

    I’m 31 turning 32 in 2014. Currently work as a relationship banker and want to switch to the investment industry. Through hard work, dedication and networking are my chances slim to none to becoming an analyst?

  14. Archibald says

    Hey, I have a son who is 12, and he has wanted to be a investment banker for years… Do you think he could start doing somethings now, would that help him?? And also do SATS, & GCSE’S & A Levels matter to be a investment banker? Thankyou.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Reading about investment banking can help. Yes I’d suggest him to get into a target school to increase his chances. In order to get into a target school, he’ll need to have good test scores (i.e. SAT, GCSE, A Level) depending on the university he goes to. So his test scores matter.

  15. Frank says

    Really great website. I am wanting to do an MBA at york university and get into investment banking. I will be 33 years old when i start. I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in electrical engineering and have been working as an electrical engineer for the last nine years with progressive responsibilities.

    Am i too old to start a career in investment banking or management consulting ? I am really interested in finance. please advice.

  16. Chris says

    I want to transition into either an Investment Banking Analyst or a Venture Capital Analyst from Asset Management without going the MBA route (25 years old).

    Graduated May 2011 from Non-target state school (3.6 GPA)

    -Very well know Investment management firm-1.5 years (currently working there)
    -Corporate sales Intern with Top Tech company in Silicon Valley
    -Analyst intern with small asset management firm

    Do I have a solid chance as an entry IB or VC Analyst? I Took the BIWS financial modeling course and feel pretty confident cold calling for informational interviews as well as networking. Would your resume critique packages help someone in my situation (less than 2 years of full time experience)?

    I just wanted some honest feedback from someone who’s seen it all. Anything would help.

    Thank you so much guys!

  17. AZ says

    Hello, I am 34 now and plan to attend B School next year. I am interested in I-banking. I need your feedback regarding difficulty in having an Associate level position after MBA. I am a university lecturer with more than ten years of teaching experience.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes with the lack of experience this can be challenging in your case unless you have clients and can originate deals.

  18. Annie says

    Hello, I am 33, i willing to start my career in Equity research in USA again after 5 years of gap, due to family reasons(as i mother of 2) right now i am living in USA. I have work experience with wealth management industry back in India with masters in Commerce and MBA in Finance from top business school.

    Am i too old to start my career in Equity research with 5 years of gap?
    Please advise!!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes 5 years can be perceived as a long time, especially in the finance industry.

      I’d start contacting people in ER on LinkedIn and start getting some informational interviews. Chat with people, get back in the loop, and slowly weave your way back to a job in the industry.

  19. ralph says

    Hey first off great article!! I have literally been searching to find a constructive article rather than a “too old so split” type article.

    Im currently 32 and half way through my undergrad with a dual emphasis in Finance and Accounting. I spent the previous decade doing a 4 year stint in the Marines and then doing odd jobs here and there but primarily at a non profit in a supervisory role, mainly due to lack of focus. I finally gained some sense and realized I needed to make a change and so here I am.

    A job at Goldman or J.P Morgan would be ideal but it’s kind of unrealistic, so Im shooting for a boutique bank. I plan on going for my CFA I during my senior year.

    What would you recommend my course of action be if my ultimate goal is to end up in Private Equity.

  20. aNewBeginning says

    hey! very informative article!

    I’m 24 and currently work in retail after dropping out of university due to incapacitating depression. I intend to go back to university at age 25 (hopefully king’s college london or ucl) to read Physics, graduating at age 28. Will that be too old to break into finance with only retail experience?

    In the meantime, I am applying for a year long apprenticeship at a BB in securities services. Assuming I get that and complete it before going to university, what are my chances of breaking into finance after graduation?

    Many thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Assuming you have a decent pitch and some work experience you maybe a bit older than most incoming analysts so banks may be concerned that you can’t work as hard as your peers. You’ll have to demonstrate your passion and knowledge of the industry very well. I’d say your chances are 50/50

  21. Omar Javed says

    Hi, I dropped out of London School of Economics 6 years ago due to anxiety and depression and have irrelevant work experience. I will be attending Cambridge University this year studying for a degree in Economics however I will be 31 upon graduation. Realistically what chances do I have of entering Investment banking and what advise could you give me?


    • M&I - Nicole says

      You may be slightly older than the incoming class of analysts. Interviewers may also question why you started later than others. I’d suggest you to work as hard as you can during those 4 years, gain as much experience as you can in the industry, network (as usual), and be persistent.

  22. jen says

    Hi, I went to a HPY Ivy, but took a leave of absence after my sophomore year to figure out my goals: I was a TEFL teacher in China for a year, went to culinary school in ny for a year, and landed a job at a nonprofit in dc that deals with food insecurity for 2 years. I’m back at school finishing my last 2 years and I’ll be recruiting on-campus at the age of 25 and 26 when I graduate. With my unusual circumstances, I’m not sure how desirable a candidate I am for IB, more specifically for equity research and eventually VC. Thanks for your time!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you haven’t had experience in finance, I’d focus on getting that first. For IB and VC roles, they’d require people with deal and startup experience. I’d say it maybe less challenging for someone with your background to try research roles in buyside though this can still be challenging. If you don’t have any experience in finance at all a CFA may help if you’re looking for research roles, not IB/VC roles

      • jen says

        Thanks for responding so quickly. I just wanted to make sure that my not graduating in 4 years wouldn’t be a deal-breaker to getting an internship or other finance experience.

  23. sp says

    Hello, I would be forty in another seven months. I had been working as a software consultant within the enterprise domain primarily for large clients i.e. IBM, Honeywell, US Government/defense etc for last ten years, although I never finished my school. I got really interested in Market couple of years back primarily on value investment and love the detective nature of the work . What are my chances of being able to break in the the buy side of the industry ( hedge fund, prop fund etc)? I am concentrating on learning to write case studies (from the materials in your website) as the primary tool to impress the interviewers, although I am not sure I can even get an interview considering my age, academic pedigree etc.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes it can be difficult to get an interview at this stage. With the above being said, it doesn’t hurt to contact some buy-side firms and see if you can help out in any way.

  24. jujube says

    “(you started a business when you were 18, ran it for 10 years, then sold it and started college at age 28).”

    What if this is EXACTLY my situation? I started a construction company years ago., But now want to pursue IB, would graduating at 32, make me old? Or would I omit the details of my company on the resume? I have a pretty young face Im 28 now and when I shave I could probably pass as a 23-24 year old.

    • jujube says

      *Just to clarify I want to take my undergrad in Bcomm, whereby Id be a 32 year old graduate (however ‘fresh’ out of Uni)

    • M&I - Nicole says

      They can still figure out how old you are if they look at your documentation. Yes you can omit your previous experience, and this may be more beneficial since banks prefer “fresh” blood. However, if you’re going for a smaller and more entrepreneurial bank you may want to leave your experience on there because the entrepreneurial experience is relevant, especially if you can demonstrate your value and ability to generate revenue

      • jujube says

        Thanks a bunch Nicole! So for a large BB you say to leave it out, and for a boutique, keep my endeavours on there. In your honest opinion do you believe I’m wasting my time trying to pursue IB? would I be ‘too old’ once I graduated at 32? (even though id be “fresh”)

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I wouldn’t say you’re wasting your time; if this is your goal go for it. I’d aim for smaller/boutique banks to be more efficient though

  25. Jeffrey says

    Hi there

    I am currently an investment banker working for a boutique investment bank and previously the M&A team of a Big 4 accounting firm. I have 5.5 years experience and am a chartered accountant.

    What is the likelihood / possibility of going into the Trading department of an investment bank? will I have to start at the bottom? is this common or is it more common the other way around? Do you think I can add any value in trading with my skillset as an M&A banker?

    Thanks in advance

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think it is common but if you are very interested in the markets yes you may want to pursue that path. You may have to start from the bottom.

      In terms of trading, if you have had experience trading your portfolio and are confident that you can make solid trades and generate revenue for the firm then I think you can demonstrate this value

  26. sony k says

    i’ve done ug: Btech computers, pg: mba finance in 2005. now in would like to take up job. can u kindly tell me which courses helps me to get a decent job

  27. Isaac says

    Hello, I’m a 16 year old high school student. I’m interested in sales/finance careers, I do pretty well in high school already, but, I want to know what can get me ahead of the game. I’ve done plenty of research on the subject and have witnessed it first hand, and want to know what I have to do to get started. I may be too young at the moment but, I want to do as much as I can now. I know networking/connections is vital, but I don’t have any, how do I? My main concern is becoming a mediocre broker/businessman spending my life stuck in a cubicle 40 hours a week. I know there is a lot of hard work, which I am looking forward to, but, I know I have great potential, and want to do as much as I can to get noticed and be successful. Any help is much appreciated, thanks.

    • says

      You cannot do much until you reach university and can intern legally – at this stage I would not even worry about it because you can’t even network / intern until you have an alumni network to draw on.

  28. Davey says


    I’m a 30 year old looking to break into investment banking. I did my BS at a top-tier, non-ivy (think Duke, Northwestern, etc) in Biomedical Engineering. I moved back to Asia after graduation and had the opportunity to be play an integral role in the forming an early stage cancer drug biotechnology company. Most of my experience and passion lean towards the biotech/healthcare sector and have started researching the top and mid tier boutique firms. Despite having a clear sense where I want to be, to be honest, I’m a bit lost where to begin. Am I too old to be considered for an internship? I’m leaning towards knocking down the door style for a full-time analyst position in a healthcare boutique firm. Your suggestions?

    • says

      You could do that, but your chances would be better if you targeted biotech-focused VC firms because you have the exact experience they’re looking for. You could go for boutique IBs, but your chances would be better with some type of finance experience + possibly an MBA later on to help with rebranding yourself and going for associate-level roles at banks instead.

  29. says

    Hi. Iam 34 years old client relationship manager, sales person. With experience mostly client relationships selling financial courses. I have graduated from one of UK Universities in International Business management Degree in 2010. What are my chances of getting into IB or relationship management and which route should i take in order to g there (courses , MBA)? Isnt too late?
    I am also native Russian speaker, which must help. Thanks

    • says

      I think it would be tough to move directly into IB without an MBA and/or prior experience in finance… maybe try to leverage your experience to get into something like wealth management and then move in from there, or consider an MBA degree as a way to re-brand yourself.

      • James says

        Question, I want to break into IB but I have not got into any summer analyst programs. So what other options do I have? Will a treasury department internship help or an internship in my local state international trade committee?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You’ll be 29 after your MBA. If you have some sort of work experience in finance before I think you have a decent chance. Otherwise you’ll have to get into a target MBA (Harvard/Penn/Columbia) to increase your chances as an Associate

  30. Kaz says


    I am 36. I have about 6 years experience in branch banking rising to a branch head in South Africa. I also have a year experience in a small audit firm, another year as a budget officer in a manufacturing company. I have a Bachelors in Economics and hold the South African CPA equivalent. I am presently doing my MA Econs in a non-target US school. Any chance of breaiking into IB for my optional practical training program (2 year)? If yes, what particular function would you advise? Also what kind of IB firm?

  31. Lucy says

    Hi, I’m 28. I have 4 years of working experience (1 year in a pharmaceutical company and 3 years in a consulting firm) after graduating from an Ivy with master degree. I have passed CFA level 2. What are my chances of breaking into IB? I’m also considering equity research but a bit concerned about the limited exit opportunities, your suggestions? Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You can move onto buy-side from research so I wouldn’t say research’s exit opps are limited. If you want to break into PE, you may want to go for IBD instead.

  32. ZEEZU says

    I am 28years old with a BSc Computer Electronics and I will complete my Master Degree in Finance in Lancaster University (UK), I am thinking of doing another Msc Degree in Investment Management or pursue MBA, please I need your advise because my Master Degree is not too strong and I am aiming to break into investment banking industry in Nigeria, should I pursue another Master Degree or MBA?

  33. ST says

    Hi – I am 35. I will finishing my MBA from Tuck at the age of 37. My undergrad is from IIT and GMAT score is 760. I have been working in investment banking IT so far.

    What are my chnces of breaking into IB?

    Many thanks.

  34. ST says

    To clrify I work in investment banking *IT*, and shall be aiming for the associate role. Even then they would expect more from me – ability to generate revenue and bring in deals?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you’re aiming for IB IT associate roles, then no I don’t think they’d expect you to generate revenue/bring in deals.

  35. Cosmic says

    Hi Nicole!

    First of all Thank You Very Much, for building this website which provides valuable information related to IB.

    Currently I am 24+. I did my graduation in Electrical Engineering at the age of 21. Since then I have been working in India’s leading Private Power Sector Company (Tata Power). First two year I had worked as an Operation & Maintenance Engineer i.e. purely technical job. Since last year I have been working in techno commercial field – Regulatory and MIS department. I have prepared a few Financial Models for new upcoming projects which includes Thermal Power Generating Stations, Power Transmission, Power Distribution Franchisee. Now I want to break into IB. My queries are:
    1. How do I bream into IB?
    2. Do I really need an MBA?
    3. If at all I need an MBA, Can I pursue CFA instead of going to a B School?
    4. How do I get Placed in IBs. I don’t have any network?

  36. ST says

    Apologies for the confusion, and thanks for the prompt replies. let me re-phrase:

    Pre-MBA: I have been working in *IT* as a *software engineer* for investment banks.

    Post-MBA: I want to recruit for the associate role(banker) in IB.

    What are my chances of getting that associate role?
    (I am 35. I will finishing my MBA from Tuck at the age of 37. My undergrad is from IIT and GMAT score is 760.)

    Many thanks.

    • says

      You could get the associate role, but you’ll need a pre-MBA internship to have a good shot at it given that you’ll be competing with former bankers. Age is a bit of an issue, but the bigger problem is that you haven’t had transaction-related experience before (if I am interpreting your comments correctly).

        • M&I - Nicole says

          In that case, I’d network a lot during these few weeks on LinkedIn, cold call people etc to get your name out there.

  37. Chris says

    I have a couple of concerns and questions.

    1. Age: 22 background info
    Not until recently I have did not know what I wanted to do for a career. When I first graduated from high school I went to a university (forced by parents) and after two semesters I left, then I went to a community college (again forced by parents) then left, I have been working full time since 2012.

    I have finally decided that I want to major in math minor in computer science and go on into investment banking (after a ton of research and which included talking to friends of my parents who are in the field). However I dont know if I stand a chance since my education background is not pretty so to speak. My higher ed is full of c’s and f’s, though I was a part time calculus tutor for the university and I was a research assistant in the physics department. Overall I just didnt care.

    Well now I want to get back at it. I plan to enroll at community college here in the spring semester then transfer to a university. (I have talked to the transfer adviser for the university and she thinks I have a good chance of getting in if get a 3.5 or higher gpa (dont think it will be a problem). She also said my SAT score was fantastic (they still require it, even though I will be a transfer) and my outside activities are good.

    2. Age and Summer Activities Questions
    My first question is do you think I could still pursue a career as an investment banker or is it a little too late. Also what should I do during my summers I have some ideas but I dont know if they are that related to the over all goal?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I’d still go for your dreams and try to build up experience in IB be it in a boutique bank or third tier firm

  38. Isaac says

    Lots of you won’t like this but in going to ask anyway. In 16 and I want to be rich. I’m not money crazed or anything but one day before I’m too old I want to be financially set. Again I know this may come off wrong but I’m not looking for a get rich quick scheme. Just something that I can do to help make my odds better. I’m very ambitious and willing to work very hard. No vague answers please I’ve read a lot on the subject. Thanks

  39. Malick says

    I’m 31 years old and 6,5 years of experience working as a sales manager at an ad firm focused on digital marketing. In 5 years I’ll have my bachelor and a Masters degree in Corporate Finance from a target school in Sweden.

    My question is how hard will it be for me to break into IB? Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Without any valuation or deal experience, you’ll be competing against people who have such experience, from target schools and possibly younger. You have a slight chance, but you’ll have to demonstrate your value vs. your competitors

  40. Sydney says

    I’m 38 and have worked in the construction industry since completing my engineering degree 14 years ago. I completed the CFA last year with a view to making a career change into finance. I now have two offers – the first for a VP role at an infrastructure private equity firm and the second an equity analyst covering the construction sector at a bulge bracket investment bank.

    Do you have any advice for me on how to weigh up the two offers? Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congratulations! Do you want to work in PE or on the sell side? If you’re interested in PE, the PE role maybe a good start. If you are interested in other buy-side roles and perhaps even IB roles, the role at the BB may give you more exit opportunities. It also depends on how credible the PE fund is. If it is along the likes of Carlyle yes I may take that one.

      I’d also make sure you get along with the team, and figure out how the company and team is doing – the last thing you want is to work for a company that is not performing well and not able to keep you on going forward.

      • Sydney says

        Thanks Nicole!

        I’d love to work at a hedge fund at some point in the future, or even start my own. So the sell side role probably offers the better exit opportunities in this regard.

        But I found the team and the culture at the PE firm much more compatible, and the work seems more exciting than equity research. However it’s a pretty small firm so it doesn’t offer name recognition, and also because it’s small the offer is a lot less than the equity research offer. But the PE firm seems to be doing well and growing.

        Hence my conundrum…

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I see. The PE sounds more promising, though the research role may offer you more exit opportunities…I’d go with the research role personally, unless you get along with the PE guys a lot better, and you are very confident that the fund will grow… (because you can grow with the fund and upside can be high)

          • Sydney says

            Thanks for the insight. I’ve been a bit hesitant about the PE role because of the small fund size so your stamp of approval for the research role has helped me make up my mind! Here’s hoping for an exit into a hedge fund in a few years.

  41. Miguel Lança says

    I´m 30 and i have finished my bachelor degree in business Administration this June. Now i´m going to start a Master In Finance program in a university partner with CFA institute. The program follow the CFA level I and II. Between the program and the dissertation i will have 33. Do you think that is possible to get into the industry?
    Before this i have worked in a family company for +-10 years.

  42. Nicholas says

    I’m very glad that I found this site and I’ve honestly haven’t been able to get off of it since finding it! Super informative! Thank you.
    Ok, I live in NYC. I graduated with a BA in liberal arts in 2009. Nothing to do with finance, might as well be BA in oceanology or something. Haha
    Thus far all of my working experiencing has been in retail(sales professional) in high end fashion stores, working with pretty affluent clientele at times in the 5th ave and madison ave area of Manhattan…with the exception of a corporate position(creative services) at a top tier fashion brand.
    I have about 3-3 1/2 yrs tops of working experience outside of school. I graduated late at about 26 after taking time off and having lack off focus, no mentorship, or direction.
    I am now 29 yrs old and I will be 30 next year. My girl friend is 23 and currently taking up business, she inspires me a lot.
    Any way, recently I randomly landed a job in retail banking at JP Morgan chase at the position of personal banker. Very entry level.
    I was lost during a lot of my 20’s and really trying to find myself. Trying to make it in NYC and really searching for what I really wanted to do career wise. I realize that you say that you have to relay a story, i’m not sure if that’s exactly what recruiters in finance want to hear but it’s my story. Everyone doesn’t always know exactly what they want to do early on in school/life and the focus isn’t always there but when your ready you go for it.
    The truth is though, as a kid I always had an entrepreneurial spirit in starting businesses and such.
    This current job(JP Morgan) has awakened me and brought me back to my childhood, I really want to get into finance and I believe that I can have a successful career in it. I read your post so I know it’s tough, I have never been a stranger to hard work, consistency, and ambition. New York in general beats you up a lot so you become resilient. I also have dreams of one day starting both a non-profit and a profit business of my own.
    So here it is…knowing pretty much nothing about finance, I have been reading a lot, your site, and anything in finance that I can get my hands on. Plus now I have this entry level job I feel humbled and good about. I want to immerse myself in finance. I feel like I have my second wind and chance at life. I’m very baby faced with a youthful look(I look about 21) and my body/mind are working fine haha.. I know as you said they can still find out your age but at least I would certainly look the part. Seriously, I’m more focused and more driven in my life than I have ever been.
    Knowing my stats now…would it be worth it to go back to school and get another BA in business this time around? Mba after that? What should I do? I don’t what to be a branch manager or any of the other jobs like that which seem to be the only exiting option or promotion after retail personal banking. I want to strive higher.
    The areas I have been closely scouting on your site have been in asset management, investment banking, and wealth management so far. I know it’s probably super difficult to go from an entry level retail banking job to a IB or AM. Not sure one can “move through the ranks” that way but if going back to school is more ideal I will.Whatever it takes for my future. I just want to know what you think my chances are? Do you think it’s too late? What are my options? Realistically, can a retail pb skill set get you to these areas? Networking? Cold calling? I just want to know which route is best. Please answer back and thank you in advance. Thank you for everything you do with this site, it’s amazing!

  43. Doc says


    Thanks for your time, support and honest advice to all previous posts so far! I am sure you can not be thanked enough!

    So I’m probably the oldest person so far (39) and turning 42 by the time I make some serious consideration to an actual career change (ie. I’m pretty guarded and make wise decisions after considering all options). This article seems fairly unbiased as I have a younger sibling in trading and finance who thinks I am crazy and will be doing “coffee runs” for people in their 20’s if I consider the following:

    I am in the medical field and do a lot of freelance work and am currently pursuing an MBA in Healthcare Administration (ie. school is not in the top 50 according to US News reports and I can switch my HCA focus to finance if advised or opportunities exist). I am also considering writing the CFA exams (prep in progress) and am doing this for personal interest and self-improvement.

    If I pass the CFA exams, what part time jobs are available outside of usual business hours? My goal is to gain experience and use my skills and knowledge from the CFA accomplishment to help people or better society. I am not sure if I am “talented” in finance, but will settle for mediocore if there is a part-time job initially? I have read briefly about prop firms and I am not going to graduate from a “top” business school nor do I have “results”. What are your recommendations to the following:

    1. What is the best way to get finance experience (ie.utilizing CFA skills) outside my regular day job (7-6)?
    2. To the best of your knowledge has anyone succeeded in their late 40’s at investment banking or obtained work at a hedgefund with a mere 5 years experience or so?
    3. What are my optimal career options with an MD, MBA, and CFA designations?

    Look forward to your recommendations and thanks in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Perhaps it would be useful to utilize LinkedIn and get in touch with say asset managers who are investing in the healthcare sector and see how you can contribute to them. Off top my end, perhaps you can offer to help them (you need to find out what they need help with) for free first, and then do free lance consulting projects for them. Thereafter your options will emerge.
      2. I can’t say. I’m sure there are but maybe few and far in between (any readers here who’ve done this?) given the energy and experience required in banking
      3. I’d say asset management but only if you have passion for investing: You can even focus on healthcare sector. Otherwise you can try working for a corporate

  44. Raveesh Babu says

    There are some top Business Schools in the Europe offering MSc in Investment Management . Does doing this course help me to get a break into Investment Banking ? I am currently a 1 year experienced SAP consultant after my undergraduate Engineering program .

    • M&I - Nicole says


      Thanks for your note.

      I’m not sure if you were referring to our course? Since you don’t have any experience in banking, the Fundamentals course can provide you the tools and valuation skills you need for interviews and roles in IB. So to answer your question, yes the course can help you break into the industry, though it is not a magic bullet – you will still need to do the work. And having the relevant work experience is probably key to breaking into the industry.

      If you go to you can see the details of the course.

      Please let us know if you have other questions.

  45. CH says


    this is my 5th year in an Spanish M&A boutique. I am 31 years old and previously worked as a credit risk analyst both in Spain and Portugal (I am fluent in both languages and in English). I finished my masters at IE Business School.

    Currently, I am an associate 3 and will sooner than later be promoted to VP (I joined the firm as analyst 3). I am able to manage processes from the very first moment to closing with limited help of my senior colleagues: drafting marketing materials, modeling – DCF, LBO, Acc/Dil -, reviewing legal docs – NDA, LOI, NBO, SPA, etc.

    I would appreciate advise re the following:

    (i) what are my chances of breaking into a good boutique or bank in London (I mean not the Tier I ones; i.e. GS, JP, BAML but Tier II), I am flexible in case I identify a good opportunity so I may ‘repeat’ as an associate 3.

    (ii) What tier II places would you list as recommended? I do not mind to work in a sector oriented team but I would rather go for a generalist

    (iii) Any other tips or HH references to get to relocate to London?

    Thanks a lot,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1) I think you’ve got a decent chance given your language and valuation skills.
      2) I don’t have a list of London boutiques but you can look at firms like Evercore, Moelis
      3) Not really, I think readers may have better suggestions on HHs to recommend for roles in London. But something like a Heidrick & Struggles can potentially help though they do mostly senior hires. But it’s always good to reach out and see what comes up.

  46. CH says

    Thank you, Nicole. This is very helpful.

    1) Could you refer any other names? Tier II or good Tier III (I just want to avoid big four firms; let me know if you think that a big four in the Uk is a good choice as well)
    2) How good are the following in your opinion? Houlihan Lokey, DC Advisory and Quayle Munro

    Thanks a lot,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1) I don’t have a list on hand, but if you do an online search on Bloomberg FT you can find articles on how some random banker left GS/other BB to form his/her own boutique firm. You can compile a list through such sources
      2) Houlihan is a good firm. I have not heard of the last 2.

  47. Prasad says

    Hi Nicole,
    I am 34 year old Indian male, living in UK, with 13 years’ experience in IT Consulting. My entire work-exp has been on Oracle’s ERP (Financial product). I am now looking to make a career change and move into IB. For this effect I’ve completed three levels of CFA, thinking it would help me. But till now it hasn’t. I am also looking at doing MBA from one of the top universities in UK.
    Please advice- whether my dream of moving into IB is achievable at this stage or should i chart a different career path for me, such as move to Consulting. I am very keen to move into IB and I am ready to put more effort, but only if it is realistically possible to move.

  48. Peter Lim says

    I am an English teacher in Malaysia and I am doing CFA now. I have passed CFA level 2. I guess I will finish all the levels when I am 30 years old. Will my education working experience and age be an issue when I apply for a position of Research Analyst with an investment bank by the time? I am quite scared that my efforts in doing CFA will go down the drain. Please provide me with an answer. Thank you so much. :)

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