by Brian DeChesare Comments (684)

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

Two senior business colleagues at meeting, close-up
UPDATE: Please see the “Part 2” follow-up article to this one, on 6 ways to beat the odds and break into the industry as an older candidate. That article expands on what’s here and gives you tips and advice for what to do as an older candidate.

There’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”

Misnomers

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.

Guidelines

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.”

UPDATE: Please see the “Part 2” follow-up article to this one, on 6 ways to beat the odds and break into the industry as an older candidate. That article expands on what’s here and gives you tips and advice for what to do as an older candidate.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Chris Perez

    Hey Brian, Great post!

    I just turned 32 this past October, have my MBA (not a top level program). I spent 5 years in the military (Got out in 2009, age 24) and have been “in & out” of the financial services arena since 2011 as a financial advisor for the largest wirehouse in the country. I would love to get out of “sales” and move into investment banking either as an analyst/associate. I just applied to Citi’s full time associate program which stated they require an MBA and 3-5 years of professional work experience. Do you think I have a decent chance of getting accepted (or to any firm for that matter), or has that ship sailed. Thank you again for all of your advice.

    Chris

  2. Hey Brian – I am from Europe, but want to break into US investment banking. I will finish undergrads now with 26 and have completed one full-time internship within M&A services. Would you recommend a one year MS Finance program in the US, or would it only be a waste of time? I later want to pursue the MBA anyways and guess that work experience is now more important than such a MS degree, although it would help me with the one year working permission, better placement options, and maybe a nice university reference on the CV. How would you plan ahead in my position? Internships abroad?

    1. If you have no existing connections in the U.S., yes, and MSF program would be helpful for branding and gaining access to recruiters and companies.

  3. Hello Brian,

    My case its different, I joined University at almost 24 years old (personal issues), when I finish it I have in mind to do a Master to get better chances to join IBD. So I’ll be 28-29 years old with no experience, at the same level as 23-24 undergraduate guys but just older than them.

    What I should do then? Applies to the same to me, or in my case the age matters. Thanks you.

    1. I don’t think it matters much as long as you have no full-time work experience.

  4. Hi Brian
    I recently graduated from a target university in the U.K. However, my degree was sponsored by a commercial bank, tying me into internships with them and leaving me unable to get an IB internship. I am now working for said commercial bank on a two year placement. Would I still be able to apply to IBs next year (to start the year after) 12 months after I graduate? What would be a realistic target?

    1. You could still apply, but it would be tough to win offers without prior finance-related internships. So you would need to complete some type of off-cycle internship first to have a good shot.

  5. Hi- really want to give my best shot to get into IB,can you tell me what do I need to do please to have chance with my profile,I am networking hard!

    1. Your question is so vague that I can’t answer it. What’s your background? Prior academic/internship experience? Current position?

  6. Neetu Singh

    Hi – I have been offered Msc in Finance part time in LSE.i am 33 years old with CIMA and 8’years of accounting experience in local government.what are my chances of breaking in to IB? What else would be my option after completing Msc in finance?

    1. Have you done any IB or finance-related internships? If not, your chances are not good. You need to get internship or other work experience first to have a good shot. A Master’s degree won’t do much unless you get the experience first or during the program. If you don’t have that, maybe consider corporate finance roles at normal companies instead.

      1. Thanks for your response. No I don’t have IB internship or experience ,would the accounting experience not count ?
        Should I abandon the idea of going to LSE?

        1. I have corporate finance experience in Local government

          1. I don’t think you have a good shot at IB roles with that background. Corporate finance at a normal company or perhaps other finance roles at banks, sure.

  7. Thanks for the quick reply!

    When you say I probably need business school to make the change back, do you mean going for a focused MBA? At this time it ill be a big financial burden for me and will probably be done by 37/38 making me much older to re enter no? I just don’t see myself going for an MBA any time soon. Private Banking/WM seems to be the right path at this stage I guess.

    Thanks for your time again!

    1. Yes, going for a dedicated MBA at a top school. If you don’t want to do that, private banking or wealth management are better options.

  8. Hello. Great article! Thanks for the insight.

    I graduated late 2006 with a Bachelors in Finance. Immediately after graduation I landed a 3 month internship at a Top Tier Bank in its International Private Banking and Wealth Management division which eventually led me to be hired full time as Relationship Associate doing mostly middle office work, but dealing directly with very hi net worth clients of the Private Bank as well and the bank’s PE division. So I had a bit of sale’s (assistant) experience. However, this only lasted until Dec 2008 when the finical crisis shook the industry and the International Private Bank was forced to divest. At that time it was really hard for me to find a job in the Banking Industry and I decided to go for another career path in Audio Engineering (a big passion and hobby of mine). Since then I’ve worked in that industry as an Engineer and Music Producer, as well as running my own music events and promotion business, taking on Management, Clerical and other financial duties. However, the industry at the moment is suffering and business and work have slowed down.

    I’ll be 34 this year and I’m looking to restart my career in the Financial sector. I would love to know your thoughts on what are my best options to return to Finance. IB? PE? WM? CA? Private Banking? Other? What do you considered -given my circumstances- are my best options? I have no series 7 or other certifications but I’m confident I can pass the necessary tests. By the way, do I need to be sponsored by an institution to acquire these?

    Thanks so much for your help and your time!

    1. At this stage, you probably need business school to make the change back into finance. IB would be tough but plausible, but wealth management or private banking would be easier.

      I wouldn’t bother with certifications, as they won’t help much in this scenario.

  9. Hi, thanks for the article.

    I’m currently an analyst in a private equity house in Korea. I’m thinking of advancing to an MBA program next year, and apply for investment banking associate roles in the States. I would have had about 2 years of experience then. I’m more concerned about the number of years of experience than my age (I’d be 30 when I graduate – did 2 years of military and 1 year of masters). Would this experience be too short to apply as an associate?

    1. Usually, they’ll only bring you on as an Associate if you have worked as an Analyst for 3 years. But in this case, they might not do it at all unless you’ve worked at the bank for a year first. I would apply now, push for them to hire you as a 3rd Year Analyst, and take it from there.

  10. Hi Brian,

    This is a bit late, I don’t know if it you’ll answer it but here I go.

    I graduated at the age of 24 and started FT in somewhere in my country(auditing). Then I decided to go to Business school at the age of 25 in Europe. The program is Mim and it will take either 2 or 3 years depending on whether I will take the gap year in between the first and second year which means I’ll be a graduate either at 27 with less than a year of experience or 28 with experience between 1-2 years(if the latter happens, I hope at least half of that experience will be in IB). Is it realistic to target IB in Europe after this or will I simply too old for it?

    1. Just to update, both my undergraduate and grad school is No.1 in the country they are in.

    2. Again, it’s less about your age and more about the years of work experience you have. So I think you’ll be fine if you have full-time auditing experience.

  11. hi i am ajay i m from india.i have query please advice.I am mba finance regular from college under state university.I am doing job in japenese mnc in accounts department as senior executive and i have 5yr & 9 months experience total.but i am turning 35 in september 2016.I am giving CFA level 1 in this December. I really want to do job in USA . what is my chance to do job in IB in usa.or what is the best route to do job in USA.

    Please advice.

    Thanks
    AJAY

    1. M&I - Nicole

      http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/get-a-banking-job/ should help you. In terms of getting a role in the States I think its best you obtain a role in India first and ask for a transfer internally. http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-india/

  12. PE hopeful

    Hi I am a gum surgeon and have a doctoral in basic science as well. I have clinical experience and experience in academia and would like to start working in private equity. I got accepted at Duke and will pursue finance + healthcare concentrations. I am looking to work in PE in Europe or MENA region after graduating and I would be 35 by that time. How likely is it that I can land a position in a top PE firm? What position would be suitable at that level? And how can I improve my chances?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It is hard to comment on your chances since we don’t know of your presentation skills, networking efforts, etc – too many factors at play. But PE firms do prefer people with relevant operational or/and deal experience. In your case, I’d go for Associate level roles, and you can gain experience through finance case studies/deal experience. This article will be useful: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ I’d also check out healthcare PE firms and start connecting with GPs there.

  13. Ahmed ElBaz

    Hi there,
    Thanks a lot for the post, I have a different story I am 28 now, a plastic surgeon in Egypt. I want to shift my career to finance, I am taking the CFA level 1 this December.
    Is it too late for me to join Investment banking and should I pursue MBA?
    Thanks,
    Ahmed

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes an MBA will help you. In terms of age, that is hard to say. In your case though, getting a top tier MBA will help you retool yourself and re-evaluate your career. And 28 is a good age to pursue that MBA.

  14. First off, thank you for this post. It is very informative.

    I went to a good, but non-target, school in Los Angeles and graduated with a 3.1 GPA in business administration. I also took a financial modelling and valuation course after I graduated, but I don’t have any practical experience in M&A.

    I’m turning 28 in September this year, and will then have four years of work experience. Two years in audit and two years in TAS (due diligence) at a Big Four firm in Eastern Europe. Should I apply for an MBA program this fall, or should I try to make the move to M&A at another TAS department in say, London, and apply for an MBA next fall?

    My goal is to get into a boutique IB, or potentially a mid-cap PE fund.

    Assuming a top 15 MBA program, what is the trade-off between gaining relevant experience and being an older candidate? Should I get pre MBA M&A experience at all costs, or should I just hit the reset button with business school? Is a post MBA move directly to PE possible given my DD background? Is a 1 year MBA program more desirable in my situation?

    Thank you for your insight.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it matters that much. If you can get into an MBA program this year (and want to do so), I’d do so sooner rather than later.Since you already have TAS experience I’m not sure if gaining more TAS experience will help you. If you can break into banking now, I’d move directly. If it’s taking you a bit longer than you’d like to move and you’d like to retool yourself, an MBA can potentially help you. I’d say an MBA at a school like Wharton, HBS, Columbia maybe the best bet. http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ maybe a good article for you to refer to.

  15. Hi, I’m in a dilemma regarding my future. I’m an international student and have completed my undergrads (21 years) in Engineering with a 2.9 GPA (lost interest) from a US university. I wanted to switch to finance and due to visa rule of not staying in the US if job is not in the field of study I moved back to my home country. After moving back without loosing further time, I studied for CFA, FRM and CAIA exams and completed all levels within 2 yrs. And now planning for MSF with stem focus (giving me 3 years to work without work visa) in the US. By the time I complete my Masters, I will be 26 yrs, perhaps would have 1.5 yrs of work experience, which includes 6 months on internship. I want to enter BB as an IB/PWM/AM analyst. I’m worried whether will I be overqualified for the job and a reason to reject? If it doesn’t workout, what can be my other options as a job?

    1. Adding to the above, i’m planning a study in non-target school in NY primarily as I want to stay near the finance firms and the MSF program there doesn’t require immediate sponsorship, thereby, giving me enough time to work without a worry. Do you think staying in NY looking for BB jobs helps?

      1. M&I - Nicole

        Yes, being in NY will most definitely help in your case.

    2. M&I - Nicole

      No I don’t think you’d be overqualified for the role. If it does not work out, you can look at start up roles perhaps in the finance capacity, as well as buy side roles.

  16. Hey,
    I am turning 22 this year and I am finishing my bachelors degree this year at a decent B-School in in Europe, but then I’ll have to complete the national military service for 2 years. I will be around 24 years old afterwards, but I’m planning a full year of internships and preparation period for grad school, then start a 2 year masters in finance at the age of 25 – so I’ll be around 27 when starting FT.
    Will I be considered too ‘old’?
    The 2 years of military is inevitable and I will probably need 1 year to do the GMAT (to apply for grad school, doing this during my military service is not possible) and do relevant internships (to aim for SA positions after my first year of masters)..

  17. Hi,
    Before elaborating my question, please allow me to tell a bit about myself. Currently I am pursuing an MSc in FInance in Germany (specializing in Financial Economics), a highly quantitative and rigorous subject. I have also completed an MS in Engineering, and BS in Physics and Mathematics including internships – one of the academic internships being a published paper in Stochastic Finance, and other being with a Private Equity for 2 months. Unable to land on a Quant position in an IB on time, I had to return back from the US to my country Nepal since my visa was expiring. Prior to enrolling for the MSc. Finance program here in Germany, I had worked for a software company on a short term project as a developer for about a year in my country, then taught Mathematics on a part time basis to high school students, and joined extensive class in Indian Classical Music which has been my innate interest. Now that I am readying to embark on an IB career either as an intern or junior recruit, I am wondering whether my candidacy would allow me to join an IB directly as a Associate given that I am over 30 now. In short – do I need to have all experiences/expertise which Analysts possess in order consider an Associate position? I read somewhere on your website that first year Analyst and first year Associate are basically “treated” (?) the same way.
    Sorry if anything was unclear …

    1. If you already have all that work experience, you will pretty much need an MBA to get into investment banking at this point. I think you might be able to win offers, but you’d still be at a disadvantage even in a top MBA program because your work experience seems quite “scattered” – banks generally prefer candidates who worked at 1-2 places full-time over the course of a few years and then want to transition into banking.

      1. Thank you Brian for your response. Really appreciate it.
        – As with MBA … as I mentioned, I am currently finishing MSc in Finance which, as my professors have emphasized and as it seems clearly obvious to me, will a help a candidate ‘stand out’ among MBAs? I have also done a bit of research on courseworks for MBA degree vs. MSc Finance, where for the later I have taken all the advanced MBA courses in addition to several quant-oriented subjects in financial economics. So could you suggest whether MBA is the only degree that seems to catch the employers’ eyes for the reasons you have mentioned on this page? — here’s a short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSZq_LBRHUk

        – And I have only about two years of full-time work experience, others where mostly internships, part-times, community involvement/unemployement..
        – My university – MSc Finance program is ranked atop, and quite popular among global players, at least in German-speaking countries.

        – I’m still not sure whether I need to have expertise of an Analyst in order consider an Associate role given my background?

        Thanks for your wonderful website! Also, where do I contact you to buy your product?

        1. Wow … didn’t know you’ve already covered a plethora of such questions and so extensively in your website! Though I didn’t find the rationale for MBA vs. Master of Finance in your website, I have found the answer now. And can’t wait to buy your services. These are truly Godsends. All the best …

          1. M&I - Nicole

            Anytime.

        2. M&I - Nicole

          – Not really, but a top tier MBA will open you quite a few doors.
          – Yes, it will be useful if you have finance experience to be considered as an Associate so I’d suggest that you apply for Analyst roles. However, since you have a MSc degree, you may still be qualified for Associate roles, but it is likely they prefer someone with relevant experience
          – You can view our product offerings here: https://breakingintowallstreet.com/biws/breaking-into-wall-street-courses/

  18. Hi ive been working since part time since the age of 16. At the age of 20 i became full time. I just started college at the age of 24 and i should be finished by 27 . Im not sure if i should try to get a job once i graduate at the age of 27. Or should continue and get my MBA at the age of 29 and then try to get into banking.

    1. Your age matters less than your university graduation date… so probably best to apply to jobs before/as you’re graduating rather than doing an MBA.

  19. Hi Brian

    I was wondering does this post apply to the UK as well or just the US?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say both, internationally.

  20. I’m 30 years old and have 3 years working experience. Some of the work I’ve done are finance-related, such as doing sell-side valuation, due diligence, and have participated buy-side deals including technology venture capital investments. However, the company I’ve worked with is not knowledgeable in the U.S and no recruiter knows me. Also I haven’t been trained well such as the valuation method and the deal process that IB analyst usually do. I’m so interested in doing deal and eventually want to work in PE, but the question is I don’t know how I can be recruited into a good PE firm. I heard that PE recruiters always pick candidates from IB analysts. Should I try to apply for a IB analyst role and then PE or should I apply directly to PE? If I apply for IB analyst, is it too old to get in?

    Really like your website. I’ve learned a lot and thank you for your help!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d start with approaching a boutique/mid size IB firm first to gain some experience, and move to PE from there. I wouldn’t let age deter you. I’d also read: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/

  21. I am 32 years old, finishing my PhD in Economics from a top UK university. I do not have any work experience in banking or finance industry, plus that it took time for me to find what I really like to do. As a result, I ended up doing a PhD which its topic is rather theoretical and never tried to get an intership. My undergraduate degree is on maritime transport (a business type degree for the shipping industry), and worked for three years in the maritime sector as a ship broker – gaining some skills which I believe are quite relevant to the finance industry. I also have a year of military service, plus a gap year – wasted in the unemployment pool and spent on reading mathematics to prepare for my PhD.

    So far, I noticed that my set of skills or experience might not be sufficient or competitive enough to compete with other PhDs for Associate roles requiring a PhD – an in fact I was unsuccessful to get any interviews – so I am wondering what’s a good option or strategy for me.

    You think I am too old ? Do I have a chance to get an intership, if I try so ?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d connect with your alumni and see if there are any roles for you. While you may not have the experience, I think connection may matter most and you can always convince them to test try you for a few weeks. I don’t think you’re too old, and I’d focus on maritime finance given your background. http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/maritime-shipping-investment-banking/ If you’re open to roles in Singapore, this maybe an interesting area for you to explore.

  22. I am a Managing Partner on the Wealth Management side for my broker dealer so I basically manage financial advisors who are entrepreneurial in building their books of business. At age 35, feeling like I’ve peaked in this side of the industry I’ve been researching a career change in getting into working for a Hedge Fund or Investment Banking. Having just a bachelor’s degree in Marketing… is it realistic for me to try to get into these types of companies?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps, if you have a rolodex of HNW clients. Otherwise I’d look at say retail banking as well as wealth/asset management roles

  23. I am currently in a FLDP Program – think FT 500 manufacturing. I am currently 25 years old but really would like to do IB. I know MBA would be the ideal method but i feel like it is too costly. I thought about MSA as well but still expensive. Am i too old for an Analyst role for IB? What is the best route to take to maximize my chances of getting into IB?

    Thank you so much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily. I’d say an MBA at a target maybe best route. Otherwise I’d use your alumni and LinkedIn connections.

  24. Thank you for writing this article.

    I wanted to ask a question about breaking into IB and Sales and Trading if you graduated at 23.

    I got the grades from university (non target) and all (including trading part time). However I didn’t get the software skills that analyst positions nowadays are asking for like SQL. And masters at target universities in London want an A-level in Math at grade A (I didn’t do math).

    I’m sure that in 2-3 years I can get these skills and qualifications. However I’ll be 25-27 by then with 2-4 years of work experience by that then.
    (let’s say I’d have 3-4 years of experience when I’d be applying to target masters universities)

    Would you say that going through this plan would be worth it, or would I be too old to break into IB and/or Sales and Trading?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think you maybe older than most analysts but you still have a chance of breaking into IB/ST. I think getting a masters at target universities can potentially help you.

      1. Thank you.

        I’m assuming its about networking (especially if I get into a target) in addition to my “business plan”? As the business plan is really just a “don’t be filtered out” plan.

        But you answered the key bit that by age by then won’t be a hindrance.

        Since in this scenario I’d graduate around 28, am I right in assuming age-wise 30 is the upper limit for analyst/jr roles in IB/ST and 5yrs of experience being the upper limit (while pushing it) for analyst positions?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I’d say so.

  25. Hello,

    I am 37 and just graduated with a 3.8 GPA from Harvard Extension School with my Bachelors (Concentration:Economics Minor: Quant Analysis). I also spent a semester at London School of Economics, which was an increincredible experience and provided numerous contacts in Europe/Asia. I had been pursuing a professional hockey career through age 25, which did not pan out as I would have liked, at which point I went into real estate. I have 5 years of Commercial & Residential experience, including leadership roles. I also have 3 years of mortgage banking experience and 1 year of Financial Advisory exp with a well-known ins based firm.

    I am looking to break into IB in some capacity, but the age factor is of concern. I have minimal outside responsibilities, would have NO ISSUE working 100+/hrs a week, have no issue taking orders from someone 15 years younger than me and keeping my mouth shut along the way.

    Realistically, what are my options in Finance? Should I be trying to leverage my RE experience into a real estate buy-side role? Any chance at landing an Analyst/Associate role with an IB, possibly at a Boutique or Regional bank? Would an MSRE from NYU Schack or a similar program help me at this stage or would an MBA be the best bet? Would I have better chances with a HF/PE/VC? Where would Internships fit into the mix?

    Sorry for so many questions, and I completely understand if you can’t get to everything.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, leverage your real estate experience can help. Perhaps you can look at real estate investment banking at a boutique. I am not familiar with the NYU program you mentioned of; I believe an MBA can potentially improve your chances.

  26. Is 27+ too old for entry level if you graduated in 2015?

    What about other areas like sales and trading?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say you’re a few years older than most graduates, in IB/ST etc. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it; apply first and see how that goes.

      1. I see. Thank you!

        I wanted to ask about areas you can get with an MBA like associate level positions in banks or VC, HF and PE?

        1. An MBA mostly leads to Associate-level roles at banks. The other areas are tough without prior banking experience or buy-side experience prior to your MBA.

          1. Thank you.

            Does banking experience have to be any part of banking with relevant skills, or a particular part of it?

            Thanks again.

          2. M&I - Nicole

            Yes this refers to IB experience (experience working at the investment banking division of a bank) doing analytical/valuation work.

  27. OK I’m too old to do investment banking I’m 34 years old just restarted my bachelors degree and I would like to get into hedge funds her own one become a portfolio manager or trader since I’m starting now let’s see for five years I’ll be 39 or 38 and I know that’s way too late to get into IB although, a company might take me when I’m forty or over.. But I need to work for la company on wall st to get clients to go on my own, what’s the best route for an old man like me to take I know I’ve written before on this post on this page about that but I want to clarify go mourn depth about this can we go more depth?

    1. You might want to see this article for some tips on getting into hedge funds: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/hedge-funds-institutional-asset-management/

      You can still get into those fields at an older age, though IB would be tough.

      1. But how would I get into IB over 40 or 50+? Any ways .. Or even back door ways?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          If you can demonstrate your ability to source clients and originate deals that would help.

  28. Hi,

    I am 26 years old with a low GPA of 2.6 finance undergraduate degree, which I obtained about 2 years and 6 months ago. I currently have 1 year and 7 months of sales experience that have nothing to do with finance.

    What would be the best strategy or steps to take to get an investment banking job at my age? Should I go and try to get my MBA, and what would be the best way to approach this?

    Hopefully you can help me with my questions, I would appreciated it very much.

  29. I graduated at the height of the financial crisis in 2009 with an Economics with Banking degree, and started my own business to keep busy and get work experience. The problem is that I have now stopped trading and I am struggling to find work in my area of study. I am aged 40.

    I have tried the online recruitment agencies and I’m also getting help from a “recruitment expert”. However these have not helped find a job.

    Anyone with a similar experience please?

    Thanks

    Chris

  30. Hello,

    My story: Finance college degree – US School (honours), 2.5 years in a Fortune 500 as a Financial Analyst (multi-country roles). Master in Finance. Then, Analyst (1 year FT Internship – 2 Years Full Time) & Associate (2 years) at an Inv. Banking Firm. Starting MBA next year (maybe. I will be 33 y/o by then). Is this bad if I would like to break into PE? What if a want to jump as a VP in banking at another bank after the MBA? Curious since I don’t work in the US/Canada/Europe area. I would like to know what my chances are in these regions (obviously-target school MBA).

    Thanks!!!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, but having IB experience will increase your chances in PE quite a bit – http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ Yes, working in IB can help you!

  31. Hello,

    I’m a 32 year old who’s had nearly 4 years work experience at bank, 1 year in back office, 1 year mortgage analyst, 1 year project management, etc. I’ve got in a semi-target like BC. I’m doing a modeling program and just purchased interview/networking from your affiliate BIWS. Other than that I’ve done 6 years running a fund investing for clients, friends, relatives done fairly well. My question is should I go get MBA at BC THIS YEAR and try breaking into IB for Equity Research/M&A associate when I graduate OR should I apply at a target school (My latest GMAT went from 640 to 680 84th Percentile) and try to get in that way at say a UNC, for next year and try to gain a preMBA internship at an asset management firm in the meanwhile? Or does either way work? The latter option will require a year’s wait, and I’ll be 35/36 by when I get my MBA. I’d love your thoughts on this.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say an MBA is most useful if it is from a target school. However, you don’t want to wait too long to go to a target school. So in your case, I’d say it depends on the number of firms that recruit at BC. If they have a strong alumni connection in finance (you’ll have to call career service up), this may not be a bad idea. If not, I’d wait till you get into a target school.

  32. Hello BIWS!

    Great article!

    My background is the following:

    Top Undergrad School (Top 15)
    MBA from non-target school (but Top 50 ranked)
    5-6 years work experience (sales & operations analysis and most recently, 1 year in a non-IB finance position)
    Age 30

    I caught the IB interest in my most recent job working in a non-IB financial analysis & management position for a conglomerate that acquired many businesses domestically and internationally. My goal is to work in IB in NYC.

    My question is this: Given my background, what position and types of banks should I target in the USA?

    a) Based on the article, I should be applying only to Associate level positions. But should I be open to Analyst level positions too?

    b) Are bulge bracket level banks out of the question? Should I focus on middle-market and boutiques instead?

    Any suggestions are warmly appreciated! Thanks. :)

    1. M&I - Nicole

      a) Yes I think you should look at analyst roles
      b) I wouldn’t say so but you may have higher chances at middle market/boutique firms.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. :)

        1. Hello again. I have an update and 2 questions since this post a few months ago. I apologize in advance for the long post.

          I have followed some of the Networking Guide’s tips on how to network my way into IB – cold-calling, contacting alumni, applying for full-time and internship roles. I have applied to 30 – 35 companies (directly through cold-calling, Career Websites and indirectly through recruiters) during the past month focusing on boutiques and mid-market banks and some corporate M&A roles. I have had very limited success because: (1) I don’t have directly related financial advisory work experience on my resume and (2) am in-between Analyst (too old? 4 years non-finance work experience) and Associate roles (not enough experience?) – though I think I should start at Analyst level given my current ACTUAL finance work experience.

          It’s November now and I have heard from many recruiters that banks will generally stop hiring from Thanksgiving – New Years. At this point, I plan to: (1) take a job (even non-finance related) to earn some income and not stay out of the market too long and (2) start building up my connections with sell-side financial advisory professionals and continue my networking efforts. (3) Prepare as best I can on Valuation, M&A, technical topics in anticipation for financial advisory openings in February/March of next year.

          Surprisingly, I have had success reaching out to IB professionals (including non-alumni) through LinkedIn and they have offered valuable insights. I think that is the way to go in my situation.

          My questions are: (1): would it HURT me to take a non-finance job temporarily now while I network and prepare for openings in early next year? (2) Any other suggestions to improve my chances of getting a sell-side financial advisory role in the future?

          Thanks! And continue to keep up the great work on this website.

          1. M&I - Nicole

            Tony, thanks for your note. No, as long as you continue to network, I don’t think it will hurt you to take a non-finance role in the meantime. Yes, I’d suggest that you continue to network. While this is not ideal, you “may” have to take a role that is of “lower level” than your current one to improve your chances of getting a sell-side advisory role as a side note.

      2. M&I - Nicole

        I’d say so, though you’ll be competing against people who are younger who potentially have a bit more relevant work experience than you do, so I’d say 50/50 chance

        1. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions/advice Nicole! I have been working in a non-IB related role the past 9 months and it definitely gave me a better perspective on the realities of breaking into the IB industry without a background. Time is not on your side and I have accepted the realities that my window may have passed for this opportunity, but it’s not the end of the world. You learn, adapt and move on. The good news is I now have a much clearer direction for my career and life in general. :) Thanks again for the feedback and wish you and the website all the best! :)

  33. Hi

    I’m 32 and am studying my master of applied finance at a pretty good school in australia

    I’m a geologist originally and want to become a mining analyst, am I too old to break in? Am I doing the right thing in order to get into the industry?

    Thanks

    Alex

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps you can explore metals and mining banking roles: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/metals-mining-investment-banking/

      I would say you maybe older than most associates, but your background maybe most relevant to such roles above.

  34. I worked as an analyst at a hedge fund in structured products from age 25-27, then got my MBA at a non-target. After MBA, I launched a hedge fund and ran it from age 29-33. I have burned out on running the fund solo, and it never got big enough to add employees. Now I’m at a bit of a crossroads in that I’m unsure of which direction to go next. I’ve always been interested in IB, but I have zero experience in that space. Is it worth me pursuing IB now at 33, or should I focus on trying to latch on to another hedge fund? Or should I look into other areas like PE or AM?

    Thanks.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably look for a role at another buy-side firm. Without IB experience it can be challenging to do PE.http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ AM may work.

  35. hi
    I m 34 and I m planning to continue my studies in business and want to become an investment banker ,My goal is to work in wall street .But I do not know what is the age criteria to be an analyst or an associate .Because now if I start my UG program and by the time I m done I m like 38yearsold .So do I stand a chance in getting a job as an investment banker in Wall street?.As a matter of fact I do not even have a work experience as I was a homemaker till now.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you haven’t had any experience in finance, you may want to check out buy-side, asset management roles – this maybe more suitable for you. Most analysts and associates are below 30, and unless you’ve had some sort of deal experience under your belt, you maybe a bit older than the usual age.

  36. Hi, I am 30 years old and have 6 years of professional expereince in the real estate industry as a property manager. I have been doing my MBA (finance concentration) part time now for almost three years from a mediocre school and will be finished this December. Ive also completed CFA level 1 and will be registering for level 2 next

    Do you think it’s possible to break into Investnment Banking at this point in my career? If so, would I most likely start as an Analyst? Or is an Associate level a possibility? Or am I better off focusing on buy-side opportunities?

    Note: I’m in Canada so the CFA is often considered an asset for IB job postings. I also wanted options to go buy-side…

    Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d look at real estate buy-side roles in your case to improve your chances. You may start of as an associate depending on how releant your experience is and if the firm values you. Yes, CFA is useful if you want to move to the buy-side so you made a good call here.

  37. Hi, I’m 25 and graduated from a red brick university in the UK in 2012 and interned with a bulge bracket for 4 months after graduating in a trade analyst role. I made a mistake in taking a job in a completely different industry and am now trying to get back into investment banking, but not in operations. What would be your best advice? Thanks.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d try your best to transition internally if possible. Otherwise, perhaps getting a Masters/MBA can help you rebrand yourself.

      1. Sorry, I meant I no longer work in the bank so internal wouldn’t be possible. I have two offers outside of banking right now – junior market analyst in a small financial services and associate researcher in one of the top consulting firms. Would either of these be worthwhile experience to try and move back in? I don’t think a masters or MBA would be feasible right now financially. Thanks!

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Perhaps working for a top consulting role maybe a better idea given its credibility…

  38. Hi,
    i am 37 and a student in comunity college in first year. I think that i will finish BA economics when i am 41-42. Is it too old to find an investment banker job?
    I graduated 2002 in my country with a computer science major, and i had 7 years experience working in IT field and 1 year in sale (about software product).
    Now i am living in the US, and i go back to school in economics major. I really want to work into investment banking. Can you please give me some advices.
    Thank you very much.
    Soooo sorry that my English is not good.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d suggest that you look at middle office roles in finance. Without relevant deal experience it can be challenging to break into IB at your age. If you start with middle/back office roles first the transition maybe easier.

      1. Thank you so much for responding so quickly. It really help me.

  39. If I’ve done my graduation from distance degree and mba regular.. Can i be a investment banker?
    PLease PLease reply me..
    Is distance degree is like a curse, but mba is regular not distance.
    I’ll appreciate, if anybody will answer me .

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It is hard to say on this forum, since we have not met you in person. I’d say if you have relevant finance experience and a target MBA this can most definitely help. Otherwise, you may have less chance of breaking into the industry (versus someone with relevant experience, target MBA, etc).

  40. I have almost 2 years of venture capital experience as a seed/series a stage analyst at a small, probably little known venture fund and 1 year of academic researcher/programming. I am 25. I’m guessing I have a shot at small shops but would it be possible for me to get to an elite boutique (ideal) or Tech Banking at a BB (given how competitive these groups are, and their stringent undergrad focused recruiting schedules). I remember reading on your Private equity/Venture capital out-of-undergrad thread that it would be difficult to go from buyside to banking so I’m concerned. I also went to HYP, did engineering (and got engineering grades…) to add more color.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably focus on boutique banks in the tech space first given your experience and then move to a BB to increase your chances, because boutique banks are more likely to be accepting of someone with your background. Otherwise what you can do is to transition into a larger VC fund / go back to a target grad school.

      1. When you say boutiques, do you mean places like Perella and Qatalyst or regional players?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yes you can say so, but Perella is probably considered an elite boutique.

      2. Also when you say “move to” do you mean start with the boutiques then apply to BBs in the same cycle or get a job at a boutique then seek to lateral?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I meant get a job at a boutique and then seek to lateral.

  41. Hello,

    I am 35 years old & targeting a top business school. I will graduate at 37-38. Will i be too old to be hired at a management consultant associate?

    Thanks,
    Anamika

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you’re probably 10 years older than the associates, but yes you can still give it a shot.

  42. Hey I graduated in May ’14 and I’ve been trying to break into I.B. I have a degree in Sociology from an elite liberal arts school. I recently accepted a position as a Customer Service rep at a very reputable Investment Firm. My main concern is that I’ll get stuck only being able to do customer service jobs. I really want to start moving up the chain. I don’t have a degree in finance but I would really excel in anything that focuses on consulting, project management, operations, human resources, etc. I’m 23 years old. Any tips/advice?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d connect with alumni in the industry and see if you can gain some experience there. I may also obtain your degree from a target university to increase your chances.

  43. Hi,

    I am 28 and have two years of doing due-diligence at a consulting firm. My academic career isn’t very good, so I plan to get a Masters in Finance before applying to a target school. I currently am not able to get a finance job. My plan is to work as an analyst for two years and finish my MBA at 34.

    Is that too old? And, what kind of banks or jobs should I seek out after my Masters in Finace? I want to get into a top school and get a solid internship.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, that is not too old. I am not 100% sure which roles fit you after your Masters, but this should help you: http://www.goldmansachs.com/careers/why-goldman-sachs/explore-goldman-sachs-careers-quiz/

  44. JC Transfer

    How bad would being a junior college transfer hurt your chances of starting as an analyst on the street? If I went to Santa Monica College (which has top transfer rate to UC schools like UCB and UCLA) and transferred to a UC target school how bad would this hurt my chances of scoring good internships and starting at a top IB out of college assuming grades etc were excellent?

    1. It might hurt you a bit, but it doesn’t matter that much if you transferred to a UC target school as long as everything else looks good for you.

  45. I’m 22 and just started college at Berkeley and I’m majoring in Business Administration. Assuming I maintain an excellent GPA, score internships, complete the Level 1 CFA will I have a good shot at getting a good analyst job on Wall Street? I’ll be starting at 26, is that too old?

    Also I know Berkeley is a good target school for west coast banking but will I have a chance on The Street?

    Thanks, and please be brutally honest.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you may a few years older than most analysts but 26 is still ok. Yes there are quite a few Berkeley alums on Wall Street so I’d reach out to them.

  46. Hi Brian,

    I wasn’t sure where to post this question, so here it is: I graduated in May ’14 and have been looking for a job since. I finally got an offer at a Bulge Bracket bank in their CIB as an Analyst (more specifically, CIB –> Investor Services –> Alternative Investment Services –> Private Equity Fund Services). I would like to know what my exit opportunities from this type of role and the probability of being able to move into a front-office IB / PE / HF Analyst role in the future (1-3 years). Thank you in advance for your time!

    Sincerely,

    Anonymous

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I presume you mean Corporate & Institutional Banking (CIB)? It depends on your job description and what you’ll be doing there. If you’ll be involved in deals/valuation work then yes IB maybe easy to transition into.

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